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October 2013

Casting a Show of
Eyewear Collection Stars

Groetken Family Eye Care is literally a 20/20 soul and sight mate when it comes to picking out that perfect eyewear. Shortly after the practice was featured in a 20/20 Successful Retail Strategies story a few years ago, the editors met up with Elizabeth K. Groetken, OD, and her SPECtacular team at a past Vision Expo and roamed the eyewear booths in search of incredible eyewear solutions. And the result was pure spec-synchronicity. Put frankly, Liz does LeMars, Iowa proud with her taste in eyewear and her flair for the show-side-of-style when it comes to hooking up her patients with amazing glasses. She credits her husband Steve and her whole family when it comes to energizing every facet of her practice, be it marketing, technology, staffing, management and as concerns the topic here, putting on a great show with eyewear as the superstar.


20/20: How do you determine your frame collection mix? (Considerations: demographics, medical/insurance, pricing, inventory, ratio of Rx to sunwear and anything else key to your practice.)

Elizabeth K. Groetken, OD: Thanks for those considerations because, quite honestly, all of those factors come into play determining the mix of our frames and eyewear collections. And that holds true especially when we have our annual eyewear show. I try to have something for everyone, but my main focus is to provide a unique and individual look for each and every patient. I stay away from the traditional "bread and butter" frames. Unique eyewear is key to our selection process.


Where are most of your purchasing decisions made? (i.e., trade shows, rep visits, online, media input, etc.)
Vision Expo East and West dominate our decision-making and buying agendas. I also like to reference 20/20 for the latest trends.

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Do you hold any trunk shows or special events? Outline your particular favorite(s).
Our annual trunk show is one of our main events. We offer 30 percent off everything for one day only. The exam rooms and pre-test rooms are turned into showcases to highlight the brands. We have a John Varvatos room that is an exam room. We painted it a rich black color and have a Dave Mathews banner from the great John Varvatos eyewear ads to give it a real man's feel with just the right edge. We also have a Tiffany Room which is actually our pre-test room that is Tiffany blue, and that space has a wall vinyl of Audrey Hepburn.

The other exam room still being worked on is going to be a textured mix of velvet, leather, wood and fur. Black Fin graciously sent us a 10-by-10-foot banner of a woman in a bomber jacket with fur to complete the dramatic look and style in that room. The main selling area will have frames for petite women such as Menizzi. The theme to our event this year is "Embrace Your Inner Color," so Lafont seemed to be a good fit as well. Each year's event is a new celebration for us and our customers, and part of our intention is making the eyewear and the store feel like a new and fresh idea. You can only inspire by aspiring.


Selling UP... Dispensing Down... Where do YOU and your staff start when working with a patient/customer?

We like to get a feel for the occupation, personality and personal style of each customer and focus on a range of particular frame styles to enhance their natural facial features.

It starts when the patient comes in the door. In the pre-testing room notes are made. Then when I see the patient, I talk about the conversation had in pre-testing, such as "I see you like to go boating. Have you thought about polarized sunwear to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays?" I go into details about both the want and need side of proper eyecare and then build a scenario for a discussion of the person's individual frame preferences. In that order the health AND style education has been set to a beneficial agenda.

As a side note, our lab offers 50 percent off any lenses after the first pair. It creates an opportunity to talk to the patient about a range of multiple pair options including Rx sunwear decisions.


Switch sides... YOU are the Frame Rep... what would YOU do different?
Being a frame rep is a tough job. To slip into an office and try to show multiple lines carried by vendors can take hours. It's hard to find time in a day to fit everyone in. What works for one office might not work for another. So my main theme would be respect the time element. But key to the success for both the rep and the buyer is to have a great time showing the frames.

I would also encourage taking old product off the board to increase my sales of the frames that sell. A hands-on approach in the store can be powerful if handled with care and respect. I have great reps, so I am just saying I would do what they do.

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