Doctors and dispensers depend on labs every day to do accurate Rx work and get jobs back on time. They call upon their labs to provide expert, up-to-date information on lenses, coatings, frames, contact lenses, and not to mention how to market and merchandise these products. Then there’s the education and training that many labs provide. An experienced, capable wholesale lab that meets all of these needs can greatly improve an ECP’s ability to serve their patients and improve the bottom line of their business or practice.

In L&T ’s 2009 Lab Usage Survey, we polled 150 independent vision care professionals and optical retailers from around the country to find out their perceptions and attitudes about the wholesale labs they use. Here’s what we learned.
—Andrew Karp

Topline Analysis

• The most important factors in selecting a lab are lens sur-facing quality (91.3 percent), lens finishing quality (88.7 percent), lens coating quality (88.7 percent), quality of drill mounting (83.3 percent) and product turn around time (80.7 percent).

• The services provided most often by the respondent’s primary lab were lens product information (90.2 percent), technical support (88 percent) and online ordering (86.7 percent).

• 41.3 percent of respondents said they rely more on their lab(s) than they did three years ago, compared with only 39.9 percent in 2008.

• 48.7 percent of survey respondents expect to do more business with wholesale labs in the coming year. 6.7 percent expect to do less business, which is 4.3 percentage points more than last year.

• 37.4 percent of respondents ranked online ordering as the method most used to order products from their lab, up from 29.7 percent last year.

• Only 38.1 percent of respondents have ever sent in frame tracing data with an online order.

• Almost nine out of 10 respondents are familiar with the lens technology term “free-form.” Of those who are aware of this lens technology, 60.2 percent currently dispense lenses manufactured by free-form. This number is up significantly from last year.

• Nine out of 10 locations are familiar with the lens technology term “digital surfacing.” Of those who are aware of this lens technology, 68.9 percent currently dispense progressive lenses manufactured by digital surfacing lenses. This number is up significantly from last year.