For Labs, Education is the Differentiator

I always look forward to seeing the results of our annual L&T Lab Usage Survey, which explores the perceptions and attitudes independent optical retailers and ECPs have about their wholesale labs. As with our previous Lab Usage surveys, this year’s survey contains lots of interesting and useful nuggets of information.

One of our key findings is nearly half of all the survey respondents say they rely more on their labs now than they did three years ago. Furthermore, 57 percent expect to do more business with their labs in the coming year.

There are many reasons for this, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that ECPs increasingly look to their labs to help them obtain and, more importantly, understand the new lenses and lens technologies. With the constant stream of new lens products entering the market, ECPs reliance on labs will only increase.

That helps explain why so many ECPs look to their labs to educate them about lenses and dispensing techniques. According to the survey, 54 percent of respondents say their primary lab provides continuing education. Significantly, 45 percent say those programs have improved in the past year and 52 percent of respondents rate their lab’s educational seminars as either “excellent” or “good.”

That tells us both the labs and the ECPs are doing their jobs. As lens materials and designs become more sophisticated, labs are putting more effort into enhancing their educational programs, and ECPs are taking notice. If service is the great differentiator in today’s market, then education is rapidly becoming among the most sought-after services labs can provide.

Andrew Karp,