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BUSINESS STRATEGIES

Are You Rep Ready?

BUSINESS STRATEGIES

Are You Rep Ready?

This month, we talk to two ECPs to get their best tips on how they successfully work with sales representatives

how do you work with reps? How often do you meet with them?

To find out how some eyecare professionals address these issues successfully, we checked in with two—each with more than 30 years of buying experience.

Gary Kaschak has been involved in buying frames on the East Coast for 35 years, and for the last 28 of those as a Sterling Optical franchisee in suburban Philadelphia. Over on the West Coast, Colleen Hannegan, ABOC, RDO, has been involved in purchasing product since her first days in optical. In 1981, she started as a trainee in Seattle, and later bought frames for 22 years as owner of her business in California. For the past four years, she’s been involved in making buying decisions for Griffin Optometric Group, which has three locations in Southern California.

Read on as they reveal their time-earned techniques for working well with reps.

eb: How often do you meet with reps?

gary kaschak: On an as-needed basis. I don’t like to schedule too far out.

colleen hannegan: My usual time frame has been every six months. I have tended to wait until most of the order has sold, then place another large order.

eb: How many frame reps do you see?

ch: I usually purchase from a large number of companies. I prefer lots of variety.

gk: I deal with about 13 core companies with approximately 15 reps.

Source: The Eyecare Business 2016 Virtual Focus Group | Frames & Sunwear

eb: How do you feel about drop-ins?

ch: I made it clear: DO NOT just stop by. Call first for an appointment.

gk: Some are notorious for this, and it really depends on who they are. The ones I’ve established a relationship with, I don’t mind. Sometimes I’m free, sometimes not.

eb: How much time do you allot for your frame rep appointments?

gk: I always ask the rep how much time they’ve put aside and go from there. We have a busy store, and it’s difficult at times to devote the entire time without interruption. They know what to expect.

ch: I have always tried for 30 to 60 minutes. Otherwise, it can end up involving too many choices, too much spending, too much conversation!

eb: What do you expect from these meetings?

ch: Be on time, do your job, and listen to my needs! Know what I sold, what needs to be exchanged, and what I like. I never make an appointment unless I’m going to buy. I value their time as much as mine.

gk: I have never scheduled an appointment with any rep where I have not made a decent purchase. I expect them to know my customer, be prepared, check my inventory for discontinued frames, plus know how well a frame is selling, if I’m able to exchange, and how quickly the order can be processed. I usually state a dollar amount I want to stay close to, that I want the best terms, and what the fill rate is.

Source: The Eyecare Business 2016 Virtual Focus Group | Frames & Sunwear

eb: What are your pet peeves?

ch: Don’t bring me treats, don’t try on every frame, and don’t tell me what’s HOT! I probably won’t buy it because you just sold it to everyone else. My biggest pet peeve, though, is back orders. Sell me what you’ve got, not what you don’t!

gk: Some reps are prepared; others are not. I’m baffled when I know more about a frame than they do. They should know every frame in their bag, how well it sells, the sizes, and any back order problems.

eb: How about staff input?

gk: The whole staff participates in one way or another. We review niche or specific needs like semi-rimless or men’s metals, for example. I also review inventory on hand before a rep comes in.

eb: The bottom line?

ch: It’s really not just about buying and selling. It’s about solving problems and filling needs in such a way that both buyer and seller are satisfied.

gk: The bottom line is that we’re teammates…both looking to score.

Stephanie K. De Long

Check out our October issue for what reps say about working with ECPs—plus get an insider peek at one rep’s day from dawn to dusk.