How many frames do I need?
If you stock too many frames, you’ll tie up cash in inventory when it might be put to better use elsewhere. Too few frames? You’ll lose business due to poor selection.
Although some practitioners recommend a formula based on the size of your optical – one frame per square foot of dispensary is one popular rule of thumb – I found that counting frame “turns” was a more reliable means of calculating my frame requirements.
To calculate your turn rate, find out the average number of frames you dispense each month, then multiply this number by 12, which will yield your yearly volume. Then divide this figure by the number of turns you want per year. Marilee Blackwell, M.B.A., A.I.B.A., of The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence, recommends that your inventory turn three or four times per year. This mathematical formula will give you a desired frame inventory volume.
Now, you may be thinking as I did, “Great, I’ll carry only 100 frames or so and turn them 12 times a year.” It doesn’t quite work that way. “That sounds great,” says Jerry Hayes, O.D., “but it could mean that your frame display is too small. Your sales volume would likely be even greater if you had more frames to show.”
How long should I keep a frame?
Frames that don’t sell tie up your money and lose value over time. What’s the best shelf life for a frame? I use Dr. Hayes’ recommendation of twice your average turn.
For example, if your inventory is turning three times a year, or once every 4 months, you wouldn’t want a frame to sit unsold longer than 8 months. Keep in mind that high-end and specialty frames won’t turn as often as less expensive ones.
How many of each frame should I carry?
The best way to determine what your frame composition should be is to use your practice demographic data. Count (or have your software count) the number and ages of the men, women and children in your practice, and then base frame distribution on these numbers.
If your practice caters to largely one group – say, low-income patients or business people – skew your selection toward them and divide your board space accordingly. In our two offices, we have a large Medicare patient base, so we try to gear our inventory to an older person’s taste.
We also try to follow some size guidelines. We keep children’s frames in sizes 44 to 50, and we stock a good number of metal frames in sizes 48 to 54, which are popular in our practice.
We’ve also learned the following do’s and don’ts:
* Do display all frames. Your patients can’t see a frame stashed in a drawer, and it may be just the one they want. Also, keeping all frames on display makes it easier to monitor inventory.
* Don’t stock frames in duplicate colors or eyesizes. To keep inventory low, use your display frames for patients to choose from. You always can order a different color or size on approval. For this reason, we don’t buy frame kits, which typically offer one frame in different colors.
* Don’t buy discontinued or close-out frames. You may not be able to get replacement parts. And you have to be able to service what you sell.
* Don’t buy any frame that isn’t warranted. You can pass this warranty along to your patients.
* Do insist on quality frames. Sell only frames that will last. Independent optometrists can’t compete with the superstores on the number of different frames they offer, so we must emphasize quality eyewear, professional care and personal service.
How do I track frame inventory?
We’ve tried many systems for tracking frame sales: index cards, frame tags, notebook logs and, finally, computer software.
A computerized system should provide daily and monthly sales summaries along with detailed inventory reports. Your system should tell you the top 10 selling frames in your practice. You can then compare your sales summaries with your frame representative’s summaries.
Tracking frame sales requires diligence. Someone has to ensure that the data is correct. Whatever system you use, it’s only as good as the people using it. 5/19/09