Five Traits of Outstanding Frame Reps
How do your ‘favorite’ reps compare? Are you really working with the best, or is it time to raise your standards?
The eyewear industry is more competitive than ever before. At least once a week there is news of another brand licensing agreement, merger, or acquisition within the optical market, and frame vendors appear to dominate these stories more than any other wholesaler. This constantly changing climate is not just due to a game of “Musical Chairs for Licensed Brands” or “Pin the Tail on the New Parent Company,” though it may often seem that way!
New innovations in fashion, technology and manufacturing reveal unique opportunities, and passionate entrepreneurs will bring products and services to market that offer wholesalers, eye care practitioners, and ultimately, the consumer more choices and better solutions for their eye care needs. Having more choices is always a good thing, and multiple options in one sector of the industry will create more competition. As anyone ever tasked with managing frame inventory can tell you – increased competition means more reps vying for your business!
Before making the transition from retail optical sales to the wholesale side years ago, making purchasing decisions for the optical was one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. As the buyer it was my responsibility to select profitable inventory that would sell through well, learn about new products, and communicate industry developments to the practice owners, so I appreciated how the sales reps that called on me could be an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, not all reps are created equally. Those years as a buyer and many more on the other side of the table have provided countless opportunities to observe what makes a frame rep truly great, and each of them possesses five specific traits:
There is never a reason to question the integrity of the best eyewear reps. They don’t need to work at always doing the right thing, as it’s in their very nature to do so – even if it costs them a sale.
No excuses will come from great frame reps - when they say something will be done you can count on it! Though no one is immune to making mistakes, when really great reps make them they accept responsibility, apologize when needed and make corrections without excuses.
The best eyewear reps never display a ‘know-it-all’ attitude, but they keep up with industry news and don’t gossip about your competition – or theirs! They aren’t afraid to say they don’t know the answers, but they will find them as quickly as possible.
Truly excellent reps view their role in your office as a privilege, not as a right owed to them by virtue of tenure, relationship, or inventory agreements with the vendor they represent. This doesn’t mean they are there to bow at the feet of the buyer, but they are grateful for your business and show it during every interaction.
An Attitude of Service – one of the rarer traits!
Many vendors’ restrictive policies make it difficult, or even impossible, for some eyewear reps to deliver the level of service they would like to provide, so an attitude of service found in only the best reps can be tough to determine. Only the best will go above and beyond what is expected to help their customers, and it shows in every interaction.
Some of these characteristics are difficult to determine. Your instincts are a great quantifier, so if you doubt any one of these traits – go with your gut! This short list may seem very simple, but when used as a benchmark against which all reps are measured it can very quickly narrow the playing field. We use something like this at Europa during the hiring process, so we can find only the best reps for our sales force. Maybe now is a good time to compare each of your existing reps with these standards and adopt a new level of excellence for your office!