The reason to buy discontinued eyewear is a no brainer…PROFITS.
Get a 6x+ margin compared to the traditional 3x. However, there is a stigma around selling a product that is discontinued. Opticians and doctors think it has lost its value or the quality just has immediately diminished because we put the word “discontinued” in front of it.
When you are at the grocery store, a simple way to get rid of food products that are soon to expire is to discount them! If a T-Bone steak expires in 3 days, no need to panic…you just sell it at a discounted price and people flock at it. Discounted items almost ALWAYS sell out.
The same thing applies to frames. Frame manufacturers always have a buttload of inventory sitting in their warehouse. When the inventory builds up to an ungodly amount, they have to decide what the heck to do with it!! Do sales reps start calling to make sales? Does the frame company make the smart decision and discount their product that’s not selling to get rid of and make room for better sellers? Just because a frame is being discontinued does not mean it’s of poor quality. It just means the frame did not sell as well as expected. Perhaps the shape did not resonate with consumers, or perhaps the color was just not popular. Maybe it was too vivid of blue color and consumers would prefer a more muted blue.
Where do I buy discontinued eyewear from?
Actually, Eyetrepreneur has a secret small monthly email blast for this stuff! We list what vendors are selling and show images of products and all the info of prices, etc.
Every major brand small or large and even independent frame lines have discontinued products. When your frame reps visit the office, just ask them if they sell discontinued frames. Most reps don’t like to tell you they offer it because they make fewer commissions. They want to sell you full-priced new product releases (and we don’t blame them, making money is their job).
Alternatively, just call the corporate office and ask the receptionist. Sometimes it’s really that easy to find good deals on glasses.
Lastly, here’s a few dedicated spots online to always check monthly for new discontinued inventory. These players are really easy to buy from, and the eyewear is all new and usually with cases.
How much should I pay for a discontinued frame?
Let’s start with an example. If the normal wholesale cost on a frame is $100, I would not pay more than $50 for this frame. If you are truly getting a good deal you will buy this frame for $20-$30. When you buy these frames, you will usually be required to purchase a minimum quantity of frames. I would suggest making an investment in the frame line to show patients it’s something you really support. When you only show 5-10 frames of a brand, they will just get lost in your optical. Start with 30-50 pieces of the frame brand to make a good presence. Oh, and your patients will feel COOL that they get something not that many people will have.
How much should I mark the discontinued frame up for retail pricing?
Traditional full wholesale purchased frames are marked up 3x. However, when you buy a discontinued frame, you really have complete freedom on pricing. Your markup depends on what price you bought the frames at. If you buy a frame that normally wholesales for $200 but you purchased for $10, then I suggest you do a 20x markup. I know that sounds C R A Z Y! I may be doing a big markup to the original retail price, however, patients don’t know the frame is discontinued. Take advantage of this situation. You are the smart doctor, manager or optician that found this deal and deserve to make a profit for your business. If we just continue to make the same purchasing decisions and buy our products at full price always, we’ll get the same financial results for our businesses…mediocre ones.
Stop selling your frugal patients junk eyewear!
What do you do when you have a patient that says “I just want what my insurance covers?”
I’m sure most of you buy a frame line that caters to this crowd that is cost-conscious. The typical VSP or Eyemed allowance is $130 so you provide the patient with a frame in this price range. The problem is that you bought this frame at $45 and these lousy vision plans allow you to make NO MONEY when the patient is being frugal…that’s why we always have to upsell to better frames and better lenses.
A better option is to sell that patient a high-quality discontinued frame. You could buy a frame for $10-$20 and markup to $120 for this patient that just wants what insurance covers. You’ll actually be doing the patient a favor by offering a good pair of eyeglasses because you were smart enough to source the frames.
Most frames you buy for $10 – $40 are just complete junk. They are made from nickel, have crappy spring hinges, and just the styling itself is poor. It’s smart to buy a discontinued frame and allow the patient to get something quality. That way you are not having to service the product later on for repairs.
Do I provide warranties on discontinued frames?
NO, no and no!
We’ve been brainwashed to believe every pair of glasses should come with a warranty for a minimum of 1-year. If we look at warranty utilization rates though, it’s pretty slim (unless you are selling really low-quality eyewear).
Most warranties on eyewear are not actual manufacturer defects. The patient usually over-extends a temple to break the hinge or puts brute force on them, causing them to break.
There’s always a big industry debate…do we tell the patients during the sale or dispense the eyewear that comes with a 1-year warranty? I vote no. Why? The moment you mention warranties and eyewear breaking, patients get the idea in their head that you will replace the frames no matter what happens. It’s almost like they will plan to visit you 11 months after they bought their glasses to get a free replacement.
What I like to do is NEVER mention warranties. It’s not a sales tactic and it’s not a benefit. If you sell good eyewear and provide patients with proper frame fittings at dispense, then it’s likely nothing bad will happen to a pair of glasses. I’d rather be the hero optician that fixes something at no charge when a patient comes in with a broken temple and tells them “hey, don’t worry, I’ll get you a new left temple at no charge.”
Now, discontinued frames usually don’t come with warranties from the manufacturers. It’s a final sale. It’s the risk you take buying them at steeply discounted prices. You make more profit, but in return, you take the risk you cannot service your patients when things happen.
In the rare event, your patient needs service for their frame, I recommend sending to these repair facilities. Yes, frames can be repaired super easy! Why replace it when you can fix it? Just repair the frame for FREE and make the patient happy. It’s rarely going to happen…if ever. If the frame can’t be repaired just eat the cost of the frame and credit their account for a frame in that price range.
Can I get a rep to bring the discontinued frames to my office to see?
No! In business, with risk comes financial rewards. Usually, a frame company will just send you a PDF of the frames they have in clearance and you select from it. Rarely will you actually ever get to feel or touch the frames before buying. When you are buying frames so inexpensive, your risk is so minimal. You sell a few of the frames and you already paid off your costs of goods. You sell a handful of them with lenses and you’ve made a profit.
Am I price-gouging a patient since I bought the frame for $20 and selling for $300?
You are a business and not a charity.
Never think in these terms. We already take enough write off with vision plans and insurance companies. It’s time we work smarter and not harder in the optical. We have enough competition with online retailers. You think online companies buying frames in bulk pay as much as us little retailers? Heck no. They get those bulk discounts.
How much of my optical dispensary should be discontinued frames?
5-15% of your optical is a healthy amount. Any more than that then you will constantly have to be on the search for these discontinued deals. It’s totally cool to have a business model like that, but you definitely have to be dedicated to always procuring discontinued frames.
Patients have no clue what optical trends are. There’s absolutely no way to tell if a frame is discontinued or not. Just put the frame on your shelves or boards and pretend the frame is just any ole frame.
Using discontinued frames for 2nd pair deals
Many opticals give large 2nd pair discounts. I know VSP instructs you to give a 30% discount on all 2nd pairs sales. Selling more than one pair is great, but giving up 30% of your profit is not! Ouch….
Discontinued frames are a great way to make up for this lost margin. Getting a 6x+ markup on frames allows you to offer a heavy discount like 30% or more and still make a profit on the 2nd pair of frames and lenses. It’s really frustrating how vision plans can dictate discounts to the optometry profession, but we can work smarter to circumvent their stupid rules.
Should I tell my patients these frames are discontinued?
That’s one way to justify why the frame you are selling is at a discounted price if you are selling cheap. However, I think it’s best not to tell patients these things. They will start asking all sorts of questions about why the product is off the market. It’s better to just present the frame just like the others. Patients don’t need to know every little thing about how you do business. Remember, patients just want a great eye exam with good refraction, good customer service, and nice eyewear they can see out of. Plus, they want it delivered quickly! That’s how simple optometry and optical expectations are.
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