|Steve Seibert, CEO, and Bruce Kaplan, national sales manager, encourage their sales reps to educate customers about all the products and services Three Rivers offers.|
Carol Gilhawley talks to Bruce Kaplan, Three Rivers’ National Sales Manager, about the lab’s sales strategy.
Three Rivers Optical (TRO) has a national presence with eight account managers directed by Bruce Kaplan, MPA, ABOC, national sales manager, who has been in the optical business since 1980. Before joining Three Rivers in 2001 as account manager in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Kaplan had worked in retail managing the optical division of a large ophthalmology practice in eastern PA. He was promoted to sales manager at TRO in 2010 and works out of his home office in Allentown, PA.
“I hire account managers who have knowledge of optics and have out- side sales experience or can adapt to a wholesale environment,” Kaplan says. “Our focus is value-added products and services although we are very competitively priced.” The goal of TRO’s sales reps is to educate the three O’s about its products and services to help them better evaluate and meet patients’ needs. “The ECP can then present those options to enhance the patient’s in-office experience and maximize patient outcomes,” he adds.
Three Rivers has been an early adopter of new technologies. Offering ECPs free-form products such as its patented lined bifocal, the TR “O” SEG, in addition to its private label See More brand (introduced in 2009), has given the lab national recognition. “Many of our customers order this digital round seg,” Kaplan says. “With our See More digital brand, we sell our private label free-form lenses more than anything else.”
Kaplan believes that over the years the optical business has become significantly more complicated. “It is a high-tech business with a lot of turnover,” he explains. “ECPs are doing their best for their patients but keeping their staff well-trained is a challenge. We try to give them opportunities to create loyalty from their patient base by making sure their staff and patients are well educated.”
Only 22 states require opticians to have a license to practice, and except for the ABO, there is little national uniformity for ECPs. This has opened a valuable door to Three Rivers to offer training. Its strategy is to enable ECPs to see value in their lab and account managers. “If an ECP’s orientation is price only, that office is probably not interested in becoming our customer,” Kaplan states. “We offer lenses in all price ranges but we will never be the lowest. We retain our customers because we offer all of the major brands, have great turnaround time, excellent quality, educate in-office, and can provide custom-made products.”