We should be data driven in all of our intiatives, both internally and externally.

Some years ago, I accompanied our sales rep into the office of an optometrist for whom our lab did 100% of the work. He was an engaging and forward-thinking gentleman with a lot of drive. The purpose of our visit was to talk about increasing anti-reflective treatment sales, although we didn’t reveal that purpose in advance of the visit.

After exchanging some pleasantries, I asked him if he knew his percentage of AR. He proudly exclaimed: “We have almost everyone in AR. We’re over 95%.” I had to let a little air out of his balloon at that point. I had brought along his lens utilization statistics and said: “I think you are going to be surprised because your numbers are actually 41%, which is still a good number.” He almost went ballistic! He wanted to immediately confront his opticians and read the riot act to them. Luckily, I was able to calm him down pretty quickly.

One thing that tends to be true in business: If you don’t actually know the numbers, you think the numbers are pretty good. This issue of Optical Lab Products is devoted to data mining, which is of key importance to be successful and profitable as a lab. We have great advantages with the computer systems that are available today, we just need to USE them! The data we should be examining every month (if not more often) includes the numbers for our labs, as well as the numbers for our customers.

While data mining may sound boring, it should be at the apex of our marketing and manufacturing decisions. The data should direct our conversations with our customers and our improvement plans within the laboratory environment. We should be data driven in all of our intiatives, both internally and externally.

And a final thought: Google, one of the largest tech companies in the world, got there and STAYS there by data mining. They are said to know more about you than you do. So know the numbers! That will help you move to the top of your world.

Eric Rollins is a veteran of the optical retail, frame and lab industries. His firm, Rollins Consulting, LLC, consults with the three Os to improve profitability. Email him at


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