Nathan Hayes

Nathan Hayes is the Manager of Business Development for Red Tray and Editor of

Reps are welcome to contact him at 404.934.3535 or to send him an e-mail if you have questions about how Red Tray can benefit your accounts or with general comments about selling to ECPs.

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What Are the Tax Implications of an ECP’s End-of-Year Inventory?

Posted on December 18, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers | 1 Comment

Many of you have asked me, “Why are my accounts so concerned with selling through any new product at the end of the year?”

Others have told me about accounts who buy $20,000 or more in stock at the end of the year.

In both instances, the ECPs were acting with their next year’s tax bill in mind.  Why would different accounts take opposite actions to better their taxes? Read More

4 Ways Your Accounts Can Stay Profitable During A Slowdown

Posted on November 6, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers | 2 Comments

As we discussed in my last blog, it’s clear that the eyewear industry is likely to stay down on a macro level for the rest of 2009. Still, your accounts can still maintain profitability in a stagnant revenue environment.

Here are 4 specific recommendations you can give your accounts as they wrap up 2009 and start planning for Q1 of 2010. Read More

If The Recession Is Ending, Why Are Optical Sales Down?

Posted on October 29, 2009
Filed Under Articles, Coaching your Customers | 1 Comment

2009 Started Out Well For Eyecare Providers

During the first half of this year, practice owners were telling us that, despite the bad economic news, patients were still coming in for office visits.

This feedback was consistent with reports from big players such as VSP, EyeMed and other vision plans that closely track program utilization.

Now, we are hearing from both practice owners and optical wholesalers that eyewear sales are down in September and October. Read More

3 Reasons Independents Are Taking Share From Corporate Eyecare

Posted on September 25, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers, Industry News | 1 Comment

Things We Learned From The ClearVision Optical Sales Meeting

Dr. Hayes (Red Tray’s owner) recently attended the annual meeting for ClearVision Optical to serve as an industry panelist for their national sales force.

A top ten frame company, ClearVision has a Read More

Three questions guaranteed to increase ECPs’ optical sales

Posted on September 2, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers | 2 Comments

ECPs Don’t Have To Be Pushy Or Twist Arms To Sell More Eyewear, They Just Have To Ask The Right Questions

One sure way your customers can increase the amount of optical products they sell and dispense is to ask the right questions, at the right time.

Yet, many ODs are hesitant, even timid, when suggesting eyewear to patients because they don’t want to come across as pushy.

However, in most cases, if an OD is only ‘helping’ his patients spend $200 every 2.5 years for one pair of glasses they will use for work, play, sports, dress and driving, he isn’t really serving his patients’ needs.

One pair of glasses for everything is no more in the best interest of an OD’s patients than one pair of shoes would be for work, exercise, dressing up and hanging out. Read More

Further thoughts on

Posted on August 14, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers | 4 Comments

I got some great feedback on the post from last week.  I think I was overly dismissive of the risk that poses to independent ECP.

ODs need to take notice

In the long run, is definitely a threat to independent dispensing optometrists and opticians.

ODs need to be positioning their services such that patients and consumers clearly recognize and value of the personalized medical care and fashion advice they receive in an optometric practce.

However, this doesn’t mean that private optometry is facing an existential threat.

Online retail won’t be the end of private optometry

Consider  Amazon has been enormously successful discounting and selling the ultimate commodity item, books.  Even so, only about 12% of all books are currently sold on line.

In my opinion, the unique fit and size requirements of frames and lenses is going to be difficult for online dispensers to conquer at a meaningful level in the foreseeable future.  Furthermore, optometrists have a great point of sale advantage right after they finish an exam.

I expect that the benefits of one-stop shopping, fashion consulting, and the ability to physically hold and try glasses on will keep most patients from going online just to get a discount.

In summary, the internet has proven fickle as a sales channel.  The best analog to the framesdirect model that I can think of is clothing (eyewear is, in one sense, a fashion accessory).

While lots of people do buy clothes online (including me), I don’t see retailers closing their doors just yet because people can buy clothes on the web.  I suspect it will be similar with eyewear.

Help your accounts protect themselves against online retailers

One of my goals with this blog is to help you become a true business consultant to your accounts and prospects.

You should be alerting  your customers to new industry developments like the rise of internet sales channels and helping them to protect their business against this threat.

As preparation, ask yourself: if you owned a dispensing optometric practice, how would you protect your busieness from losing customers to online retailers?

Please share your answers in the comments section or click here to send me an e-mail.

How can we ‘grow the pie’ of Optometry?

Posted on June 5, 2009
Filed Under Articles, Coaching your Customers | Leave A Comment

What if the answer to growing your sales wasn’t to woo an ECP away from one of your competitors, but growing the total sales of your existing accounts?

Sounds great, right? But, you’re probably thinking that in our current economic situation, this is more of a pipe dream than a serious proposition.

Kerry Bradley, President of Luxottica Retail for North America, made some brief remarks on ‘growing the pie’ of Optometry during Vision Expo in March.

(You can watch his presentation in the video section of VisionMonday’s Global Leadership Summit and view his slides here.)

Today, I want to summarize his talking points and get your thoughts: Can we help to grow our industry?  Are you already doing some of these things? Read More

Why would an OD consider an in-office lab?

Posted on April 24, 2009
Filed Under Coaching your Customers, Justifying Lab Services | 1 Comment

Today, I’m going to summarize an article by Dr. Todd M. Clark on why ODs want an in-house lab. (You can read the full article here.)

If you sell lab services, you may not like what he has to say. And, you may not agree with his points.

But, you can be sure that this article was read with great interest by many of the 31,000 ODs who subscribe to Optometric Management.

Since the topic of in-house lab equipment is on your accounts’ and prospects’ minds, it should be on your mind, too.

Here’s what I’d like you to do: Read my brief summary and then tell me how you respond when your accounts present the idea of putting in their own in-house lab.

According to Dr. Clark, here are the two reasons he thinks ODs should put in their own edging lab: Read More

When is an in-house edger “penny wise but pound foolish”?

Posted on December 30, 2008
Filed Under Articles, Coaching your Customers, Justifying Lab Services | Leave A Comment

Here is a great comment from Dan Floyd, a Hoya Rep in Atlanta. I welcome your thoughts as well.


Your blog on ‘understanding cost of goods’ was right on point.

In my opinion, many Doctors and the staff they have are operating by feel. They often voice they are not making any money, yet have no idea as to “cost of goods”.

Many offices have put in finishing labs. To my amazement, they only looked at how much they save on the cost of the lens when they edged the job themselves. None have factored in the cost of the $45K edger, the time it takes (wages), supplies, and spoilage. Read More