The relationships you build with vendors are about more than buying products. Your vendors are partners in your success and provide valuable product information, sales skills, and support in various ways.
Ask Vendor Reps for Advice
Good vendors look at themselves as business consultants. Companies don’t need someone who just comes in and pushes the company line and only is there for a sale. Those are a waste of time. The vendors who learn about the practice and try to assist in areas beyond their company's products are truly special. Your reps should know what is going on in the immediate area with marketing, how business is going, and whether there are any marketing ideas they have seen in other practices that could help you.
Manage Your Vendor Meetings
Depending on which type of rep is coming in, determine who sees them in your practice. Frame reps should be seen by the office supervisor, who does the buying with the support of two opticians. Pharmaceutical reps generally will stop in unannounced and need a doctor's signature to leave samples. They will wait for a doctor to come out between patients and have them sign and we give them a couple of minutes to talk. If they want more doctor time, they need to schedule an appointment.
Ask your vendors to be prepared to be brief and to the point. Contact lens reps will typically schedule time to sit down for more than two minutes. If they are coming in just to drop off information, they will speak with a contact lens tech. Other reps, such as for dry eye products and over-the-counter products, will speak with the office supervisor unless they have an appointment.
Make Sure Your Vendor Reps Are Meeting Your Needs
When you sit down with a vendor, look for several things. First, you want to know what is new in their business. Do they have new products or information to help with your patients? Second, do they have any marketing programs to assist with the profitability of your practice? And third, you want to know what is going on in the community. Reps visit many offices and often have knowledge of events going on or maybe a practice management solution they have seen elsewhere that could aid your office. Ask if there are any specials, and make sure you are receiving the best prices possible.
Expand the Conversation
To make a meeting mutually beneficial there needs to be an ongoing business conversation, but also talk about kids, sports or maybe a trip, to make the exchange more personal and enjoyable. The valuable vendors are more than just a salesperson, they are an extension of your practice, and they are almost like an outside employee. The better the vendor understands this relationship the more beneficial it will be. Look for business ideas from them to help your business grow, and make sure they understand that if your business grows they will end up getting more business from you.
Stay Up-to-Date on Products
One of the more important roles of the rep is to keep the office up-to-date on their product lines. It is their job to educate you and recommend products which will be the best for your patients and sell well.
Ask Vendors to Help Educate Staff
An extremely valuable way to utilize vendors is have them educate the staff. Conduct staff meetings where a vendor will bring in lunch for the staff and do a program to educate the staff on new products. This is very valuable with the introduction of new products as you may not be as familiar with the product, but want to learn about it too. The reps are also a good resource for review training such as with how to train a hybrid contact lens wearer.
Sunshine Ophthalmic specializes in the latest ophthalmic equipment; pre-owned and discounted instruments; and supplies. With over 35 years of experience, we know what you need and value the relationships we create with the practices we service. Our team offers factory-trained service on most of your equipment. Either in house or field service is available. We offer tune-ups and service contracts at competitive prices throughout the state of Florida.