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What I have learned

“We look to help our patients express their individuality”

Team members of Finlay London, Soho branch and founders, David Lochhead and Dane Butler, discuss providing an own brand frame offering to patients

10 Dec 2018 by Andrew McClean

What is Finlay London’s own brand frame offering? 

David Lochhead and Dane Butler (DL/DB): At Finlay London we look to help our patients express their individuality through their choice of frames. We offer 15 brands in our Soho boutique in London. At the heart of our selection is the Finlay London own brand collection of handmade Italian acetate and metal frames.

We understand that our customers appreciate a choice of brands and the variation in style and colour that comes with curating these brands, but we believe that many customers are also looking for excellent value. Our proposition offers classic styles and colours at attainable prices. However, if a customer is looking for something even more expressive, they can have a look at the other collections available in store.

How does this affect business cost?

DL/DB: While the margins are certainly stronger for us when selling own brand frames, you need to be selling a significant number of frames per year to make the exercise worthwhile. The economies of scale that come from having a wide customer base both online and offline, enable us to expand our own-brand collection each season.

Founders of Finlay London, David Lochhead and Dane Butler
Founders of Finlay London, David Lochhead and Dane Butler

What factors influenced the decision to only offer own-brand frames? 

DL/DB: Our background is in frame design rather than optometry. It was always part of the plan to have our own collection in our practices.

How does having an own brand frame offering benefit practitioners and patients?

DL/DB: Having our own brand of frames offers continuity for our practitioners. They are able to have confidence at any given time that we have a particular type of frame for a particular prescription.

Patients can come back to us year after year and find that their favourite frame is available in new colours. When stocking other brands, they might come back one year to find that a particular brand and frame style is no longer carried by the practice.

“Own-brand frames enable us to offer exceptional quality frames at really sensible pricing”

David Lochhead and Dane Butler, founders of Finlay London

What feedback have you received from practitioners and patients about it, and what has changed as a result?

DL/DB: Our practitioners will regularly say, ‘We’ve had customers asking for such and such a type of frame, could we introduce it?’ Often this comes down to sizing over styling – more larger frames or more frames for smaller heads. Patients have responded favourably too as they are able to purchase these frames online as well as offline in store. It means that if visitors or tourists come to our stores they feel under less pressure to make a final decision about a frame colour or style as they can purchase online at a later date.

What training is provided to practitioners about introducing and explaining the service to patients?

DL/DB: All practitioners are educated about each brand that is available in store. They are not incentivised to sell one brand of frame over another as the emphasis is on finding frames and lenses for our customers that best suit their needs.

What are the benefits of providing own-brand frames?

Finlay London team (FL): Own-brand frames enable us to offer exceptional quality frames at really sensible pricing. Some of our patients are more price-sensitive than others and so having this range enables us to have the confidence that we can always provide an excellent pair of glasses without the patient being worried about cost.

Finlay London store interior

How does it fit into and influence the patient journey? 

FL: We really try to let the patient decide what products they wish to try-on and ultimately purchase. We’re on hand to ensure that everyone who visits our practice has a wonderful experience and we do this by focusing on frame fit, matching the patient’s complexion and lifestyle needs as well as giving them the warmest of welcomes. All frames have prices clearly marked in store and so we find some patients gravitate naturally towards the Finlay range due to the price or brand preference, whilst others are brand agnostic and really just want to look fab.

What are the most common questions that patients ask about the service? 

FL: We often find that patients are more willing to customise the own brand frames – either by adding personalised engraving or by requesting a specific lens colour for sunglasses. Customers often ask if our own brand frames are as good quality as the other brands we carry. When we explain about the materials we use and the provenance involved, this allays any concerns.

“Our curation of independent brands alongside our own brand make us more of a destination when it comes to eyewear”

Finlay London team

How does having an own-brand selection of frames differentiate your practice on the High Street? 

FL: Many practices carry great selections of frames, but these brands can be found in multiple places. Our curation of independent brands alongside our own brand make us more of a destination when it comes to purchasing eyewear.

Do you think exclusivity is a factor for patients and, if so, why?

Yes – I think having the Finlay collection available exclusively in our practice gives patients more of a reason to come and visit us rather than other practices.

How has this influenced your customer base. Do you get patients coming to the practice just because of the frame offering? 

Absolutely – we often find patients have researched our frames online and know exactly what styles they would like to try by the time they arrive in store. Perhaps a famous face has tagged our frames on Instagram or they might have seen a friend with a particular style that they’d like to try.

For more information about Finlay London’s own-brand frame collection, visit its website. 

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