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Patricia Basile | 1/30/2018

Introduction:  A simple framework for reenergizing your optical brand

Goal: To provide a structure to improve the optical dispensary and integrate it more thoroughly with the entire practice to achieve a seamless and positive experience for every patient.

Do you have the right staff in place?

Define for yourself what impression you want each staff member to have on your patients. Use words like friendly, warm, welcoming and supportive.  Often staff members may be more focused on being clinical, accurate and efficient.  While those traits are very important, a patient can be put off if these attitudes are projected to the exclusion of the more comforting approach.  Every patient expects competency, but friendliness will be remembered and rewarded in loyalty over the long term.

Does the existing staff reflect the qualities you have defined?

Cultivate the behaviors that you want to encourage.  The way associates approach their work should be evaluated regularly and rewarded when appropriate.   We measure and give feedback on punctuality, accuracy and expertise, and rightly so, but reviews should also include how they interact with patients and fellow employees.  The general atmosphere of the office is important, people who are respectful and supportive of each other foster a congenial environment that will be palpable to your patients.

Do you need to add staff? 

If you are adding staff, keep an eye open for people who provide excellent customer service and have a friendly attitude. 

Should you consider utilizing a super-tech model? 

You may consider the super-tech model, creating a seamless flow with the ultimate fitter of eyewear.  They will have heard patient’s concerns and the doctor’s recommendations to address them as the exam is in progress.  Making it part of the selection process, rather than separate from it.

Reevaluate everything.  What product do you want to carry?  What products are your patients looking for?

How many frames should you carry? A quick calculation is to take your annual frame sales total and divide by 3.  This is the number of frames you should ideally have in inventory. Use the ABC method as a guide for what brands are working for you. Briefly you will break out the frame sales by determining the frames that represent the top 50% of your sales, these are “A” frames, the next 25% are “B” frames. Looking at the actual sales trend, maintain at least 24 to 36 pieces in these lines.  Limit your vendors to approximately 10, it’s better to have a large selection in fewer lines than just a few in many. After you have determined the mix you want, create the inventory you want.  Consider removing every single frame from your displays.  Clean, arrange by brand and possibly replace the displays until the look is exactly what you want.

Let’s re-define presentation!  Presentation is more than just a hand-off from the optometrist to the optician. Presentation is more than the just merchandising. Presentation begins when the patient walks through the front door.  Presentation is the positive discussion of available products. Presentation is pure excitement about your selection of frames and unlimited options to solve any vision correction need.  What I propose is a complete package approach. The more integral the optician is to the total practice the easier it is to retain the patient’s confidence in the optical services that you provide.  I suggest that the optician/fitter/super-tech introduce themselves early in the process of the exam.  i.e. “Hello, Ms. Smith, my name is Dan, I’m the optician and just wanted to offer to clean your glasses, tighten the screws, etc.  or “I am so excited about this new frame line, come and try some on while you wait to be seen.” Or, “would you like to look at frames before kicks in?”  Anything that opens the conversation about eyewear.  This begins the bonding process if they expect to make a purchase or opens the subject for them to make a statement about not buying today. 

Always be light and engaging.  If you get a confession that they are buying eyeglasses elsewhere, do not be negative.  Offer to show them some of the things you want them to look for, attention to construction, quality of finish, warrantee, guarantee, critical measurements for height as well as pupillary distance, fitting of the bridge, temple length, etc., etc., etc.  By the time you get through going over all the things that they can trust you to do right, the chances are they will order from you and be relieved to have avoided making a big mistake. Above all else you want them to remember a very positive experience, whether they make material purchases or not. 

In many cases, the value of the products you carry is so obvious to you that you lose sight of the fact that the average consumer needs information.   It requires patience to explain the value of a more expensive product to the consumer.  All they hear is that the $39 special is the same product as the product they get for “hundreds more at your eye doctor’s office”.

People in place, product tailored to your practice and presentation from the beginning to the end. 

Patricia Basile
Optical Management Consultant
Pat Basile has extensive experience in sales, customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has had great success in developing and implementing growth plans, providing training and leadership to achieve greater sales and productivity results. She believes that the consumer is much better served by the personal care provided by small, independent and caring optometric practices. Pat will listen to your concerns and help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include training and setting goals for sales and customer service, inventory management and frame board management.
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