America's Finest: Fine Secrets


Our winning businesses share some essential advice  on what got them here.

- Carry merchandise not available online or at other nearby stores. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do, but you must differentiate yourself. Jordan Silver, Silver Lining Opticians, New York, NY

- Know your clientele. We keep in mind that our patient base is mainly attorneys, doctors, high level executives and people in oil and gas. We carefully curate our collections to give our patients something special and unique that can not be found in every optical. Dr. Gary Nguyen, Eye Impact, Houston, TX

Find a point of view that works with your store and your staff’s sensibilities and run with that. Once you do that, go to shows and find new product to match that point of view. Nate Ogura, Eyes on Fremont, Seattle, WA

- Our employees don’t sell on commission. We sell our customers only what they need or want. It eliminates pressure and engenders trust. Dr. Chris Anastasiou, Modern Eye, Philadelphia, PA

- We strive to learn from other types of retail and industries, because we can always improve our service and make our clients even happier. Pierce Voorthuis, Georgetown Optician, Washington, DC

- Hire smart, kind, caring people over experienced people. Experience is great, but you can teach smart, motivated people how to do just about anything. You can’t teach people to be nice. Dr. Sarah Jerome, Look + See Eye Care, Minneapolis, MN

- Make exceptions to your office policies to keep your patients happy — and tell them about it. Don’t nickel and dime people. They are smart and they know better. Be OK making exceptions if that’s what it takes (i.e. remakes). You will reap the benefits in the long run. Dr. Sarah Jerome

- We take extra time to involve people in the process. Instead of saying, “This is the best lens,” we explain lenses and help them choose. We do that on a daily basis, including for people who just want their glasses adjusted. Mitch Gillette, Modern Eye 

Even though we use electronic medical records, each patient is given a laminated glasses prescription card, the size of a business card. These are extremely popular with patients and these have also proven useful in two cases in which wallets were found and there was no identification besides our prescription card. Dr. Sonja Franklin, Modern Eyes, Austin, TX

- Invest in fewer brands and go deeper in each collection. Forty-eight pieces in each collection is perfect and allows you to purchase at least two to three colors of the best-selling styles. Mike McConnell, Sight Optical, Grand Rapids, MI

- Customers leave with gift bags containing their glasses, case, cloth, branded spray bottle and a black envelope. In the envelope is a card that states, “We strive to give the best possible eyewear buying experience and if you feel we nailed it and know someone who may benefit from our services, please feel free to give them this card and they will save $50 on their purchase of prescription eyewear.” Mike McConnell

- It sounds kind of boring, but everything in the store should have a home. It makes everything run so much more efficiently. Knowing where anything will be at any time can help a lot. Think about it: On a busy day, do you really want to search for another roll of credit card machine paper instead of working with customers looking for new frames?  Nate Ogura

Work to differentiate your store by bringing your own “DNA” into the business. For example, if you have artistic talent, you can design your own logo, shopping bags and window displays.

Onega Astaltsova, Providence Optical, Providence, RI

Provide a level of customer service that corporate giants can’t. Remember birthdays, send handwritten notes, share articles of interest. Be a part of your customers’ lives.

Jordan Silver 

Be honest about patients’ frame selection. Point out the good and the bad. Don’t say a selection is “fabulous” when it really isn’t just to close the sale.

Dr. Arnold Bulos, Eye Gallery, Ypsilanti, MI 


1st Place Eyes on Fremont / 2nd Place Silver Lining Opticians / 3rd Place Modern Eye

Fine-alists Eye Gallery / Eye Impact / Georgetown Optician / Look + See Eye Care / Modern Eyes / Providence Optical / Sight Optical

Explore more of “America’s Finest” eyecare businesses in each and every issue of INVISION.