Ask INVISION: April 2016

I’ve decided to open on Saturdays. It’s the right thing to do for our patients and customers, but I know staff won’t be thrilled. How can I break the news?

Take a cue from Dr. Lyndi Schmidt at Acuity Vision Boutique in San Francisco, CA. She says that although her business has always been open on Saturdays, as her family has grown, she rarely works Saturdays now, and she has hired an OD to work weekends. “I still pop in some Saturdays to drop off fresh donuts, home baked goods, and sometimes lunch to show my staff I appreciate them working on Saturdays,” she says. “It keeps the morale up. The patients really appreciate that we have Saturday hours. If you can keep your staff happy with little perks, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of INVISION.

You suggest giving speeches in my community. How can I get started?

Smart move, says INVISION columnist and eyecare business management guru John Marvin. “Offering your time and eyecare expertise by giving speeches to community and civic groups can be a rewarding way to market your practice. Your expertise in eyecare overlaps with areas of public concern. Many community groups have small budgets and are always looking for good speakers for their monthly programs.” Marvin suggests a two-pronged approach — one active, one passive — to boost your number of speaking engagements. First, you can call or write local community clubs and organizations to offer your speaking services. Second, you can note your availability to speak at local events in your client newsletter and also post an announcement on your reception-area bulletin board. Be sure to include a list of topics you can cover and special features of your presentation.

I keep reading I should be adding video to my website and even my email bulletins. Yes? No?

If you’re adding it because of “new toy syndrome” then no, bad idea. Nothing annoys people like boring video content or slow video streams. And it’s not so new — moving pictures aren’t going to pique many people’s attention anymore. Your rule of thumb should be: Use video only when it offers a better experience than text and images can. Such cases could include video testimonials, a nicely produced short on the history of the family business, or perhaps a style guide on what kind of eyewear matches best with different face shapes. Should you need a producer for your video (and you probably will if you’re going to do it right), start your search at, a network of thousands of pros who’ll bid for the job. To get maximum value from your video shoot, consider planning out an entire year’s worth of content that you could shoot in a single day.

Is it really a good idea to hire a client who is an eyewear fanatic as a salesperson?

We have heard stories of it working out well, and we know of at least one business where almost all the staff are former customers. But you also need to be aware of the downside should you have to fire them, for underperformance or discipline issues. As one of INVISION’s Brain Squad members put it, “They’ll hate you and tell their high-spending friends.”

Go one of two ways with messages on your sandwich board: you can try to promote your sales or you can try to give people a chuckle.

I was looking for somewhere to buy sandwich boards. Any ideas on where to go and what to look for?

Sidewalk sandwich-board and easel displays are a great way to draw people into your business. Your creative approach can hew to one of two approaches: Update passers-by with daily sales and new product information, or inspire them and give them a chuckle due to the awesomeness of your product. (As in the image from an optician’s business shown at left.) You can get a basic chalk-able sandwich board from To see a wider variety of sidewalk signage, including custom options, check with your local sign company or see Once you have your sign, instantly get a year or more worth of creative inspiration by searching Pinterest for “sandwich boards.”

We’d like to reach a new audience and wonder whether radio is still an effective medium. What do you think?

Public and community radio stations can be a very good way to reach presbyopes who need your services — the median age for NPR listeners is 54 — and younger people who prefer to do business locally. Audiences tend to be more affluent, too. Ads usually take the form of sponsorship announcements. Seattle, WA, optical boutique 4 Your Eyes Only uses NPR affiliate KUOW to reach its intended upscale clientele, and owner Judy Ayers frequently uses her simple, 20-second messages to highlight an upcoming trunk show or new line. “We advertise with our favorite community radio station, KUT,” reports Tiffany Satterly of Optique in Austin, TX. “It’s owned by the University of Texas, one of the biggest sources of patients in town. Plus we love listening to news radio on the way to work, and many of our patients do too!”