Ask INVISION: How ECPs Can Get More From Siri

Get more use from Siri

I’ve got an iPhone and have heard a lot about Siri. How can I use it in my business?

Too many people use Apple’s powerful voice-command system solely to play songs from iTunes and do basic web searches. But Siri is capable of much, much more. Here are just a few surprising things Siri can do for you: Find out next week’s weather. Get the daily UV index. Make the screen brighter. Launch an app. Get an app. Take a picture. Search for “images of new Tom Ford sunglasses.” You can even establish to Siri who is your wife and best friend are, and then tell your phone to call/message/Facetime/find the location of your wife or best friend. (Wouldn’t it be incredibly awkward if you found them together?) With assistance from Apple’s Home Kit Device commands, you can even lock your home or business’ front door, turn on or off your lights or adjust your thermostat. Get an extensive list of Siri voice commands at

I am located in a mall and quite a few stores in it have closed. How can I tell if the mall itself is in danger of closing?

The retail industry — and the mall segment in particular — is going through a period of disruption and transition for a number of reasons (internet, demographic changes, the fallout from the last recession and so on). The loss of an anchor store is usually the biggest yellow flag indicating the future is less than brilliant. Another is when a mall loses mainline tenants like the Gap. If a big chain says it’s going to close a number of stores in a big city area and chooses the outlet in your mall, that usually indicates the numbers have fallen below a critical level.

How often should I be looking to change my window display?

This depends on the flow of traffic in front of the store. The purpose of a window is to capture customers attention and to keep them engaged. If your optical is in a location where many of the same people pass by every day, it is in your best interest to adjust the look of the window often. The change can be as simple as keeping a display for a month at a time, while changing only one eye-catching element and rotating through various frames or collections, says store management consultant Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts. “For other stores, where foot traffic is not as significant an issue, changing less frequently might be acceptable.” She adds that successful stores also know that keeping a consistent theme or look — between windows and between windows and interior displays, is an important part of getting the customer to focus on the product. “The decor should set the scene, but the merchandise should tell the story,” she says.

One of my salespeople recently resigned and opened his own sunglasses shop in a local mall. What should I do?

Unless he did something that was in violation of his work contract, you should forget about it. There’s always going to be competition, and the only way to keep a step ahead is to stay focused on building your business. People waste a lot of time and energy worrying about ex-employees who become competitors. Just concentrate on being the best you can be, and he’ll either need to find his own niche or he’ll face some tough market realities.

What if I see someone go to steal something and then put it back?

Ain’t much you can do, says Rick Segel, author of the Retail Business Kit For Dummies. “The police don’t arrest people for contemplating shoplifting.” Just keep a close eye on them and hope they don’t come back.

I’ve decided to fire a staff member for failing to perform. What should I tell other staff?

For legal and morale reasons, our advice is to avoid going into detail. Shortly after the employee is fired, make a brief statement to your other workers, saying that the employee is no longer with the store. Identify who will handle the tasks that person was responsible for, and ask them to direct any other questions to you.

Are pay-per-click ads a good investment for an optician/optometrist?

Google’s own data makes it clear: Pay-per-click works extremely well for existing businesses that have already built a name or themselves. Pay-per-click performs poorly for businesses that aren’t already well known. If the name of your business is a household word in your town, consider investing in local pay-per-click. But if you’re still trying to build your name, put all your eggs into a single mass-media basket and then lift that basket to the sky, says Roy H. Williams, author of The Wizard of Ads. “The biggest mistake you can make is to spread your ad dollars around, thinking you should cover all your bases. You don’t have the money for that. Have courage. Get focused. Talk loud and draw a crowd,” he says.