Ask INVISION: November-December 2014

patient won't stop talking advice

What do you do when a patient keeps talking and won’t give succinct answers during a refraction?

Over the years, Dr. Jay Petersma of Johnston EyeCare in Johnston, IA, has refined a little preamble that eliminates patients’ wordier, more poetic attempts to describe the difference between 1 and 2. Petersma tells patients: “I need immediate first impressions, not thoughts or descriptions. If you sit and stare and think about the choices, you will have glasses that only work when you sit and stare and think about things. We want instant vision, so I need instant answers.” Say it before you even start the refraction so patients don’t feel singled out for their behavior.

I’ve hired a new employee, but she won’t start for a few more months. How can I keep her feeling excited and positive about the job — and lessen the risk she might change her mind in the long gap before she actually arrives?

Think small, but considerate gestures, says Jack Mitchell, one of the country’s leading clothing retailers and the author of Hug Your Customers. Mitchell tells the story of a superstar salesperson with Macy’s who, after much wooing, finally agreed to come work at Mitchell’s store. Says Mitchell: “We could sense it was a big decision for her, because she is a very loyal and committed person who had established relationships at Macy’s. So we sent her flowers with a handwritten note welcoming her to Mitchell’s and telling her how bright her future was here.” Certainly, a considerate means of showing appreciation. But Mitchell didn’t realize exactly how important his little gesture was until a few years later, when during a seminar, the sales associate told the flower story and revealed something that Mitchell didn’t know. She said that, right after she had agreed to join Mitchell’s, Macy’s had made her a counter-offer and she had told them she would think about it. While driving home, she was having mixed feelings, but when she arrived at the house and saw the bouquet of flowers and read Mitchell’s personal note welcoming her aboard, she was very touched and decided to go ahead with the job switch. The lesson? Mitchell answers: “Most people think a hot button is something big, but it can also be incredibly small, like a bouquet of flowers and a nice note.”

Typos are always creeping into my practice newsletter. I guess I just stink at proofreading. Any tips on what I can do to get better?

Well, our first advice would be to spell-check. (Did you do that? Well, did you?) In addition, before emailing or sending anything to the printers, direct marketing consultant Martha Retallick suggests: “I read every word out loud. Slowly and carefully, just like I did back in first grade reading class. Sometimes, I decide to have some fun and do my proofreading in the form of dramatic readings. Hey, it makes the job go faster ....”

i'm a vision superhero

What’s a fun way of telling people what you do at a cocktail party?

Robert Bell challenged the vast armies of social media supergroup ODs on Facebook to come up with a short “elevator speech” to describe what they do for a living. He made the challenge even tougher by forbidding them from using the words optometrist, optometry, optician, eye doctor or eyecare in their statement. Here are some of the best responses: “I am a vision superhero,” “I give people a new outlook on life,” “I help people see things they’ve never seen before,” “I empower people with vibrant vision,” and “I beautify the world, one face at a time.” Try one of these at your next networking event!

What exactly is marketing? I’m never sure what the specific difference between marketing and advertising.

Try this business proverb, from an anonymous author: “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying, ‘Circus is coming to Fairgrounds Sunday,’ that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him through town, that’s a promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. And, if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing!”

When shopping or dining out, I frequently meet people I think would be great salespeople for me, but I don’t know how to approach them. Any ideas?

Here’s a great one from jewelry-industry consultant David Geller, who says: “Print up some cards with the following words: ‘I was very impressed with your sales presentation and service level today when you served me. If you have ever considered changing employers, please give me a call.’ Then sign your name.” Then, when you go dining, or shopping, or even to another vision care business, if you happen upon someone who interests you, just give them the card and walk away. With this approach, if they’re truly interested, they’ll get back to you. Plus, they can’t talk during business hours anyway. Says Geller: “There will be those who think this is terrible. But it was terrible when I stole your girlfriend away from you in high school, too.”

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