Ask INVISION: Sept-Oct 2014

store emergency optical store eyecare practice

What do I do if somebody has a medical emergency in my business?

Simple. You call 911. Immediately. However, Rick Segel, author of The Retail Business Kit for Dummies, warns you to not get so caught up in the emergency that you forget the fact you are running a business filled with valuable merchandise. Says Segel: “Be aware, as cruel as it may sound, that the incident may be a scam. In my store once, a person faked a heart attack to distract employees enabling an accomplice to steal unnoticed.” So, while you should of course be responsive and compassionate in the face of any emergency, be sure to have procedures in place. And also that you have taken the time to train your employees in these procedures. That way, if an emergency does occur, your staff will be alert for the possibility of sunwear shoplifting or snatch-and-run, an unfortunately growing problem.

I’d like a new official title for the person who runs my front desk. Any ideas?

Luckily for us, the smart people at ODs on Facebook have lots of ideas. The group provided a cornucopia of suggestions, ranging from the golden oldies (receptionist, optometric assistant, front office coordinator) to state-of-the-moment flowchart (patient service specialist, patient coordinator, patient care coordinator, front office coordinator, appointment coordinators, traffic controller) to whimsically poetic (gatekeeper, schedule commander, patient experience coordinator, eyecare concierge and director of first impressions.) Eye Boutique of Sedona, profiled in this issue on page 74, uses chief experience officer. Pick one and run with it.

Most of the time I love my business. But some days I think it’s going to drive me crazy. Any tips on how to keep calm during stressful times?

We know that this won’t appeal to the American sense of battling through the tough times — none of our country’s heroes were ever quoted saying “When the going gets tough, the tough sit cross-legged on the floor and chant mantras.” But you’ll find that, in times of stress, the thing that will have the most remarkable calming effect is, yes, meditation. The common misconception is that meditation requires a lot of time to be effective. But here’s a five-minute exercise from author and meditation expert Alan Watts that should help smooth you out during even your most frenzied moments. Says Watts: “Find a quiet place, and sit, either cross-legged on the floor, or in a straight-backed chair. Don’t lie down. You’ll probably fall asleep, and your assistant may trip over you when he opens the office door. Close your eyes, and breathe slowly in through your nose, letting the air fill your lungs, all the way down to the diaphragm. Hold it briefly, then exhale slowly. Most of us routinely take shallow breaths — a few good deep ones should relax you considerably on their own. Tell the chatterbox in your head to quiet down, and try to focus on a single sound. ‘One’ is a good basic sound. Say it, either aloud, or in your head as you slowly exhale each breath: ‘Onnnnnneeeee.’ Do this for five minutes, or even one if time is short. You should feel calmer and more centered when you’re finished.”

Any tips on how to get the maximum effect from bonuses and gifts for my employees this holiday season?

Traditional cash bonuses, according to management experts, are about as useful as a frozen Christmas turkey for perking up employee performance. The problem, says author and consultant Bob Nelson, is that such bonuses quickly become seen as a right rather than as a reward. As a result, the only effects they have are negative ones — which means lots of sulking when someone feels that they got less than they deserved (definition: less than they did last year). A better approach is to give a gift that’s personalized for each employee, as well as your standard performance-based commission. The best gifts, according to Nelson, are tailored to the employee’s interests ... so tickets to a sporting event for a sports fan; a special DVD “collector’s edition” for a film buff; reservations to an exclusive restaurant for a cuisine lover. If you do give out annual bonuses, don’t simply slip the bonus into your staff members’ pay envelopes. Informal management recognition is an important part of the employee motivation process, says Nelson. So while you shouldn’t make a big ceremony out of it, do hand them out to each employee personally, while thanking them for their performance this year. One additional gift you should consider that will get you more motivational mileage per dollar than just about anything else you do is a gift to the spouse of each of your employees. Send flowers or a fruit basket, along with a personal note, complimenting the performance of the employee and thanking the spouse for their understanding during your busy times of the year.