Kristen Atkins’ favorite sale (so far) wasn’t a big-ticket multipair order but one from a boy who hated the idea of glasses. At first, he wouldn’t even try any on, “but eventually I convinced him to put on a few and we found a pair that he ended up being really excited about. His mom called me a week or two later and told me that he wouldn’t take the glasses off ... and that all the kids at school kept telling him how cool he looked.” Atkins entered vision care after work in the restaurant and banking worlds, “and immediately knew that this was the perfect career path for me.” — JULIE FANSELOW
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 edition of INVISION.
➤ Most of my training came from Dr. Jaime Marcolini, the doctor/owner of Clinton Family Eye Care and Washington (NJ) Family Eye Care, where I also work, though I went back to school to get a certificate in ophthalmic science at Raritan Valley Community College.
➤ I own about a dozen pairs of glasses of all different shapes and colors. I like to make sure my outfits match my frame du jour! My fave is a French-made, vintage pair of bejeweled plastics. I found them in the optical lab at the college. They were in a junk frame drawer and I knew they needed to be rescued!
➤ If I wasn’t working in the optical industry, I’d probably be a make-up artist/hair stylist at a salon. Pairing different colors and styles makes my heart happy, especially when it makes people feel great about themselves.
➤ My father was a salesman for a welding and industrial gas company. I remember him not only telling me but showing how important it was for him to build relationships with his customers and to really listen to them. It was also important to have a strong knowledge of what he was selling to fit each customer with the specific products that would best suit their needs. That strategy effectively translates to any business, and it’s the one I try use every day.
➤ If I met someone on their first day in optical sales, I’d tell them that although the amount of information thrown at them is initially overwhelming, it will start to make sense little by little.
➤ I know a sale is going awry when a patient starts talking about shopping online for their glasses because it’s “so much cheaper.” At this point, I try to chat with them about the features they want in their new glasses and the importance of quality and the benefits they can expect when they order from us ... all without sounding condescending or pushy.
➤ I used to be afraid of offering my patients the best options for their glasses because of cost. I’ve since learned that when you know you are giving your patient the best, you have to be confident about it and not be afraid of the total. If you’re not confident about what they’re getting, why would they be?
➤ The Galleria at Vision Expo East is one of my favorite places on Earth. Getting to take in all the different colors, styles and types of frames from all the different frame companies is like my own little version of heaven.