Calendar: March-April 2014

Nine key dates that eyecare professionals should be thinking about in the coming months.

MARCH 17 / Since your clients are already sporting green clothes, chugging green beer and snarfing green cupcakes on ST. PATRICK’S DAY, the idea of them donning green prescription eyewear specifically for this raucous holiday is not that outlandish. Make the point to your customers that for those who want to mark the holiday in style, bowler hats and head-to-toe wearing of the green doesn’t exactly cut it. (The key words here are “in style.”) Instead, convince them that a few well-situated accessories — green shoes, green tie (or scarf) and green glasses — are the way to go.

MARCH 25 / Optometrists and opticians play a key role in identifying clients suffering from diabetes, a disease whose sufferers go undiagnosed as much as 50 percent of the time. AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION ALERT DAY is a good time to inform your patients about the important role that regular eye exams can play in identifying cases of diabetes. Also remind them that frequent eye exams are essential for anyone already diagnosed with diabetes. (Note: April is also DEFEAT DIABETES MONTH, so continue your campaign then. And see our Best of the Best feature on page 58 for information on how to add diabetes management to your practice.)

MARCH 26 / The education program opens, marking THE START OF VISION EXPO EAST, America’s largest event for eyecare professionals. This year, don’t just wander the aisles aimlessly. Instead, create a plan for shopping the show. Start picking your targets with the eyewear, sunwear, lens and tools/equipment coverage in INVISION.

MARCH 29 / A decade ago it seemed that being local, independent and service-minded (compared to price) were all liabilities in the face of the big box onslaught. Now they are competitive strengths. On NATIONAL MOM AND POP BUSINESS OWNERS DAY, revisit your marketing to see how you’re playing up those advantages.

APRIL 1 / It’s that time again. The one day of the year when anything — well, almost anything — goes. Rather than painting the bathroom door handle with Vaseline again, try to make this year’s APRIL FOOL’S DAY gag an instructive one. Have a friend come to your store or practice and play a difficult client ... for instance, a demanding foreigner with an impossible-to-comprehend accent. Watch your staff struggle to handle him. Eventually, you’ll all have a good laugh. But you’ll also get an idea of how they work under pressure.

APRIL 2 / Ann Landers knew a thing or two about feuds — she didn’t talk to her twin sister (Dear) Abby for years. It may have been why she was such an advocate of RECONCILIATION DAY. While grudges and recalled slights can occasionally be good motivators, for the most part they just consume time and energy. Today, think of a relationship (commercial or personal) that soured, and write a note to that person saying you’d like to bury the hatchet, or just wish them the best in the future.

APRIL 7 / If you like golf, and have customers who do as well, you’ll probably be watching golf’s THE MASTERS tournament, which runs today through April 13. This year, use the classic event to your business advantage by tracking the sunwear that top players are wearing and noting when you have something similar in stock. Try a blog post on your website and/or an email directed at your golfing clients.

APRIL 10 / Today is THE 100TH DAY OF THE YEAR. And an excellent point for a little self-assessment. How have you progressed on the goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

APRIL 12 / Is your life (or business) getting a little stale? If so, today’s a great day to shake things up. It’s WALK ON YOUR WILD SIDE DAY and time to do something a little crazy — maybe you could follow in the footsteps of Rachel Sommer of Manitoba, Canada, who works as an optometrist by day and stand-up comedian by night. (Catch a bit of her schtick at Billing herself as “The World’s Funniest Optometrist,” Sommer has even created a optometry-based TV pilot that she plans to pitch to Canadian TV execs.