2015's ‘America’s Finest’ champ congratulates this year's winners and shares her secrets.

Congratulations to America’s Finest Optical Retailers for 2017! It’s no mystery what got you here: attention to detail, elbow grease, thinking outside of the box and an obsession with excellence in eyecare.  

When Oakland Vision Center was named INVISION’s America’s Finest Optical Retailer for 2015, it was pretty amazing. So amazing, that when they called to congratulate us for winning first place, I thought it might actually be a crank call. We were the first optometry practice to win the accolade and that will always be something very special. Permanent bragging rights, right?

Since the win, I’ve humbly signed autographs and received hundreds of congratulations from proud patients. It has earned us many new clients; some ask for “that computer eyestrain test” after reading about it while waiting in the lobby. Oh, and did I mention? The winner gets their face on the cover of a magazine. Being a model for a day is hard work, but it’s a girl’s dream come true. It was a blast. 

On a personal level, winning affirmed that all the anxiety, hard work and tears over the past eight years were worth it. As a practice, it taught us to be more confident in our voice and our brand, and to continue doing what we do best: reinvent as often as we can.

America’s Finest Optical Retailers are judged on four criteria: interior, exterior, individuality and online. Here are a few pointers for next year’s hopefuls:

  • Enter. You gotta enter to win. Filling out the entry and submitting photos was a great learning tool. How do we want consumers/patients to see Oakland Vision Center? As an owner, how do I want my staff to see their place of work? 
  • Interior. It’s amazing what removing wallpaper, repainting and re-flooring will do. For us, it opened the space and created a comfortable atmosphere. We remodeled on a really tight budget. It’s not how much you spend, but how you spend it that matters.
  • Exterior. We’re in an office building with tinted windows. To maximize the exterior, we removed all company banners — we wanted to advertise Oakland Vision Center, not brands — and added a bright orange racer stripe at eye level to attract walking traffic.
  • Individuality. This is the part I love. It’s the toughest category, and where we excelled. I had the crazy idea to change my everyday business into a lifestyle brand. We rewrote our mission statement, came up with a powerful tagline and repeated it constantly. It is now our voice and our brand culture.
  • Online. For us, this has two parts: website and social media. We made our own website in two days with the help of squarespace.com. We made sure it was beautiful, fun, and easy to navigate. We edit it weekly, and it gets better with each iteration. For social media, we create content with our iPhone 6 Pluses and post every day. Our captions reinforce our lifestyle brand. Instagram has found us a new, high-tech target market. We couldn’t be happier with the results.

Good luck! I look forward to seeing your face on the next cover.


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2017 edition of INVISION.

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