Rebecca Johnson: How To Be Fine

Management advice from Rebecca Johnson

5 ways to be sure your business is ready for next year's contest

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 edition of INVISION.

Didn’t make INVISION’s “America’s Finest” this year? No worries. You can get an early start for 2016 with this “Be Fine” checklist. Here are five things I always look for and ask about when I get acquainted with an optical business.

1. Be different. How do you stand out in a world of optical clones? What does a new customer experience the moment they enter your business? If you look just like another optical shop — or, worse, dozens of others — you are missing your chance to truly shine. Think inviting furniture. Think eye-catching decor that tells your story. You should dare to be different and let that uniqueness speak loudly in your design.

2. Be better. In order to really be better than your competition, you have to know what your competition is doing. Have your team “mystery shop” eyecare businesses in your market to understand the experience that customers and patients receive there. Browse competitors’ websites and social media feeds, and read their online reviews, too.

3. Be knowledgeable. A customer’s perception of their experience at your business is much more positive when the person they buy from is attentive and knowledgeable. Customers expect opticians to know their products, understand fashion and take accurate measurements that ensure great vision. If any of these elements are missing, your client will not have a “finest” experience.

4. Be serious about eyewear. Make certain your customers see great frames they won’t see everywhere else; don’t simply allow visiting frame reps to determine your selection. Go to the trade shows. Read industry publications and consumer media, too, so you can keep an eye on what’s hot and what’s coming next. Consider creating a house brand to give your customers locally inspired looks that are unique to your shop.

5. Be a bragger. Tell the world why your business is “so fine it blows your mind.” Create a beautiful website with excellent photography, and be sure to update it frequently. These days, your website is probably the first impression people will have of your business. Use Facebook and Instagram to showcase customers in their stylish new frames. Tweet about trunk shows. Encourage online reviews. Videotape happy patients talking about their experiences. It is OK to toot your own horn when you are the “finest!”

See the 2015 America's Finest winners here -- and look for the 2016 contest announcement online in January.

REBECCA JOHNSON is a 30-year veteran in the eyecare business. She is the executive director of Business Consultative Services for GPN and owner of EyeTrain4You, an ophthalmic staff training and development company. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..