Give them a try in the New Year.
There’s no qualitative way to grade tips. What works at one practice, may prove ineffective at another. What represents a fresh approach in one market, may be old hat in another. Still, as a publication that prides itself on finding and sharing good ideas, we’d like to think we stumbled across a few nuggets worthy of repeating in a year-end list. And worth trying to implement in the new year.
Here are our 15 best tips of 2017.
Best tip to start the year: Put a buck in a jar
Want to easily save nearly $1,400? Take Lifehacker.com’s 52 Week Money Challenge. You simply start by putting $1 in a jar or account and adding a dollar to the deposit amount each week. So in week 3 you’ll be putting in $3 and by week 17, $17. Of course by the end of the year, the amount will be $52 but by then you’ll have built it up so much momentum the sacrifice will be easy. And in a matter of days you’ll have $1,378 of free money to put toward a credit card bill or new frame polisher.
Best tip for navigating the emotional swells of the year: Keep a work diary
Keeping a work diary of your successes and mistakes can help you professionally, but psychologist Teresa Amabile argues in her book the Progress Principle that the benefits go much deeper. A work diary can help you plan for the future, get necessary distance from emotional issues at work, and perhaps most importantly, help you keep track of all of those small “wins” that normally would come and go in the course of a day or week and can be used to motivate more success.
Best tip for when July seems too far away: take mini vacations
Nobel laureate psychologist Danny Kahneman showed that when it comes to experiences, our memories of events are dominated by what they were like at their peak (for positive events) and at their nadir (for negative events) — and what they were like at the very end. In terms of vacations, that suggests it’s often better to plan more, shorter breaks, rather than stretching them out to two weeks all at once. So if you haven’t done any planning yet this year, don’t worry. Even if you go somewhere just three hours away, treat it like a real vacation. Splurge, take pictures, and go offline. Enjoy!
Best reframing tip: Guilt is good
The feeling of guilt doesn’t get much good press these days. But business author Mark Forster urges you to see it as a signal, as it tends to attach itself to stuff that really matters. Attack your most guilt-inducing tasks, and you may find, without intending it, that you’ve attacked the most important ones too, he says in Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management.
Best tip to get employee buy-in: get their opinion from the get-go
When frame vendors call on Vision Health Institute in Orlando, FL, they find themselves pitching their wares to an entire staff meeting. “With this approach, we have ALL the staff members involved with frame selection, whether it’s a new line or existing line. This usually ensures we do well if we purchase this line,” says Dr. Mark Perry, who owns the practice with his wife, Dr. Karen Perry.
Best security tip: Beware the frame folders
A customer who asks to see or tries on numerous frames and then folds them as he puts them back on a counter top should be viewed with suspicion, a security agent told a reporter from the New Yorker. “You don’t do that when you’re trying on glasses,” he pointed out as the two watched video of shoplifter in a New York store. “You don’t fold down the arms.”
Best tip for better meetings: Understand the difference between confidence and competence
Stride into a meeting, dominate the dialog and just repeat your point insistently, and you have a good chance of winning the day, thanks to a human weakness for interpreting confidence as competence. But it doesn’t mean you’ll arrive at the best solution for whatever challenges are facing your business. To prevent this happening at your meetings, reframe them as fact-finding exercises, says Bryan Bonner at the University of Utah. Keep a running list of conclusions on a whiteboard, or do anything else to switch the focus from WHO is being convincing to WHAT they're saying.
Best tip that reflects living in 3017: Consider a tech break
Is that old woman taking too dang long to cross the road? The cashier a ridiculously long time to count out your change? The rain clouds dawdling? Maybe the problem is with you. And your phone. Technology allows us to book a flight or do an international money transfer in a matter of minutes, but that is not how long life really works — it’s more meandering. Just appreciating this fact can help if you find yourself getting wound up way too easily. “Be grateful that real life moves at a slower pace. In most cases, an extra minute or two won’t make or break you,” writes research psychologist Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder, in a blog for Better Homes and Gardens.
Best social media tip: Quiz your staff on their frame choices
A tip from Transitions Academy: Any time a member of your team gets a new frame take the opportunity to interview them about their choice of frame, the color combination, and what part of their personality they are trying to express and what’s the favorite thing about this designer or collection. Publish the questions and answers to your company blog along with a picture of the team member wearing their new glasses. Then share the post via FaceBook, Instagram, and any of your other social media accounts. Such interviews are a great way to inform prospective customers about the eyewear you stock while also allowing them to get to know your individual team members.
Best pronunciation tip: Let it be
Don’t ever correct a customer’s mispronunciation. If they want to say a stigmatism/my stigmatism or Givanchee instead of a Paris-accented zhee-vawn-shee, let them do so uninterrupted. Why? Because, according to Apple’s customer service manual, it would make them feel “patronized” and your chances of making a sale will plummet. A better strategy is to repeat the word later in the sales conversation and see if they pick up the correct pronunciation. If they do, great. If not. Who cares?
Best tip to practice in front of the bathroom mirror: Just say I don’t do that
Have trouble saying “no”? Ron Friedman at Harvard Business Review suggests creating some stock phrases that you can use almost reflexively. A good “no script” uses the phrase “I don’t” instead of 'I can’t' whenever possible, makes the no about the request, not the person asking, and makes it easy to include a reason why. Your “script” could be something like, “I don’t have the budget right now to donate because [we’ve committed our community budget to helping the local high school], but I’d love to help you out with something in the future.”
Best rethinking of an old tip: The Rule of $100
There’s a widely held belief in retail that “dollar off” discounts are more effective than percentages. But Jonah Berger, author of the business bestseller “Contagious,” adds a proviso: When setting a sale price, remember the “Rule of $100,” he says. For prices under $100, use a discount percentage (25 percent off!). For prices over $100, use a straight dollar figure ($250 off, regular price $1,000!). It’s premise you should investigate with some A/B testing.
Best tip for would-be entrepreneurs: just start
Ready, aim, fire. That was overwhelmingly the approach of successful U.S. entrepreneurs, according to UVA business scholar Saras Sarasvathy: The successful ones rarely made long-range business plans and typically scorned market research . Instead, they went for quick wins — a few sales, observed how the market reacted, and then a few more.
Best tip for aspiring billionaires: get help
Billionaires have a reputation for being competitive, egotistical and controlling, while also being smart, hardworking and obsessive about their businesses. It’s actually a description that could apply to a lot of small business owners as well. So what makes the difference? Psychologist Brad Klontz, who works with a lot of high-level business people, said that an important one is that billionaires are not afraid to ask for help.
“The ultra-wealthy are more likely to have an internal locus of control, where they are quick to take credit for their successes and admit their failures, at least to themselves,” he told the New York Times. “In managing their often very complex lives, they have had to rely on a variety of experts to help them along the way. When they run into problems, they are less hesitant than most of us to seek help from someone who is an expert.”
Best tip of 2017 — Ask This Question
It’s striking how much of what passes as modern management advice was prescribed by Peter Drucker half a century ago — batch similar tasks, forget multi-tasking, use stop-doing lists, look for the systemic problem in crises — and this little gem, which we came across recently. According to the management guru, the one question that will trigger more improvement than any other in your staff: What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness? "Ask it without coyness," he urged.