Smooth Seller: Stephanie Haenes

top sellers optical sales eyecare business

When she first applied at Sears Optical 20 years ago, Stephanie Haenes was passed over. But hired soon after and swiftly promoted, she quickly had the highest year-to-year percentage revenue growth in the chain. “I realized that I had a keen ability to sell eyewear and an even better sense of how to operate a store,” she says. Next, she worked at Pearle Vision and broke into the luxury optical business as manager of InVision Distinctive Eyewear in Edina, MN. Haenes and her optometrist husband, Dr. Timothy Haupert, opened Art of Optiks in 2001. — JULIE FANSELOW

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

We have a once-a-year sale at the end of February. The energy in the store is incredibly high and it is amazing to see my staff in action, working as a team to make the week go off without a hitch. And it’s always great to clear out the old inventory to bring in the new!

I recently had the pleasure of working with an 80-year-old first-time customer. She had a really outgoing personality, was open to my suggestions, unique eyewear was a must and she wanted to pick out multiple pairs!

Looking back on my early days in optical sales, I can’t believe I used to take things so personally. I would be very affected by a cranky customer who decided to take their bad day out on me. I tend to have a much more sympathetic attitude now and ultimately try to make the day a little better for the customer by treating them with kindness. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t, but I no longer internalize customer issues that have nothing to do with me or my store.

There are so many things I’d like to tell my 21-year-old optical self! Be confident, do not be afraid to make mistakes, take chances on your career and most of all, have fun!

I’m generally pretty psyched up for a day at work but there are certainly some days that it is more difficult to get motivated. On those mornings, a large Starbucks coffee and a little hip-hop music on the way to work are all it takes to get me headed in the right direction.

My personal style tends to be classic with a twist, but I’m not opposed to trying bold colors or shapes. My two favorite frames in rotation right now are the Kissy Suzuki by Ørgreen and the Cassady by Barton Perreira.

I am a huge believer in quality products. I love the versatility of the Shamir Autograph III lens. Customers love the vision and it has a broad range of availability, making it easy to use for everything from larger wrap sunwear to high minus prescriptions. Knowing the patient will have the same vision from one pair to the next makes selling multiples that much easier. My go-to frame lines are Ørgreen for durability, great shapes and unique color combinations and Maybach or Lindberg Precious for customers who want a luxury product.

I have the added benefit (challenge) of being in a partnership with my optometrist husband. The key for us both professionally and personally is open communication, teamwork and respect.

Any business owner will tell you that most of their days off are spent ... working. But when my enthusiasm for working with customers declines and it’s time to take a mini break, I try to do things that I find enjoyable: working on our website, designing email blasts or talking with friends in the industry.