Tip Sheet: March 2016

Train yourself for stronger willpower

Call it task persistence, self-regulation or gratification delay, few factors are as important for success as willpower. But psychologists have shown we have only a limited amount of the stuff — and it’s drained quickly in situations where we need to make a lot of decisions. (Right. Like being a small business owner.) The good news is that we can actually train willpower. Like a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use, say neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, authors of Welcome to Your Child’s Brain. Even something as simple as using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth for two weeks can increase willpower capacity, they say. Conquer that and you may be ready to stick to an exercise routine ... or your to-do list at Vision Expo.

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of INVISION.

You may not love American Express's fees, but you should accept their card — happily — every time.


A customer makes a purchase and pulls out her American Express. You wince, thinking about the higher fees and the delay in depositing funds that the credit company is notorious for. But don’t ever, ever, ever ask your customer, “Oh, do you have another card?” In terms of customer service, that’s flat-out lame, says Rick Segel, author of Customer Service For Dummies. Remember, your customer might be saving up points for a reward — e.g. an airline trip, via AmEx — and your hesitancy to take their card puts them in an awkward position. (And also remember another thing that AmEx users are notorious for — making bigger purchases. You like those, don’t you?) In short, if you accept a card, take it every time ... happily.


For those who way-back-when skipped window-washing class, tsk tsk. Here’s the updated lowdown from Real Simple: Save the job for a cloudy day — the sun’s rays cause streaking — and start indoors. Just spray the panes with water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. When the cloth looks dirty, rinse it in warm water. (If your water is hard, substitute distilled water.) No squeegee, no newspaper to dry the panes. Easy peasy! (And let us know if you’ve got a better way of doing it.)


Get out a watch and read the following text from Valerie Gee, author of Super Service. Ready? Go: “There is no set rule for the rate of speaking of individuals. Some persons can speak at a rate of 190 words per minute and be clearly understood, while others must speak as slowly as 90 words per minute to achieve the same understanding. Most experts feel, however, that there is more to be gained by speaking slowly. They have decided that a rate of about 140 words per minute is a safe rate. The main disadvantage of speaking too fast is that you cannot be understood easily. Speaking too fast has other disadvantages. Your client may get the impression of being high-pressured into something. In addition, your client may get the impression that you are very rushed and concerned with time. To be really understood, we recommend that you speak slowly. One hundred forty! One forty!” Time’s up! How’d you do? Now, try to pace yourself so you finish it in a minute.


Want to give your marketing copy more impact? Try what Roy Williams, the “Wizard of Ads,” calls “Frosting” or “Seussing” it. The first technique (named for poet Robert Frost) means “transforming drab communication into razor-edged wordsmanship.” The second (after Dr. Seuss) invites you to make up your own words to spice up common sales prose. Ridonkulous!


Want a ultra low-cost way to add personality to your bathroom? Tack pages of your favorite poetry up on the walls. For Liz Lambert, owner of the hip Hotel San Jose in Austin, TX, this eventually became one of the hotel’s most popular features.

Job trays at Spectacle Shoppe
Think of your job trays as "presentation trays" like Charlie Blankenship of Spectacle Shoppe in St. Paul, MN.


Want to thrash Warby Parker? It’s all in the details. And one of those details is the humble job tray on which you present a client’s new eyewear. Charlie Blankenship of Spectacle Shoppe in St. Paul, MN, has upgraded his dispensing game by re-imagining the moment of presentation as being equivalent to the reveal of a jewelry item. Advises Blankenship: “Ditch the utilitarian job trays and start utilizing a presentation tray. Show people the value of buying from a brick-and-mortar shop by giving service you can’t get from online retailers!”


Hesitant to ask for referrals? Get over it. You’ll be surprised by how many people you serve assume you have a full patient load and aren’t even accepting new clients. In Bob Levoy’s book, 201 Secrets of a High-Performing Optometric Practice, one doctor shares his favorite way of asking: “We need and appreciate your referral of friends to our office.” That’ll do — insistent, yet dignified.