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Buzz Session

A Special Covid-19 Buzz Session

Marketing, patient care, remaining calm: Each of you seems determined to focus on a thing or two.

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QUESTION: In light of the current business environment, what do you feel is the most important thing to focus on in the immediate term to position your business for recovery?
  • First and foremost, businesses have to cut costs. This means identifying cross-trained labor to reduce staffing levels and taking a sustaining posture instead of a progressive one. Businesses that recover will be those that can cut costs by 25-40% percent. Second, I think it’s going to be important to take advantage of the low cost of capital, and to use that in ways to advance existing revenue. —   BECKY FURUTA, AVENUE VISION, GOLDEN, CO
  • Constant patient contact. Scheduling optical appointments. Like always, cleaning each frame that is tried on. —   CAITLIN WICKA, SAN JUAN EYE CENTER, MONTROSE, CO
  • It is important to stay connected with patients. Our office is closed, but I am here to answer calls, reorder contact lens and sometimes just be that “someone” who takes time to talk to patients. I look forward to getting back to business with renewed appreciation for my patients and my co-workers. —   PAM HOUSLEY, TEXAS STATE OPTICAL MIDCOUNTY, PORT ARTHUR, TX
  • The most important thing to focus on … I’ve been working on staying positive. But it’s so hard. I’m cleaning and re-organizing the office. Revamping our pricing schedule. Keeping our patients updated on social media. Working on contact lens sales via LensFerry. —   JENNIFER KEADY, OD FAMILY EYECARE OF HARNEY COUNTY, BURNS, OR
  • Taking things slow. Some offices are rushing things, being careless, some never closed or slowed down at all. Let’s all be careful so we can get back to normal. Wear masks, wash your hands before and after every patient, keep the office clean and please do not clean eyeglasses using the same cleaning cloth for every patient. Business will come back. Be patient. —   COLLEEN GALANTI, PASCARELLA EYE CARE, NEWTOWN, PA
  • Communication, availability, and customer service. What can we do for you in this time of trial? —   FRANCES ANN LAYTON, EYE ASSOCIATES OF SOUTH GEORGIA, VALDOSTA, GA
  • Trying to keep expenditures low and not have to take loans out. It is important to keep in contact with your patients so that they know that you are still around and able to take care of them. —   TAMMY WARMOUTH, MAIN OPTICAL, LUZERNE, PA
  • Planning! All the little things we put off because we are too busy? Now is the time! Cross them off the list and get your practice ready to crush the inevitable boom that will follow this slump. —   SARAH BUREAU, SBSPECS, ST. CATHARINES, ON
  • How to re-open correctly for all parties. —   SUSIE PHILLIPS, DR. BRENDON JOHNSON, O.D., PEKIN, IL
  • Patient care, so that they won’t turn to someone else once things are back to normal. There are several office in our area that have just closed up for the past several weeks and their patients are coming to us for emergency care and are liking our office better than their old ones. —   KATIE BILLMAN, MERIDIAN FAMILY EYECARE, MERIDIAN, ID
  • Improve efficiencies, reduce spending, work smarter, doing the same (or more) with less, all while keeping staff and patient safety top of mind. —   SARAH JEROME, OD, LOOK + SEE EYE CARE, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
    Reducing overhead. Thinking outside the box on the way things are done. —   JANNA NELSON, A NEW VISION , BEAVERTON, OR
  • Make sure we get the loans because even if we do open, business will not be like normal for a while. —   KALEENA MA, MK VISION CENTER, FOREST HILLS, NY
  • Focus on how to re-open successfully while managing the health and safety of our patients and staff. —   CHRIS LOPEZ, ROBERTS EYECARE ASSOCIATES, VESTAL, NY
  • We have to work on vision insurance increasing payments to doctors; $25 for an eye exam is less than a tip to a hairdresser or a waiter. —   SUSAN MILLER, BRIGHT EYES VISION, HARTSVILLE, PA
  • Don’t be shy about scheduling. Create a “yes” environment to help and assist everyone you can. —   TIM GRAY, VISUAL EYES, HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA
  • Make sure we don’t overstretch whatever liquidity we may have left, if any, by then. It is highly unlikely our schedules will immediately bounce back to the levels they were. Our society and economy will have changed dramatically by the time this pandemic winds down. We will most likely need to tighten our belts and operate with as minimum overhead as possible in the early transition stage. —   RITA ELLENT, OD, THE GARDENS EYE CARE, FOREST HILLS, NY
  • Safety of our staff and doctors because without them we won’t have a business to take care of our patients. Then focus on patient safety and positioning our schedules to maximize quickest but safest processes for return on profit. —   CINDY BRUNER, PROFESSIONAL FAMILY EYECARE, COLDWATER, OH
  • To be available and be smart about our reopen. This will be slow and probably laborious, but again it will be worth it. —   BETHANY CASSAR, COMPLETE EYE HEALTH, HOLLAND, MI
  • Keep employee morale positive and forward looking. —   MAURY MURRAY, OD, EYECARE PLUS SCOTTSDALE, SCOTTSDALE, AZ
  • Making sure your staff and patients feel comfortable and safe. —   MATTHEW DANIELS, EYES ON THE LAKE, COLUMBIA, SC
  • Becoming a healthy community. — HARRY ROTH, EYEQ OPTICIANS, MILLBURN, NJ
  • Keeping our doctors and our team healthy and safe. —   DEB JAEGER, EYE CENTER OF THE DAKOTAS, BISMARCK, ND
  • Not only cutting costs any way possible but to focus on those things that are mandatory to maintain eye health in all ways possible. Utilizing the best quality products available. When any form of life preserving medical surgery is required is it ever acceptable to have less that the best surgeons to perform the procedures? Optical has to start comparing materials to other types of necessary procedure materials. —   LEISA LAUER, WESTCLIFF OPTOMETRY, NEWPORT BEACH, FL
  • Determine which low paying VCP need to be cut. Cash flow will need to be good when reopening. Don’t want to spin your wheels with low paying VCPs. —   HALEY MENGE, HI-LINE EYE CARE, GLASGOW, MT
  • It is extremely important to make sure my team is taken care of. We are still chugging away at 25 percent of normal sales with the showroom closed and operating off of phones and emails. —   BRET HUNTER, SPORTS OPTICAL, DENVER, CO
  • Our biggest concern coming back to work will be making sure we are profitable, eliminating waste, watching payroll and focusing on training. —   MICHELLE WRIGHT, DEPOE EYE CENTER, STOCKBRIDGE, GA
  • Marketing. Marketing. Marketing! – KEVIN COUNT, PRENTICE LAB, GLENVIEW, IL
  • Training to get our practice using her. —   KAREN PAILTHORPE, UNIVERSITY OPTOMETRISTS, KINGSTON, RI
  • Develop an economic recovery plan. Many people found out that getting service became much more difficult and took longer. Encourage people to but second pairs and larger supplies of contacts by incentivizing those purchases. If you are closed stay connected with your clients through regular social media reports on when you will be back! —   BOB MCBEATH, EDINA EYE, EDINA, MN
  • Plan, plan and plan for the future. Keep my eyes on the future and what I can be doing now. Updating my website, adding more ways for patients to find me online and order contacts through ME online (thank you LensFerry!). —   JENNIFER KEADY, OD, FAMILY EYECARE OF HARNEY COUNTY, BURNS, OR
  • By putting the customer first. —   BECKI MARTIN, HARRINGTON VISION CENTER II, FLORENCE, SC
  • Keeping our name out there even though we’re closed and catching up on work we have never been able to complete. —   NYTARSHA THOMAS, OD, VISIONELLE EYECARE, ZIONSVILLE, IN
  • Keep my staff employed, if possible, to be ready when we start up again. —   RICK PASCUCCI, TOWPATH VISION CARE, CLINTON, NY
  • After waiting for their eyecare people will demand timely service. —   JOHN LASHORNE, BROWN COUNTY EYE CARE, NASHVILLE, IN
  • Clean house, hit reset. —   CHRIS MARK, OPTIMARK, DES MOINES, WA
  • Developing strategy for re-opening business and re-capturing existing clients as well as attracting new clients through social media. —   VERBELEE NIELSEN-SWANSON, OXFORD EYES, ORLANDO, FL
  • Stay relevant. Continue to interact via social media and try to stay in your customer base’s mind. —   TRAVIS LEFEVRE, KRYSTAL VISION, LOGAN, UT
  • Patience. No one knows when this will be over. Now is the time to think creatively on how to promote your business and how to make it unique. —   PAULA HORNBECK, EYE CANDY & EYE CANDY KIDS, DELAFIELD, WI
  • Prepare for apocalypse! — MINH TA, SPECS APPEAL, DECATUR, GA
  • Keeping the employees and patients happy and confident. —   WILLIAM CHANCELLOR, EYE CAN SEE EYEWEAR, MCDONOUGH, GA
  • Cash reserves and taking your business digital so that after this wave is over you are prepared for the next wave. —   ADAM RAMSEY, OD, SOCIALITE VISION, PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL
  • Cash on hand. More marketing. Clean the office like crazy. —   KRISTINA SWARTZ, OD, THE EYE SITE, MISHAWAKA, IN
  • Lines of credit and loans. —   KIM HILGERS, MONSON EYECARE CENTER, OWATONNA, MN
  • Of course, businesses finances are the most urgent. Hopefully everyone can get the resources they need to stay afloat. This down time should be spent assessing business operations and what is needed to get back up and running or if changes need to be made to do so. I think many businesses, and people in general, will have a different financial outlook after this is all over, and reevaluate their nest egg. —   CARISSA DUNPHY, MONROE VISION CLINIC, MONROE, WA
  • The easy answer — meaning the first thing I thought of — is limiting expenses. That means not purchasing new frame stock, even when the optical gets visibly low (and removing frame displays to help offset the obviousness of it). And it means cutting staff hours before the bank account drops, which we’ve had to do. I think, however, the bigger thing is keeping your staff informed, positive, and engaged in society. Our group texts between staff members are trending less and less towards funny memes … now, they feature fun new projects that staff members are engaging in their personal lives — from picking up a musical instrument, to redecorating, to painting ceilings, to skiing UP mountains, to a shed full of baby chicks. It’s the team energy that will get each and every one of us through this. I’m so proud of (and humbled by) our crew! —   JEN HELLER, PEND OREILLE VISION CARE, SANDPOINT, ID
  • How to pay my recurring rent or lease as the case may be. —   KEN WEINER, OD, LIVINGSTON, NJ
    Having safety precautions in place for the staff and customers. All companies will need to create a disaster plan for the future. —   DANIELLE DONIVER, HERITAGE OPTICAL, DETROIT, MI
  • Social media. Time spent online has increased incredibly. That is the place to be noticed — everyone needs to determine how they want to be noticed/remembered during shelter in place. —   PAM PETERS, MIDWEST EYE, DOWNERS GROVE, IL
  • Remain calm and try to protect those who you care about most. —   MARK PERRY, OD, VISION HEALTH INSTITUTE, ORLANDO, FL
  • Navigating the maze of restrictions and government paperwork. The ones that do it correctly stand the best chance. —   DAVE GOODRICH, GOODRICH OPTICAL, LANSING, MI
  • Reducing overhead. —   MICHAEL DAVIS, OD, OPTI-CARE, ELDERSBURG, MD
  • Sustaining cash flow. —  ZACHARY DIRKS, OD, ST. PETER AND BELLE PLAINE EYECARE CENTERS, SAINT PETER, MN
  • Continue to reach out to patients. Let them know that we are here for them, even if they cannot access our office in person. We are continuing contact lenses sales are seeing emergency visits. We are taking this opportunity to knuckle down on claims to receive payments and scheduling exams so we can pick up right where we left off. —   SELENA JACHENS, URBAN EYECARE & EYEWEAR, WEST DES MOINES, IA
  • First and foremost the well-being of our staff and patients. Once we have made sure the staff is taken care of, and that we are ready to receive our patients back, it will be just a matter of plotting the course and then full speed ahead! Staff that is taken care of is a staff that will take care of the business. —   PABLO E. MERCADO, OPTIMA EYE CARE, ALPHARETTA, GA
  • Maintaining positive mental attitude. —   JEREMY GOLDMAN, O.D., OWINGS MILLS, MD
  • We are making lists of patients that are due so when we get back we can email blast everyone that needs to come back. —   CYNTHIA SAYERS, OD, EYESHOP OPTICAL CENTER, LEWIS CENTER, OH
  • Keeping good employees. —  CHRIS CLARK, ADVANCED EYE CARE OPTICAL SHOPPE, PANAMA CITY, FL
  • I have one person going in daily with the door locked; she is servicing our contact lens patients with either mail order or pickups from our drop box outside. We are doing telehealth exams when able on existing patients and I am seeing emergency visits as needed. These few things should keep me relevant and ready to reopen to satisfied patients. —   MARC ULLMAN, OD, ACADEMY VISION, PINE BEACH, NJ
  • Watch your spending and make the most out of what you have. —   TAMMY WARMOUTH, MAIN OPTICAL, LUZERNE, PA
  • Communication. Tighter messaging. Better conversations regarding responsibility: where mine ends and the patient’s begins. —   KEVIN BUSHOUSE, RX OPTICAL, KALAMAZOO, MI
  • We will focus on sharing with our community that we are still here for them. —   RON CATTERSON, CLEAR VIEW OPTIX, THE VILLAGES, FL
  • I think being flexible and thinking outside the box is going to help us in the long run. For example, we’re currently being flexible with prescription expiration dates and filling contact and eyeglass orders for those who need them in this time of crisis. Showing compassion and understanding during this time instead of staying rigid will hopefully remain with our patients and entice them to return and refer to us. Also, staying connected is important. We’re stressing on our social pages that we are still available to help them in any way we can because we understand how vital vision is to daily life. —   CHRISTINE HOWARD, ATTLEBORO VISION CARE, ATTLEBORO, MA
  • Focus on ways to see the most patients in the most efficient ways when we are able to see patients again. Look for time wasters now while you have time. Have a plan for when the staff returns to maximize production. —   ANN-MARIE WEAVER, OPTIMAL EYE CARE, LEWIS CENTER, OH
  • We have focused on remaining in contact with our patients and let them know that we are still available for emergencies, contact lenses or replacement glasses, or even if they just have questions. We have posted on social media regularly, send email blasts, texted our best patients and more. —   KENNETH D. BOLTZ, OD, DUBLIN, OH
  • Staying in touch with our patients is top priority. Making them feel safe and comfortable as they return is next. —   ANNETTE PREVAUX, THE VISIONARY, ALLEN PARK, MIHow to make ends meet. —   IVY ELAINE FREDERICK, OD, NEW CASTLE, PA
  • Keeping the budget tight and increase advertising once back. —   AMINA EBRAHIM, OD, D VISION EYECARE, ALLEN, TX
  • Keeping in touch with our patients. We are doing curbside dispensing with jobs that are still at the office. —   RICK RICKGAUER, VISION ASSOCIATES, GIRARD, PA
  • Reevaluating every expense, from the purchase of pencils all the way to equipment. We took too much for granted and this was a wakeup call to look at spending and start saving more. —   SUSAN KANTOR, CENTRAL PHOENIX EYECARE, PHOENIX, AZ
  • Review inventory and services, and plan a marketing campaign. Also, evaluate efficiencies so when we reopen where are a well-oiled machine. Most of us will be busier this summer to accommodate all those exams postponed. —   PAUL PASCARELLA, OD, PASCARELLA EYE CARE & CONTACT LENSES, NEWTOWN, PA
  • Don’t add any extra cost of goods that are not absolutely needed (use of extra frame inventory) and don’t buy bulk stock of contact lenses. —   SCOTT KEATING, OD, VISION TRENDS, DOVER, OH
  • Having sales and telling people about back up glasses. —   PAMELA MARZEC, MARZEC’S SPECS, STREAMWOOD, IL
  • Incorporating any assistance financing to keep our account receivables paid and our labor force paid. In addition, we will continue recalling patients for primary eyecare once this stay at home rule is lifted. —   ROBERT M. EASTON JR, OD, FAAO, OAKLAND PARK, FL

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