When she worked in an optical store while still in high school, eyecare ranked far down on the list of concerns in Crystal Behrendt’s teenage mind. And when she completed college, her plan was to work in a field related to her marketing major. But soon enough, she started to hanker for the field she left behind. “I missed the sales aspect of optical, and also missed working directly with the consumer,” Behrendt says. She quickly returned to the business, and now with 11 years experience, she works as both an optical stylist and marketing director for her employer. She says she’ll stick with it: “Since optical is what I know, I think it will always be a part of my career.” — James Ritchie
To get psyched up for a day at work, I always take the time to review my own frame collection and choose the pair that best suits my mood that day. This always reminds me of how important eyewear is in self-expression.
My favorite type of customer is one who has fun experimenting with new looks and who is willing to try on anything. Often we as optical stylists will pull a frame that the customer wouldn’t have thought of.
I enjoy selling independently designed and handmade frames. I’m privileged to be able to take part in the purchasing process and often have the opportunity to meet with the designers. Seeing the passion firsthand and learning what goes into making a quality frame makes it that much more rewarding to sell.
Sometimes I get so excited about fitting someone into something new that I forget to take into account what they’re currently wearing. I’m mainly referring to progressive wearers and their current lens designs. This step is important since there are so many various designs and materials. Your patient may be sensitive to change, and already in a lens that works well.
Our annual trunk show would have to be my favorite event/promotion. We hold this event either in November or December every year and offer a 20 percent discount to anyone who sets up an appointment with an optical stylist. The end of the year is an ideal time for us to take advantage of leftover flex dollars, and it’s soon enough after Vision Expo West that we have most of the new styles in. This is the one event that our whole staff comes together to plan and execute. Seeing everything come together is always exciting.
I know a sale is going south when there is a gap in communication —whether it’s you not understanding them or them not understanding you. It’s hard to move forward when you’re not on the same page about what they want or need. If this happens and you’re unable to overcome it, it may be best to have another stylist jump in and help. Everyone has different communication styles and sometimes one stylist may work better with someone than another.
Looking back on my early days in optical sales, I can’t believe I used to dispense and sell the glasses I did! I started in optical when I was 16. A lot of mistakes were made on my part. Not only because I was new to the scene, but also because everything else is more important than your job when you’re a teenager. I cringe at the thought of all the ill-fitting frames and poor lens choices I made.
If I met someone on their very first day in optical sales, I’d tell them to continuously educate themselves. Stay on top of not only the frame trends, but the latest and greatest advancements in lenses.
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