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Cross-Training Staff is the Way Most of You Go, But Some of You Still Say ‘No Thanks’

Most eyecare business owners see value in having staff handle multiple duties.




Cross-Training Staff is the Way Most of You Go, But Some of You Still Say ‘No Thanks’

Yes: 86%

  • All of my opticians do it all. Kevin Bushouse, RxOptical, Kalamazoo MI
  • Techs can do front desk scheduling when front desk needs vacation time or is out sick. Richard Kemerling, Margolis Vision, Lone Tree, CO
  • I am fortunate to have same team for 12 years and everyone can complete entire process, including cutting lenses. This allows for smooth vacation time or if our lab manager is sick, we can still order and cut the jobs without feeling the impact. Of course, I prefer everyone to keep in their lane so they can be as effective as they can be. Monika Marczak, Eye Candy Optical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • I’ve crossed trained my staff and recently took them to Texas for training but because of the Trump economy, I’ve received two week notices from two of my staff taking higher paying jobs with benefits. Two other local practices are having the same issues keeping staff. Marc Ullman, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ
  • Staff expects and takes more and more absences. That combined with increasing wages to keep good employees require offices to function with fewer staff but still have coverage, so cross training is a must. Zach Dirks, OD, St. Peter Eyecare Center and Belle Plaine Eyecare Center, St. Peter and Belle Plaine, MN
  • We are a small office. All the staff can do everything, but focus on one main task. The front desk reception only stays up front. She is the doctor’s wife and doesn’t want to learn frame dispensing. We just roll our eyes when she says, “she is too old to learn selecting/dispensing.” Allen D. Hoek, OD, Ripon, CA
  • Cross training just worksEdna Shelby, Macomb Vision Associates, Shelby Township, MI
  • We have a team of 12, and inevitably someone is sick or more than one person wants the same day off. Cross training is time-consuming, but it gives us greater flexibility and can also improve service by avoiding long waits for an OCT/photos/dispense/scheduling if someone else can jump in and help on the fly. Sarah Jerome, OD, Look + See Eye Care, Minneapolis, MN
  • Everything is everything. Everybody does all. Steve Whitaker, Whitaker Eye Works, Philadelphia PA
  • In our office, no one person has one job. Every person has the full capacity to do at least two (mostly three jobs). Opticians can file insurance or cut lenses and do repairs/adjustments. Technicians can book appointments, order contacts, scribe and special tests. This ingraftsour family to ensure everyone is and can be helped. If someone is overloaded or absent, the machine still runs. Blake Hutto, OD, Family Vision Care, Alma, GA
  • During busy times in a small office, having an available staff member help a patient is paramount in offering the customer service we strive for. Karen Santos McCloud, OD, Hamburg Vision Center, Lexington, KY
  • We cross-train in numerous ways, but the big one is this: Everyone on our staff is able to fit, measure, dispense, and sell glasses. Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID
  • Just being able to jump in to help another department when overwhelmed. Pam Peters, Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
  • It works well when a staff member calls in sick, we are each able to cover for the other. Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA
  • We are a small office. We all do a little bit of everything. I actually want to strengthen our cross training even more. There are a lot of things I do that no one else knows how to do, and if I got hit by a bus it could get tough! Jenna Gilbertson, McCulley Optix Gallery, Fargo, ND
  • I have a small staff so a certain amount of cross training is necessary. Expertise is still required in your given title and I like to be able to train a specific person on their specific position so we can grow and take care of our patients the best way possible. Shimul Shah, OD, Marysville Family Vision, Marysville, OH
  • With cross-trained staff, we can stay open during lunch time for pick-ups and new orders. Our opticians can run the front desk and our administrative staff can handle small repairs and orders. It isn’t always seamless, but hopefully our patients can appreciate our service. Angie Patteson, OD, Sunset Eye Care, PC, Johnson City, TN
  • What I tell our staff is that no one person is better than anyone else. We train all our staff to have the ability to do every day to day task needed to keep the patients and our practice happy. No one person is too good to take out trash or clean, or pre-test or educate a patient on what frame looks and fits the prescription best. All members of the team can advise a patient the reason behind the need for a particular product. It makes it so our patients have less of a wait time and a better overall experience! William Chancellor, Eye Can See Eyewear, McDonough, GA
  • We do personality and skill testing first to determine if they are a good fit to cross train in that specific department (scribe, stylist optician, claim processor, lab tech, etc.) We use tests like Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC, The Birkman Method, Wealth Dynamics and Sally Hoghead’s Fascinate (we learned about this one at the Transitions Academy in 2016. She was the guest speaker.) We do invest in these tests but some are free. We find this helps train them more efficiently and we know ahead of time if the task or skill they need to learn is congruent with their zone of genius. Diana Sims, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL
  • Because we are an independent practice with seven staff members, cross training is vital when we are missing staff due to vacation, illness, staff leaving, etc. Angel Miller, Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY
  • All of our staff are cross-trained. We’re a new and very small office. So, all of our staff are trained in every department (optical, contact lens, welcome area, etc.) This way if one of the two employees need a day off, the other can pitch in and not a lose a beat. Shane Clark, Infinity EyeCare, Rapid City, SD
  • We have a small office with three employees. Everyone knows how to pre-test and check-out patients. That’s usually where our bottlenecks occur. Danielle Jackson, OD, Jackson Eye, Fairburn, GA
  • Front desk with insurance, OD tech with optical department. John LaShorne, Brown County Eye Care, Nashville, IN
  • We are a small three-person office so if anyone wants to go on vacation everyone has to be cross trained. We Have an employee follow one of us around for a couple weeks until they can do ok with the new job and then have them fill in every once in a while to keep up the skills. Tammy Hazelett, Wylie Vision Care, Garland, TX
  • We try and teach most employees several parts of the business. For example, our opticians can be our techs as well. Stacey Korte, Rockford Family Eyecare, Rockford, MI
  • It has worked well in all aspects; we are a small office and it is vital that everyone can help in all areas. Stephanie Crowley, Sie Eyecare, Charlotte, NC
  • Smaller practice’s need to be flexible so everyone jumps in when needed. Heather Nagucki, Brodie optometry, Perrysburg, OH
  • We currently have one front desk/receptionist that is cross trained for the tech position, another front desk/receptionist that is also trained as an optician, and a tech who is trained as an optician. Jason Stamper, Eye Care Pavilion, Davenport, IA
  • It really helps cover all aspects of the business during vacation time; anyone can rotate where needed. Kathy Maren, Comb EyeCare & Eyewear, Western Springs, IL
  • At any given point, someone in our office could be busy. This shouldn’t mean that a patient can’t be helped. As a result, we believe in everyone knowing a decent amount of each part of everyone’s job. That way, even if there are some things that can’t be addressed immediately, at least the patient feels as though they are a priority and being attended to. Christine Howard, Attleboro Vision Care, Attleboro, MA
  • Everyone needs to know how to work the front, cut lenses, do lab duties (clean, check, call work, neutralize lenses.) Dorothy Reynolds, Optical Alternatives, Milford, CT
  • Helps. Needful at times. Appreciation of others. T.S. Stephens, OD, Dr. Stephens and Associates, Vienna, WV
  • We try because in this day and age people are gone more and call in more. Likewise it is less affordable to have extra staff so having staff who can cover vital areas at times or on days that the office is short is imperative. Zachary Dirks, St. Peter and Belle Plaine Eyecare Centers, Saint Peter, MN
  • I have five employees: All five can dispense, sell, answer phones, schedule appointments, calculate and bill insurance. One is office manager also. Two of those are CL technicians. One is clerical, although two more are able when she’s out. All trained from the beginning, then then shifted to where their strength lies for the majority of the day. Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • We’re a small practice so I personally pre-test patients, order glasses and CLs, adjust and repair frames, bill insurances, sell product, edge lenses in house, answer phones making appointments and I’m all worn out just talking about it. Jeff Grosekemper, Casa De Oro Eyecare, Spring Valley, CA
  • Telephone conversations, problem patients, training new staff, problem solving. BJ Chambers, Carrera Optical, McQueeney, TX
  • While we do believe in having expertise in specific disciplines for each person, it is important to provide basic training so each person knows a little about each other’s responsibilities. This helps in that: (1) In the event that a person is away another can provide some assistance in a person absence. (2) Team begins to respect the expertise each team member has by knowing “hands on” what another person does. Steve Nelson, Eye Candy Optical, Westlake, OH
  • All employees are trained on the phones to schedule appointments and take contact lens orders. This works well because if someone calls, they’re not put on hold. We’ve tried to train the front desk staff to do basic repairs but hasn’t worked well because opportunities are few and far between so they forget how or run into a situation they haven’t been trained on and still need to wait on an optician. Caitlin Bruno, Binyon Vision Center, Bellingham, WA
  • While most of our paperwork (recalls, insurance and patient registration) is electronic, pre-testing, OCT, Fundus, Fields and eyewear selection are performed by whoever is available. Eyewear measurements still require an optician. Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI
  • Front desk can do dispensing and price with insurances. Tech can do dispensing and show frames optician does all. Betty Aretz, The Eyecare Boutique, Wexford, PA
  • I wouldn’t ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do. Jill Sweig, OD, Oyster Bay Optics, Oyster Bay, NY
  • Too small of an office to just have people special in one area. Jeff Hayden, Vision Care Center, Brighton, MI
  • Opticians answer phones and do check out. Jill Schnurer, Village Eyecare Co., Clarkston, MI
  • I only have two staff members. They have to be able to do each other’s jobs if necessary. Kimberly Riggs OD, Ligonier, PA
  • Cross-training our optometric technician in the matters of insurance eligibility, types of lenses, frame adjustments, etc. It allows her to fill in where necessary if a co-worker is ill or if our office is very busy. Cassandra Nash, HD Optical Express, Lansing, MI
  • Just in case someone’s on vacation or sick. Larry Wiggins, UseeMe, Rockville, MD
  • I am a one-person operation so I have to know how to do everything! Julie Uram, Optical Oasis, Jupiter, FL
  • We’re a small office so it’s a necessity. Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA
  • In a small office (six staff) we have to cross train because when staff go on vacation or sick, they have to be able to fill in different job titles. Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH
  • My scribe can tech and my tech’s can scribe. Everyone in the office can answer the phone, schedule appointments and answer general questions. We are a small office so cross-training is essential. Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK
  • Opticians can pre-test our patients as well as answer phones and make appointments if needed. Theodore Sees, OD, Rockford Family Eyecare, Rockford, MI
  • Two licensed opticians do everything. Front desk can also prescreen patients and occasionally will deliver an Rx if needed. Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • Our staff can run the front desk, work up patients frame style and adjust frames. Our intern also learns these important procedures. Robert M Easton, Jr., OD, Oakland Park, FL
  • Sales should know data entry and select staff is chosen for duties like ordering frames/lenses and insurance submission. We will see who’s able to be cross trained to do particular side work. Kaleena Ma, MK Vision Center, Forest Hills, NY
  • I have my office manager work on occasion in the vision therapy arena. There are times where my vision therapist has taken over some office clerical duties. Everyone works the optical area. Pauline Buck, OD, Behavioral and Developmental Optometrists, Miami, FL
  • We are a small five-person staff (plus 1 doctor) office and so being able to be out front, do auxiliary testing, and work with issues on glasses is essential to our success. Bridgett Fredrickson, Whelan Eye Care, Bemidji, MN
  • We train our clinical staff to help patient select eyewear. They establish a rapport during the exam process and we feel it translates nicely for when the patient is picking out eyewear. Vlad Cordero, Focus Eye Care PC, Hackensack, NJ
  • All of my employees are cross-trained. I can’t imagine it working any other way. As a small business owner knowing that I am covered if there is a call-off or vacation time puts my mind at ease. Each employee still has the thing that they are MOST responsible for, but each can pre-test, schedule, sell, and edge lenses. And I, as the doc, can also do ANY job at my office. Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH


N0: 14%

  • I’m a one-man shop. Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL
  • It’s me (owner/optician) and a part time secretary. I’m a control freak so I have slowly let her do insurance billing, a little selling, and paperwork but I do the bookkeeping, edging, repairs, selling, adjustments. Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY
  • I think this would be a good idea but the size of our company makes it hard for a person to learn and retain that much. Smaller locations of ours we have started to try this and it has been helpful. Jocelyn Mylott, D’Ambrosio Eye Care, Lancaster, MA
  • We are understaffed and there is no time to cross-train. I help out when needed, but can only do so much. Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • New staff needs to be trained first before we cross train. Pablo E Mercado, Mount Vernon Eyecare, Dunwoody, GA

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