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Tip Sheet

Earn Some Low-Tech Loyalty and More Tips for March

Like an inexpensive way to tell your customers about what’s new.

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merchandisingSign Language

When you go to a trade show, your vendors immediately tell you what’s new, right? Of course they do. You can do the same. Merchandising consultant Larry B. Johnson says the best way to draw interest from regular customers is to put a whiteboard on an easel (total cost: $79) just inside your door with all of your new products written on it.

Video: Your Eyecare Business Should Be Getting Way More 5-Star Online Reviews Than It Is
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Video: Your Eyecare Business Should Be Getting Way More 5-Star Online Reviews Than It Is

Video: What Eyecare Patients Really Mean When They ‘Want a Name Brand’
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Video: What Eyecare Patients Really Mean When They ‘Want a Name Brand’

Nano Vista—The Quintessential Line for Kids
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planningBuy-In Gets Results

The staff at Midwest Eye in Downers Grove, IL, were intimately involved in planning its renovation. The result was an office full of individual character, that is functionally attuned to staff needs, and, according to practice manager Pam Peters “a space we all love to work in.” Natalie Taylor, one of our 2018 America’s Finest judges, concurs: “The office’s flow is great — a separate desk for check-in and check-out, wall-mounted TV, and optical kiosks all show the collaboration of staff in designing the space.”

managementDon’t Beat Around the Bush

When you’re delivering good and bad news to employees, always give the bad news first, says Daniel Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He acknowledges this often feels counterintuitive, as many hope to cushion the bad stuff to come. “But that is wrong,” he recently told The Washington Post. “The research tells us this very, very clearly. If you ask people what they prefer, four out of five prefer getting bad news first. Given the choice, human beings prefer endings that elevate.”

techGo Gray

Worried your relationship with your phone is less than healthy? Switch your display from color to grayscale, recommends Catherine Price in her book How to Break Up With Your Phone. (This is so threatening to phone makers’ addiction business model, it’s hidden five levels deep on the iPhone: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters.)

managementOn a Roll? Take a Break

According to a Columbia University study, the key to taking effective breaks is to stop even when you don’t feel like it. “Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write ‘new’ ideas that were very similar to the last one,” the authors explained in Harvard Business Review. So, “if you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.”

marketingLow-Tech Loyalty

Consumers spend more at retailers with loyalty programs. But if creating one seems like a chore, borrow New Jersey pet store Maxwell & Molly’s Closet’s idea: Spend $200 and earn 5 percent off on all purchases for life. Keep it simple.

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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When to Let That Questionable New Employee Go and More Questions for October

Plus its all fun and games until someone gets drunk at the company holiday party … how to protect your business from potential trouble.

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How do you know when a new employee can’t be saved? How much time should you give someone?

When you have coached someone carefully and repeatedly, invested large amounts of energy and they show no signs of improvement, that’s a solid signal you probably need to act. The clincher comes when their co-workers start showing their frustration and stop trying to help the person. This is often at about the three- or four-month mark. A lot of bosses will let it drag on past that, but it’s really in everyone’s interest for both parties to pursue new opportunities.

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?
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Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries
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Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries

Podcast: What the Heck is Marketing? And What Should ECPs Focus on to Attract New Clients?
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Podcast: What the Heck is Marketing? And What Should ECPs Focus on to Attract New Clients?

I’m planning an end-of-year company party, but one concern is that somebody could get drunk, have a car accident, and I might get sued. Got any advice on protecting myself?

These days, the Grinch must be a lawyer. Concerns about liability for alcohol-related incidents, sexual harassment, and workers’ compensation claims have led many companies to forgo holiday galas entirely. You don’t have to. But if you’re really afraid, lawyer Anil Khosla, writing in Inc. Magazine, suggests the following steps to reduce your liability: “1. To distance the business from the party, make it an entirely social event, don’t invite clients or vendors, and make sure employees know that attendance is voluntary. 2. Plan accordingly. Hold your gathering off-site, if possible. That may shift some of the potential liability to the hotel, restaurant, or caterer. If you must have an on-site party, hire an independent caterer. Don’t permit anyone from the company to serve alcohol and instruct bartenders to stop serving anyone who seems inebriated. Lawyers advise avoiding an open bar — or, at the very least, limiting it to the first hour. Also, close the bar at least one hour before the party ends. 3. Consider providing transportation to and from the event. Make sure that cabs will be available and appoint someone to suggest cab rides home for people who have had a few too many.”

I haven’t got around to writing a will yet. What would happen to my business if I died unexpectedly?

When there’s no will, state law (“interstate succession” statutes) usually takes charge of your estate. “Each state has precise laws about who gets what when there is no will, and there are differences among the states,” says Norman M. Boone, MBA, CFP, a nationally renowned financial adviser. “In California, for example, the spouse inherits all the deceased spouse’s community property, but the separate property is shared with the children. In New Jersey, your spouse gets the first $50,000 of your estate and one-half of the rest; your children get everything else. If the children are minors in either state, then the court appoints someone to manage their property (including your business), and then supervises their activities, which involves more intrusion and more expense. The children receive their inheritance at age 18. For singles, the assets are parceled out to relatives in an order determined by state law. Usually, children, parents and then siblings are first in line. Friends, lovers (even domestic partners) or charities are left out.” Without a will, there is always a chance the estate will be fought over by the above claimants, a process which can drag out and potentially ruin a business. Don’t like those prospects? What are you waiting for? Write that will!

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Tip Sheet

Aim For Busy, Not Rushed and More Tips for October

And this bonus season, let them eat cake!

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time managementAim for Busy, Not Rushed

How should you feel when working? Busy, but not rushed. Research undertaken by the University of Maryland found this is when people are happiest. And when you’re happiest — meaning engaged and in the flow, as opposed to giddy with joy — you invariably do your best work. So, start creating realistic schedules, stop checking your email every 15 minutes, take breaks to exercise, and stop letting other people set your deadlines (yes, you could finish the job by tomorrow, but Friday is best for everyone).

SELF IMPROVEMENTWhat Gets Measured…

There’s much to be wary of when it comes to business advice out of Silicon Valley. But the tech mecca’s obsession with measuring data can be useful in a surprising number of areas, such as getting home for dinner in time to eat with your family. “It’s great to know how to recharge your batteries, but it’s even more important that you actually do it,” venture capitalist Vinod Khosla told Fast Company. “I track how many times I get home in time to have dinner with my family. Your company measures its priorities. People also need to place metrics around their priorities.”

MANAGEMENTBonuses? Let Them Eat Cake

Bonus season is on the way. If that includes your business, something to think about: When unequal rewards are given out there will be less dissatisfaction if they aren’t actually countable, says Kellogg management professor Neal Roese. Research showed people who received less cake than their counterparts weren’t as dissatisfied as those receiving less cash, focusing more on what they received than what they didn’t, he writes in Kellogg Insight.

MARKETINGBirthday Cheers

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, won’t be sending you a Christmas card this year. He concentrates his energies on birthdays. Why? Hundreds of businesses send Christmas cards to their clients. Few send birthday cards. And, says Ferrazzi, “Everybody cares about his or her birthday!” If you’ve got a limited marketing budget, consider skipping Christmas this year. Instead, try hand-writing birthday cards to your favorite customers … and including a cash-off coupon. Or call them. Or leave them a voicemail. Your customers will be gratified you remembered the day of the year that’s truly theirs.

SELF IMPROVEMENT Rekindle the Joy

Do one thing every day that you loved as a kid. “This is usually the fuel that can power your life,” writes entrepreneur and business author James Altucher on his blog.

ADVERTISINGCall Other Advertisers

If you’re an infrequent advertiser and are now planning your holiday ad buy, IdeaSiteForBusiness.com’s Mary Gillen suggests doing a little research first. If you’re considering a regional or local newspaper, look at the other ads in the section where you may be placing your ads. Call the companies who are already advertising there to find out how their ads are performing.

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Tip Sheet

Spend an Hour a Week Making Decisions and More Tips for September

Plus the two most powerful words to add to your sales pitch and the power of ‘Polish.’

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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCEPolished Hand-Off

Twice a year the team at Uptown Eyes Eyewear Gallery in Fayetteville, AR, meets for a “Polish,” time dedicated to role-playing every scenario of patient care that allows staff to brainstorm a better experience for patients. “One great addition that has come out of our Polish is our in-exam room hand-off between doctor and optician,” says owner Megan Baureis.

CUSTOMER CARESome Don’t Like It Hot

Like children or bags of frozen shrimp, eyewear shouldn’t be left in your car on hot days. Although it’s easy to forget them in those built-in holders that sit between the rearview mirror and the roof, don’t. “To avoid crazing your AR or melting your frames, try to take your eyewear with you,” says sales rep Graham Haak in a Facebook post. It’s a good reminder to pass on to your patients during these dog days.

SALESWhich Means…

Two of the most powerful words you can add to any sales presentation are “which means …” when delivered after a product feature has been identified. “You can add these words verbally, or you can add them silently, but this habit will bridge you into language the customer can see in their mind,” says Wizard of Ads Roy H. Williams in his weekly marketing column. Williams offers this example: “This blade is made of Maxamet steel, which means you’ll never have to sharpen it.” Fill in your own vision-related example.

MANAGEMENTDecision Hour

Once a week, spend an hour making choices. A lot of things masquerading as “things you have to work on” are really decisions you need to make, notes Steve Chandler in his book Time Warrior. Many can be made now; the notion that you need more info is often just avoidance.

STRATEGY“How” Is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, podcaster and co-author of the Power of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow…[you] focus on doing your best today.”

TECHNOLOGYRoster with Ease

Looking for a tool to make rostering easier? The team at Focus Eye Care in Hackensack, NJ, recommends the ‘WhenIWork’ app. “This tool lets us post staff schedules right to their phones,” says co-owner Vlad Cordero.

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