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Manager's To-Do

Finding Ways to Be Different … and More Manager’s To-Dos for April

There are hundreds of areas where you can differentiate.

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April 2-7

MANAGEMENT Invest time in finding places where you can differentiate your business. These can be big and small. What does your door handle look like? What’s your telephone answering machine message sound like? What’s your 404 error page say? Could you make your cash register receipts more fun? Think of the power of 1,000 points of differentiation. And get busy.

MARKETING Call a brainstorming meeting for Mother’s Day (May 14). Dad and child evening? Mom and daughter event? Cross promotion with a spa? Bring a list of ideas to the meeting and ask the staff to do the same.

TRAINING. Hold a mini-conference right in your own office. Assign each staff person a topic for a 5- to 10-minute presentation. Extra team-building points if you make the event a potluck!

Education. Rita Ellent of The Gardens Eyecare in Forest Hills, NY says that this month, she’ll “attend for the first time that Vision By Design Meeting that I’ve wanted to go to for the past few years (April 11-15)”.

April 9-14

MARKETING If you’ve never done an in-store event give thought to something small – a small trunk show, a product launch, participation in a local craft walk (hey, eyewear design is an art form!) Your goal should just be to get people in the door so they can experience your independent spirit and sow the seeds for a future visit when they have real vision needs.

MEDICAL Find a category of your business you want to improve — such implementing dry eye products packages — and draft an action plan to start making it happen

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MANAGEMENT Some things you should do spontaneously sometimes need to be scheduled. Here’s one: Find time this week for a few quality minutes of conversation with staff. It’ll do wonders for their morale and give you ideas into what motivates them

April 16-21

FINANCES Insurers don’t reward loyalty. In fact, via premium creep, they punish it while giving new customers great deals. Shop around to see if you can get better rates elsewhere.

STRATEGY Got an employee suggestion box? If not, you should create one. Offer $100 (or a paid vacation day) for any idea you implement.

NETWORKING Try networking with other eyecare professionals. Join online groups such as ODs on Facebook and Corporate Optometry on Facebook to see how your fellow professionals are faring elsewhere in the country.

OPERATIONS Sunday is Earth Day. Ban plastic bags from the office, ban water bottles from the kitchen, urge everyone to car pool for a week. It’s not so hard being green.

April 23-28

GENERAL. Study your parking lot. Devise and publicize a policy on staff parking. If necessary, can you encourage staff to take transit to free up spaces for customers? What do you do if a car needs to be towed?

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SECURITY Buy a Suspicious Incident Logbook for employees to record things that appear to be “not quite right.” The log can be used to write down license plate numbers, names used, time, physical description and other information that may later help police.

MANAGEMENT Institute a fun day like Carb-Wild Wednesday, Fried Chicken Friday or, even better, Beer Friday. Good spirits encourage better customer service, innovative thinking and staff loyalty. They also tend to encourage bigger waistlines, but such is the price to pay for bonhomie.

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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Manager's To-Do

Tips for Wrapping Up All Those Little Year-End Tasks and More Manager’s To-Dos for December and January

Including billing, Flex Spending, recalls and sales incentives for all.

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Dec. 1-7

OPERATIONS Push to get all pending billing done so you are ready for the busy end-of-year holiday period.

MARKETING We trust flex spending reminders adorn all communications. But take it to a new level with a year-end sale to drive use. It’s a double savings! And a good way for you to get rid of some aging inventory.

Dec. 8-14

OPERATIONS Only two weeks to go until Christmas. If you offer extended hours, be sure to promote that on your website and social media channels.

WEBSITE Add a sign-up to your website for customers to receive news or promotions. Give all employees a personalized address for customer emails. Update the copyright on your site to 2020.

Dec. 15-21

SERVICE Refine your intake procedure for repairs. Are you giving accurate estimates on delivery times and not disappointing customers? Can you offer a “rush” fee? Are you taking digital photos during intake so clients can’t claim that you damaged them?

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Dec. 22-28

MANAGEMENT Before you close Christmas Eve thank every team member personally for their effort.

Dec. 29-Jan. 4

MANAGEMENT Need a big goal for 2020? Try reducing the number of insurance plans you accept. Then staff can focus on understanding the remaining policies and codes.

OPERATIONS The next few months are typically the coldest all year. Have a plan if severe weather interrupts business. Could you, for example, offer a 2 percent discount for every inch of snow that falls if customers brave conditions to come in?

Jan. 5-11

MANAGEMENT Start strategic planning by calculating the dollar value of every customer = average purchase in your business per year x 20 years. It should be a heck of a lot of money. Post it for everyone to see in the back room.

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MERCHANDISING What can you promote for Valentine’s Day gifts? Highlight these in email bulletins and catchy displays.

Jan. 12-18

OPERATIONS Investigate outsourcing medical billing. Explanation of benefits, actual billing and follow-up is often time consuming and takes time away from providing patient care.

Jan. 19-25

CUSTOMER SERVICE Use your EHR to find patients who have not responded to recall notices and are overdue. Call and ask how they are doing.

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Coming Up with Your 2020 Resolution and More New Year Events

And we’re calling for a return of National Opticians Day, who’s with us?

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DECEMBER

2 CIDER MONDAY! We like this date: It’s an invitation for shoppers to visit a real store and touch real products and be greeted with a warm cup of cider. First observed by Toadstool Bookshop in New Hampshire, it offers a delightful twist on Cyber Monday, which kicks off the online shopping season today … got a special on your website? You should.

31 2020 implies vision and clarity. It demands something bolder than usual when it comes to New Year hopes, dreams and resolutions. Our suggestion? A pledge to work on your ‘Leadership’ (strategic) skills not just your management (operational) skills. Build yourself a business, not a job.

JANUARY

1 20 years ago, January 1999 was celebrated in the U.S. as National Opticians Month. Sadly, it was a one-off but the struggle goes on. Amid a lack of official recognition, make sure the pivotal role your opticians play is explained on your site and practice materials. Many still need help seeing their value.

16 National Nothing Day was started 45 years ago to provide Americans with one day they didn’t have to celebrate anything. A better use for you: how can you leverage more “nothing days” to drive traffic and smooth out revenue between the big retail seasons.

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Come Up With 20 (New) Questions and More November Events

And we’ve got an idea for a social media post any independent ECP can do.

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28 Two hundred and thirty years ago, President George Washington created the first holiday by presidential declaration, ordering America to take a day off to give thanks for its many blessings. To get in the spirit of Thanksgiving and gratitude, send a goodie bag of lens cleaner, lens wipes, and a mini bottle of wine (Seeing Red!) or whatever you can imaginatively come up with, to your best 50 customers. It’s likely they provide an outsize contribution to your success.

19 Peter Drucker was born this day 110 years ago. Among his many contributions to the management field, perhaps his most important was his maxim that if you’re a manager, staying aware of what genuinely deserves your attention is the most crucial thing you can do. Mark his birthday by saying no to something that you feel is vaguely important, but if you’re being brutally honest, you don’t have time for.

24 The quiz show Twenty Questions made its debut on national TV on this day 70 years ago. Mark the occasion with a brainstorming session to come up with 20 surefire questions to get your customers talking, other than “Can I help you?”

30 Small Business Saturday … Print up a T-shirt emblazoned with the Small Business Saturday logo. Take a picture of yourself wearing it. Post on social media.

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