BenchmarksFive Opticians Finding Interesting New Uses for Optical Gadgets … and Optical Hacks for All Kinds of Interesting Stuff The results were intriguing to say the least. Published 12 months agoon May 28, 2018By Heath Burslem Invision June 2018 Issue Share Tweet WE’RE SURE THAT when it comes to optical tools, a $180 13-piece plier set gets pride of place on the shelf, and there’s no denying that a double-nylon jaw model lends you an unmistakable professional swagger. But we did some snooping around and discovered what it is that really keeps you guys from falling apart in those mysterious back rooms of yours… The results were intriguing to say the least. Packing tape? Safety pins? Who knew?Dr. Taylor Bladh, O.D. Diamond Bar, CAWhere would you be without your trusty frame warmer? Josh Bladh says the team at Dr. Taylor Bladh, O.D. use their Hilco TempMaster several times a day. “If it disappeared we would have to immediately pony up for a new one. It’s that important.” Its primary use is to warm frames when dispensing or adjusting, but the lab tech at this practice also uses it to expand the grooves in order to pop in lenses if he’s having a hard time getting them in cold. The team used to use a bead warmer, but found that less expensive frames tend to get hot beads stuck to the zyl, which damaged the frames. And when it gets chilly in Diamond Bar, says Bladh, “I’ve also used it to warm up my hands, but that’s only a temporary solution. Hot chocolate works just fine and is a more lasting trick.”Rockford Family Eyecare Rockford, MIBen Rozema, an optician at Rockford Family Eyecare, let us in on this optician’s secret. Straps from frame-box packaging are an indispensable “tool” at Rockford for removing lenses from semi-rimless frames. It’s a trick he was shown when he was starting out. “I use it on semi-rimless jobs that are so tight the lens won’t even wiggle.” A guitar pick will work under certain conditions, but strapping “is much cheaper; just use the material you get when vendors ship multiple boxes.” To make this work, find the gap between the frame liner and bottom cord and gently slide the sharp point of the strap into that gap (between frame and lens). Slowly slide the strap toward the bottom of the lens to give you the slack you need to pop out the lens. “It also works well for inserting a lens because it is more durable than the flimsy ribbons most manufacturers send with semi-rimless frames,” Rozema says.EyeStyles Optical and Boutique Oakdale, MNIf you find yourself in Oakdale, MN, and spot a preoccupied-looking optician dashing across the parking lot in front of EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, that’ll be owner Nikki Griffin making another heat-shrink tubing run. “I don’t have a hot-fingers for zyl hinge repairs, and today’s frame materials make it difficult to do hinge replacements like we used to,” she explains. Her M.O. is to cut a piece about 2 inches and splice it over the endpiece, then hold the temple firmly (and level) while the tube shrinks in the air warmer. Cold water sets the temple in place. “I had a guy come back to purchase glasses two years after I had done this repair because it lasted so long.” Tubing can also be used to cover spots where a dog or child has chewed the temple ends on an acetate frame. “I file down the rough spots, reshape the temple bend and cover the whole mess with tubing. The last time I did this my air warmer was being repaired so I pressed my toaster into service. We all got a laugh out of that.” You can order smaller-diameter tubing from Hilco, but “any electrician supply store should have rolls of it,” she says.Fox Valley Family Eye Care Little Chute, WIScott Felten at Fox Valley Family Eye Care is constantly reaching for nylon gripping pliers (left, available from Hilco and Optisource). “Don’t know what I’d do without it,” he says. “I use the pliers with the flat end. Best usage is for bringing the temple in to tighten frame to head, or out to spread temples.” He finds he gets a better bend by gripping the temporal end of the frame front with nylon on the outside of the frame and squeezing the tool rather than forcing the temple. If, like most opticians, you struggle with putting a screw in a spring hinge because the barrels don’t line up, Felten has some advice. “One simple trick that works well for me is to stick a push pin to align the barrels (right), then push the temple down. This will hold that alignment long enough to put the screw back in. Had to learn this long before the self-aligning screws came out.”Prentice Optical Lab Glenview, ILWhat does an optician with 30 years experience reach for in a pinch? Well… if he’s Kevin Count, a standard-issue razor blade and a safety pin. “The safety pin holds the barrels of a spring hinge. When you open the hinge the pin holds the barrels revealing a void between the barrel and the box of the hinge. You insert a glass screw and release tension on the hinge. Now you can attach the temple to the frame.” The blade comes into play when Count needs to remove the name from an acetate frame. “Hold the blade at a slight angle away from yourself and drag across offending writing,” he instructs. “Repeat until all remnants of the ink are gone and polish to original luster.” Advertisement Related Topics:Benchmarkseyecare businesses in Californiaeyecare businesses in Illinoiseyecare businesses in Michiganeyecare businesses in Minnesotaeyecare businesses in WisconsinINVISION June'18 click to Comment(Comment)Up NextBoo! ECPs Killing It with Novelty Contact LensesDon't MissThink Patient Questionnaires Have Nothing to Offer? Check Out the Benefits They Brought to These Practices Heath BurslemAfter years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at email@example.com. Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEOSPONSORED BY WALMAN OPTICALPeople Want to Buy Premium ProductsWalman Optical Presents—Industry Myths Busted! It’s up to every ECP to explain that “premium” doesn’t mean expensive—it means “customized to your needs.”You may like ABB OPTICAL GROUP and Paragon Vision Sciences Announce Fifth Annual Optometry Student Challenge Shopko Optical Acquisition Completed; 80 Stores to Become Freestanding Locations For This Miami OD, It’s the Simple Things That Get Him Back On TrackPromoted Headlines Safilo’s “American Eyes” Video Celebrates Elasta and Emozioni starringECPs Peter Tacia and Heidi DancerSafilo Hoya: The Right Lenses for Sun ProtectionHoya Nano Vista—The Quintessential Line for KidsAlternative and Plan B EyewearBenchmarksWhen Their Tech Lets them Down, These ECPs Have Things Covered And their patients appreciate the human touch. Published 2 months agoon March 26, 2019By Heath Burslem TECHNOLOGY: IN OPTOMETRIC terms it means unparalleled accuracy, speed and convenience. But real life has a way of throwing up cases that just won’t cooperate with the latest equipment. And blackouts can strike anywhere. This is an industry whose gear continually evolves, but it’s also one of accumulated knowledge and, occasionally, improvised solutions. We asked around to see what kinds of tricks opticians and ODs have up their sleeves. If the lights go out while you’re in the chair or at the dispensing table of any of these eight ECPs, you’ll be in good hands.Carissa Dunphy, Lake Stevens Vision Clinic Lake Stevens, WAOptician Carissa Dunphy believes it’s important to take both digital and manual measurements from every free-form progressive wearer because she sees differences in patients’ body language towards a camera/iPad versus a person doing a manual measurement. Tech doesn’t always accommodate for specifics noted by the optician, such as someone who is really tall or short, she says. “A fitter of free-form progressives should know how to measure for each position of wear (POW) value manually and should measure both ways, comparing the values and critically thinking about the right solution for that particular patient.”Bridgett Fredrickson, Whelan Eye Care Bemidji, MNLow-tech solutions have a special place in the heart of a veteran administrator like Bridgett Fredrickson at Whelan Eye Care. She and her doc are probably the only ones in her office who know how to handle an exam on paper. “About once a year we have to pull out a form … while our computer software is down.” She knows of older ODs who never came to grips with electronic records, and younger docs who would stare blankly at a paper form. “Those of us [from] that bridge era have a unique perspective and appreciate the old way and the new.”Adam Ramsey, OD,Iconic Eye Care Palm Beach Gardens, FLAn old-fashioned technique Dr. Adam Ramsey uses regularly is trial frame refraction, which he finds spares him headaches with patients that are particular. Ramsey says it’s a “great way to move the phoropter out of the way and deal directly with the patient.” If he finds prism in the patient’s previous glasses, he will “usually skip the fancy toys and go straight to the trial frame to refract that patient. Using fixed PD trial frames gives … the best comfort.” Most patients appreciate the extra care, he says, especially when they can visualize the improvement right away.Mike Davis, OD, Opti-Care Eldersburg, MDDr. Mike Davis is nothing if not prepared. We’re confident his patients could enter his practice in a blizzard-induced blackout and come out seeing perfectly. He keeps a paper acuity chart around, along with a hand-held retinoscope and ophthalmoscope, and trial frame and lens sets. His iCare tonometer is battery powered, and with a PD stick at hand he’s “ready to roll.” The hand-held equipment Davis uses was primarily brought in to save space, but “by happy coincidence” it’s mostly battery-driven, so he’s confident he could get by for a day or so without power. “The art of hand neutralization, figuring out the prescription … with a lensometer, is helpful on house calls and nursing home visits, but mostly a good party trick.”Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision Pine Beach, NJ“I … have inserted punctal plugs outside in the sunlight with a jeweler’s headset when the power is out,” proclaims Dr. Marc Ullman with justifiable pride. Magnification is weaker with the headset than behind the slit lamp, Ullman says, but he feels most doctors should be able to insert punctal plugs with a headset if necessary. He has most brands and sizes of collagen and silicon plugs on hand and has lately been using the six-month extended plugs more often. “Punctal occlusion generates a lot of referrals and happy patients at my office,” he says.Advertisement Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care Sandpoint, ID“It may be silly,” says Jen Heller — a champion of the humble PD stick — “but I can prep a pair of glasses anywhere, anytime, with all the lights out and just a dinky little flashlight, and so can all our staff.” Some facilities might sniff at the idea as “backwards,” but Pend Oreille Vision Care still does hand-measured PDs on all orders, because they found that it was easy for rookie staff to lose track of where they’re placing a traditional pupilometer on squirmy kids, or adults with broken noses. “With a hand ruler, everyone can see exactly where that crook in the nose is — or, better yet, take a relaxed PD over the top of a patient’s previous prescription to rule out that plunging eye turn in high hyperopes.” Rulers are cheap and plentiful, and all staff are trained to take manual PDs. This way, Heller says, “patients never have to wait around because someone else is using a piece of equipment or because all dispensing tables are full. Get the needed measurement, and go!”Pablo E. Mercado, LensCrafters Alpharetta, GAAlpharetta, GA-based optician Pablo Mercado told us that outside of screwdrivers and pliers, the PD stick is the one tool he cannot work without. “With it, I can forgo most of the technology at the office and still feel confident I can deliver quality eyewear.” While his workplace has a sophisticated digital system, “for some cases it is a complete dud” and Mercado reaches for the stick. It comes in especially handy when taking measurements from children. But he also uses it to measure the thickness of a frame when edging — and he’s just getting started: “I use my PD stick to show patients how a couple of millimeters can make the difference between being able to wear a particular frame or not,” and to train coworkers. He also finds it indispensable when inspecting eyewear for quality control.Sarah Bureau, sbspecs St. Catharines, ON, CanadaNow here’s a really old-fashioned idea: Repair, don’t replace. According to sbspecs owner Sarah Bureau, a modern mobile business based in St. Catharines, ON, Canada. “The general consensus when we, as an industry, are presented with a broken or wear-worn frame is to recommend it be replaced.” But Bureau insists that an acetate frame that has been well loved and has now turned white can be brought back to its original lustre by sanding and polishing the acetate by hand. Using a clavulus or hot fingers to replace a hinge, whether riveted or hidden, can save your client from having to replace a temple or frame front, she says, while cracked acetate rims or broken bridges can be repaired by fusing the material back together and filing and polishing by hand. These are especially valuable options for frames that are no longer in production. The approach does more than just demonstrate Bureau’s concern for the environment; giving your client the option of a repair, she says, is a great way to build a strong and long-lasting relationship with them. “Offering these services results in their confidence in you as a professional and the retention of them as a loyal client.” Continue ReadingBenchmarksWays ECPs Are Benefiting from Short Intro Videos for Their Practices Practice introduction videos have multiple benefits, and these days they’re a cinch to produce. Published 3 months agoon February 18, 2019By Heath Burslem Introducing yourself to potential patients and customers, eliminating the element of surprise for first-timers, and boosting your SEO and Google rankings: Producing a professional-looking intro video for your practice has multiple benefits and doesn’t have to bust your marketing budget. Check out this handful of practices that have embraced multimedia.Precision VisionEdmund, OKPrecision Vision in Edmund, OK, designed their video to help patients get to know the practice before coming in. “The video was structured to try and eliminate surprises,” says owner Dr. Selina McGee. It plays on the website and her Facebook page, boosting SEO across channels and driving traffic to the practice. McGee hired a videographer to shoot and edit the video for about $800. “I wanted it to look completely professional.” McGee’s main goal was boosting SEO, but now that she’s got the video up and running she concedes she could probably do an even better job of getting patients to see it. She’s also come to realize it has other potential benefits. “Customers always want to see the real you, so create something authentic that shows your personality,” she advises. “Have fun with it. Remember, your patients and customers can’t buy YOU down the street.”Advertisement Spanish Oaks EyecareCedar Park, TXSpanish Oaks Eyecare’s video involved some luck. It was professionally done. “However,” says owner Dr. Dina Miller, “we were approached by [a crew] wanting to use our waiting area for a film. So in exchange they offered to do it at no charge.” The video walks the audience through Spanish Oaks’ office, with both exterior and interior shots, before showing Miller examining a patient and reviewing their optomap results. It ends with the patient in the optical working with her optician Bob. “During that part, we let people know how we’re different than most opticals and why — we carry only independent frame lines.” The video, whose main goal Miller says is to introduce Spanish Oaks to potential patients and customers, is posted on Facebook. “It’s a great way to … make yourself ‘real’ and familiar.” She advises other ECPs to make sure the video features actual staff. “That’s one of the most important parts; making it personable. I was tempted to have someone else sit in for me but at the end of the day, I knew that would really take away from the video and its purpose.” And don’t be afraid to edit: Miller opted for voice overs, as they had felt uncomfortable speaking to camera, and added captions for things she wanted the audience to know (for example, the fact that her optician is one of just two people with an active American Board of Opticianry Advanced certification in her part of Texas). “Also,” she advises, “consider having parts where you and possibly your main staff talk to the camera about what’s important to you, what sets you apart from others — not the generic ‘We have the best customer service/patient care,’ etc.”Ziegler Leffingwell EyecareNew Berlin, WIAccording to Dr. Dave Ziegler, Ziegler Leffingwell Eyecare hit on the idea of making an intro video as a way of giving “strong visual exposure of what it is like to be in our office.” And they found a striking way to do just that, hiring a real estate photographer to use a drone, which opens the video hovering outside the front of the office, then enters through the front door and flies throughout the office. “This flight path through the office is the way our patients experience our office during a typical eye exam,” he says. The video boasts a script written by Ziegler himself; he hired a professional to do the voice over for maximum impact. He felt it was important that the video should be less than a minute long; it’s now posted to the practice’s website, one among many features that he says win their website routine praise. Asked whether the time and expense that went into making the video were worth it, he replies that more than that, “it is necessary” for any practice, in his view.Advertisement Dr. Bladh ODDiamond Bar, CAThe folks at Dr. Bladh OD, a Diamond Bar, CA practice, understand the power of videos to increase a business’s Google ranking by boosting the amount of content that links back to its website. They signed up with a company called Promo! that allows them to make multiple 15-second videos. “The [Promo!] site has a ton of content with professional videos to use.” Once you edit it, the video is yours to keep. So the video is professionally done, but everything added to it is DIY. “Video marketing gets so much more traction than pictures or boring blog posts,” reports Josh Bladh. The videos are similar, but each has its own emphasis. Most feature music and a few lines of text to get people’s attention. “Search engines are putting more emphasis on video content so this seemed like the best option to get our foothold with video before paying for anything professional,” he says. The videos are posted to Facebook and Instagram. “We will add videos to blog posts on our website where relevant.” In the practice’s experience, consumers typically need six to eight touch points before they’ll call and commit to an exam. So, using videos to boost these contact points for the service’s relatively low monthly fee makes sense. Bladh warns ECPs to do their homework before signing up for such a service, however, as some companies will give you a hard time if you attempt to use any unused video credits after letting your subscription lapse.Anthony Aiden OpticiansNew York, NYAnthony Aiden Opticians went for a more adult approach in their video, a 30-second short about … a misunderstanding. It may seem like male fantasy, but optician Anthony Gaggi swears it’s based on reality. “My sister’s friend was a stylist; she was working alone one night and…” Well, we don’t want to spoil it; suffice it to say whether you find it hilarious, titillating or offensive, there’s no denying it conveys the store’s edgy, fashion-conscious style. “My goal,” Gaggi says, “was to bring a high-quality fashion video to my website.” The video is also displayed in the store’s windows. A friend who works in TV offered his services for free; Gaggi says clients love it. Continue ReadingBenchmarks5 Eyecare Businesses That Prove That the Way to Clients’ Hearts is Through Their Stomachs For these businesses, delicious tastes and smells are a selling point. Published 4 months agoon January 30, 2019By Heath Burslem IT SHOULD BE SELF-EVIDENT, but “experts” can dash off a list of reasons why offering delicious baked goods to your customers can be good for business. Sure, it sounds a little …well, sexist frankly … but the Journal of Consumer Research once reported that women were more likely to make impulsive decisions when exposed to “appetitive stimulants” such as the smell of chocolate chip cookies.Less scientifically, perhaps, a California jewelry store owner once told our sister publication, INSTORE, that “nine out of 10” people who stopped by for the express purpose of sampling his wife’s legendary lemon pie ended up buying something. Then there’s the argument that free food and drink makes customers feel obligated to buy something because, after all, you’ve just improved their day. And if you’re hosting an event, freebies can at least give participants a reason to stick it out to the bitter (or bittersweet?) end.But all this doesn’t even touch on the staff-bonding boost to be had from getting employees to whip up — and show off — goodies of their own. It’s clearly a way to add the personal touch and further differentiate yourself from your local big box. But truth be told, bringing in baked goods doesn’t have to be part of an elaborate strategy or cross-promotion; it can simply be an honest, generous, down-home way to connect with staff and customers as human beings, no strings attached … and regardless of gender. Eye Candy Delafield and Mequon, WIThe name is Eye Candy, and they don’t disappoint. Owner/optician Paula Hornbeck makes a priority of organizing baked goods and sweets for trunk shows and other special events. “It’s always a hit,” she says. “Who doesn’t like cake!” Melissa, one of Eye Candy’s opticians, loves to bake cupcakes and will often whip up a fun flavor for a trunk show. For the store’s birthday party each year, Hornbeck orders up a custom cake from a local baker. Staff are allowed to tuck in, “Just not when they’re busy with customers.” Eye Candy’s offerings tend to be event-driven; for that reason, flavors and styles are usually seasonal. And they’re always free. Health warnings and lawsuit fears are not really Hornbeck’s style: “Big eye roll,” she yawns. “No. I believe in personal responsibility. If you have a diet restriction then ask what’s in the treats or don’t have any.” Her advice to ECPs sitting on the gingerbread fence: Take the plunge… and “Have fun with it!”Advertisement EyeShop Optical Columbus, OHEvery Friday is Dessert Friday at EyeShop Optical. Patients like it so much many of them schedule their appointments on the day. Owner Dr. Cynthia Sayers started the tradition because at her daughter’s preschool every Friday was Cookie Friday. She found that parents — who on other days just picked up their kids and took off were hanging out around the cookies on Friday, and more willing to engage with other parents. “If it could work at a daycare, surely it could work at an optometry office.” Sayers does the baking herself. “It’s one of my hobbies, so it’s enjoyable for me. I typically bake cupcakes, but it can be cookies or other treats depending on the occasion or mood. I will take requests from patients and yes, the employees often partake.” The biggest request she gets are for her s’more cups (chocolate chip cookie cup with a ROLO inside, and toasted marshmallows and chocolate on top). No strings attached here; the cupcakes are put out for any and all to eat (though kids are told to ask permission from a parent). “Baking is relaxing for me and … a way to bring the homey feeling I try to create into my business,” says Sayers. Discerning Eye Iowa City, IARaising the bar on free, home-cooked treats is Joni Schrup, owner of Discerning Eye in Iowa City, IA, who personally bakes something for her patients every single day, ranging from cookies, bars and shortbread to ginger snaps and candied bacon. “Customers are always asking for my recipes and we keep copies handy at our front desk.” Located in the heart of a college town, Discerning Eye has 20,000 starving University of Iowa students and workers traipsing hungrily past her doors daily. So she got cooking. “We offer cookies or bars or homemade snacks every day.” When she spoke with us there was a plate of chocolate shortbread cookies and ginger snaps on the counter. “The all-time favorite is candied bacon, which I only make in December.”Advertisement Edina Eye Edina, MNOnce, Edina Eye in Edina, MN, had a greeter in the office, one of whose tasks was to pour coffee and hand out cookies. Times change, greeters move on. But when Edina’s treat-dispenser left, staff noticed that while the snacks hadn’t generated a lot of comment when plentiful, once they were no more, employees heard about it. “Patients missed it,” recalls retail operations manager Bob McBeath. “Now we do it once a month or so sometimes around an event,” McBeath says. “Usually one of the managers picks them up. We do not take requests.” The munchies are free: “No strings attached, although we ask that parents help the kids.” To ECPs worried about litigation or other forms of blowback in an era of fat shaming, gluten-free diets and anti-junk food ordinances, McBeath says simply: “Buy it, put up an ingredient poster.” Something weird he’s noticed about offering free goodies, though: “Patients act like they’re stealing them.” Urban Optics San Luis Obispo, CAIf you happen to find yourself in California’s Central Coast region, check the sea breeze for a whiff of cinnamon and follow your nose into San Luis Obispo’s Urban Optics for an eye exam and a treat; the practice buys them from a favorite bakery and hands them out to customers and patients. “We stock the office with baked goods most commonly on Saturdays, our most leisurely day,” as owner Dr. Dave Schultz puts it. “We use Black Horse Espresso and Bakery; our favorite caffeine stop. Our go-to items are Bear Claws; they fill the office with the smell of cinnamon.” Obligingly — and rather sensibly —these are cut into individual claws for ease of scoffing. Over the years, Schultz and his team have discerned various eating patterns among their grateful — if rather particular — patrons. Schultz breaks it down thus: “There’s the guy who mauls and devours every claw in sight; the mom who’s trying to control her child’s sugar intake; the vegetarian who won’t eat bear; the old lady who secretly wraps several in a napkin to take home for dinner…. oh yeah, and the PETA members who wants us to serve Pear Claws!” Continue ReadingAdvertisement LatestTrendingVideos Press Releases3 days agoABB OPTICAL GROUP and Paragon Vision Sciences Announce Fifth Annual Optometry Student Challenge Headlines3 days agoShopko Optical Acquisition Completed; 80 Stores to Become Freestanding Locations Sanity Files3 days agoFor This Miami OD, It’s the Simple Things That Get Him Back On Track Press Releases3 days agoSafilo and David Beckham Announce 10-Year Eyewear License Agreement Headlines4 days agoFDA Approves Drug for Diabetic Eye Disease Headlines4 weeks agoEyewear Executive Dies Unexpectedly Headlines3 weeks agoOnline Eyewear Seller Gets More Prison Time Headlines2 weeks agoWalmart and Optometrists Agree On New State Bill Headlines3 weeks ago2 Accused of Selling Counterfeit Ray-Bans in $2M Fraud Case Headlines4 weeks agoEyewear Chain Launches Drive-Through Pickup Service INVISION Podcast3 weeks agoPodcast: What the Heck is Marketing? 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