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Focus on Your Rep Relationship

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If you have to choose between having a great relationship with a company or vendor and having a great relationship with your rep, I would choose the rep. You never know where that rep will go. Once you’ve created a great relationship with that rep, they are looking out for your (and their) best interest. Diana Sims, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL


This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of INVISION.      

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Real Deal

How Did This Trunk Show Turn Out So Wrong?

They had such high hopes: What can the practice do better next time?

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FUNG EYE CARE WAS an established optometry clinic on the outskirts of St. Louis, MO. Dr. Fung and her two partners employed 20 staff, a few of whom had just returned from an out of state conference. Lead opticians John and Mike were buzzing about all the new frames at the event, and asked to meet with the doctors to discuss an idea.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NATALIE TAYLOR is owner of Artisan Eyewear in Meredith, NH. She offers regional private practice consulting and ABO/COPE approved presentations. Email her at info@meredithoptical.com

“We would really like to throw a trunk show at the office,” said John.

“John and I will do all the prep work, but we want to do it the Friday afternoon before Labor Day weekend, from 3-6 p.m.,” said Mike.

“We’ve never done something like that before,” said Dr. Fung. “Where would we start?”

“Normally two doctors see patients Friday afternoons. I’d like to reschedule the last two hours and block that time out, so if someone comes to the event without an active prescription they can be seen immediately,” John replied.

Dr. Fung looked at her fellow practice owners, who nodded their agreement. “Okay guys, I like your confidence! Obviously, there’s some pressure to be profitable to make up for the lost appointment times, but an event could be a lot of fun for the community,” she said.

John and Mike spent the intervening five weeks in party planning mode. Two of their frame reps with multiple lines agreed to attend. The pair decided on a tropical theme and accumulated a variety of grass skirts, streamers, leis and cardboard signs.

Mike posted several times on the practices’ Facebook and Instagram accounts, and John reached out to the local paper to ask a reporter to visit during the event. The front desk mentioned the event to everyone who called in, and a framed sign was placed at the check-in counter. In the week leading to the big day, the opticians noticed several patients opting to hold off on purchasing to take advantage of trunk show discounts.

Friday morning the staff arrived in Hawaiian shirts, full of energy. The day flew by and soon it was 3 p.m. The office looked fantastic: the frame reps had plenty of space to spread out their trays, the food and drinks were beautifully displayed, and a dozen helium-filled balloons at the sidewalk swayed in the breeze. The team waited eagerly near the front door.

At 3:15 p.m., a man with his two small children came in and went straight to the food table. Mike greeted them.

“Oh, I’m your frame rep’s husband,” the man said, pointing towards the showroom. “We’re on our way to camp for the holiday weekend as soon as she’s done. Six o’clock, right?”

“Right,” Mike replied feebly.

A couple who had exams earlier in the week showed up to browse and enter the raffle, but by 5 p.m. it was just the staff and the reps.

Eventually Dr. Fung cornered Mike and John. “Guys, what’s going on? Where are the people?” she asked.

Just then a woman walked through the front door. “Hi, I’m a reporter with the Post Dispatch,” she said, greeting the group.

John and Mike looked at each other weakly.

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The Big Questions

  • What could John, Mike and the rest of the staff have done differently to attract more attendees?
  • Is there a way to salvage this event? How would you handle the reporter?
  • Should Dr. Fung, as the practice owner, have done something different? As owner, would you agree to another trunk show in the future?
Sam M.
Princeton, NJ

Five weeks wasn’t enough time to prepare. You have to do mailings, email, social media etc. Did you do newspaper ads? Did the participating vendors help in marketing? I also wonder if there were too many brands shown. A trunk show should be something special. We do a Lafont Trunk show every year because it IS a special line. We sell 30-35 frames in a three-hour period. Also, don’t give up! Trunk shows build on themselves. Every year you will get more people coming in. Make it a yearly event.

Anissa L.
Berkeley, CA

It’s so hard to put together an event such as a trunk show. So, kudos to the lead opticians for the excitement. There are a few things I would have changed. 1. It’s never a good idea to put an optical event directly before any holiday. At that time families are spending time and money together. Solution: It would have been smarter to put the event two weeks after Labor Day. That way there would have been a better turnout and any vacation money would have been put back in people’s bank accounts. 2. Advertise! Post! Retweet! Anything to get the word out. It seems like that wasn’t done to entice people to come into the office. Maybe they didn’t know it was happening. 3. Too much excitement. When an office isn’t known for a trunk show, wait until the third go to get maximum turnout. Next time’s the charm!

Scott K.
Dover, OH

First: Never have a trunk show on a holiday weekend — too many people traveling. Second: Send postcard mailers to specific household income or net worth homes in the surrounding area. On one side of the postcard make it simple and eye catching. On the other side, give some details about the trunk show but keep it clean and easy to read. Third: If possible, email your top customers. Fourth: Have the sale the same weekend every year to build up awareness over time. Fifth: Run a large ad in the local paper — go big or go home.

Judy C.
Virginia Beach, VA

1. Wrong day, wrong theme. Never schedule an event on a holiday weekend. Never. Tropical theme is great, but perhaps during cold weather when everyone is dreaming about their summer vacation. Have a Kid’s Day in early August or a Mom’s Day in the spring.
2. Nothing to salvage. Divvy up the food among the staff and reps and call it a day. Use the time with the reporter to talk about eye health and lens/frame options.
3. Start planning the next trunk show immediately. Choose a date and a theme and set a timeline for publicity. Build excitement beyond the practice. Invite the neighborhood!

Lois S.
Winter Park, FL

I think they had the right idea, but needed to NOT have it on a holiday weekend, and hold it during the week, in the daytime or afternoon. Perhaps they could stay an hour later to accommodate people after work. I would have it on a busy doctor day, so your patients coming out of the exam room will purchase. If you have no more exam spaces available, write up the order, hold it in the computer, make an exam appointment, and offer them the special pricing then. Perhaps they could have contacted their best-purchasing patients by phone or postcard to inform them of the event.

Jenna G.
Fargo, ND

First thing: BAD DATE/TIME. The Friday before a long holiday weekend is not a good time to try and get people to come shop. They want to get out of town. Why clear the schedule? Instead, use that time to target patients who want to buy glasses, have them come in for their exams, and have a bigger selection to choose from. Let them know there is going to be a party and you want them there! Use the reporter to talk about the practice, not just the event. Maybe they should sit down with the practice owner and talk about what is unique about the practice. Don’t send away free advertising! Unfortunately, you can never totally predict turnout. We have had trunk shows where I have done the exact same amount of marketing, and some are hits, and some are misses. Document and evaluate. Be brutally honest about what went well, and what didn’t. Learn from it, and do it differently the next time.

Jon L.
Madison, IN

As the founder of McDonald’s would say, “Early to bed, early to rise, advertise, advertise, advertise.” Ray Kroc knew that if you want business, you have to let everyone know what you are all about. Don’t think that happened here.

Alicia M.
Anchorage, AK

Their first and biggest mistake was the timing of the show — Friday afternoon on Labor Day weekend. The only thing folks want to do is get off work early and finish loading up the camping and boating stuff, and leave for the weekend. Not go visit their eye doc’s office. I think if they had picked another day, possibly a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon not preceding a holiday weekend, they would have done better.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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ECPs Share the Hidden Talents That Help Them in Business

You’re a talented bunch! Some of you should go on the road.

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THIS MONTH’S QUESTION: What’s a hidden talent that unexpectedly helps you in your business?
  • I’m the office whistler. I’ve convinced myself I will go on tour one day with a band. Kind of like when a band adds a keyboardist later in their career? Well, I’ll be the whistler. Like Guns N’ Roses patience good. — Renee Berry, Nappanee Family Eyecare, Nappanee, IN
  • Photography. It helps in almost every facet of marketing! And I am a “celebrity dancer” in our local Chamber of Commerce Dancing with the Stars event. Our dance off is September 5! — Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK
  • I fix my employees cars sometimes. It saves them some money and time. — Bret Hunter, Sports Optical, Denver, CO
  • Attention to detail and efficiency. — Larah Alami, OD, Hudson River Eye Care, Tarrytown and White Plains, NY
  • I have an insanely good memory. I can remember a patients name, their spouse, kids, dogs. Just last week I helped a patient find his plano sun lenses because when I dispensed them to him 2 years ago I remember him saying, “I know just the spot for these, I’ll put them in my office chest.” When I told him to look there and he found them, even I was surprised. — Jessika E. Arena, The Eye Center, Asheville, NC
  • The gift of gab. I have always assumed it was shared by all doctors until recently. I feel very fortunate to be able to talk with pretty much anyone about pretty much anything. It makes the experience extremely personal. — Blake Hutto, OD, Family Vision Care, Alma, GA
  • I sing to my pediatric patients when I am performing retinoscopy. I am not a brilliant singer, but the very small kids love it, and so do the parents. — Angie Patteson, OD, Sunset Eye Care, Johnson City, TN
  • Good memory for details. — Brendon Johnson, OD, Pekin, IL
  • Creativity and honesty. — Candy Crone, Wayne Optical, York, PA
  • Interior design. — Jocelyn Mylott, D’Ambrosio Eyecare,
  • Knack for following my gut. — Nicole Heyduk, Eye Centers of NWO
  • My superpower is dealing with difficult people. I usually can disarm them and get a reasonable resolution to a problem. — Annette Prevaux, The Visionary Inc., Allen Park, MI
  • Creativity. As a new business, we don’t have the funds that other businesses have so we have to be creative with our displays, ways to show our appreciation to patients, and how to run the office on limited funds. — Nytarsha Thomas, OD, Visionelle Eyecare, Zionsville, IN
  • Being able to smell the BS-ers or incompatible customers the moment they enter the office. If the moment a person walks into our office with a condescending attitude, unrealistic expectations or the following words come out of their mouth: “I just left another optical storming out with outrage” this is a big red flag. There are exceptions where the person was treated badly elsewhere and we become their hero, but 80% of the time, they are toxic and we kindly and respectfully tell them we are NOT what they are looking for, have incongruent expectations and thank them for stopping by. We have the habit of NOT talking bad about other opticals when people complain about them. It helps no one. — Diana Sims, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL
  • Style! It helps with frame selection, office decor, in office music, hiring, window displays, etc.! — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Selective hearing. Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ
  • My Minnesota nice-ness. I am able to tell patient that frame is Not. For. Them. but nicely, where they don’t have hurt feelings and I get to put them in a better-looking frame! — Jenna Gilbertson, McCulley Optix Gallery, Fargo, ND
  • Humor!! — Mark Perry, OD, Vision Health Institute, Orlando, FL
  • My ability to smile even when I want to throat punch a patient. — Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA
  • The ability to find common ground with customers, and engage in easy conversation. — David Weber, The Eye Zone, Dallas, TX
  • I have a commercial art degree! Also, I am a nerd. Not sure they are very well hidden talents, though. — Angel Miller, Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY
  • Building relationships. — Adam Ramsey, OD, Iconic Eye Care, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • I’m often told a should be a stand-up comedian by my patients. So, a sense of humor helps more times than I can count. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH
  • Graphic design/marketing background. Native of the area and length of time with the practice, know and recognize many patients. — Deb Jaeger, Eye Center of the Dakotas, Bismarck, ND
  • I grew up never being taught how to use tools. I’ve been self-taught doing repairs and adjustments with little or no problems and I say Thank You Lord when everything turns out great. — Jeff Grosekemper, Casa De Oro Eyecare, Spring Valley, CA
  • My sense of humor. — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • Art! — Pam Peters, Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
  • I enjoy hearing about what people do for a living … and coincidentally, people enjoy talking about themselves; so, it works out well. — Tom Brillante, OD, Decatur Eye Care, Decatur, GA
  • I wouldn’t say it’s a talent but as a man “I listen to my patients.” Maybe that’s more of a superpower. — William Chancellor, Eye Can See Eyewear, McDonough, GA
  • Being a mom gives me LOTS of patience with young kids. — Amina Ebrahim, OD, D Vision Eyecare, Allen, TX
  • It’s so well-hidden I’m still looking for it. — Andrew Romeril, Torrey Highlands Optometry, San Diego, CA
  • My hidden talent is having stage time as both a musician and a stand-up comedian. Neither of which I am very active in now. That said, I believe selling to be a performance. — Steve Nelson, Eye Candy Optical, Westlake, OH
  • Frame making. — Huge differentiation. Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL
  • Having formerly worked at an Apple Store, people are always eager to share issues they’re having with their electronics. I’m always happy to do a little hard reset or reboot here and there. Definitely makes getting glasses a memorable experience. — Harris Decker, Eye Designs of Westchester, Scarsdale, NY
  • Customer service. — Paul Super, The Eyesite Optometric, Los Angeles, CA
  • Positive outlook. — Bethany Cassar, Complete Eye Health, Holland, MI
  • It’s not hidden, but humor is huge in my office. If people don’t leave with a smile, we feel like we’ve let them down. When people are laughing/smiling, everything runs smoother. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • Remembering details about patients that I learned during previous visits and being able to resume the conversation. It makes them feel special that I remember things about them or their family. — Pauline Buck, OD, Behavioral and Developmental Optometrists, Miami, FL
  • I guess not so hidden — I have a pretty good sense of humor and often use it to put people at ease. — Paula Hornbeck, Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids, Delafield, WI
  • Initiative! — Becki Martin, Harrington Vision Center II, Florence, SC
  • Well I think being an optician we find all kinds of ways to actually be magicians with people’s eyewear which is helpful you can amaze people by what you can do by fixing their glasses and helping them out. — Julie Uram, Optical Oasis, Jupiter, FL
  • Being genuine with patients. I think the majority of patients expect us to be a stereotypical doctors visit. I love to not only help the patient but ensure they leave in a better mindset than when they arrived, to feel good about their visit! — Carissa Dunphy, Lake Stevens Vision Clinic, Lake Stevens, WA
  • My strong medical background as a BSN RN PHN has proven to be a great cross over in an effort to provide the best quality of life for our patients. — Leisa Lauer, Dr. H Michael Shack, Newport Beach, FL
  • Listening to the customer. — Chris Cordes, Fischer Laser Eye Center, Marshall, MN
  • I’m an empath and fairly good at mirroring peoples’ behavior and body language. It’s good for sales, but also helpful for developing lasting customer relationships. — Katie Root, Latham Family Vision, Latham, NY
  • Finding the reason why. Be it a patient’s vision issue, frame repair, computer problem. I want to know why it’s happening and how to fix it. — Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI
  • I used to be a licensed health insurance agent. Understanding the industry from every point of view is helpful in articulating to patients why their vision plan isn’t insurance. — Nikki Griffin, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, Oakdale, MN
  • I was an art major so it really helps with color in frame selection. — Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA
  • My knowledge of health care policy, Florida rules and regulations. — Robert Easton Jr, Robert M Easton Jr OD FAAO, Oakland Park, FL
  • I love people and their stories. People love to talk about themselves and it helps keep them coming back to know that I’m genuinely interested in them! — Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY
  • Storytelling! I was an English major, which doesn’t seem to correlate to optical, UNTIL you realize that every single person that walks in wants to be the main character in a vibrant, exciting story. It informs how I listen to people, how I present glasses options, and how I fit frames. My well-honed literary research skills have also produced some wickedly-good insurance appeals and billing letters. I’ve only lost one first-level insurance appeal in seven years! — Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID
  • Fairy Hair by KeKeVanB (originalfairyhair.com). Once a month nearly 40 ladies come in to our boutique. — Ron Catterson, Clear View Optix, The Villages, FL
  • Listening to the patient, gathering information about their lifestyle; how they use their eyes every day. — BJ Chambers, Carrera Optical, McQueeney, TX
  • If a young child is nervous for their exam, I can turn a bathroom towel into a turkey. — Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH
  • Knowing my inventory so well that I immediately know what frame will be perfect for their needs and style. — Dorothy Reynolds, Optical Alternatives, Milford, CT
  • I definitely think I am able to put people at ease, so they relax a bit and let themselves have fun in the selection process. — Siobhan Burns, The Eyeglass Lass, New London, CT
  • I can remember anyone’s name — patients can come back a year later and I know who they are and they seem quite impressed! — Stephanie Crowley, Sie Eyecare, Charlotte, NC

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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Danielle Richardson

How to Be Healthier Now

4 easy tips you can implement today to start living a healthier lifestyle.

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BEING HEALTHY” IS ONE of those oversized goals we often leave to next week, next month, or next year. In celebration of this issue’s “How To” theme, I want to share easy swaps you can make to center your health now.

Most Americans live a sedentary lifestyle, with six in 10 adults suffering from a chronic disease like heart disease or diabetes. Beyond the physical, we know healthcare workers experience above-average rates of anxiety, depression and burnout. As busy clinicians and optical professionals, it can be challenging to find the time to think about our health and wellbeing in practical terms because we don’t always make the best patients.

We’re largely marketed an image of health that is a two-hour morning routine complete with a workout, meditation and balanced breakfast. But real health is not about how complicated you can make your mornings, it’s about creating habits and behaviors that help you feel well.

Below are some easy tips you can implement to start living a healthier lifestyle now.

Clearly Define Health Goals

Health, when left as an abstract concept, can be difficult to define. Instead, focus on your health goals and the intention behind them. Stress reduction? Lose weight? Gain muscle? Lower blood pressure? Spending some time clearly defining your health goals allows you to better focus your limited energy on the activities that will help you achieve them.

Track Key Metrics

Taking the stairs is the oldest health advice in the book, but have you thought about tracking the steps using your smartphone? Using technology as a tool to track your health metrics can help keep you on track. Goal setting is key, but tracking your progress is equally important and provides a positive psychological impact to keep you motivated. You can use pre-installed health applications on your smartphone or download apps specific to tracking your movement. No matter what metric you use, monitoring progress through a health app can encourage you to make better choices throughout the day.

Choose the Healthier Side Item

When eating out, aim to order the healthier side 80 percent of the time. Think sautéed vegetables instead of fries, salad instead of garlic bread, grilled shrimp instead of fried. These small changes accumulate over time to create a new habit. Choosing a healthier option isn’t about deprivation, it’s about creating a strong foundation that allows you to indulge occasionally without hindering progress towards your goals.

Focus on Nutrition

While there are agreed upon vitamins and minerals that every person needs, the amount and types vary based on the individual. Consult with your primary care doctor or nutritionist to explore the resources available to help you learn about optimal nutritional requirements based on your specific health goals. Nutritional testing can provide insight and information about deficiencies you may have and what supplementation is most effective. In addition to personal consultations, many new health tech companies offer in-home nutritional testing and coaching. Individualized nutrition is the future of health and wellness because nutrition is the missing component for many in their journey to creating a healthier life.

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