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ECPs Share Their Favorite and Least Favorite Habits

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ECPs share their best and worst habits to inspire you to get on the right track in 2017

 STORY BY INVISION Staff

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Epictetus

Ah, good old Epictetus. The crustiest of all the Stoic philosophers. Always ready with a quote that makes you think you could rule the planet … if only you could muster up the tiniest smidgen of discipline.

Here’s another from William James, brother of Henry James.

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits — practical, emotional and intellectual — systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”

INVISION, like Epictetus and William James, believes strongly in the power of habit. The right habits will change your life. Let’s rephrase … the right actions, however small, repeated every time, and accumulated over a period of months and years, will change your life.

If you had asked for every referral, if you had always limited yourself to one bite of cake, if you did always try for an add-on sale (or three), if you had gone out for that run every morning, if you did always carry business cards and remembered to hand them out — if you had done all of these things, do you have any doubt that your life and business would be very different?

Two of our favorite books on the subject of building better habits are The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.

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We asked eyecare providers about their habits — those they feel have most contributed to their success as well as those they feel might have held them back.

Maybe some of what you read will inspire you to make changes of your own in the New Year.

If so, here are a few things to remember when building new good habits or killing old bad ones.


LITTLE ACTIONS, REPEATED OVER TIME, BECOME IMMENSE

1. Take the case of English novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882). He forced himself to produce one page of 250 words every 15 minutes. And he wrote 2-1/2 hours per day. If social obligations forced him to miss a day, he made up the words he had missed writing the next day. He kept careful track of his production in his notebooks, which he managed very seriously. The result? One of the world’s most famously prolific literary careers.

TO GET IT DONE, GET IT SCHEDULED

2. If you’re going to read the complete sales oeuvre of Jeffrey Gitomer, write designer profiles for every collection in your inventory, or exercise your way to fitness, you need to firmly schedule these activities. Don’t just tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll find time during the day somewhere.” Because you won’t. This is especially true in the early days of building a new habit.

MAKE IT CLEAR WHEN YOU’RE FOLLOWING YOUR PLAN

3. Shoot to create what the authors of Willpower call “bright lines” when defining a habit. That means that it is always perfectly clear when you are adhering to your targeted habit and when you are not. “I will ask every new customer I see for an email address” has very bright lines. But bright lines aren’t always possible. For instance, if you’d like to be more social, saying that you will “meet more people” is vague and unspecific. In such a case, it might be better to create an “implementation resolution” — a statement in “if-then” format, such as “If I’m standing in line at a supermarket or store, I will always talk to the person behind me or in front of me.”

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DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE

4. Too many people begin a new year with a dozen or more daily to-dos and do-no-mores. It’s an impossible task, because every time you fail to adhere to one of your new rules, it makes it more likely that you’ll fail to adhere to the rest of them. Says Duhigg: “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” Instead, commit yourself to changing one behavior per month. Ensure that you stick to that one habit, building it into your routine and making it as automatic as possible, before moving onto the next.

ANALYZE — THEN TRY TO RE-PROGRAM — BAD HABITS

5. Let’s say you have the waistline-obliterating habit of attacking the plate of baked goods in your practice at the same time every afternoon. To change the habit, ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you honestly trying to satisfy your hunger? Or is the knoshing more of a way to break up a boring routine? If you get hungry at that time every day, keep something handy you can eat without guilt to satisfy you when hunger hits. If you’re really just bored at that time, schedule a 15-minute walk outside the office then.

START TODAY

6. Another quote, this one from author Karen Lamb: “A year from now, you may wish you had started today.” Have a life- and business- changing year!



Robin Brush

EyeOptics, Omaha, NE

GOOD: Giving constant praise. Constant training. Constantly leading by example.

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BAD: Taking on other projects that keep me off the floor.


Zachary Dirks, OD

St. Peter Eyecare Center and Belle Plaine Eyecare Center, Saint Peter, MN

GOOD: Serving patients as individuals and building relationships with them.

BAD: Allowing staff turnover to distract me from taking “next steps.”


Angel Miller

Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY

GOOD: Definitely, that I am cross-trained everywhere.

BAD: I am terrible about getting to work on time. I am always one or two minutes late.


Kevin Count

Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL

GOOD: My ability to identify my “why” which is shaping my plan forward.

BAD: Looking for faults and waiting for the bottom to fall out.


Wendy Salle

Salle Opticians, Atlanta, GA

GOOD: I always set goals.

BAD: Staff management is an exhausting task sometimes and I may let a few things slide that I shouldn’t.


Beth Landberg

Hermann & Henry Eyecare, Pickerington, OH

GOOD: I remember our patients’ names, their families, etc. and they really like that.

BAD: I try to do it all and don’t delegate when I can to a staff that is perfectly capable of doing it just as well as I would have.


Sandy Slang

Ophthalmology Associates, Cudahy, WI

GOOD: Our patients always come first; we offer good customer service.

BAD: Trying to stay organized and on top of things.


Joe Miller

Eye Care & Vision Associates, Buffalo, NY

GOOD: My work ethic and fairness.

BAD: Not setting a higher priority on marketing the practice.


Harry Roth

eyeQ Opticians, Millburn, NJ

GOOD: I start everyday with an achievable goal.

BAD: I give in to distractions.


Jess Gattis

Thomas Vision Clinic, Leesville, LA

GOOD: We really strive to keep staff morale up.

BAD: We are shy to approach our patients/customers about multiple pairs because we assume no one is financially able to purchase more than one pair.



Jennifer Leuzzi

Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY

GOOD: Taking the time to listen to my patients. Also being involved in community service groups and being present in the community for good things.

BAD: Saying things are no charge when I should charge.


Chris Welch

Square Deal Optical Supply, Johnson City, NY

GOOD: Sharing my product knowledge.

BAD: Our old fashioned office practices.


Shimul Shah, OD

Marysville Family Vision, Marysville, OH

GOOD: Making daily lists of things that must be done.

BAD: Procrastination!


Meredith Nowak

Coffman Vision Clinic, Bend, OR

GOOD: Changing the look of our optical.

BAD: Talking about money before product.


Gina Stafford

Mountain View Optical, Fairbanks, AK

GOOD: Being more flexible with patient complaints.

BAD: Not focusing enough on marketing.


Heather Kaikuana

Eye Care, Hawaii Hilo, HI

GOOD: We know our products and we relate them to the patient’s lifestyle so they better understand why they should get the no glare or no line.

BAD: We need a little work on our optical hand-offs and doctor recommendations.


 

Joselle Stumph

EyeGuys Optical, Spokane, WA

GOOD: The ability to wear many hats and adapt to whatever is thrown at me.

BAD: Not giving enough positive feedback to my staff.


 

Kristen Atkins

America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Burlington, NJ

GOOD: I hired a superb staff who are goal driven.

BAD: Not being able to do as much one-on-one training as I’d like.


 

Pam Peters

Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL

GOOD: Coming up with fun, new ideas, and including staff on creativity and decisions.

BAD: Not completing some of the activities we introduce.


 

Jeffrey Safarik, OD

Newport Mesa Optometry, Costa Mesa, CA

GOOD: Maintaining a consistent quality of care.

BAD: Not training staff.


 

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of INVISION.

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America's Finest

This Ontario OD Is Off to a Flying Start

When her hometown’s original fire hall went on the market, she knew it was time to open a business.

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EYES – Dr. Abby Jakob, Kingsville, ON, Canada

OWNER: Abby Jakob, OD; URL:abbyjakobeyes.com ; FOUNDED: 2017; ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRMS: Helena Ventrella Design Limited, LaSalle Millwork Patrick Michaud, Maurice Michaud; EMPLOYEES: 1 full-time, 1 part-time ; AREA: 2,100 sq. ft.; TOP BRANDS: Oliver Peoples, Kate Spade, Tiffany, Tom Ford, Swarovski; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/abbyjakobeyes; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/abbyjakobeyes; BUILDOUT COST: $300,000


After working as an associate at a private practice and several commercial offices, Dr. Abby Jakob took the leap and opened her own practice in her hometown of Kingsville, Ontario in 2017. She hadn’t expected to make such a major move so early in her career — it had only been three years since her graduation from the Illinois College of Optometry — but when the town’s original fire hall went on the market, the choice was all but made for her. “My experience was serendipitous, as I wasn’t even searching for a location — I didn’t think I’d be starting my own practice yet — and this historic building went up for sale. It’s right on Main Street, where traffic is the busiest. I called my dad right away to come see it with me, and as soon as we both saw the potential, I put in an offer the next day,” she says. Jakob had saved a lot in her first two years of practicing, and was able to come up with a 20-percent down payment, so financing wasn’t an issue. Also, the building has one other commercial unit, and two residential units upstairs, which already had paying tenants, so that covers her mortgage each month. “I’d definitely recommend owning your building if you have the opportunity,” she says.

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After being away at school for eight years, Jakob was ready to come home to Kingsville, Canada’s southernmost town. She describes it as “small, ‘boutiquey’ … with lots of cute shops and restaurants, and I wanted my office to have that same character and charm.”

Jakob renovated the site to look bright and airy with lots of natural light, but with warming touches such as three sparkling crystal chandeliers above the optical and a barnwood wall in the front desk area. “I love the shabby chic look, so I added a touch of rustic charm” with the wall, she says.

When Kingsville, Ontario’s original fire hall went on the market, Jakob knew it was time to open her own practice.

Her main challenge was making design decisions. “I am not a natural at picturing the ‘after’ while looking at the ‘before,’” she admits. For this reason, she’s a strong advocate of getting outside help. Jakob says the first person she called after buying the building was Ohio-based optometric practice consultant Dr. Richard S. Kattouf. He helped with the design and layout of the office, and offered advice on hiring and running the business. “For anyone overwhelmed at the thought of opening a practice cold, but who knows that it’s their dream, I’d highly recommend hiring a consultant … A quote that has stuck with me is ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’”

Jakob doesn’t target a specific clientele, but says she sees a lot of women between the ages of 20 and 40, and believes this has to do with the big role that social media plays in her advertising. “My optical caters to much more than this specific demographic, but I would say these patients are the ones that spread the word on my pretty boutique optical, and offer a lot of support on my social media platforms.”

Jakob does all her own social media. She devotes a considerable amount of time to it, posting something “cute, clever or informative” on Instagram and FB daily, something she’s quite sure has attracted many new patients. She had Cowlick Studios design her website and logo, but since then has done all of her own branding and advertising, including POP, gift certificates, thank you cards and social media posts.

Frames are merchandised as male, female or unisex, as well as by brand. Her favorites are Oliver Peoples, Maui Jim, Tom Ford, Swarovski and Kate Spade, but Jakob is interested in private label and hopes someday to design a house brand.
EYES has its own edger, and “amazing staff member Pauline makes all of our glasses in house.” The practice does not currently have an inventory of lenses, but the labs Jakob uses are quick and most jobs are done in a week or sooner.

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Jakob prides herself on keeping up with the latest technology. However, she keeps the patient’s perspective in mind when it comes to tech. “One thing I’m proud of is that patients always tell me how much they appreciate how thorough I am and that I explain everything I am doing and why.” She believes this has helped grow her practice quickly. “Patients don’t care how much you know,” Jakob says, “until they know how much you care.”

PHOTO GALLERY (19 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About EYES – Dr. Abby Jakob

1. AWARD WINNER. Dr. Jakob received the Young Professional of the Year Award from the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce at the 28th Annual Business Excellence Awards in April last year.

2. BLOOMING FRIENDSHIP. Every woman who has an exam at EYES is given a flower afterward.

3. FAMILY TIES. The optical at EYES is adorned by an eyeglasses-themed table made by Jakob’s “amazing” father-in-law, with help from her “awesome” husband.

4. A GOOD SIGN. EYES’ distinctive exterior sign was made by local metal company, Bailey Inc. “Since opening, I’ve actually had several friends ask for his information and he even made a logo for another OD in Connecticut.”

5. FULL SERVICE. Jakob performs a screening OCT on all adults, and retinal photos “on any patient old enough to sit still long enough for it.”

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • “Patients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Hello all ECPs? Read it. Learn it. Be it!!! Congrats, Dr. Jakob, That’s the ballgame. You move to the front of the class with that one! To be just starting out, like this, tells me we have an optometric superstar retailer on our hands. Robert Bell, The Eye Coach, San Francisco, CA
  • The logo and awning have a lot of impact. Natalie Taylor, Artisan Eyewear, Meredith, NH
  • What a great little boutique practice! It has a nice, modern, fresh look to it that is very inviting. I like the energy of the owner and her eye for details in design. Jennifer Coppel, TURA, Inc., New York, NY

 

Fine Story

Jakob has some interesting ideas on the best way to use social media. “Don’t just post the usual ‘eye’ and ‘glasses’ stuff you can search for on Pinterest, that you didn’t make. Think about what’s on your mind that day and then search for clever quotes about it … Then if you want to make it your own, create it in an app like WordSwag. It doesn’t always have to be about the eyes!” Jakob says she always gets more likes when she posts a picture of herself, her staff, her pets or her patients (with their permission), “because everyone loves to get to know people, and people love supporting people. I recently got married, and so many of my patients are so supportive and interested, so for those of you that have big events going on in your life, patients love getting a glimpse into that, and I believe it makes their connection to you stronger.”

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Best of the Best

An Iowa OD Who Developed an Industry-Leading Neuro Rehab Specialty

Offering glasses just wasn’t enough.

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DR. DEANN FITZGERALD STARTED practicing optometry in Cedar Rapids, IA, in 1984. In 2006, she founded the non-profit Spanda, Inc., which combines optometry with other healthcare specialties and took her as far afield as Kenya. Soon, she decided to expand Spanda’s activities to her own community. Spanda opened Cedar Rapids Vision In Motion (CRVIM), a vision wellness and rehab clinic, in 2007. What started as a 1,600-sq. ft location with an occupational therapist and a single employee now occupies 6,000 sq. ft and employs two athletic trainers, seven therapists and two ancillary staff.

THE IDEA

A Door Opens

Vision therapy was on Fitzgerald’s radar screen from her earliest days in optometry, but it took some time for her to embrace it. “I originally went to school with the thought of providing therapy but Cedar Rapids was very medically oriented, with the University of Iowa just 20 minutes away. Which made it very difficult at first to want to do therapy.” But by the 1990s — the “decade of the brain” — she sensed a door opening.

THE EXECUTION

Bridging the Gap

Dr. DeAnn Fitzgerald

CRVIM deals with a larger variety of diagnoses and issues than we can list. The services Fitzgerald’s team have developed bridge “the gap between assessment and treatment” for patients of all ages who experience visual processing dysfunction. In other words, “It’s a brain thing,” as the practice’s mantra states. Since 2010, CRVIM has also been teaching, offering instruction to OTs, PTs, ATs and others, passing on Fitzgerald’s “Train your brain to see again” gospel.

Patients find CRVIM in a variety of ways. “We have the general practice so sometimes people come in for routine care and find out that we do other services to help with various problems.” Of course, there’s word of mouth, as well as the training conferences to which the CRVIM team are now often invited as experts. “I have patients come from a nine-state area for our services. With the training conferences, we try to collaborate with other OTs and PTs.” Among the many hats Fitzgerald wears, she is vice president of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA), an inter-disciplinary industry group whose mission is to see that patients with physical or cognitive disabilities as a result of an acquired brain injury get full ocular health evaluation and optimum visual rehab services.
Fitzgerald doesn’t have the luxury of patterning CRVIM after anything in the industry, “because it doesn’t exist. But I look at what’s possibly working and couple it with things that work — multi layered therapy or integrated therapy for quicker recovery — so we combine vision vestibular and auditory and proprioception all together for a more intense and passive therapy that works well.”

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THE REWARDS

‘The Last Resort’

Fitzgerald finds working with neurologically challenged patients — “giving them back their life,” as she puts it — hugely rewarding, but along with the highs there are tough moments. “These patients have a lot of depression and emotional issues that you have to cut through to get them better.”
Fitzgerald established baseline testing for 1,400 metro youth football players over a period of three years. At first many parents didn’t see the need, but by year three every one of the players came in to get tested. She eventually donated seven laptops so these schools could do their own testing. The Pop Warner youth football league last year rated these schools’ testing system as the best it had seen.
It’s an anecdote that illustrates the complexity, and the importance, of CRVIM’s activities. “We do get very complex patients,” says Fitzgerald, “because sometimes we are the last resort.”

Do It Yourself: Develop a Niche Rehab Practice

  • BONE UP. Be prepared to learn on the fly. Says Fitzgerald: “Optometric education provides the avenues to do rehab, but I have logged countless hours in classes and reading … on … concussion and brain injury.”
  • LOOK AROUND. Fitzgerald advises finding someone who is doing what you want to do­—and learning. “It’s the quickest way to get where you want to go…We have a lot of doctors visit our clinic.”
  • BE USEFUL. Get into the community, says Fitzgerald, and “instead of telling people what you do — ask them what they need. Then help make it happen — often that is the ‘in’ to getting partnered with them.”
  • HIRE CAREFULLY. Fitzgerald says one of her biggest challenges has been finding staff that are competent but also compassionate.
  • PREPARE YOURSELF. Rehab can be taxing for both patient and therapist. Fitzgerald says of her patients: “They have a brain injury. We have to gently get them out of their own way so they can recover.”

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Benchmarks

When Their Tech Lets them Down, These ECPs Have Things Covered

And their patients appreciate the human touch.

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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, WA

Optician 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, MN

Low-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, FL

An 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, MD

Dr. 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.

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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, GA

Alpharetta, 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, Canada

Now 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.”

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