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The Big survey

Here’s What ECPs Proudly ‘Do Wrong’

From showing difficult customers the door to letting employees wear what they want, eyecare biz owners are throwing out the playbook.

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INVISION ASKED THE more than 270 eyecare business owners and managers who responded to our 2020 Big Survey “What do you proudly do ‘wrong’ as a business owner? And why?” More than a few of you never got (or just plain ignored) the memo that says you shouldn’t replace, repair or refund except under strict conditions—or otherwise try to save customers money. The responses also demonstrate different perspectives on what passes for “conventional wisdom” in this industry to begin with; some ECPs claim to buck the system by offering discounts, others by refusing to undercharge. Here are some of the more interesting takes from our survey respondents on how and why they take the path less traveled.

Question: What do you proudly do “wrong” as a business owner? And why?

  • I don’t follow the display rules. I use other items to display like ‘salt and pepper shakers’, ‘phones’ or ‘clocks’… NO PEG BOARD. I want it to feel like a funky home.. not a store.
  • I talk people out of glasses when I know their cataracts are changing quickly or another issue will cause any Rx change very soon.
  • I always choose the best products for my clients, regardless of cost. I carry a lot of luxury brands, so sometimes they are surprised at a modest price.
  • Share savings I get with the customer by way of discounts. Customer service is a dying trend and it’s what keeps people coming back.
  • I allow our staff to dress as they wish, with very little restriction.
  • Everything, and that is how I am able to move forward and improve continuously. We learn more from what we do wrong, than what we do correct.
  • My return policy is very “soft,” i.e., If your dog eats them, we will replace them.
  • Give ridiculous discounts to those in need because my need to give everyone sight is bigger than my need to “get rich”.
  • I refuse to work on eyewear purchased online or at Costco.
  • I don’t streamline my suppliers, which is admittedly awkward sometimes. But I like being able to get anything I need for my customer, which is my main reason for going into business.
  • I procrastinate. I meant to remove a sink in our optical to create additional space for more frames, but never got around to it. Since COVID, it has become one of our most used sinks when checking people in.
  • I am not proud of anything I do wrong, but I proudly do not take managed vision care.
  • We defend our business and our time when a customer is out of line.
  • I don’t give discounts on my services.
  • I price products by feel and am not afraid to take a smaller profit in order to move something.
  • I don’t use the word ‘patient’. I hate it … our customers are just that—“customers” or “clients”. Patient implies “sick” to me. Similarly we don’t have a “waiting room for patients”. Instead we have “backstage”, where our clients relax before their exam.
  • We tell people we aren’t the right choice for them because they aren’t worth the hassle.
  • I don’t allow my patients to dictate how I schedule.
  • I don’t undercharge for my time and professionalism.
  • I err towards overcompensating my employees. When COVID started and there were lockdowns, I didn’t furlough anyone even though that was the prevailing advice. I bonus pretty generously, and I give extra paid time off around holidays. I also pay above local going rates for the positions. Good help is VERY hard to find as we all know, and I’d rather pay a little more to keep amazing employees then worry about that as a big cost-saving area.
  • As a manager, I always step up and tackle the most challenging customers/patients. I should let others learn the art of how to do this, but I enjoy the challenge of satisfying the most difficult customer.
  • We sell each frame (style and color) only once. It sets us apart from out competition in this market.
  • If, for whatever reason, you are unhappy with your purchase we will gladly refund 100% of the purchase price, no questions asked.
  • Give my staff a vote in major changes. The ultimate decision is mine but if there is no buy-in it will be poorly executed!
  • I ask too many questions of clients, team, reps and vendors
  • I provide our parking lot Saturday nights for socially distant dances with a DJ or live band. People have to get outside and see their neighbors.
  • I don’t fire patients that I should. Kill them with kindness.
  • I don’t spend much on advertising.
  • I don’t ask for reviews. We don’t emphasize it as much as other owners and have had great response from patients. It just seems tacky to ask for reviews.
  • We change out nose pads for free to anyone who walks through the door, regardless of where they purchased their glasses.
  • I rarely meet with sales reps. They are mostly a waste of time/energy and tend to take your eyes off of your business plan
  • I spend too much time with my patients. I love chatting!

The 2020 INVISION Big Survey was taken by more than 270 North American eyecare business owners or managers. Look out for the November-December edition of INVISION or visit www.invisionmag.com/the-big-survey-2020 to read the full results, and even more on how ECPs fared during a weird, weird year.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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