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Tip Sheet

Hire a Hotshot … You! … and More Tips for March

Including how to make the most of customer’s likely higher tax refunds and underscoring the importance of measuring and dispensing.




businessman with cape running

MANAGEMENT‘Hire’ A Hotshot

Don’t have the money to hire a top consultant to come in and turn your business around? No sweat. Just hire an imaginary one. That’s the advice of Kat Cole, COO of Focus Brands (Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, etc.). She told INC magazine that once a month she asks herself if a hotshot consultant, someone with amazing tenacity and insight, were to take over the reins at her company, what one thing would they immediately see and change. Chances are, you already know what needs to be done, but just need the power of self-distancing to make it clear.

STRATEGYTap Tax Windfalls

The start of tax filing season got pushed back to mid-February this year so the IRS can adjust for COVID-related tax changes. That means two things: A slightly later start to distribution of refunds and the chance people will have more cash this year due to pandemic tax breaks. Take advantage of people’s anticipated tax refunds: Create a display of small splurge options that fall into the $75-$150 range. That’s the sweet spot for tempting browsing customers who suddenly discover they have some “found money” in their pockets.

NETWORKINGReactivate Old Ties

Building a network is hard work and overzealous networking can feel a bit demeaning or slimy. What to do? Leverage the power of your dormant ties, says Eric Barker, of the popular Barking Up The Wrong Tree science newsletter. “Reconnect with those Facebook friends … and LinkedIn contacts you haven’t talked to in a while,” he says. The benefits are two-fold, he says. “With weak ties you get to hear about opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise from people who are one or two degrees away but with whom you still have trust and shared perspectives.”


According to Stanford business professor Bob Sutton, the best leaders have “the attitude of wisdom” — the confidence to act on their convictions and the humility to keep searching for evidence that they are wrong. Yes, you need to carry yourself in a way that shows you are in charge, but it’s vital to couple that strength with a humbleness that ensures you realize you will often be wrong, and which encourages people to suggest alternative ways of doing things, he says in a column in the Harvard Business Review.

MANAGEMENTTry Silent Meetings

Want better, more productive meetings? You gotta mix it up, says Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational science at UNC Charlotte and author of The Surprising Science Of Meetings. “If you’re always sitting, try standing, try having a walking meeting, try brainstorming in silence — all of these techniques can lead to better outcomes,” he tells the Pinkcast YouTube series on productivity. Anything will work better than following the same old routine.

MARKETINGRefresh Your Reviews

Not all reviews are created equal; 83 percent of consumers say reviews must be recent and relevant in order to care about them. Ideally, you should have reviews from within a week, says Hayley Sonntag, a marketing specialist at Podium, which helps small businesses manage reviews. To encourage such fresh reviews, Sonntag recommends sending a text with a link asking for a review while the customer is still in the store.


SERVICEGet The Basics Right

Take the time to do a proper pre-fit for measuring and a proper dispense to ensure the placement and comfort of a frame and you’ll be rewarded in the long run. Chris Dudley, an independent optician in central Florida, learned this lesson again with a patient who had bought two “really great pairs of glasses with the best lenses, AR, photochromic … everything!” but who later wanted a refund because she said she couldn’t see anything. In the end, all that was needed was a further frame adjustment. “Refund averted. Smiles all around,” says Dudley. “Moral of the story: vast majority of the time a patient has trouble with their glasses, it is fit and position of the frames.”

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