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How to Become a Better Eyecare Professional and Human Being

It’s simple advice, and it applies to everyone.

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THERE IS RARELY advice that applies to the entirety of a population, certainly very much that applies to all eyecare professionals. It is either a conflict for big box employees or for the private sector.

But there is an idea that pertains to all eyecare pros. I INVISION this: All eyecare pros must relax and be happy to become better human beings. 

I know it sounds corny but hear me out. 

Given the current state of the country and the world, the divisiveness we are all subjected to from both the Alt Right and Alt Left make it feel like there is nowhere else to turn. There is no Alt Middle

I find myself, a 58-year-old man, dreading patients (or anyone else for that matter) broaching certain subjects that have any political connotations. I golf on Wednesdays with my father-in-law and a bunch of retired gentlemen. Unfortunately, recently the subject of NFL players kneeling for the anthem came up. Their views, as most were veterans, was a one-sided opinion of a lack of respect for the flag and country. I understand their feelings on the subject; my father, a Marine who fought in Korea but is now deceased, was also a veteran. But I also understand the reason why the NFL players were kneeling in the first place. Social injustice.

Facebook, too, took a turn for worse during the election. I consider myself a liberal but the Alt Left was just as annoying, if not more, than the Alt Right. So much so, I found myself drifting further and further away from the mothership. People became dangerous soldiers behind their keyboards.

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So, what does all this have to do with the eyecare business and the professionals that work so diligently? Everything. This power of divisiveness has affected us all, and not in a positive way. When patients come in we are not supposed to see color, religion, ethnicity or gender. We are eyecare professionals and it is our obligation to make sure we treat each of our patients with the utmost respect and impartiality. 

As eyecare professionals, we have to put ourselves in our patients shoes daily to understand their wants and needs, even when we help them with something as simple as choosing a frame … or explaining the features and benefits of lens products. The feature of AR is reduced glare; the benefit is seeing more clearly.

It is far too easy to hate, to decide that another person’s opinions are wrong or reckless. We should make the same effort to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to understand their thoughts and beliefs. The feature of my idea is to relax and be happy; the benefit is you become a better human being.

Rick Rickgauer is an optician at Vision Associates, a private practice in Girard, PA.

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John Marvin

Forget Opinions, Measure the Hard Facts and Data to Improve Your Business

In the end, it is the least expensive and most productive business tool in your arsenal.

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THERE’S A BUSINESS axiom that says if you want to improve something, measure it. The sheer act of quantifying an issue and then determining how to improve its outcome incrementally, will itself create improvement.

W. Edwards Deming, the father of continuous quality improvement, believed that management decisions should be made using facts and data; and that successful managers use that data to best understand customers and their ever-changing expectations of goods and services.

The contrast is making decisions based on opinion. I believe that this is done far too often by optometrists and managers in our industry and these are the reasons why:

It’s easy. What could be more comfortable than offering your opinion about patients’ preferences and behaviors? In some ways, it just makes sense. You spend all day, several days a week observing people in your practice. Naturally, your opinion is enough on which to base your decisions.

It’s popular. Everyone has an opinion. The dilemma is when team members’ views conflict with one another. Whose opinion is correct? Usually, it defaults to the person with the most authority. When this happens, you can diminish the perspective of others.

It’s cheap. Opinions are free. You don’t need to go to the expense of both time and money to gather facts and data. Why go to all of that time, effort and spend money when your opinion will do the job just fine? However, a decision based on belief and not facts can be the most expensive decision you’ve ever made.

Recently, I was working with a young optometrist to open his first practice, and as you can imagine, he was full of enthusiasm and confidence in his opinions. He had classmates that had started new practices. What could be so difficult?

Of course, he had an opinion about his location. He had already determined where he wanted to open his new office. When I pointed out some of the challenges this selection would create, he wouldn’t be dissuaded. It had everything he believed, in his opinion, that was critical to a successful location.

It was close to where he wanted to live. It was half the price of locations in areas with much higher traffic patterns, and there were no other optometrists within a five-mile area. In his opinion, this location was ideal.

I explained to him that selecting the right location is probably the most critical first step in building a successful practice. That he should consider the households in the area, the exposure that a site will provide his new office, and that is all a part of what you pay for in lease payments. Basing this decision on his opinion is an example of how expensive a wrong decision can be.

Another practice data area that is neglected is the retention of patients. We don’t measure the percentage of patients we saw a year ago that return in twelve months. Why would we? We are great at what we do, why wouldn’t they return?

After all, we sent them a postcard telling them it was time to come back for an appointment.

The office most successful at retaining patients that I know measures and reports to the team each week the percentage of recalled patients who booked an appointment. They have learned that success in this area requires a phone call to follow up on those who do not respond to their postcards, emails, and text messages. The OD/owner is proud that 87.3 percent of their recalled patients return for their annual exam and he is still working on improving this percentage.

Managing your business using facts and data is crucial. It takes the emotions, personal perspectives, and biases out of making improvements. In the end, it is the least expensive and most productive business tool in your arsenal.

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Editor's Note

Size Matters … The Bigger the Better

And addressing some other sensitive subjects you might encounter in the workplace.

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AND THE BIGGER the better as far as I’m concerned. I have no problem admitting I am a size queen. I love a BIIIIIG … survey. The more data the happier I am. So, I got a lot of pleasure out of seeing the results of our first Big Survey and wow did it provide some insight. There is a lot to unpack there and you can see everything we found starting on page 34. This is the first of many to come and I’m excited to see how this survey evolves from year to year.

The answers were of course anonymous but there is one more thing I need to say: breastfeeding or having a pregnant employee’s water break at work are not weird things employees have done. Those are natural and unavoidable. If you answered something in this vein to the question “What is the weirdest thing an employee has done at work?” perhaps you need some sensitivity training and to take a very close look at yourself. Ok, rant over.

You know what amused me in this issue? The number of people cutting their nails at work — for the record, that is weird and gross (page 70) — and that so many of you consider your best and worst habit one in the same!

Also, rarely does a Real Deal generate the sort of response this issue’s did – The Case of the Concealed Concern on page 72. I know the gun debate is a hot topic and in a magazine with as broad an audience as INVISION’s there is no way we are all going to come down on the same side of an issue, but except for one slightly over the top (and poorly written) response, all the points of view we received were measured, well-executed and logical. This one really got you thinking, so if you haven’t read it or addressed this issue in your business, I encourage you to review it and discuss.

Best wishes for your business,

Dee Carroll

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

dee@invisionmag.com

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Start a movement. Resurrect a one-off holiday celebrating opticians. (Calendar, page 20)
2. According to our Pop Quiz, 58% of you are anti-flu shot (page 71). So, be flu ready with an in-office flu kit. (Tip Sheet, page 58)
3. Want to know how to get to the root of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the interview? We’ve got some ideas. (Ask INVISION, page 62)
4. Everyone loves a party… that’s how you “get to show them up” to your in-store events. (Line Time, page 66)
5. The perfect way to harness the power of the modern consumer’s self-absorption to benefit your business. (Benchmarks, page 68)

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Danielle Richardson

A Case for Yoga

Let go of any preconceived notions… yoga is for everyone.

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I KNOW, I KNOW — yoga is not for you… but let me stop you right there. Yoga is truly for everyone! Yoga is finding its place in the mainstream as 1 in 7 American adults reported practicing yoga according to a 2017 survey.

However, as the number or practitioners continues to rise, so too does the number of people who feel alienated by yoga. Social media has warped the perception of this ancient practice into something that more closely resembles gymnastics or acrobatics. This shift distances many would be practitioners because of feelings of not being “flexible” or “fit” enough. I’m here to tell you that’s BS! This article is to make the case for yoga and its inclusion in your wellness routine.

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The true origin of yoga can be disputed, but the most popular types of yoga in the West are derived from a 5000-year old Indian philosophy system and body of knowledge. Yoga takes a holistic view of the human experience and consists of practices to unite the mind, body, and soul. Yoga extends beyond physical movement to combine meditation, self-discipline, and breathing practices to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Below are a few things to remember about yoga:

Yoga is for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, yoga does not require fancy tights or expensive studio memberships. Additionally, you don’t have to overhaul your life or become a Himalayan monk to practice. The only requirements for yoga are your body and your breath. Yoga is most often practiced on hard wood with a mat or blanket, but carpet is suitable as well. Yoga can also be made accessible to those with disabilities using chairs and props for modifications. There truly is something for everyone.

Beginners are always welcome. There are plenty of resources available for new yogis. You can go the in-person route and sign up for a new student special at a local studio. Local yoga studios often have classes designed for beginners where you can receive in-person guidance and personalized tips to make the practice more comfortable. Additionally, you can use online beginner yoga videos on YouTube via my channel “FierceClarity” or another excellent source like “YogaWithAdrienne.” My recommendation is to begin once per week and gradually increase frequency. There is no right or wrong amount of yoga to do, but the longer you stick with the practice the more benefits you will see.

Yoga has real benefits. According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an NIH affiliate, research shows yoga may help relieve stress and chronic pain, manage chronic disease symptoms, and even aid in smoking cessation. Other studies have found yoga to successfully decrease inflammation, improve heart health, and improve some symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, yoga aids in weight loss and can help maintain a healthy weight when practiced regularly.

I started practicing yoga at the end of optometry school when I was burned out and sick from an unhealthy lifestyle. This simple practice has changed my life for the better. I became so passionate about it that I now teach yoga to others. I hope you will let go of any preconceived notions and give yoga a try. It is a rich tradition with several different styles and teachers. Be like Goldilocks and experiment a bit until you find the yoga that is just right for you.

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