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How to Reduce No Shows and More of Your Questions Answered

Like why you may want to reconsider ditching your checkout counter and when to talk budget with a customer.

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How to Reduce No Shows and More of Your Questions Answered

We’re a 100% retail operation and are thinking of just using mobile payments. Can we get rid of our checkout counter?

Don’t be hasty about this: Most checkout counters are actually much more than a place to ring up customers, says Lyn Falk, president of Retailworks, a design, branding and display firm, noting they also have display, merchandising, branding and operational roles. While the checkout process continues to evolve, that doesn’t mean that your store shouldn’t have a checkout counter, as it still serves as a home base for shoppers, she says. “There, they can get information and more easily make returns and exchanges. Even if you only use mobile devices for checkout, there still should be a ‘service counter’ customers can go to directly and interact with an associate.” If you don’t feel you’re getting much mileage out of your checkout counter, you may actually want to think of ways of upgrading it rather than ditching it. Is it visible when customers enter (obviously without sacrificing prime selling space)? Is it well-lit and branded to reflect your store’s color and finish schemes? Does it provide quickly scannable information about the services you provide? Does it pay for itself via impulse items? Does it highlight your packaging? There’s so much a good checkout counter does. “Remember, the checkout counter is often the last point of interaction a customer has with your business before leaving the store. So, these counters must not only provide a good first impression, but a strong lasting one,” Falk says.

My last three sales hires have been a flop. I placed classified ads and spent ages going through resumes. What am I doing wrong?

The sad truth is that sales is actually for very few people and it’s fair to say most of the resume-toting salespeople out there would be better doing another job. So don’t give too much weight to references and titles. It’s the one-on-one that matters. The most important stage in the process is the interview. See how the prospect makes her case and imagine the same interaction taking place on the salesfloor. Is she engaging, a waffler, too pushy? Does she interrupt? Does she seem willing to sit back and nod at everything you say? Be sure to prepare tough questions and scenarios to see how they would react to specific situations. Interviewing is time consuming, so to improve the odds, ask your customers and existing employees for leads. They don’t have to be in the eyewear field. You want likeable, honest and hungry people.

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When do you ask a customer about his or her budget?

If you have to ask, do it late in the presentation, says sales trainer Dave Richardson. Any earlier and you limit the range of items you can show him or her. You also make it harder to work in an add-on. “If he shares his budget with you, OK at least now you know,” Richardson says. “But in the end budget is really only relevant to the value you build into the item.”

Any thoughts on how to reduce no-shows?

No-shows are costly, disruptive, and seemingly baked into the experience of being a vision care provider. According to some studies as many as one in four appointments with an ophthalmologist or optometrist end in a no-show. At the risk of sounding like U.S. military doctrine, you need to bring overwhelming force and the use of the latest technology to this battle, coming at it from every possible angle. It starts with reminders across all channels — phone, email and text (according to Solutionreach texts are the most effective, reducing no-show rates by up to 36%). Be sure to make it easy for patients to remember to confirm, cancel, or reschedule if needed. Next is education. Through your staff’s personal interactions, emails, blogs and social media posts, highlight the importance of eye exams and the consequences of missing them, not just for their eye health but the impact no-shows have on your practice, such as increased costs, reduced availability, and lower quality of care. It can also help to tout your typical waiting time if it’s low. Third, investigate ways to increase accessibility. This can include offering flexible appointment times to accommodate schedules. It can also include providing transportation assistance, such as vouchers, discounts, or referrals, for patients who have difficulty getting to your office.

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