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Tip Sheet

INVISION’s Top Tips of 2022

We share some of the best ideas and advice that appeared in our columns, America’s Finest profiles, daily bulletins and elsewhere over the last 12 months.




A TIP IS ONLY as good as it is timely. In that spirit, here are 20 tips from the pages of 2022’s INVISION editions and that address some of the big issues of the year, including hiring, inventory, managing the sensitivities of staff, and setting yourself up for a great 2023.

1. When you know, you grow.

By spotting areas where you are underperforming, you can implement immediate changes or run experiments. such as a change in language when prescribing Rx sunglasses. Industry consultant Mark Hinton cites the case of his own practice where he suspected patients weren’t responding to the use of the phrase “UV protection.” “We switched to ‘sun damage’ and the Rx and Plano sunglass percentage increased from 10 percent to 16 percent almost immediately.” Measure your KPI metrics data weekly. Yes, that’s probably much more frequently than your’re used to but it will allow you to better serve your patients, team and the overall business, says Hinton. “Think of it like this, KPI metric software is like looking through the windshield, seeing what’s ahead, whereas PMS data is like looking through the rearview mirror. I can change the future of the business, but the past is gone.”

2. Find better solutions by basking in the problem.

Planning season is here but don’t rush it, says Tina Seelig, a Stanford business professor and author of “Creativity Rules: Get Ideas Out Of Your Head And Into The World”. Rather, let yourself bask in the issues for a while. If you go straight to the solution, you will likely end up thinking too narrowly, whereas if you frame wider, you can often come up with a creative answer, she says. “Living in that problem space and falling in love with your problems is one of the most powerful ways to unlock really innovative solutions,” Seelig writes. (Note that this applies to creative issues: For day-to-day problems, we often know what to do straight away, and what we call “deliberation” is actually just dithering.)


3. Stretch your stretch goals.

Setting stretch goals of, say, a 5 percent improvement for employees may be attainable through extra hard work and efficiency. But what if you told your staff you’d like them to improve their performance in a certain area by 30 percent? Impossible? Yes, but that’s the point. They would have to totally rethink how they go about hitting their numbers. To kickstart innovative thinking, you often have to first destroy the old ways of doing things.

4. Up your phone game.

The humble phone is still one of the most important tools in a typical optometrist’s office but its potential as a revenue generator is hugely underappreciated, says John D. Marvin, president of eye care organization TSO. According to a study done by Marvin, 95 percent of appointment enquiries are still done over the phone, because filling out an online form on a smart phone is so cumbersome that most people just hit “click to call”. But the truly surprising finding is that fewer than half of those enquiries led to a booking. “An established optometry office will increase their annual revenues by $72,000 for every 10 percent increase in new patients who schedule an appointment,” says Marvin. Yet, the person handling the phone calls is often the least trained and most poorly paid person in the office. Start by studying how potential customers use the phone to communicate with your office and the information they are seeking. And then institute training to boost your conversion rate. Dollars and ODs’ time are on the line.

5. The secret words to make an annual review productive.

Employees generally hate reviews. Managers generally hate giving them. With the right approach, however, both sides can leave the meeting feeling they’ve been involved in something productive and looking forward to improved performance. In his book CULTURE CODE: THE SECRETS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL GROUPS, Daniel Coyle recommends using these 19 words to deliver the feedback: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.” Why does it work? According to Coyle, it builds trust, signals belonging, and combines high standards with the assurance that people can reach those standards.

6. Employ a scribe.

They will ensure your patients leave your practice feeling they’ve had great service and enjoyed the doctor’s full attention. “We utilize scribes in our office so the doctor can sit face to face with a patient while the scribe collects the data,” says Cindy Bruner of Professional Family Eyecare, Coldwater, OH. “We want our patients to have that one-on-one with their doctors, instead of having their backs turned while trying to type the data into the EMR.” The good news is that this position is becoming increasingly common, meaning there is likely to be a growing pool of qualified people in your area.

7. Do less.

“The Underachiever’s Manifesto” doesn’t sound like a book you’d find on the shelves of the ambitious business owner. But it should be. Written by a doctor named Ray Bennett it advocates a path to a superior kind of achievement based on the idea that you need to leave some slack in your life to take advantage of the serendipity of the world, and to give yourself the elbow room you need to excel. He quotes that Spanish underachiever Pablo Picasso: “You must always work not just within, but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two … In that way, the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a feeling of strength in reserve.”

8. Give them a buzz.

If you’ve treated a patient for something urgent like a corneal abrasion or conjunctivitis, make a personal follow-up phone call the same day — or evening, if need be — to see how they’re doing. This means you, the OD, not a recaller. In the wider retail world, this is known as a “moment of truth,” where the lasting quality of the relationship between business and customer (or practice and patient) is determined.

9. Want to be a great boss? You need to have confidence — and doubt.

“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,” writes Stanford business professor Bob Sutton in a column for the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW. “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.

10. Give status within the office to the position of recaller.

This individual is an income-generator, NOT an expense, says Pauline Blachford, a client communications expert in optometry. Treat them as such, with their own private space to work from. And train them as such. If your practice has more than one doctor, have each perform an examination on the recaller as if he/she were a regular patient. This gives the recaller an insight into the doctors’ conversational styles, personal quirks and hobbies, and valuable match-making info when it comes to scheduling patients, particularly “difficult” ones.

11. Reboot your phone every week.

That’s part of the National Security Agency’s recently released “best practices” guide for mobile device security. While it won’t stop a sophisticated hacker, it will make them work harder to maintain access and steal data from your phone. “This is all about imposing cost on these malicious actors,” Neal Ziring, technical director of the NSA’s cybersecurity directorate, told the Associated Press. The reason is that the latest malicious software typically targets your phone’s root file system. But the newest phones can detect and block such malware during a reboot.

12. Take advantage of the best lighting system in the solar system.

You’ve likely invested thousands of dollars in your lighting but there’s still no way to compete with that squillion-watt lightbulb in the sky, especially at this time of year. The Optic Shop in Tampa, FL, has installed a mirror outside its building and encourages customers to test drive its eyewear in the natural conditions. “The better lighting will show color variations and nuances,” says the store’s optician, Sue Hayward.

13. Force a real decision.

The next time you ask an employee or partner for their opinion on a business-related matter, say to rate a job candidate, a new line or a business proposition, ask them for a score between one and 10 but tell them they can’t choose seven. Seven is a fudge, says speaker and author Kyle Maynard. Force the person to choose between at least an eight, an indication that they’re genuinely excited by the prospect, and a six, which usually means they’d pass on it.

14. Splash the funny money.

Milwaukee Eye Care has introduced “Practice Bucks” to its all-staff meetings. Each staff member gets $30 a quarter (20 x $1 and 2 x $5) to give to fellow staff members in any department as a “thank you” for a job well done, helping out, going above and beyond, patient satisfaction — whatever the case may be. These Practice Bucks get redeemed for cash before the end of the year, and you cannot issue them to yourself. “We hope this helps foster even more team spirit,” says marketing and business development coordinator Amanda Fisher.

15. Always add, “which means…”

To boost the impact of your sales presentations and really, REALLY ensure your prospective customer understands the benefits of what you’re selling, always add “which means…” after every feature you share, says “Wizard of Ads” author Roy H Williams. “You can add these words verbally, or you can add them silently, but this habit will bridge you into language the customer can see in their mind,” he writes in his weekly Monday Morning Memo. Williams provides the following examples: “This blade is made of Maxamet steel, which means you’ll never have to sharpen it” and “This is a 52-week schedule, which means your name will become the one people think of immediately and feel the best about.”


16. The digital natives are coming! Get your payment system up to date.

A recent survey of small healthcare providers by SMB Communications found 61 percent of patients are more likely to pay their clinic bill if they receive a text reminder with a link to pay, and 58 percent of patients consider filling out paper forms “old fashioned.” If this feature is missing from your operation, start studying a revamp of your communication system now. The more digital-native demographics coming to market don’t have the patience for legacy systems.

17. Sales ninjas need not apply

There has been a trend in recent years to list available jobs using creative language, like describing a sales associate’s position as one for an “obsessed sales ninja,” but such language may actually deter some promising candidates, particularly anyone with outside obligations like children or elderly parents. According to a recent report in THE ATLANTIC, most small business owners would be better advised to go with more technically precise job description and focus your creativity on selling the workplace: “We’re a family-run progressive business in one of the city’s best neighborhoods that wants to grow in tandem with our staff. If that sounds like the kind of place you’d like to work …”

In 2022 (or 2023), your receptionist shouldn’t be spending most of his or her time handling inquiries about whether or not glasses or contact lenses are ready to be picked up, how to find the office, or what your office hours are.

But that is the case at the typical optical office, according to a survey done by TSO. And it means the receptionist is not focused on their most important job — scheduling appointments.

Conduct your own review and determine how many hours a day you are paying someone to explain information that could be provided in a less expensive way, says TSO president John Marvin, and then revamp your communications to move much of this information to your website or to SMS alerts.

18. Punishment sends a message … as does its absence.

The point isn’t that people need to be threatened in order to perform. “It’s that if you aren’t willing to go to the mat when people violate your core values, your organization and its culture lose their moral force,” says BYU management studies professor Kerry Patterson in his bestseller “Influencer: The Power To Change Anything.”

“You send a powerful message about your values when you do hold employees accountable,” writes Patterson, although he urges you “first take a shot across the bow to let people know what’s coming before you drop the hammer. ”When it comes to people being dismissed, there should never be an element of surprise,” he says.



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