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Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford: A Fun Way To Help Kids

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children's eyecare issues from Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford

Great Glasses Play Day in May can raise your business’s visibility, too

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 edition of INVISION.


As eyecare providers, we meet some patients who complain and others who take charge of their situation. Ann Zawistoski and Kristin Ellsworth are examples of the latter. Worried that their young children who needed glasses wouldn’t have many bespectacled peers, this duo created an entire holiday for kids like theirs to interact with other children in glasses.

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“Great Glasses Play Day” happens May 2-3 this year. As an optometrist who specializes in children’s vision, I believe in Great Glasses Play Day and support it every year. If your office sees children, you should, too.

GGPD is a nonprofit organization that promotes events that are primarily organized by parents of children who wear glasses or have other visual problems, such as amblyopia or nystagmus. The events are fun for kids and adults, but they have important goals as well.

Among them: to support children who wear glasses or who have other vision issues, and their families; to celebrate the advances in eyewear that allow our children to see more clearly and help express our children’s unique style; to help parents understand the importance of early eye exams and follow-up treatment of any issues that are identified; and to raise awareness that many eye issues go undiagnosed and untreated, especially among the most vulnerable and poor.

Bright Eyes staff member Jade Kowalick and daughter Imani enjoy Great Glasses Play Day in 2014.

Although parents put together the events, ECPs can participate, too. “Eyecare providers who work specifically with children are some of our closest allies,” Zawistoski says. “They understand better than anyone how important vision is to children and what a difference it can make to catch and treat vision issues.”

Ellsworth agrees: “We couldn’t do it without ECPs! Eyecare professionals help us get the word out throughout the year and support families” by sponsoring an event. Increased awareness is good for communities and businesses, she adds.

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Among the other reasons ECPs ought to be involved in GGPD:

Promote the importance of children’s vision care. I am always surprised how few people really understand that eye exams for infants and young children are possible.

Large, press-worthy events can bring this information to many people.

Increase your practice’s community involvement. Most practices depend heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, so community networking is essential.

Boost children’s eyewear sales. GGPD is an opportunity to showcase your selection of children’s frames and your staff’s expertise in fitting the right frame and lenses for young patients. At a past GGPD, we worked with our vendors to include a fun and successful children’s eyewear trunk show.

Improve children’s confidence about wearing glasses or eye patches. Children who see other children wearing glasses and/or eye patches feel less alone. When children feel more comfortable in their glasses, they are more likely to be compliant wearing them.

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Here are ways that you can participate:

Hold an event at your office. Last year, we held the grand opening celebration for our new children’s specialty office on GGPD. It was a big event with a magician, pony rides, Lego building and a petting zoo. While we did not sell glasses at the event, it was an opportunity to showcase our children’s optical network with local businesses who participated.

Fund-raise for GGPD. Even if you choose not to host an event this year, you can still participate by helping others. Go to razoo.com, search for “glasses” and donate any amount to local or national GGPD events. All donations will be used for fees, materials, mailing costs for volunteer organizer kits and securing park locations.

Promote the event online. GGPD is active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Every year, we share their posts and write a blog post to encourage others to be involved.

Visit greatglassesplayday.com for more information.


Dr. Nathan J. Bonilla-Warford owns Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids in the Tampa, FL, area. He leads the Children’s Vision Committee of the Florida Optometric Association and is a member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, an organization dedicated to pediatric vision and vision therapy. Contact him at natebw@gmail.com.

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In the first of this three-part series, Dr. Eric White, Complete Family Vision Care, talks about managed care, and how to put your practice on the path to profitability.

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Editor's Note

My Name is Dee Carroll … and I Am a Pinner

But in 2019 I am ditching resolutions for goals and making my dream board my reality.

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I’M ONE of those Pinterest people. You know the ones … We pin food we want to make, crafts we want to try, decor we wish we had, and worst of all, inspirational quotes. I would make fun of people like me, if I wasn’t one.

But there’s something to be said for having stuff to aspire to. I’ve started looking at the things I pin with less envy and more of a burning desire to accomplish more. To make my virtual dream board my reality.

This time of year the word “resolutions” gets kicked around a lot to discuss the things we’d like to achieve in the new year. But the running joke of course is that we never stick to our resolutions. So, I’m kicking the concept of resolutions out and making goals instead. After all, a resolution is just a synonym for something you’d like to do but probably won’t. A goal has a much more positive connotation and I am nothing if not a connoisseur of semantics.

To accomplish my goals, and move my real life closer to my Pinterest life, I’m relying on that not-so-old adage, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” That’s why I love this issue’s Big Story on Contrarian Rules of Business. Sometimes you have to break out of your rut and throw conventional wisdom out. Sometimes you just have to be contrary.

That is certainly what the 10 practices profiled in the Special Feature did. When traditional managed care plans weren’t working for them or all their patients, they came up with alternatives. No two are the same, but they have one thing in common: they have captured patients the business may have lost and turned them into repeat customers. A lofty goal many of you aspire to, no doubt.

Just like my secret wedding Pinterest board, I am not going to share my 2019 goals with you, but I do hope you adjust your thinking on what you want to accomplish in the new year. Ditch the resolutions and set some goals. Make them quantifiable, set deadlines, and hold yourself accountable. I’ll check back in with you in December to see how we all did. Until then …

Best wishes for your business,

Dee Carroll

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

dee@invisionmag.com

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Presbyopes could be the greatest opportunity for growth in daily disposables. (Better Vision, page 24)
2. Are you asking your reps for year-end sales figures to benchmark your own turns against other retailers? You should be. (Manager’s To-Do, page 20)
3. Don’t promise excellent customer service, be an underachiever, and think small. Sometimes doing what seems counterintuitive is the best thing for your business. (The Big Story, page 28)
4. Talk till you’re blue in the face … then keep going. (Tip Sheet, page 45)
5. Beer goggles can be great for business. (Columns, page 47)

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Columns

Celebrity Clients Are Cool, but Never Forget Who the Real Stars Are

Repeat after me: “Every customer who walks through my door is a VIP”.

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I’VE BEEN AN ECP on the Upper West Side in NYC for the better part of the last 30 years. Over the years, my Manhattan store, The Eye Man, has seen a virtual who’s- who of television, stage and screen walk through the doors.

In the early ’90s, I remember a particular client, an attractive woman in her 50s, who asked if she could bring her husband in for a pair of glasses. She intimated that he was a bit of a celebrity, but didn’t disclose his name. To accommodate her, I told her we could keep the shop open late one evening so that he could shop undisturbed. So, one brisk, fall evening after the shop had officially closed, I waited for our after-hours appointment and opened the door to one of America’s beloved anchors, Dan Rather.

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I greeted him as I would greet any customer, with a warm smile, a handshake and quickly locked the door behind him. Then I set about my business. He was here, after all, because he needed a pair of frames and no amount of swooning over his fame or accomplishments was going to get that job done. I felt he appreciated that professionalism and although there were a dozen things running through my head to ask about some of his most recent news features, I concentrated on helping him find what he was looking for with regard to my field of expertise … eyewear.

Dan and his wife spent approximately an hour with me that night, and what struck me most was how interested he was in everyone else. He asked specific questions, and he really listened. He didn’t posture, he didn’t demand extra attention, he was humble, and gracious and in an extraordinary way, he was very “normal.” I think he appreciated that I treated him like I would any customer in the store. I was attentive, but not overbearing. I was interested, but not stupefied by his celebrity. I offered my opinion when asked and I helped him get what he came for. In return, he gave me something … a reminder of the power of asking thought-provoking questions and truly listening, and how important that is in making people feel understood and valued.

There have been many more stars over the years, and for a few minutes or an hour, each lit up my store like a Broadway marquee while they shopped. I think the main thing these chance encounters have taught me is: The real superstars in our stores are “regular” people, the everyday men and women that share our names and the experiences they have within our stores with their families and friends. These people are the silent sales people that go unnoticed, yet many have given out your card or referred you to a friend and have added to your business. So, remember to make every customer that walks through your door, calls your business, or interacts with you on social media feel like a VIP. They’ll leave feeling like a superstar and will help lead you to your own type of blockbuster success.

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How to Handle Negative Reviews

There are effective ways to reduce their impact.

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ARE YOU HAUNTED by old reviews, especially bad ones?

Many clients ask whether and how they can be deleted. In some cases, ODs have taken over an office and want to dissociate from the reviews of the old owners. Given the importance of reviews, many of our clients would do anything to wipe the slate clean. Well, unfortunately that is usually not an option (except for a special circumstance that I will discuss below), but there are effective ways to handle undesirable reviews and reduce the impact they have on your reputation.

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A Case When You Can Delete Reviews

If you are taking over a business, you can delete old reviews and start fresh with proof of acquisition, but according to a response from a Google rep to one of our clients, this is not advised because it could negatively affect your SEO. This, of course, is relative. While having no reviews is detrimental both to your new patient acquisition and to your SEO, having a number of bad reviews from an old practice that is no longer relevant might do even more damage. You have to weigh out the situation based on the type of reviews and the importance and quality of your SEO. Keep in mind that 9.8 percent of your visibility in local search engines is based on review signals such as the number and average rating of your reviews, so a lot of great reviews can seriously help your website ranking.

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The Alternative to Deleting Reviews

Perhaps the best advice when you have unwanted reviews is to drown them out with positive ones. If you have some bad comments, it’s not the end of the world. Everyone has an opinion, and dissatisfied customers are more likely to post a review than those that are happy with your services. (Studies show that while 35 percent of people review after a bad experience, only 23 percent review after a good one.)

So your job is to make a conscious effort to encourage and even outright ask your happy patients to do so.

How Many Reviews Do I Need?

The answer to this question largely depends on your local competition and where you are starting from. If your biggest competitor has 20 reviews, you want to shoot for 30. If they have 50, go for more, but it has to be reasonable. Growing your reviews is an ongoing process that you should always be working at, and it won’t happen overnight. If you are new to this, have a goal of 20 reviews and aim for a couple every month. The point is that getting reviews is something you need to work at. Many happy customers just need a reminder (or two) to share their experience.

How Do I Get Reviews?

There are a lot of strategies for getting reviews, and we’ve written about this a bunch, but what’s most important is that your whole practice needs to rally around the goal. Getting reviews is a team effort. You see a happy patient in the exam chair, ask for a review. The optician fits a happy customer, ask for a review. The office manager is scheduling a follow up visit, ask for a review. Making patients happy and asking for reviews must become part of the workflow, with everyone on board.

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Respond to Bad Reviews

The last important point that needs mentioning is that if you do get a bad review, don’t ignore it. While you don’t want to get personal, go into details or make excuses, you do want to express that you care about customer satisfaction and view this as a chance to improve. While keeping HIPAA in mind, it can help to offer to speak to the disgruntled party to rectify the situation. Other readers will see a professional response that shows good customer service as a positive sign and you never know, the unhappy client may change his or her mind — and review.

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