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Optics is More Than Frames and Lenses

Colorado eyecare pro feels a responsibility to eyecare.

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I’ve learned that optics is much more than frames and lenses. To me, there is a sacred aspect to it, and we are all responsible for the safekeeping of our occupation, and mostly, I have learned that when my time is up, I want to be able to say “present” when this industry does roll call. I love this industry more than I could have ever imagined, and I will always push with everything I have to be a part of it. — Paul Garcia, Caramel Lunettes, Colorado Springs, CO>

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Promoting Healthy Competition and More Questions for Year’s End

Also, proper staff gift-giving etiquette and getting the most out of staff trainers.

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How do I tease out a prospective hire’s innate strengths and weaknesses during an interview?

Marcus Buckingham, a leader of the strengths-based school of business management, suggests asking this question (and revisiting it periodically if you do hire the person): What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months? “Find out what the person was doing and why he or she enjoyed it so much,” he says, adding it’s key to keep in mind that a strength is not merely something someone is good at. “It might be something they aren’t good at yet. It might be just a predilection, something they find so intrinsically satisfying that they look forward to doing it again and again and getting better at it over time.” The theory is that the best businesses are those that fully leverage the strengths (unbridled upside) of their employees as opposed to trying to fix up their weaknesses (never more than incremental gains).

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?
INVISION Podcast

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries
INVISION Podcast

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries

Podcast: What the Heck is Marketing? And What Should ECPs Focus on to Attract New Clients?
INVISION Podcast

Podcast: What the Heck is Marketing? And What Should ECPs Focus on to Attract New Clients?

How can I promote competition among staff without it turning my store into the setting of Lord Of The Flies?

The key to fostering healthy competition, according to new research done by a team at Harvard Business School, lies in how you communicate the competition. When employees feel excited, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions and new ways to better serve customers. When they feel anxious or worried they might lose their job or be publicly humiliated, they’re more likely to cut corners or sabotage one another. Leaders can generate excitement by highlighting the potential positive outcomes of competition (such as the recognition and rewards that await outstanding performers) rather than creating anxiety by singling out low performers (think of the steak knives scene in Glengarry Glen Ross).

What is proper etiquette for gift-giving in the workplace?

Your watchwords should be considerate, fair, and inclusive. Aim for gifts that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone such as food. (If people have diet restrictions, they can simply pass on the offering without making a big fuss.) If you do decide to give gifts to every staff member, steer clear of knick-knacks. Most people can barely see their desks as it is. The last thing they need is another coffee mug or pen-and-pencil set. Keep it clean. Do not consider gag gifts that rely on sexual innuendo or ethnic stereotypes to be funny. Do not give anything that could remotely be considered intimate. And be generous down the chain. Give your assistant or intern at least as nice a gift as the one you give your manager.

I’d like to hire a trainer for my staff, but I’m worried about the return on investment?

Our reason for existing at INVISION is to make ECPs better ECPs, and we believe professional trainers can help you enormously. To get your money’s worth, focus on two things: 1.) Hard skills. Overinvest in training that helps to increase ability versus motivation. Yes, it’s nice to have your staff leave a training session all fired up, but for lasting results that will give you that return on your investment, focus on small but vital aspects of your staff’s sales skills. It could be when to pause in a presentation or how many features to stress. Break tasks into discrete actions, practice within a low-risk environment and build in recovery strategies. 2.) This is just as important. Follow up. Bring in a trainer, but only if you yourself are willing to buy into their lessons and do ongoing training and reviews.

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For Many of You, Your Best and Worst Habits are Exactly the Same!

For others… there seems to be a lot of very “hard workers” who “procrastinate!”

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  • Best habit: listening. Worst: saying yes when I should say no. — Deb Jaeger, Eye Center of the Dakotas, Bismarck, ND
  • Best: Getting up early and coming in to work in the quiet and alone time. Worst: Not getting the rest and exercise that I should. — Paula Hornbeck, Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids, Delafield, WI
  • My worst habit is too much social media, i.e. Facebook. My best habit is opening for business every day, hoping to make a difference for someone’s vision. — Mitchell Kaufman, Marine Park Family Vision, Brooklyn, NY
  • My best habit is writing everything down. We all forget. My worst is not taking a lunch. — Michelle Wright, DePoe Eye Center, Stockbridge, GA
  • Best habit is my ‘Get done attitude.’ If it needs to be done, I’ll do it; straightening magazines, cleaning fingerprints, checking in inventory, and all the other menial tasks that get ignored. Worst habit is letting things pile up on my desk. I call them “projects,” but sometimes they are just works in progress. — Pam Housley, Texas State Optical of Nederland, Port Arthur, TX
  • My best habit is always having a to do list and coordinating this with reminders on my phone. My worst is too much coffee! — Doreen Erbe, Snyder Eye Group, Ship Bottom, NJ
  • Saying see you soon at the end of every call is one of my best habits. Even if they aren’t planning to come in. It just plants the seed of being welcome anytime. Worst habit is chewing my nails if I don’t keep them polished. — Nikki Griffin, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, Oakdale, MN
  • Best: I’m a hard worker. I don’t stop while at work; sh*t gets done! Worst: My desk is a mess! — Haley Menge, Hi-Line Eye Care, Glasgow, MT
  • Best: Treating employees like family. Worst: Taking control over situations that don’t need my input. — Harris Decker, Eye Designs of Westchester, Scarsdale, NY
  • Best: Providing a great experience to all I am around. Worst: Never saying “No.” — Kenny Meyer, OBC Insurance Billing & Credentialing Specialists, Macomb, IL
  • Loyalty and loyalty. — Bob McBeath, Edina Eye, Edina, MN
  • Best: customer service; worst: clutter. — Jessica Brundidge, Clarity Vision, Clayton, NC
  • I’m really good at sleeping! Meeting my REM quota is never an issue. It’s my best habit; I’m always well-rested and never need coffee. It’s also my worst; 10 hours of sleep a night really pinches my free time! — Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID
  • Drinking beer. Drinking beer. — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • I would have to say my best is I will go above and beyond to help my customers. My worst is I go above and beyond for my customers. — Julie Uram, Optical Oasis, Jupiter, FL
  • Best: Hard working; worst: lenient on staff. — Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA
  • Best: I get up early and work late. Worst: I get distracted by the computer too much. — Bret Hunter, Sports Optical, Denver, CO
  • Best: Thinking things thru before responding. Worst: According to my kids “smacking.” Apparently, I’m a noisy eater! — Pam Peters, Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
  • My best and worst habits come from having ADHD which many business leaders actually have. My best is my hyper-focus on continual learning and improvement. Most specifically, diligent monitoring and sharing of metrics within our practice so everyone has a strong pulse of how we are performing. My worst is that I am so often in the moment I can be forgetful. Thankfully, those that know me well know they sometimes need to give me a gentle nudge when they need something specific. — Deborah Bosner, Northwest EyeCare Professionals, Columbus, OH
  • Worst habit is procrastination… Hope I got this response in on time. — Michael Davis, OD, Opti-Care, Eldersburg, MD
  • Best: Always keeping my family first. It reminds me what’s important. Worst: I often obsess about my patient schedule when I know it’s the part of practice no doctor is ever 100% satisfied with. — Blake Hutto, OD, Family Vision Care, Alma, GA
  • Best habit is thinking out of the box. Worst habit forgetting to go back in the box once in a while. — Adam Ramsey, OD, Iconic Eye Care, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • I sometimes am really organized and plan things ahead but I can also be lazy and don’t do things like I should. — Martha Davenport, Safe Vision, Wheatfield, IN
  • Best habit is working out every morning. Worst, pretty much everything else I do throughout the day. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • Verifying all jobs in the lab every Monday to see if they are on time, etc… Procrastinating on doing invoices as long as possible. — Kim Hilgers, Monson Eyecare Center, Owatonna, MN
  • Best habit is taking time for self-care everyday (working out, cooking, watching a movie, reading a book), even if it means waking up early or staying up late. Worst habit is taking on too many tasks at one time. — Chris Lopez, OD, Roberts Eyecare Associates, Vestal, NY
  • Best habit is my passion and drive for wanting to learn and know anything optics that I can. My worst habit is definitely sharing too much ‘nerdiness’/information with a patient thinking they care as much as I do. — Heather Harrington, Elevated Eyecare, Denver, CO
  • Best: Follow up, under promise and over deliver. Worst: Impatience with dumb people and know-it-alls. — BJ Chambers, Carrera Optical, McQueeney, TX
  • Best habit is to remind patients when dispensing glasses to come in anytime for adjustments and refills on their lens cleaner. — Carissa Dunphy, Monroe Vision Clinic, Monroe, WA
  • My best habit is thorough persistence. My worst habit is loving to eat. — Robert M Easton, Jr. OD, FAAO, Oakland Park, FL
  • I work hard till the job is done but I don’t take criticism well. — Bart Parker, Vision Source-Fox Optical, Lake Worth, FL
  • Best: I’m detail-oriented with a work ethic. Worst: I’m detail-oriented with a work ethic. — Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI
  • Best: I am upbeat and positive 99% of the time with patients and staff. Worst: I am the type of perfectionist that struggles to delegate or complete tasks. — Zachary Dirks, OD, St. Peter and Belle Plaine Eyecare Centers, Saint Peter, MN
  • Best habit is being nice to everyone. Worst is procrastination. — Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY
  • My best habit is discussing the importance of AR in the exam room because it leads to an easy discussion in the optical and over 85% AR capture rate. — Michael Martorana, OD, Falls City Eye Care, Louisville, KY
  • Best would be answering a phone as soon as it rings. I just hear it and grab it without even thinking. Worst is probably that I like to snack all day long which also means I have to go to the gym every day. — Caitlin Wicka, San Juan Eye Center, Montrose, CO
  • Best: I can usually make good decisions quickly. Worst: Trying to please everyone, so too trusting? — Kenneth D. Boltz, OD LLC, Dublin, OH
  • Currently, my best habit is running to the gym after work and my worst is changing at the office and getting caught in my shorts by patients. If I miss the start of the class, then I may have to wait an hour for the next one and still have a long drive home. — Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ
  • Having the final word in the office and at home. That final word is “Yes Ma’am.” — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • Coming in early every day to prepare for the day ahead. Worst: not recommending lens treatment options to patients. — Mark Perry, OD, Vision Health Institute, Orlando, FL
  • My best habit is following up with every patient to make sure they are totally satisfied with their eyewear and contacts. — Annette Prevaux, The Visionary Inc, Allen Park, MI
  • Best habit is that I never stop learning. My worst is I tend to move on to new things before finishing and follow through on my new knowledge. — Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK
  • Best: Drive and passion. Worst: Procrastination. But then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day … it was built the night before it was due! — Steve Nelson, Eye Candy Optical, Westlake, OH
  • Best: Hard worker; worst: the piles on my desk. — Kristina Swartz, The Eye Site, Mishawaka, IN
  • My best is arriving on time and making sales. My worst habit is snacking when its slow. — Pam Neagle, Austin Eyeworks, Austin, TX
  • Best habit: over organized. Worst: smoking. — Andrea Schall, Armstrong Eye Care, Kittanning, PA
  • My best habit is having a plan, writing it down in accomplishable steps. My worst is executing said plan. It’s not as bad at work, but in life I will find every excuse to put it off. — Erin D’Elia, 3 for 1 glasses, St. Catharines, ON
  • My best habit would be making the patient feel understood, comfortable and help them have fun picking out their new glasses. My worst is being too efficient! — Selena Jachens, Urban Eyecare & Eyewear, West Des Moines, IA
  • No matter what kind of day I am having, the moment I walk into the exam room, I am on stage and I am always friendly, smile and ask about their life. Worst habit is I need to eat a snack by 10AM. — Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH
  • Best habit I have is personally learning all my customers’ names. Worst is not always keeping up with paperwork. — Jocelyn Anderson, National Vision, Riverdale, GA
  • Keeping promises. Sleeping. I like sleeping. — Angel Miller, Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY
  • I think my best habit is to be as organized and deliberate as I can possibly be. As for my “worst” habit, I think I say exactly what I think without any filters — a habit picked up in the Army — even when I know that it may not go over well. — Pablo E. Mercado, LensCrafters, Alpharetta, GA
  • My best habit is “checking in” with people; staff, family, friends… I make sure even if I’m busy with other things to check in on people and make sure they are having a good week, etc. Worst habit? Somewhat disorganized and a little forgetful at times. I always buy a planner with the intent of using it but it usually ends up basically empty. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH
  • Worst would be my cluttered desk. I know where everything is but others not so much. Best would be that I try to always be positive with staff and patients, smile and greet them by name. I once heard that you should say someone’s name at least three times in conversation. It tends to have a positive effect on people and helps you remember their name. This often eases tension when I am asked to speak to an unhappy patient. More often than not, they are content by the end of our talk. — Dawn Christman Munoz, North Valley Eye Medical Group, Indian Hills, CA
  • Best: Staying informed on all things optical! Helps preserve our patients confidence. Overdoing my work load would have to be the worst thing I do on a daily. — William Chancellor, Eye Can See Eyewear, Hampton, GA
  • Best: I make home cooked meals at least five or more times a week. Worst: I tend to usually be late as much as I try to plan ahead. I blame Chicago traffic and weather. — Diana Canto Sims, OD, Buena Vista Optical, Chicago, IL
  • Worst is being a micromanager; best is great efficiency and speed at finishing tasks. — Larah Alami, OD, Hudson River Eye Care, Tarrytown and White Plains, NY
  • Best: patient rapport; worst: writing notes on files. — Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA
  • Multitasking and multitasking. — Bethany Cassar, Complete Eye Health, Holland, MI
  • Show up early. Show up early. — John LaShorne, Brown County Eye Care, Nashville, IN
  • I must have a clean desk — sometimes both the best and worst — it leads me to overwork sometimes just to get things off my desk! — Susie Phillips, Dr. Brendon Johnson, O.D., Pekin, IL
  • Best habit is answering emails as soon as I get them! I know how impatient I get when someone doesn’t instantly answer MY messages… so I like to stay ahead of the game. Worst habit is my “I’ll do that in the morning” pile, because it usually becomes the “Oh, crap… now I REALLY have to do that two days later” pile. — Renee Berry, Nappanee Family Eyecare, Nappanee, IN
  • Worst habit is letting things get piled up. — Bhumika Patel, OD, Redstone Family Vision, Indian Land, SC
  • Best: Staying on top of things. Worst: Impulse buying. — Erika Tydor, OD, Shoreline Eyecare, Shoreline, WA
  • Best habit? I try to lead a prayerful life. Worst habit? I cuss like a sailor and fall off ladders. — Dennis Iadarola, OD, Center For Vision Care, Monroe, CT
  • Work hard is my best, worst is taking it home. — Sabina Krasnov, I2Ioptique, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Habit or hobbit? — Richard H Frankel , OD, Atlantic Cape Eyecare, Wildwood, NJ

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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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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