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Tip Sheet

Reward Your Community and They Will Reward You … Plus More Tips for February

You ask for their support; give them yours.

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MARKETING

Hiding in Plain Sight

Are you in an office park? Throw a sale for your neighbors. Jeanne Bogdal of CNY Eye Care in Syracuse, NY, says a Michael Kors sale brought in tons of people from the 100-plus offices in her complex.

PATIENT CARE

Don’t Box Yourself In!

Some practitioners gain a sense of comfort booking patients far in advance, but that doesn’t always work to everyone’s advantage. Cindy Dunn, a consultant with the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group, tells the story of a large office that had its schedule filled six weeks out. But doctors would often ask patients to return in three or four weeks, resulting in extra work for the receptionists. The fix was easy. “All they had to do was change the process by leaving spaces open for returning patients,” Dunn told an advice column for ECPs on American Express Open.

MARKETING

Search, You’ll Find

More people are buying brand frames, ordering online and exploring alternative supply channels. You can resist these changes or embrace them. The first place to do that is your website. Adjust your SEO terms so anyone in your area needing “adjustments,” “repairs,” “emergency services” and even upgrades for their “Ray-Bans” or “Maui Jims” find a warm welcome, and maybe a new ECP, with you. 

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MARKETING

All in This Together

Roadrunner Eyecare in Albuquerque, NM, is active in the community, sponsoring youth groups, sports teams and more. And at the mention of any of those partnerships, patients get a discount. If customers bring in a receipt from a partner, they can choose a discount on their exam or glasses. “We ask for support from our community; it is also our responsibility to support the community,” says general manager Erik Lawrence.

PSYCHOLOGY

Keeping it Cool

A conversation or negotiation getting out control? Refocus on agreement, says Joseph Grenny at Harvard Business Review. “When people feel threatened, they tend to focus … on areas of disagreement. It’s remarkable to see parties who agree on 90 percent of an issue obsess over and even magnify the 10 percent they disagree about. … Change the tone …[by] saying something like, ‘Can I pause for a moment and point out what we both agree on?’ Then deliberately, slowly and sincerely you can enumerate common interests, beliefs or histories.”

MANAGEMENT

Keep it Simple

Have you ever ended a long email with “Thoughts?” Bad idea, says email app maker Sanebox (see their email guide at invmag.us/021801). Be specific. Say “Do you think we should do X, Y or Z?” to save time .

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SALES

Hit the Road

Trunk shows offer portability. Frameology Optical in East Syracuse, NY, tried a show at a client’s hair studio. “It was a huge success,” says owner Stacy Daniel-Murphy. “We had an afternoon of fashion, make-up and hair tips to go with the frames. Having the show offsite, I was able to get my name out.”

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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SPONSORED BY KENMARK

Jump In — the Water’s Fine!

With a salute to summer’s shimmery, mermaid colors and warm weather-loving shades, Kenmark Eyewear celebrates this summer’s Aloha spirit with eyewear from Vera Wang, Kensie, Zac Posen and the Original Penguin Collection!

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Tip Sheet

Give More Compliments, Ask More Questions and More Tips for July and August

And how to do little infomercials from the show floor to come back to eager customers looking to buy.

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productivityGet Creative at Home

Here’s a neat rule to get the most out of your work day (for people in a position to pull it off, meaning business owners): Do creative work at home and boring work, where you may need some compulsion, at the office. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, researchers found that when it came to creative tasks people were 11 to 20 percent more productive outside the lab. For rote and repetitive tasks, however, they were 6 to 10 percent less productive when not in a formal work environment.

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?

Podcast: More Ways to Motivate Your Own Eyecare Business Team
INVISION Podcast

Podcast: More Ways to Motivate Your Own Eyecare Business Team

team buildingWow, Wow, Wow

“Everybody likes a compliment,” Abraham Lincoln famously observed. But most humans are weirdly parsimonious about handing out kind words. To keep the good feelings flowing at Focus Eye Care in Hackensack, NJ, management installed a “WOW Box” in the back office and encouraged staff to write something positive about another staff member that motivated them. “Often the notes contain funny messages and inside jokes that go over our heads, but the point is we enjoy it,” says manager Vlad Cordero.

marketingReal People. Real Eyewear.

Nothing says genuine quite like images of real clients. Itopian Optical in Fort Myers, FL, understands this better than most. Every two years it organizes a client photo shoot and goes all the way, bringing in make-up artists, hairdressers, caterers and a professional photographer along with a few frame vendors to help style the customers. The images send a message of “Real People, Real Eyewear,” says owner Kelly Chasnov, adding that they are used for all the store’s marketing as well as on thank-you cards, their LED sign and front windows as sun shades.

social mediaAnd Live From…

Thanks to social media everyone can be a correspondent today. It’s a role the staff at Cool Dog Gear, a three-store pet supply chain in Pennsylvania, have gleefully accepted, beaming back Facebook Live posts from every trade show they attend. “We find a cool item and we do a little infomercial right then and there with the rep telling us all about the item — “And coming soon to Cool Dog Gear!” co-owner Sue Hener told INVISION’s sister publication PETS+. “By the time we get back from the show there are customers waiting to buy it!”

sellingIs That So?

In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you were interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

SELF IMPROVEMENTUp Your Reading Game

Want to read more? Try what serial entrepreneur, business author and general overachiever James Altucher does and read about 30 pages of five books each day. Given the average American reads about 250 words a minute, or about a page a minute, that’s 2.3 hours. Don’t have that much time? How about 25 pages of three books? That’s little more time than it takes to watch an episode of the Kardashians.

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Tip Sheet

How to Stay Busy, not Rushed, and More Tips for September

Plus the two most powerful words to add to your sales pitch and the power of ‘Polish.’

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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCEPolished Hand-Off

Twice a year the team at Uptown Eyes Eyewear Gallery in Fayetteville, AR, meets for a “Polish,” time dedicated to role-playing every scenario of patient care that allows staff to brainstorm a better experience for patients. “One great addition that has come out of our Polish is our in-exam room hand-off between doctor and optician,” says owner Megan Baureis.

CUSTOMER CARESome Don’t Like It Hot

Like children or bags of frozen shrimp, eyewear shouldn’t be left in your car on hot days. Although it’s easy to forget them in those built-in holders that sit between the rearview mirror and the roof, don’t. “To avoid crazing your AR or melting your frames, try to take your eyewear with you,” says sales rep Graham Haak in a Facebook post. It’s a good reminder to pass on to your patients during these dog days.

SALESWhich Means…

Two of the most powerful words you can add to any sales presentation are “which means …” when delivered after a product feature has been identified. “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,” says Wizard of Ads Roy H. Williams in his weekly marketing column. Williams offers this example: “This blade is made of Maxamet steel, which means you’ll never have to sharpen it.” Fill in your own vision-related example.

MANAGEMENTDecision Hour

Once a week, spend an hour making choices. A lot of things masquerading as “things you have to work on” are really decisions you need to make, notes Steve Chandler in his book Time Warrior. Many can be made now; the notion that you need more info is often just avoidance.

STRATEGY“How” Is the Enemy

Something all true entrepreneurs know: “How” is the enemy. “We always want to know how things will happen,” says Claudia Azula, podcaster and co-author of the Power of No. “But how is the enemy because it blocks the possibilities that open up when we are willing to not know. When you don’t know about tomorrow…[you] focus on doing your best today.”

TECHNOLOGYRoster with Ease

Looking for a tool to make rostering easier? The team at Focus Eye Care in Hackensack, NJ, recommends the ‘WhenIWork’ app. “This tool lets us post staff schedules right to their phones,” says co-owner Vlad Cordero.

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Ask INVISION

How to Get a Staff Member to Close a Sale and More Questions for September

And your return policy may not be as ironclad as you think when it comes to minors…

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I got really angry at a customer the other day and left a nasty message on their voicemail. So, OK, I’ve lost that client. But how can I keep this from happening again?

We fully recommend business author Tony Schwartz’s Golden Rule of Triggers, which is “Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t.” Instead, he says, take a deep breath, and “feel your feet” — a distraction tactic that allows you to pull your head out of the red mist.

I have a no-return stipulation on all my eyewear. But somebody told me that if a minor buys, for example, a pair of fancy sunglasses from me, they have the right to return it for a full refund and I can’t do anything about it. Is this true?

It is, in most states. And it’s something many merchants are unaware of. Basically, it comes down to what the law regards as “capacity to contract,” something minors are considered to lack but which is an essential element of any valid commercial agreement. The law doesn’t state, however, you must return the money immediately. You can insist Mom or Dad enforce the big-spending youngster’s right to disaffirmance in a court of law. Faced with such a prospect, the child or his parents are likely to come to an arrangement.

My store is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Am I leaving sales on the table by not being open?

Not necessarily. In fact, you may actually be improving business by giving your team some regular time off. Roger Beahm, professor of marketing at Wake Forest University School of Business, told radio station WFDD that you should first consider the “personal values” of your business. “We know that there’s a lot of businesses, for personal reasons, that like to keep their doors closed on Sunday, give their employees a day off for family, to go to church, and those kinds of things.” Employee happiness can translate into “efficiency, a high-quality product, and a loyal customer who keeps coming back.” Beahm says that work/life balance should lead to profit. “While they may be leaving money on the table in the short run, it’s probably assured that in the long run, they’re continuing to generate revenue because of the satisfaction level of both their employees and their customers.”

I’ve got a woman on staff who adores eyewear and never fails to engage a customer in a lively discussion, but for the life of me I can’t teach her how to close the sale! Help!

Failure to close is most often a combination of lack of basic skill and fear of being ‘pushy,’” says Kate Peterson of retail consultancy Performance Concepts. You can’t effectively teach ‘closing’ as a separate and disassociated thing, she says, but if your associate is good at engaging the customer, focus on teaching her how to make emotional connections between what they want and what the merchandise provides and to listen for signals that indicate it’s time to close. When it comes to more expensive fashion wear, remind her that most customers are often looking for permission to buy. “Providing good service means giving it to them by asking for the sale,” says Peterson. Finally, consider your commission structures. A motivated staff will use their time in the store as efficiently as they can, because it’s in their interest to make as many sales as possible.

When people look in your window displays, how do you approach them without scaring them off?

Open the conversation by asking their opinion on the display itself, says selling expert Dave Richardson. From there, you should be able to find out what they are specifically looking at and extend an invitation for them to come in and see it more closely (as well as a business card). Such boldness is well worth your effort, says Richardson. “Best-case scenario, you make a sale … worst-case scenario, someone new has your card.”

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