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Robert Bell: My Gift To You

You have the power to make a difference in your community.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

I have seen the gentle touch of an optician’s fingertips, caressing someone’s ears, adjusting temple tips, transform an angry, street-dwelling young man into a smiling, appreciative soul who hugged and held on to this optician.

I have seen an optometrist pull out a chair, warmly welcome and listen to an older, disheveled woman who said with a tear in her eye, “I am so grateful. No one ever looks at me, let alone listens to me.”

I have seen an optical industry veteran put a behemoth of a man, with a scowl on his face, into a +3.00 over-the-counter reader and witness this massive entity start to hysterically cry. When he was able to catch his breath, he exclaimed, “Now, I can fill out a job application!”

I have seen a retired optician burst into tears when she dispensed a petite, red luxury eyewear frame to a diminutive, very myopic, homeless woman (who had been wearing a windshield of an old, plastic men’s double bar frame for years). She looked at herself in the mirror, slowly smiled and said, “Maybe people won’t think I’m homeless anymore.”

That melted the entire room.

Robert Bell, Scott Balestreri and Karen Flynn are volunteer leaders for Project Homeless Connect Vision Services in San Francisco. PHOTO BY JAMEY THOMAS

Stories of transformation. For people in need and — here’s the surprising part — for those eyecare professionals who give of themselves!

About eight years ago, an optician “suckered” me into volunteering my time, just for one event, for a San Francisco charity called Project Homeless Connect. I say “suckered” because, until that point, I didn’t think I was the volunteer type. But I was the one who put that large gentleman into a +3.00 reader, and I was absoultely blown away by his reaction and response. I haven’t missed a PHC event since. I was, in a word, transformed!

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I went on a recruiting spree. I wanted other local ECPs and industry people to join us … yes, of course to help our neighbors in need, but for another reason as well. How selfish would I be if I didn’t offer this extraordinary feeling of fulfillment to others? The hardest part of recruiting was getting someone to volunteer for the first time. After that? They beg to know when the next event is because they can’t wait to do it again! You should see the smile on my face right now.

I am honored to be part of this extraordinary group of eye doctors, professors of optometry, opticians, optometry students, pre-optometry students, industry executives and sales representatives who volunteer in providing vision services through Project Homeless Connect.

So in concert with INVISION’S Big Story this November, I wanted to share my experience with you and ask you directly: What can you do in your community?

For those of you (and I know there are a lot of you) out there who already volunteer your services, you make this world a better place. As a human being, I am personally grateful. For those of you who haven’t yet volunteered your talents as an ECP in your community, please do. Try it. Just once.

It doesn’t have to be with a homeless organization. It could be at nearby school or at an assisted living home. You can contact your local clergy or an organization like United Way and say, “I want to raise my hand. I want to help give the gift of sight. How can we go about doing this?”

Yes, if you get involved, your gift of vision will most likely change someone’s life. My gift to you? It will change yours! Much love. Happy holidays!

Robert Bell is the founder of EyeCoach, a Sales & Marketing Practice. He is one of the most inspirational, innovative and effective speakers/trainers in the eyecare industry. His workshop “Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Selling” is highly coveted. Email him at eyecoachworkshops@gmail.com

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Editor's Note

Size Matters… The Bigger the Better

And addressing some other sensitive subjects you might encounter in the workplace.

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AND THE BIGGER the better as far as I’m concerned. I have no problem admitting I am a size queen. I love a BIIIIIG … survey. The more data the happier I am. So, I got a lot of pleasure out of seeing the results of our first Big Survey and wow did it provide some insight. There is a lot to unpack there and you can see everything we found starting on page 34. This is the first of many to come and I’m excited to see how this survey evolves from year to year.

The answers were of course anonymous but there is one more thing I need to say: breastfeeding or having a pregnant employee’s water break at work are not weird things employees have done. Those are natural and unavoidable. If you answered something in this vein to the question “What is the weirdest thing an employee has done at work?” perhaps you need some sensitivity training and to take a very close look at yourself. Ok, rant over.

You know what amused me in this issue? The number of people cutting their nails at work — for the record, that is weird and gross (page 70) — and that so many of you consider your best and worst habit one in the same!

Also, rarely does a Real Deal generate the sort of response this issue’s did – The Case of the Concealed Concern on page 72. I know the gun debate is a hot topic and in a magazine with as broad an audience as INVISION’s there is no way we are all going to come down on the same side of an issue, but except for one slightly over the top (and poorly written) response, all the points of view we received were measured, well-executed and logical. This one really got you thinking, so if you haven’t read it or addressed this issue in your business, I encourage you to review it and discuss.

Best wishes for your business,

Dee Carroll

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

dee@invisionmag.com

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Start a movement. Resurrect a one-off holiday celebrating opticians. (Calendar, page 20)
2. According to our Pop Quiz, 58% of you are anti-flu shot (page 71). So, be flu ready with an in-office flu kit. (Tip Sheet, page 58)
3. Want to know how to get to the root of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the interview? We’ve got some ideas. (Ask INVISION, page 62)
4. Everyone loves a party… that’s how you “get to show them up” to your in-store events. (Line Time, page 66)
5. The perfect way to harness the power of the modern consumer’s self-absorption to benefit your business. (Benchmarks, page 68)

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Danielle Richardson

A Case for Yoga

Let go of any preconceived notions… yoga is for everyone.

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I KNOW, I KNOW — yoga is not for you… but let me stop you right there. Yoga is truly for everyone! Yoga is finding its place in the mainstream as 1 in 7 American adults reported practicing yoga according to a 2017 survey.

However, as the number or practitioners continues to rise, so too does the number of people who feel alienated by yoga. Social media has warped the perception of this ancient practice into something that more closely resembles gymnastics or acrobatics. This shift distances many would be practitioners because of feelings of not being “flexible” or “fit” enough. I’m here to tell you that’s BS! This article is to make the case for yoga and its inclusion in your wellness routine.

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The true origin of yoga can be disputed, but the most popular types of yoga in the West are derived from a 5000-year old Indian philosophy system and body of knowledge. Yoga takes a holistic view of the human experience and consists of practices to unite the mind, body, and soul. Yoga extends beyond physical movement to combine meditation, self-discipline, and breathing practices to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Below are a few things to remember about yoga:

Yoga is for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, yoga does not require fancy tights or expensive studio memberships. Additionally, you don’t have to overhaul your life or become a Himalayan monk to practice. The only requirements for yoga are your body and your breath. Yoga is most often practiced on hard wood with a mat or blanket, but carpet is suitable as well. Yoga can also be made accessible to those with disabilities using chairs and props for modifications. There truly is something for everyone.

Beginners are always welcome. There are plenty of resources available for new yogis. You can go the in-person route and sign up for a new student special at a local studio. Local yoga studios often have classes designed for beginners where you can receive in-person guidance and personalized tips to make the practice more comfortable. Additionally, you can use online beginner yoga videos on YouTube via my channel “FierceClarity” or another excellent source like “YogaWithAdrienne.” My recommendation is to begin once per week and gradually increase frequency. There is no right or wrong amount of yoga to do, but the longer you stick with the practice the more benefits you will see.

Yoga has real benefits. According to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an NIH affiliate, research shows yoga may help relieve stress and chronic pain, manage chronic disease symptoms, and even aid in smoking cessation. Other studies have found yoga to successfully decrease inflammation, improve heart health, and improve some symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Additionally, yoga aids in weight loss and can help maintain a healthy weight when practiced regularly.

I started practicing yoga at the end of optometry school when I was burned out and sick from an unhealthy lifestyle. This simple practice has changed my life for the better. I became so passionate about it that I now teach yoga to others. I hope you will let go of any preconceived notions and give yoga a try. It is a rich tradition with several different styles and teachers. Be like Goldilocks and experiment a bit until you find the yoga that is just right for you.

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Columns

Don’t Do Do-It-Yourself Optometry … Do This Instead

Even the most successful DIYers know when to call in a pro — and doing so can free up their time for bigger and better things.

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I CONSIDER MYSELF A competent Do it Yourselfer, and during a recent house remodel I was determined to handle as many tasks myself as possible. My father is a retired master carpenter, and I spent countless childhood hours watching him craft pristine custom cabinetry.

Clearly, I had no reason to doubt my ability to handle some basic trim work. This was going to be easy, right? Wrong!

Similarly, while a wealth of DIY-style info is available, DIY optometry practice management is no piece of cake. The goal of running an efficient, profitable practice is not as easy as it sounds.

Perhaps the most important sign of a competent DIYer is knowing when to hire a professional. Honestly, I knew I couldn’t manage my own plumbing or wiring.

Hiring specialists to manage certain aspects of your practice can outweigh the self-satisfaction of DIYing. More often than not, the main benefit is prioritization. Here’s why:

Ten years ago, the optical dispensary comprised at least 70 percent of the overall practice revenue, while exams and services made up the remaining 30 percent. Today, with the increase in medical-model eyecare, exams and services can match or exceed dispensary revenue.

Most ODs once dedicated significant time to dispensary operation, but more time is now spent learning new equipment, interpreting test results and filling schedules with more non-optical patients. Managing inventory and lens purchasing now takes a backseat to offering other specialty medical services. Such profitable specialties are where you should be focusing your energy, rather than overseeing day-to-day dispensary management. To compound the problem, optical dispensing is becoming increasingly complicated. Patients have vision plans with specific criteria, lab networks and products, mandating that optometrists be masters in maximizing profitability and understanding plan contracts.

Delegating allows you to focus attention on next-level eyecare and promotes overall practice development. Let’s discuss a few aspects of optometry dispensary operation that benefit from less DIY and more professional management.

  • Staff training. Optical dispensary management services provide staff with professional education sessions. Performance standards are established and regular meetings held to discuss products and technologies. Incentives programs entice staff to meet sales goals.
  • Revenue cycle management. The capture, management, and collection of patient and insurance revenue as well as cash flow, audit risk and ultimately profit can be outsourced to professional firms.
  • Marketing materials and initiatives. Demographic-specific marketing programs tailored to a practice’s patients can boost sales. Collateral may include educational patient information or professional courtesy programs.
  • Third-party billing. Staff are trained to maximize plan benefits, and ODM services process all optical claims on the practice’s behalf.
  • Dispensary inventory management. DMs purchase existing inventory while transitioning to new inventory targeted to a practice’s specific patient demographics. This includes an analysis of the practice’s market showcasing competitive price structures and consumer preferences.

Enlisting professional help isn’t an admission of lack of skill, it’s the practical awareness that not everything can be accomplished on your own. So, while you may choose to keep your home remodeling efforts DIY, let experts take your optical practice to the next level. A little help never hurt anybody.

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