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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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Robert Bell

The Single Best Tool to Help your Staff to Sell In and Outside the Office

Plus it has the added benefit of showing them you value them.

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JUST BETWEEN US, have you ever fantasized about wanting to give a playful smack to a patient or customer because they did something incredibly stupid? Or, they didn’t do something they were supposed to do in the no-brainer category?

No? Liar!

Well, here’s a no-brainer scenario in which I’d like to smack (playfully!) a hefty percentage of optometric business owners. Ok, honestly, I wouldn’t hurt or embarrass any of you. However, I’ll tell you this: this “no-brainer scenario” makes me pull my hair out of my head. And, folks? I’m bald!

What’s the no-brainer scenario? Business cards.

“But Robert, I have a business card.” I’m sure you do, doctor. Does everyone on your staff have one, too? Everyone? Uh huh. I’m losing more hair as we speak!

From your front desk personnel to your licensed opticians, everyone on your staff should have printed business cards with their name on it, their title (if they want one), the name of your practice, your location(s), your phone number and your website.

Everyone on your staff should be required to carry a few in their purses or wallets 24/7.

Why? So many reasons! Here’s one example from one of my favorite conversations with an optician:

Optician: I was in a Target once and standing behind this woman wearing the most G-d awful glasses. I was thinking, “Omg, who the hell did that to you?”

Me: Did you say anything to her?

O: Um, no.

M: Why not?

O: Whaddya mean, “why not?” What was I going to say?

M: Oh, any number of things. How about, “Hi there. I’m Darla. I was looking at your glasses. I’m an optician. Then … are you happy with them? … or how long ago did you get them? … or where did you get them? Anything to get her talking about her glasses.

O: Why?

M: So you could engage her, find out if you, as an optician, could be of help to her. If so, then you could’ve given her your business card and said, “Here, take my card. Next time you need glasses or an eye exam, come in and ask for me and I promise I’ll take very good care of you.” Then, before you give her the card, you say ‘I’m gonna write on the back of my card to give you $20 off on a pair of sunglasses, if you’re able to come in within the month.’

O: (spurts out a laugh) Yeah, right. Like my OD would pay for business cards for me. Get real. She’s too cheap.

Lord, I’m so bald.

Doctors, by purchasing business cards for your staff (such a minimal investment that can reap in beaucoup rewards), you do the following things:

  • You’re telling them they, as your employee, are important to you.
  • You’re telling them they are an integral part of your team.
  • You’re telling them you’re proud to have them on your team.
  • You make them think you appreciate them and show them so with something tangible.
  • This usually makes them proud of where they work and proud of working for you.

Either you’re proud of your practice and the people who work for you, or you’re not. If you’re not, please disregard what you’ve read here. If you are, well, you know what to do next.

Once your staff is stocked up on cards, it’s time to train them. For Robert’s business card sales training tips visit invisionmag.com/extras.

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John Marvin

Success is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

To navigate your own future, you need to look below the surface.

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THERE’S A POPULAR image of an iceberg that you may have seen. The top of the iceberg, the portion above water, is titled success. This portrays what everyone sees about something successful. Underneath the surface is the much larger portion of the iceberg and it is titled hard work, late nights, persistence, rejections, sacrifices, discipline, criticism, doubts, failure, risks. These are the actions, behaviors and decisions your success is actually built upon that few people realize or acknowledge.

Opening a start-up practice is something our organization specializes in. With the experience of opening what will be 70 new offices by year end, I feel qualified to speak on what it takes for a new practice to succeed. It doesn’t include magic, luck or “secrets.” What it takes is everything under the surface of the iceberg. For a young doctor, there are important reasons to embrace what lies beneath the surface.

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Well-known teacher of achievement principles Jim Rohn says, “Success is not something you pursue but rather something you attract by the person you become.” The value of embracing everything that lies beneath the surface is that the process creates experience and experience produces personal growth … that, in turn attracts success.

Without the growth that results from sacrifice, enduring criticism and taking risks, you can’t understand how to produce a successful outcome. Without working Saturdays, late nights, being persistent and experiencing setbacks, you do not know the value of inconvenience nor the pride of accomplishment.

Owning an eyecare business is not for everyone. If you don’t have the passion and deep desire for ownership, to produce your own income, and have control over the patients’ experience, then it is best if you work to help someone else build their practice. To be successful at ownership, you have to have a passion for what you do. If you do not have passion, you’ll quit. Building anything of value and especially building a private practice is hard and requires work. There are constant challenges with staff, managing expenses and dealing with regulations. If you don’t have a love for what you do and understand in your core why you are doing it, you will not be successful.

However, if you do have this passion, know why you work so hard to overcome challenges, and you take full responsibility for the success of your practice, the reward of ownership and the pride of accomplishment is unlike anything experienced by those who work for someone else. That is why they only see the top of the iceberg and not what lies beneath the surface. They attribute your success to luck, to being in the right location at the right time, or something else that demonstrates they do not understand the work that went into the achievement.

I visit often with an optometrist who is interested in opening their own practice and they have become consumed with analyzing demographics, competition in an area, household incomes and other factors they consider critical to their success. While consideration of these items is important, they have failed to consider the most important factor — their own determination and commitment to personal growth.

When you are deciding to start your own practice, you are the captain of the ship. It is your responsibility to navigate your own future, to overcome, endure and grow from what lies beneath the surface.

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Columns

This Healthy Vision Month Dig Deeper into Children’s Vision Issues

Our eyes look, but our brain sees and sometimes for kids there is a disconnect between the two.

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AS WE REFLECT ON Healthy Vision Month, let’s consider the following: There are 1.3 billion people living with some form of vision impairment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 80 percent of those impairments are considered avoidable.

The American Optometric Association estimates up to 80 percent of a child’s learning is through vision and 10 percent of children have a vision issue significant enough to impact their learning, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD).

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Unfortunately, it is not always easy for parents to identify symptoms or impairments in children.

For starters, their kids may not have the vocabulary or awareness to describe what they’re experiencing. One of my granddaughters struggled with her vision until she was prescribed -6.00 lenses. She was two years old. The issue is complicated by the following statistic: nearly two-thirds of children with some kind of vision impairment are also living with at least one developmental disability, according to the CDC. Poor vision can exacerbate the severity of a disability; the latter can sometimes mask the existence of the former.

All of the above underscores the importance of early and regular eye health exams. It also creates opportunities for new kinds of vision therapy, such as Neuro-Visual Training (NVT).

According to Dr. Stelios Nikolakakis, a Canadian optometrist who runs Mind’s Eye Neuro-Visual Optometry in Toronto, NVT goes above and beyond traditional eyecare with a holistic approach to vision health.

Our eyes look, but it is our brain that sees, and any disconnect between the two can create significant learning challenges.

He reminds us that while reading challenges, frustration, and poor grades could be the result of a learning disability, they could also stem from poor communication between their eyes and brain. He also says about 80 percent of the symptoms of someone who needs NVT are identical to the symptoms of someone with ADHD.

As a result, the COVD says typical vision screenings can miss at least half of vision problems.

It is easy for parents and teachers to miss or mistake signs of vision impairment. If a child cannot sit still, is easily distracted, complains of headaches or eyestrain, consistently asks others — including parents — to read to them, or confuses their b’s and d’s, the child could be struggling with underdeveloped visual systems. Rather than dismissing their behavior or complaints, it is critical to consider whether a relatively small amount of training could help address these issues, and ultimately set a child up for success in the classroom and in life.

There are several ways optometrists can help. They can have their recallers book eye health appointments for parents together with their children. They can ask parents whether their kids have demonstrated any of the above behaviors. By learning more about the applications of NVT, and by encouraging patients to do the same, we can start to broaden the scope and impact of Healthy Vision Month by considering the health of all elements of our vision for all ages.

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