Share Tweet Tales so bizarre we couldn’t make them up ... Not that we’d want to. Published 2 years agoon June 1, 2017By INVISION Staff Invision June 2017 IssueWE DARED ECPs to share their most astonishing, their weirdest — and their downright yuckiest — customer encounters. Boy did they come through! In the following pages you’ll read stories that will make you chuckle, cringe, and squirm in discomfort. Mostly, you’ll just count your lucky stars it didn’t happen to you. 1. Out of Africa… and Straight to The OpticalDuke Dye, OD | Riverside Eye Center | Columbus, OHOnce we had a patient scramble in to buy another pair of Maui Jims. The transaction was so fast we had to ask why, since it had been less than a month since he’d purchased his last pair.Turns out that the guy lost the original pair because he had to jump into a river to save himself from a swarm of killer bees while traveling in Africa! Yikes! 2. But Why Did He Have So Much Free Time?Jeff Grosekemper | Casa de Oro Eyecare | Spring Valley, CAI used to work for a doctor who always spied on us. He used the glass in picture frames hanging in the hallway to watch us from around the corner. He thought he was sly but we could see his reflection as well. Also we could see the tips of his shoes sticking out of the doorway when we walked to the other side of the dispensary. He listened in on our phone calls not knowing a little red light would come on when somebody else picked up a phone. Always be one step ahead.3. Cradle to GraveChristine Howard | Attleboro Vision Care | Attleboro, MAI had to make glasses for a deceased patient. Their glasses broke, and although they could have been repaired enough to function well during the viewing, the patient’s daughter insisted on making a whole new pair, Rx and all.Advertisement 4. That Isn’t A Real ThingAngel Miller | Cynthiana Vision Center | Cynthiana, KYWe had someone who wasn’t a patient come in and ask if we had those colored contacts made of paper that dissolve in the eye. We told them there was no such thing. He then asked whether, since we didn’t have them (because they don’t exist), we would let him have them shipped to our address if he ordered them elsewhere. Weirdo.5. What They Don’t Teach You At SchoolFrances Ann Layton | Eye Associates of South GA | Valdosta, GAI don’t recall my teachers telling me about the disgusting side of opticianry. My favorite story to tell newbies is about a man who brought his semi-rimless glasses in with one of the lenses out. He puts them in my hands and then tells me “they fell off my head into the manure mound and the lens popped out. Could you fix that and clean them up for me?” 6. Tastes Like ChickenKim Riggs, OD | Kimberly Riggs OD | Ligonier, PAI had a patient who admitted that he was too lazy to get up off the couch one evening to throw away his daily disposable contacts, so he ate them after he took them out.7. Maybe She Just Likes Standing in the RainNytarsha Thomas, OD, Visionelle Eyecare Zionsville, InWe hired an optician who was really nice and said her best quality was attention to detail. One day, after she had been there about a month, she was the first to arrive at work. She opened the door and instead of putting in her unique alarm code, she entered the address of the business. (Why would we ever make the most visible number on the building the code to the alarm system?) When that triggered the alarm, she thought if she left the building and closed the door, it would stop. When I arrived, the alarm was blaring, a police officer was knocking on the front door, and she had been standing outside the back door in the rain for 10 minutes despite her car being inches away. Just a one-off incident, you may be thinking. But the next day, she was standing in the rain again, saying her key (the one she used the day before) didn’t work. I immediately used it to open the door. The following weekend, she forgot to lock the front door when she closed and a patient walked in over the weekend setting off the alarm and alerting the police again. Needless to say, she didn’t last very long.8. We’ve Always Wondered What’s under Those Lab CoatsMark Perry, OD | Vision Health Institute | Orlando, FL Years ago, I had to stop by the office for something on my day off. When I walked in, one of the technicians standing at the front desk spoke up and said, “It’s nice to see you with your clothes on.” (She’d meant to say with my casual clothes on. We all had a good laugh.) 9. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say …Kevin Proctor Springer | KP, Brooklyn Center, MN Customer comes in and says: “Where’s that other guy? He was so nice and could really help me pick out new looks for myself. Darn, I don’t see him … I really don’t want you to help me. Where is he?” I finally said, “Margaret it’s me! I just got a haircut and gained some weight.” She smiled and said, “Well, you looked better before.”10. There Are No Stupid Questions … WaitMartha Downing | Advanced Ophthalmology Associates | Clawson, MII once had a patient call to say she had a stupid question. Our office response was always that there are no stupid questions … her response was, “Well, I think I put superglue in my eye. Is that a bad thing? It kind of hurts.” I told her to come in, the doctor would see her right away. She showed up an hour later, after getting her manicure fixed (the glue got on her fingers as well). Apparently, she kept both a bottle of eye drops and a bottle of superglue in her car for emergency use. While stopped at an intersection in LA, she picked up the wrong bottle and dropped it in her eyes. What saved her was her contacts, as most of the glue landed on them. She did end up suffering a corneal ulcer from the episode and couldn’t wear contacts anymore. She removed the superglue from her car. Advertisement 11. That’s AwkwardCynthia Sayers, OD | EyeShop Optical Center Lewis Center, OHOne of my employees was pretesting a teenage girl. We always come out and discuss the retinal photo screening option with the parents. The employee came out and asked the man who was with the girl if he wanted her to get the retinal photo. He said, “Sure.” I was witnessing this and couldn’t stop laughing. My employee had just asked the teenager’s boyfriend if she should get the retinal photo! In the employee’s defense, he did look very mature for his age, but not old enough to be the girl’s father! 12. That’s Not How It WorksSarah Jerome, OD | Look+See Eye Care | Minneapolis, MNI had a patient who, like many of our patients at the conclusion of the exam, asked about how her prescription had changed. She followed that by asking if her right eye needed a different prescription from her left eye. I explained that it is very common for the two eyes to be unequal, and that, yes, she had a slight difference in the strength of her prescription. I was a bit taken aback by the patient’s follow-up question: “Could this be why my left breast is slightly smaller than my right breast?” 13. Grossest. Thing. Ever.Annie Corvo Poston | Gig Harbor, WAA woman with open wounds/sores all over her forearms came in and left my counters covered in blood and ooze. She tried on a bunch of glasses and left. I sanitized 378 frames. I’m pretty sure she grabbed a piece of her own skin off the counter and put it in her mouth.14. Be Careful What You SayKristy Smith, Eyeglass Wearhouse Reynoldsburg, OHPatient came in to get an adjustment on his new pair and inquired as to why his glasses kept smearing on the top of the lens. He was told it was from the lenses touching his eyebrows (bushy). He asked if there was a way to make it stop? Jokingly, my optician said, “Shave them off!” A week later, he came back in for another adjustment — minus the eyebrows!15. Fashion Over FunctionJocelyn Mylott | D’Ambrosio Eye Care | Lancaster, MAWe had a patient ask us to frost his other lens. One was already frosted for medical reasons as he isn’t using that eye and he wanted them to look even cosmetically … but if we’d frosted the other one he wouldn’t have been able to see with his good eye! 16. Maybe He Wanted To Sell You A Policy?Heather Kaikuana | Eye Care Hawaii | Hilo, HIOn a Saturday back in January we had a green visitor … a lizard … in our office. He was crawling everywhere and the staff was all screaming, so one of our patients who had just finished her appointment whacked the lizard out with her slipper. It was just so funny the way the staff reacted and how calm our patient was. She is our Lizard Hero for sure! Advertisement 17. And on the Seventh Day …Paula Hornbeck | Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids | Delafield, WIWe had a couple come in six Saturdays in a row and stay for two-plus hours looking at frames. We started referring to them as the “Saturday people.” All of my opticians, as well as myself, took their turn at helping them find what they were looking for. I finally got them to pull the trigger on the sixth Saturday. They bought frames only — one for her, two for him. The seventh Saturday they came back to return hers and one of his. Good Lord! We don’t do refunds, so then the credit sat there just waiting for it to start all over again. Sheesh! 18. Talk About Visual LearningCHRIS CLARK | MULLIS EYE INSTITUTE | PANAMA CITY, FLOne day a mom came in and said her son was the most destructive person she knew. I showed them the Flexon frames and how they seem pretty indestructible. When we turned around there were eight to 10 frames lying broken on the frame counters. I don’t do that anymore. 19. Time Can Be Tricky like ThatFred Sirotkin, OD | Eagle Eye Care | Columbia, MDChief complaint recently from a patient was that her two-week contact lenses only lasted two weeks … 20. Think about the ChildrenPablo E Mercado | The Eye Gallery | Woodstock, GAA woman asked our doctor if having crossed eyes was genetic, because her son was dating a girl who had crossed eyes in the past, and she “did not want any cross-eyed grandchildren.” 21. Find What MotivatesPaul Londraville | In Focus Eyewear | Greensboro, NCOnce upon a time my old boss decided we would do a community eyewear drive to gather used glasses to send overseas. The response was tremendous and it took a lot of work to clean, sort and neutralize them all. A co-worker, famously penurious, considered the task beneath him and was not contributing to the project. Our lab guy said, “I’ll fix it.” He took a fiver out of his wallet and hid it in a case in the huge pile of old glasses to be gone through. When he knew the other optician was watching, he took that pair out of the pile and pretended to discover the fiver in the old case, snapping it briskly and saying he was getting a cheeseburger for lunch. The other optician’s eyes were bugging out as he watched the lab guy put the bill in his wallet with a flourish. You have never seen a quicker change of attitude in your life. Instead of shirking the onerous task, this guy became a paragon of industry and selfless dedication to charity. He plowed through the rest of the pile nearly single-handedly in the vain hope of another stray fiver. 22. And This Is Why We Have YelpKevin Count | Prentice Lab | Glenview, ILI once worked for an ophthalmologist in the early days of my career. He was known to be a bit of a hot head and the staff always treated him with kid gloves. A patient came in one day, complaining about his glasses for the umpteenth time. The doctor happened to be at the front desk as the patient railed at the receptionist. The doctor then calmly walked over, addressed the patient and asked to see the glasses. When the patient handed them over, the doctor carefully turned them over and over in his hands, then chuckled and said, “I see the problem.” Then he promptly threw them on the floor and stomped on them. We were all silent in disbelief as the doctor calmly walked to the manager’s desk and grumbled, “Write ’em a check and get them out of here,” as he went to his next patient.Advertisement 23. Sounds Like She Needs a ReferralTed McElroy, OD | Vision Source Tifton | Tifton, GAWhen I was an optometry student at SCO (way before HIPAA issues, of course) we would all try to get a little bit ahead on the history of the patient by starting it on the way from reception to the exam room. So I would always ask, “So, what brings you in to see us today?” The response I got from one patient was, “I hear voices in my head.” All I could respond with was, “Is that with your glasses on or off?” My exam partner immediately stops, turns in the other direction and holds his laughter as long as possible. As I turned the corner I could still see him losing it in the hallway. 24. It’s a Trifecta!Candy Crone | Wayne Optical, York, PAIt might be the woman who insisted Transitions gave her diarrhea — and made me call Transitions to discuss it with her. Or the woman who insisted the Rx fell out of her semi-rimless frame and she could no longer see out of her glasses, so she wanted a frame that went all the way around so it didn’t happen again. Then again it may be the woman whose glasses I scrubbed tons of hairspray and dirt off of while fixing them and she insisted I changed her frame. She swore she had never worn the frame I brought back to her. 25. ‘Oh, Magoo…!’Jerry Ellis | BJ’s Optical | Framingham, MAAn elderly lady came in to buy glasses. She purchased a pair then left. She called me half an hour later and said I’d switched her old glasses with someone else’s. She came right down with her driver. I looked at her glasses and sure enough they were not hers. I explained to them that I had no idea what happened because I never left the table with them. The driver then said, “Wait” — and switches her glasses with the patient’s. “That’s better.” I was miffed she drove the patient home and back wearing the elderly lady’s glasses!26. The Stuff of NightmaresCindy Henderson | Eyear Optical | Hixson, TNOnce when I first started working, I had a sweet old man come into our small dispensary and ask me to repair his glasses. The optician had stepped out to get coffee so I was by myself. He took off his glasses and his plastic artificial eye came with the frame. There was a large space where everything had been removed … with only gauze in the socket. The plastic “eye” which included the “skin” that covered the socket was coming loose from the frame and needed to be reattached. I got it done … I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I’ve never seen anything else like it.27. What’s That Sound?Susan Frick | Premier Eye Care of Eastern Idaho | Idaho Falls, ID Once, I was trying to provide an explanation of benefits to a post-cataract eyeglass patient. He was very upset about what Medicare didn’t pay and I suddenly started hearing a clicking sound. It got even louder as he was explaining his disgust over the reimbursement, when suddenly his top teeth flew out and rolled across the floor. He didn’t miss a beat though … he retrieved his false teeth from the floor, put them back in his mouth and continued on with his rant about reimbursement.28. Splitting the CostSteve Whitaker | Whitaker Eye Works | Wayne, PA Patient: “My contacts are larger than my pupils. I’m the same in both eyes; can I tear them in half and have twice as many for the same price?”29. She Worked Hard For Her MoneyTanya Rogers | Mountain Eye Clinic | Dahlonega, GA I once worked at a clinic where a patient came in with an abrasion that just would not heal. By the fourth visit the doctor asked what had caused it (the young man would not say before). He finally admitted what had happened — he got a little too close to a high heel at a gentleman’s club!30. Hair-RaisingSherry Berry | Pascarella Eye Care and Contact Lenses | Newtown, PAAs I was dispensing eyewear, I accidentally knocked my client’s wig off. I was mortified but she just couldn’t stop laughing about it.Related Topics:INVISION June '17True Tales click to Comment(Comment)Up NextCartoon: The Eyes Are the Windows to the SoulDon't MissWhat I Wish I Had Said to the Client Who Told Me His Beat-Up, Old Glasses Should Last Forever INVISION Staff Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 21 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at email@example.com. Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEOSPONSORED BY WALMAN OPTICALPeople Want to Buy Premium ProductsWalman Optical Presents—Industry Myths Busted! It’s up to every ECP to explain that “premium” doesn’t mean expensive—it means “customized to your needs.”You may like Maryland Optician Makes the Most of Its Expansive Front Window Space You Should See What See Keeps in the Other Box Under Her Bed Luckily Surrogacy is Not a Job RequirementPromoted Headlines Safilo’s “American Eyes” Video Celebrates Elasta and Emozioni starringECPs Peter Tacia and Heidi DancerSafilo Hoya: The Right Lenses for Sun ProtectionHoya Nano Vista—The Quintessential Line for KidsAlternative and Plan B EyewearCover StoriesGet ‘Em Young Published 2 weeks agoon May 5, 2019By turquil Transforming the medical side of your practice is obviously not a step to be taken lightly, particularly if you’re looking at expanding your treatment of children. The challenges are many, but the rewards can be great, personally and financially. To help those of you thinking of boosting your optometric offerings for kids but wanting to know what that could entail, we assembled an impressive panel of experts in pediatric eyecare, and its related specialties, for a rundown of the main areas you should be looking at. If children are the future, and the future is now, what are you waiting for?Specialty PEDIATRICSEXPERTS: Dr. Dominick M. Maino, professor, Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute, associate, Lyons Family Eye Care, Chicago, Il; and Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, FLASSOCIATIONS OR GROUPS AVAILABLE: College of Optometrists in Vision Development (covd.org); Optometric Extension Program Foundation (oepf.org), Binocular Vision, Perception, & Pediatric Optometry (BVPPO) Section of the American Academy of Optometry; Optometric Extension Program (OEP) FoundationDr. Don TeigTRAINING OR CERTIFICATION NEEDED? Dr. Maino:Not necessarily needed but a residency in pediatrics/binocular vision would make you stand out from the crowd. A Fellowship in COVD would do the same thing.Dr. Bonilla-Warford:Generally, yes, additional training is beneficial outside of typical optometry training. A one-year optometric residency in pediatric vision care is an excellent way to become specialized. Beyond that OEP offer courses that cover the clinical care of infants and children as well as the practice management of the specialty.SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT OR TOOLS REQUIRED? Dr. Maino: Yes, but most ODs have much of what they need already.Dr. Bonilla-Warford: The retinoscope is standard equipment, but many optometrists are not comfortable with it. Practice! Also, the pediatric-sized trial for refraction and probing refractive error without a phoroptor. A digital randomized visual acuity chart with movies for fixation and pediatric option acuity symbols. The Lang stereo test is a simple tool for assessing stereopsis without polarized glasses. Prism bars and loose prisms for binocular testing. And toys, finger puppets for entertaining little ones. They make a little booster for exam chairs that are perfect for kids who are independent enough to not sit on a parent’s lap but are still small.Matt OerdingADDITIONAL EXAM LANE OR TESTING SPACE NECESSARY? Dr. Maino: Not unless you are doing developmental vision/vision perception testing and in office VT.Dr. Bonilla-Warford: Not necessary. It is common to have one exam room that does have a few extra items for kids, but it can be used for adults as well, so it doesn’t really require extra space.ADDITIONAL MARKETING REQUIRED? Dr. Maino: Definitely. You need to get the word out about your expertise in this area. Use social media.Dr. Bonilla-Warford: Very smart [if you do]. Add children’s specialty services with info and descriptions on your webpage so patients can find and learn about them. Informative displays about children’s vision are an inexpensive and easy way to raise awareness. Networking with referral services is very effective.HIGHER AVERAGE REIMBURSEMENT OR REVENUE PER PATIENT? Dr. Maino: Yes. You often need to not only do a comprehensive examination but also a sensorimotor assessment and other testing as well. Frequent follow up appointments are often necessary.Dr. Bonilla-Warford: For typical children’s primary care, the reimbursement is somewhat lower because they often do not need glasses or contacts. However, specialty services such as myopia control and vision therapy are significantly more because they are often higher-end self-pay services.Dr. Dominick M. MainoIN SHORT: Dr. Maino: When I work with my optometry students, I always tell them that a smile is the best piece of equipment you could have. You must be genuine. You should keep up on the current research in this area and be ready to take that extra step. You are not just working with a pair of eyeballs, but also with the child and the whole family. It is fun, challenging and fiscally rewarding.Dr. Bonilla-Warford: Working with children is so fun. It is very rewarding to see them grow and develop and to know that you are helping them reach their goals, whether it is in school, sports, or overcoming symptoms. However, it can be challenging. You have to be honest with them in a way that they can understand. Children will not hesitate to tell you “I don’t like you! I am never coming here again!” If staff sets the tone so the child can feel that you are on their side, you will be amazed how much clinical information you can get from them at very young ages. Knowing when to stop or change a particular test or activity is essential. Most importantly, have fun! And get good at retinoscopy.Specialty MYOPIA MANAGEMENTEXPERT: Matt Oerding, co-founder/CEO, Treehouse Eyes, Bethesda, MD and Tysons, VAASSOCIATIONS OR GROUPS AVAILABLE: “The International Myopia Institute provides evidence-based treatment guidelines for this specialty; American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (aaomc.site-ym.com)TRAINING OR CERTIFICATION NEEDED: No. Any optometrist can technically perform pediatric myopia management. However, specific CE/education is required to become proficient at the various treatments proven effective. These are currently orthokeratology lenses, multifocal soft contact lenses and atropine.Dr. Charlene HendersonSPECIALTY EQUIPMENT OR TOOLS REQUIRED: Yes. A practice must have a good topographer as a highly accurate map of the cornea is critical to success. Additionally, a device to measure axial length is highly recommended.ADDITIONAL EXAM LANE OR TESTING SPACE NECESSARY: No. This can be done within an existing exam lane or space.ADDITIONAL MARKETING REQUIRED: Yes. Currently pediatric myopia management is not covered by vision plans, so it is a private pay procedure. Due to lack of parental awareness of the risks of progressive myopia and the availability of treatments, marketing is critical to generate interest. At a minimum marketing to existing primary care patients via email, newsletter and in-office marketing is required. To gain new patients for pediatric myopia management, social media, PPC and PR are all proven techniques.HIGHER AVERAGE REIMBURSEMENT OR REVENUE PER PATIENT: Yes. Because this is a private pay procedure and children are likely to be in treatment for several years, the revenue per patient is significantly higher than a typical optometry patient. Fees vary widely, but typical is $2,000-3,000 for the first year of treatment.Dr. Pauline BuckIN SHORT: Pediatric myopia management can be an incredibly fulfilling specialty when done correctly, as you are helping a child see better today and reducing their long-term risk of serious eye diseases associated with progressive myopia. Offering these services can generate significant patient/family loyalty to the practice, as treatment typically lasts several years and successful patients are proven to be great referral sources to others in the community.”Specialty VISION THERAPYEXPERT: Dr. Pauline Buck, Behavioral and Developmental Optometrists, Miami, FLASSOCIATIONS OR GROUPS AVAILABLE: The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD); Neuro-optometric Rehabilitative Association (NORA); Optometric Extension Program (OEP); College of Syntonic Optometry (CSO).TRAINING OR CERTIFICATION NEEDED: Post-graduate training is very much needed. A new graduate from optometry school has the basics to begin a vision therapy program. Yet a successful vision therapy doctor will stand on the shoulders of their predecessors by learning what has already been learned. COVD and OEP provide training. OEP has regional seminars. COVD has state study groups and their annual meeting. Mentors are provided to assist when there are questions.SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT OR TOOLS REQUIRED: Yes and no. Bernell is a great resource of vision therapy equipment. There are many computer-based programs as well. However, I know many experienced doctors who have used something as simple as a stick and a straw to illicit a change in their patient’s visual system. This ability comes back to the training. When you really understand the system, you can make changes using just about anything.Dr. Nathan Bonilla-WarfordADDITIONAL EXAM LANE OR TESTING SPACE NECESSARY: Again, yes and no. Yes — the functional vision evaluation is done in the exam room using the phoropter and equipment that is standard to the profession. No — I have an entire room, ‘the play room,’ dedicated to the testing of physical performance. How do the eyes affect a person’s ability to perform an everyday task? I also have another room for the testing of classroom skills, which contains a desk, slant board, and a lot of paperwork.ADDITIONAL MARKETING REQUIRED: Yes. ‘If you build it, they will come’ doesn’t work. I have gone out in the community and lectured about vision therapy. I have spoken to therapists, doctors, teachers, parents and other professionals about the visual system and how it can affect performance. Those individuals eventually become referral sources. I am constantly practicing my elevator [pitch] of what I do.HIGHER AVERAGE REIMBURSEMENT OR REVENUE PER PATIENT: Yes. Most optometrists will see a patient once a year for their annual or several times throughout the year for care of ocular disease. When a patient is doing vision therapy I see them for their annual, their progress evaluations every 10 weeks, and weekly for the therapy sessions.IN SHORT: Vision therapy is understanding the nuances of the development of the visual system, how it can change behavior, and how it can alter a person’s performance. It can benefit children and adults with brain injury, children with difficulties in the classroom, individuals with autism and down syndrome. When all other professionals have told a person that there is nothing else to do for their condition and they come to me for a glimmer of hope, I offer the potential for change. When their symptoms decrease and their performance improves, those are the moments of my greatest job satisfaction and I am thankful that I have a ‘tool box’ large enough to have made that possible.Specialty SPORTS VISION or VISUAL NEURO-COGNITIVE TRAININGEXPERTS: Dr. Don Teig, founder/CEO, “The A Team” High Performance Vision Associates, Hollywood, FL; and Dr. Charlene Henderson, Blink Eyecare and Eyewear, Charlotte, NCASSOCIATIONS OR GROUPS AVAILABLE: Dr. Teig: This niche or specialty has always been referred to as “sports vision” but more recently as ‘visual neuro-cognitive training’ given the attention to the impact concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has had on sports. I also often refer to it as ‘high performance vision.’ I am the founder and executive director of ‘The A Team’, High Performance Vision Associates (highperformancevisionassociates.com), there is also ISVA (International Sports Vision Association, sportsvision.pro).Dr. Henderson: High Performance Vision Associates and the AOA.TRAINING OR CERTIFICATION NEEDED? Dr. Teig: Yes. I provide a 16-hour course with certification (ultimateevents.com.) I also travel to provide this training. ISVA is working in conjunction with me to develop a certification program.Dr. Henderson: It is necessary to understand the sports you are working with and how vision plays a role in success. Sports vision training by people who have pioneered the concept is invaluable. We went to Don Teig’s Sports Vision training weekend, and Fred Edmunds Xtreme Sight sports Vision training weekend. They are both excellent. We also did several Sports Vision AOA courses and read all the books out there.SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT OR TOOLS REQUIRED? Dr. Teig: Yes. The A.M.P. System (Achieving Maximum Potential), an immersive virtual reality technology; Senaptec, a digital testing and training instrument; NeuroTracker, a multi-object awareness trainer; FitLight motion and light sensors; and Quick Board, an eye to foot training tool.Dr. Henderson: Yes. When we built our new building, we added lots of exciting equipment like Vision Coach, Fit Light, Senaptec, and the Bassin anticipation timer among others. We still use traditional VT equipment like Marsden balls and flippers and balance boards. The athletes like the bells and whistles of the digital devices.ADDITIONAL EXAM LANE OR TESTING SPACE NECESSARY? Dr. Teig: Yes. At the very least a room that is 10′ x 12′ is a must.Dr. Henderson: Yes, for testing space. You need room to swing or jump or dribble a basketball, for example.ADDITIONAL MARKETING REQUIRED? Dr. Teig: Yes, by all means! Internal marketing with videos, pamphlets, etc., in your office and external marketing through social media, TV, radio and print.Dr. Henderson: Yes. Internally tell all your sports-minded patients. All our patients walk by our sports vision room. You should reach out to teams and clubs and let them know what you do.HIGHER AVERAGE REIMBURSEMENT OR REVENUE PER PATIENT? Dr. Teig: Yes! A typical Sports Vision patient can generate revenues of up to $3,000 each if they complete an eye exam, a Sports Vision Workup, a Sports Vision Training program of 12 weeks minimum; specialty contact lenses or sports eyewear and goggles.Dr. Henderson: Yes. Sports vision training is an additional service not covered by insurance. So, it is up to you to set the fees you think are fair for your time for the evaluation and then training sessions.IN SHORT: Dr. Teig: Having been a pioneer in this field for almost 40 years, I can confidently say that sports vision is both emotionally and financially rewarding beyond belief. However, it doesn’t happen overnight and requires continual hard work. That being said, if you love sports like I do, it’s well worth the ride.Dr. Henderson: It can be really rewarding if you have a passion for sports and working with highly competitive people. The niche does require training, equipment, space and active marketing. So, it will not just fall in your lap. But it is a great way to help people achieve their goals and use our skills as vision experts. Continue ReadingCover StoriesNew Owners Weigh In On the Hardest Part of Their Business — Starting It Published 3 weeks agoon April 29, 2019By INVISION Staff They say that starting is the hardest part. If that is true, then these ECPs—whom we asked to share their businesses’ origin stories while they are basically still happening—should have it pretty easy from here on out, right?Kidding aside, if you’re curious about what happens in that space between idea and execution, we’ve got the perspectives of four new business owners who implemented different models and priorities as they got off the ground. From business plans to securing financing, from what they’d do differently to advice for others looking to branch out on their own, read on for all the fascinating details.A FAMILY AFFAIRJulia Laval and Anissa Laval Cutting Edge Optics, Berkeley, CA Opened: November 2018We are a mother/daughter optician duo and opened Cutting Edge Optics in November 2018 located in the charming Elmwood community on one of Berkeley’s busiest streets, College Ave.Julia also owns Montclair Optical in Oakland. Montclair Optical boasts a long history; it has been in business for 42 years and passed down through several generations of opticians in our family for the last 35. Montclair Village has its own lab and Julia has been the technician in charge of cutting all lenses for the last few years.I have been an optician for the last nine years. I learned my skills from my mother; observing the techniques needed to succeed in the business. If not for having seen first-hand how to correctly understand lenses, prescriptions and frames, my climb into the business would have been much steeper. I’ve worked under enough doctors to understand how not to run a business, enough that I knew I was ready for this adventure.We opened Cutting Edge Optics because of our passion for opticianry. We are bringing true optical knowledge, new techniques, and unique, fresh brands to Berkeley. As two opticians with genuine love for this profession, excellent service comes naturally to us. We take our time, offering personal attention to every customer, and supplying a broad yet original selection of glasses to guarantee the perfect fit, customized in every way: from color and lens shape, to the glasses-buying experience itself. The shop was previously owned by an optician who was ready to move on. The decor was entirely white. Our aesthetic is based on a New York studio loft. When we took over, we painted and put up a gorgeous plant wall as the focal point. It pulls in the green, sustainable and eco-friendly aspect of the neighborhood, fitting these values into our urban aesthetic. The large windows create an airy, inviting feeling. We play music from all over the world, including Africa and Central and South America. We even mix in a little French rap.This store has an extensive business plan. After more than 30 years of success in Montclair, it was natural to apply those guidelines to Cutting Edge. We are very serious about the buying process and making sure we don’t overspend on frames. Optical businesses fail in one category: how big their eyes get when a rep walks in verses how much they have in their bank account. It should never be a race to rush patients in the door just to cover your costs month to month.Julia knew from experience what was needed to financially support the business and get it off the ground, and Anissa knew how to deploy social media and advertising to generate a buzz before the doors even opened. Before Day 1 our Instagram had over 700 followers and we gave hour to hour updates and sneak peeks. Business has been busy from the first day.We constantly push ourselves to keep our patients informed about what we’re doing next. Social media gives us a platform to align brands with specific people. Every brand introduction and major event is published online. Photographer Dione Green (@Dione.Green), who took our photos, is key. We also advertise a lot with the Elmwood community newsletters.Business, especially starting cold, can be a waiting game. When you revamp an established business, you’re going to deal with customers who are accustomed to the old way, the old prices, and the old frame selection; these loyal customers can take a while to warm up to changes. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned is not swaying to please everyone.Annisa (l) and Julia Laval have brought true optical knowledge, new techniques and unique, fresh brands to Berkeley, CA, with Cutting Edge.In terms of advice, make a detailed guideline to how you want to financially run your business and stick to it. Our way is to make a frame board. Our frame board details how many frames can fit into a section and how much money we are willing to spend on that section. You may think more is better but picking the right frames for customers is smarter than having as many as possible. Listen to your gut, not the rep! For example, if I’m buying 60 pieces of Garrett Leight, I need to ask myself how much I’m spending and how far they will get me before I have to repurchase. Then I need to consider what happens if 35 percent of those frames don’t move. I cannot purchase Caroline Abram just for its beauty, I have to consider who is going to buy these frames and is it worth having the same frame in three colors.Also, have a social media advisor. Social media is the new Yelp. Without a visual aid to generate intrigue for customers, you’re doing your business a disservice and damaging its ability to grow and make profit. Social media is a digital lasso for new customers.QUICK Q & A What was the first major milestone you celebrated? We wanted to open as dramatically as we could. Our doors and windows were covered then we did a large reveal online and on the Elmwood community site. We were met with overwhelming support. Have you already had to break up with a patient/customer or vendor? We have had to break up with many vendors and bring in new brands. Has the business made you cry? Of course! If a business doesn’t make you cry, you’re not working hard enough. Would you have done anything differently? No. What’s been your most empowering moment? A customer who had been looking for frames for over three years left with six. She later came back with three friends who all purchased. How long did it take until you felt like were gonna make it? Instantly. Business grows if you control money flow. Everything else comes easy. Do you ever feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake? Never. You have to be confident in your ability to succeed. What do you do to help overcome doubt? We sit in the office every time we feel overwhelmed and say: “There’s no way we are going to fail.” GOING HOME AGAINErika E. Mabus, OD Muncy and Laporte, PA Opened: September 2018I established my corporation on July 26, 2018 and officially signed closing documents on Sept. 6, 2018. I purchased it from an optometrist who had been practicing in the same location for the last 20 odd years. It’s 12 miles north of where I grew up and 25 miles south of where I live now. It was well-established, privately-owned, and one of very few independent offices in my area. I believe in private practice optometry and I am excited to officially be practicing in that capacity. I’d been contemplating my own practice since graduating from optometry school in 2013, and the timing just felt right. The optometrist had plans to retire soon, so it’s been a nice way for us to transition patients and give me time to pick his brain on the business aspects. I spent months going over the financials with an accountant and business advisor, as well as a lawyer with expertise in accounting and business acquisitions. I was surprised at how long it took for lawyers to go back and forth to on the contract’s terms. The retiring doctor and I began the process in April 2018 and finalized it September.I secured financing through PNC Healthcare Business Banking and have been extremely happy with the help I received before, during, and after the purchase. I contacted a few smaller local banks, but they asked for high down payments or collateral; PNC made it simple and easy. I made a business plan, but just as everything in the world evolves, so has my idea of how my practice should run. I am happy with what I have accomplished in the last seven months of ownership, but I am always striving to do better. Currently, I am considering a consultant for more accountability and to keep myself on track, but also to help me achieve my future goal: comfort with the cost of new technology to set my office apart. Part of the appeal of private practice in a rural area is that patients feel at home. My team greets every patient by name and in the exam room I always try to make at least one personal connection. I recently saw an older patient I thought may have patronized my grandfather’s business years ago. We reminisced about the time he and his father spent in my grandfather’s hardware store. Taking over from an established OD where she grew up was Dr. Mabus’ way to ownership.The retiring doctor and I put up a photo in the waiting area with a note welcoming me to the practice. I advertised with local high school sports teams and drama club programs and T-shirts. I also contacted the local newspaper for a “spotlight on business” article which brought a lot of business to my new location without any cost to me. The day we signed the agreement there was a full book of patients and it’s been that way ever since. Keeping the same staff with the retiring doctor still seeing patients has been a huge help. Patients are getting used to the idea of another doctor and they get one final visit with their previous optometrist. I opened a second location cold in January and I am just now starting to have a full day of patients there after a few weeks of one to five patients a day. I am happy with the quality of medical eyecare I provide, but I’d love to incorporate more advanced dry eye treatments. It is one of my personal passions, since I experience it myself. I also hope to become more skilled at specialty contact lens fittings to differentiate myself and complement my dry eye treatments. I thought I would be ready to jump in and purchase more equipment the first year, but now I hope to do so in year two. If anyone else is thinking of purchasing or starting their own practice, I would recommend getting an excellent set of advisors: a good lawyer, a competent accountant, and a business advisor. Having people to help is huge. My other advice is to integrate yourself into your community. Patients love to make connections with you, and that’s easier if you go to the same restaurants, know the schools, join the same gym, or shop in the same places. QUICK Q & A What was the first major milestone you celebrated? I brought in two new independent frame lines that focus on sustainability — TOC lunettes Monkey Glasses and David Green Eyewear Have you had to break up with a patient/customer or vendor? Not yet, thankfully. Has the business made you cry? e Not yet! But I have had a few sleepless nights since September Would you have done anything differently? I would have set up my website sooner, which is still not complete. What’s been your most empowering moment? I still see patients at two other retail locations on evenings and weekends. When I tell them I have two private practices, they tell me that they are excited to see me there next year. How long did it take until you felt like you had it under control? About three months, although there are still times when I feel like I’m lost with the business aspects. Do you ever feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake? Not yet. Even when I am working seven days a week because I know in the end all the hard work will directly benefit me, not someone else. What do you do to overcome doubt? I breathe. I meditate. I trust that I am enough. I work hard, so I know that I’ve done everything I can. FROM BIG BOX TO BOUTIQUEMitch Peterson and Kelsey Keltgen, OD SEEK Eyecare / Victoria, MN Opened: February 2017 (Soft), April 2017 (Grand)My wife, Dr. Kelsey Keltgen, and I cold-opened our practice in early 2017. We chose a new building in downtown Victoria, MN. We were the first and are still the only practice in Victoria. My wife, and high school sweetheart, had been practicing for about six years prior to opening SEEK. She worked as a paid hourly doctor right out of school and filled in at other practices on the side. After that she was a lease-holding doctor at a big box optical. I have a diverse background, from working on my family farm to starting a few successful businesses. I was even a bouncer and drove semi-trucks in college. Our unique backgrounds make us a great team. She is one of the most passionate ODs out there. We both worked six to seven days a week to pay off our personal debt. So, when we were ready to open our dream store we were financially able to do so. We wanted to open our own practice because no one was doing what we wanted to do: offer a state-of-the-art practice that provided comprehensive exams with an approachable retail space. My wife wanted to be able to take a preventative approach that would be more beneficial to patients.We did a ton of research. We used our experience to develop a patient experience that picked up where a lot of practices fall short. We had to figure everything out from scratch. None of us knew how or where to purchase frames … What lenses or lab to use.We developed a very in-depth business plan with multiple options to pivot with if things didn’t pan out. We have adhered to the majority of it. The only major change is that we had to adapt due to how fast we are growing. We are hitting our goals for years four and five in year two.We secured a build-out loan fairly easily due to our favorable debt-to-income ratio and self-financed the operating side. The most surprising challenge we encountered was that construction was always four months behind schedule due to more than 35 inches of rain the day we broke ground. We had to meet frame reps at a coffee shop.Insurance credentialing was a huge project that my rock star wife handled. Start working on that the second you can. We are involved in the community, volunteering and sponsoring events. I’ve used unique marketing avenues to get our brand out. Constant logo use and branding is important to my marketing plan. Since we previously leased at a corporate big box practice, the patient base was ours. We posted on social media each step of the build-out.Business was crazy when we opened. We had so much local support and we both have large families; they were some of our first patients. The support from our friends and family has been amazing.Over time, we have gotten very precise in how we operate. We have brought in more high-end eyewear than we initially planned. The biggest learning curves have been on the optical side: we’re more particular with our frame purchases; we make sure the product is great and the rep is even better; if they aren’t, we get rid of them.Our advice is don’t over-extend yourself. If you aren’t financially and mentally prepared to do everything yourself, wait a few years. Write up your dream business model and find the patient base that fits it. Don’t let anyone or anything push you to start cold. You have to be all-in. We have zero regrets and love working as a wife and husband duo.QUICK Q & A What was the first major milestone you celebrated? The night before we turned the OPEN sign on, we sat and had a beer in the front office after a month of 100 hour work weeks. Have you already had to break up with a patient/customer or vendor? We are break-up free on the patient side. We have had to let a vendor or two go. Has the business made you cry? It has been an emotional rollercoaster but I think the only tears have been tears of joy. Would you have done anything differently? e Nope. What’s been your most empowering moment? When publications like INVISION contact us to share our story. It reassures us that we must be doing something right. How long did it take until you felt like you were gonna make it? Once the first patient came in the door I knew we had created something special. Do you ever feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake? e No success comes without mistakes. It is how you move forward and learn from them. What do you do to help overcome doubt? We work through everything as a team. If there is any doubt we talk it through between the doctor, Rachel and myself. Keeping each other in check keeps confidence high. CROWDSOURCING SUCCESSJason M. Klepfisz, OD Urban Eyecare, Phoenix, AZ Opened: August 2017We opened Urban Eyecare in August of 2017 to bring comprehensive care and independent eyewear and specialty contacts to an underserved area, and also hoping that bringing these services would springboard future growth.I spent the better part of three years jotting down notes on all the little aspects of private practice and optical that resonated with myself. I wish I could say it was all fun and games, but there was a lot of monotony: Which slit lamp has the best optics? Manual vs. automated phoropter? White-gray flooring or gray-white? Pricing out the optical. The best advice came from those that have gone down this road before, those that are currently practicing, and those looking to hang up their own shingle.I come from an Indian Health Services background, having completed residency in a rural community. This continued in a geriatric setting for years when I returned to Phoenix before deciding to open my own office. The biggest challenge we faced when opening, and one that changed our overall goal, was getting credentialed on medical insurance panels. We pivoted to focus on our retail experience, seeking harmony between a medically and optically oriented office. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with the materials and craftsmanship as much as I have.To make ourselves stand out, we push brand-awareness social media campaigns and provide adjustments and free cleaner to anybody who walks in. We exhibit local artists in our office.We got the word out through trial and error. We started with our online presence. I also hand delivered letters to about 250 local businesses on a 100-degree spring day. We called local businesses and found ones who allowed us to deliver gift bags to their employees. We took every health fair opportunity available. Every bulletin board, coffee shop and college building we could leave flyers, we did, even handed them out on the street.Business was great when we opened. The problem was we lost our optician just a few days before opening. I had no previous experience with optical and my staff were untrained in the area. In our first week, we slowly built up a pile of lab orders ready to be placed but nobody to place them. Fortunately, by the end of that week we found a wonderful replacement who has been our rock star ever since!The main lessons we’ve learned are, firstly, to check out eyewear in person before buying. With our limited window to purchase frames while opening, we carried some brands we were less than thrilled with over the course of the year. We shed about half of the brands we started with and are much more careful in our choices now.Lastly, my advice is to follow your dream! Don’t feel the need to take over somebody else’s problem office because starting cold is too difficult. Create something unique, a place that patients want to go, rather than a place they reluctantly need to go. Create an experience that makes people want to come back.QUICK Q & A What was the first major milestone you celebrated? Adding a fourth doctor day per week. It was wonderful to spend another day in my practice rather than working for somebody else. Have you already had to break up with a patient/customer or vendor? We have unfortunately had to drop a few vendors. The beauty of ownership is we can choose to work with brands that complement us and our mission, to grow together. Would you have done anything differently? I would make design changes for our next office. A doctor who owns a large chain once told me that you always like your first office the least, but each one after gets a little better. How long did it take until you felt like you were gonna make it? It’s still day by day, even though we are turning a profit. The days with 16 patients make me feel like the king of the world, while slow days make me feel like tomorrow is never going to come. I don’t think I’ll feel like it’s completely under control for a couple more years. Do you ever feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake? Never! What do you do to help overcome doubt? Wake up happy every day and excited to go do my dream job at my dream office! Continue ReadingCover StoriesHow to Keep Your Inventory Ultra-Fresh With an Aggressive Dog-Dumping Strategy Noteworthy ways some ECPs have found to move their moldiest inventory. Published 1 month agoon April 10, 2019By INVISION Staff Woof … You may have loved a particular frame or collection but that was no guarantee your customers would. So, how do you offload the bad picks, the misfires, the ones that silver-tongued sales rep talked you into ordering? … Return to sender? Massive discount? Strip them for parts? Here are some of the more interesting ways your ECP peers dispose of their dogs.BLOWOUTS, BUNDLES and BOGOSWhen it comes to clearing out unsold frames, returning them is probably the most common option, but many ECPs fail to factor in the expense. As Annette Prevaux at The Visionary in Allen Park, MI, points out, “There is an expense to return frames and it is passed on to the practice… I am surprised at how little is really taught about frame buying and the cost of returns.”Most ECPs will be familiar with options such as standing discounts (a “junk drawer”), periodic clearances, value packages and the tried-and-true BOGO (buy one, get one free), or offering a special price without warranty. Remember that offering stock as freebies or incentives tends to work best with lower-cost frames. Jocelyn Mylott at D’Ambrosio Eye Care in Lancaster, MA packages stock lenses with discounted frames to sell them off. “We use these frames to fill the board space for all the vendor back orders as we board manage,” she says. Smart move, as it fills in unsightly holes in your board and gets eyes back on this malingering product.Accepting insurance creates additional possibilities. MK Vision Center in Forest Hills, NY, uses unsold stock as insurance-covered frames. Explains Kaleena Ma: “We usually try to sell through our unsold inventory by using them as insurance frames for the plans that give allowances for the frame.”When it comes to using sales and discounts to clear inventory, the Vend retailing blog suggests keeping the following in mind: Try to turn sales into periodic events with a few “bells and whistles” so you’re creating new customers or building loyalty. Always use sales as a way to gather customer information, and remember to mix in a few good sellers as loss leaders.REVERSE PSYCHOLOGYWhere some see dogs, others see gold. Dr. Selina McGee of Precision Vision in Edmond, OK, dares you to “Mark it up — way up. That way everything else looks less expensive and it’s very exclusive. If you sell one, then you cover more of your investment.” (Our hunch is this would work best with luxury frames that aren’t moving.) Doreen Erbe at Snyder Eye Group in Ship Bottom, NJ, urges you to “Make that collection into a really cool display. Everyone will think the frames are new.” This is good advice; re-merchandising can breathe surprising new life into old stock.STAFF CHALLENGENikki Griffin, owner of EyeStyles Optical and Boutique in Oakdale, MN, offers this memorable advice: “Dogs become the ‘steak-dinner frame.’ If you sell that puppy I will buy you a steak dinner.” Interestingly, food also seems to be the prime motivator for hungry sales staff at EyeShop Optical Center in Lewis Center, OH, where, explains owner Dr. Cynthia Sayers, “If a staff member sells that dud I buy them lunch.”DONATE TO CHARITYYour unsold merchandise can be a force for good. Lions Club is renowned for its eyeglass-recycling programs Charitable donations entitle you to a tax write-off. For a detailed “how-to” of donating stock to charity, of “Gifts in Kind,” check out the column Gary C. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources, wrote for INVISION in December 2017: invisionmag.com/041903.SWAP IT OR SELL IT ONTheir proximity to the Mexican border gives Carrera Optical in McQueeney, TX an interesting option: selling unsold frames to opticals in south Texas that see large numbers of patients from Mexico. These customers are looking for a level of quality they believe can only be found in the U.S. Says BJ Chambers, “We sell multiple frames to several shops; sometimes these opticals are on credit hold to the frame manufacturer and cannot purchase directly.” Some vendors will buy back any competitors’ frames that aren’t selling. Europa will pay you to take back another vendors’ frames, provided you have or set up an account with them. Dr. Zachary Dirks at St. Peter and Belle Plaine Eyecare Centers, Saint Peter, MN, reports: “We have some reps we have good relationships with that will exchange product for theirs.”And here’s a channel right under your nose you might not have thought about. Julie Uram at Optical Oasis in Jupiter, FL on occasion gives unsold frames to a friend who puts them on eBay. Remember that using online marketplaces can be time consuming, as you’ll likely have to set up pages and jump through some other hoops.THERAPEUTIC RENTALSThose in the therapy niche take note: Dr. Pauline Buck at Behavioral and Developmental Optometrists in Miami, FL turns non-sellers into loaners that therapy patients can take home temporarily. “Concussion patients may often benefit from yoked prism base lenses. By … creating glasses in bases up, down, left or right — as well as a few base-in for individuals with convergence insufficiency — I can rent or loan them out.” Patients sign an agreement; if the glasses are not returned, Buck bills them the full price.a gram OF PREVENTION…Of course, you should always be monitoring inventory, but it’s important not to let your reps slack: “Keeping the frame rep responsible for shipping the top sellers in each frame line is one way to make sure the dogs never get dumped in the office,” counsels Leisa Lauer at Dr. H Michael Shack in Newport Beach, FL. 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