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Tip Sheet

Talk Up Your Staff and More Tips for September

Encourage multiple pair sales with a box to store eyewear.

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CUSTOMER SERVICE

Think in the Box 

Rather than offering patients who purchase three pairs of glasses a discount, the folks at Kenneth D Boltz OD, in Dublin, OH, give them a stylish OYOBox to reinforce the idea of multiple pairs.

SALESDump the Demo Lens

Before you show your next pair of frames to a customer, pop out the lenses, advises Kevin Kretch, owner of Eyes on Chagrin in Woodmere, OH. “Ninety-nine percent of our Rx glasses have anti-glare and most demo lenses do not… Frames look nicer with no lenses at all than with the demos,” he says.

SALES

Wall of Frame

Matching a frame to a face is an art. Discerning Eye in Iowa City, IA, shows off its successes on its “Wall of Frame” with professional photos of clients “in their fab new eyewear,” says owner Joni Schrup. They also thank customers with a copy.

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MERCHANDISING

Know Your Hot Spots

It’s a rule of merchandising many optical retailers ignore: Place your best sellers where customers are going to see them. It’s something San Diego’s Invision Optometry, our 2017 America’s Finest Optical Retailer winner, is scrupulous about. Says owner Michael Kling, OD: “We strategically place key frame lines in areas which have proven to be the most beneficial to increasing our sales.” Sometimes they’ll limit the number of frames on display to create “the impression of exclusivity.”

STAFF

Cry Freedom

Remember: It’s easier to give employees autonomy and freedom than it is to take it away. So, clearly state expectations when employees are new. Let autonomy and flexibility be earned through performance, says Bob Nelson in 365 Ways to Manage Better.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Thanks for the Roof-Erral

Charlie Blankenship of The Spectacle Shoppe in St. Paul, MN, keeps dog biscuits on hand for those not infrequent times a customer comes in with pooch-mangled frames. “It adds a bit of humor to the situation but I also believe it gives it a personal touch that stays with the guest … and helps drive word of mouth advertising,” he writes on Daily Optician.  

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SALES

No More Stone Face

Negotiating tip from Selling Power magazine: Forget the stone face. When a customer balks at your price or asks for a discount, go ahead and cringe. It’ll put them on the defensive and force them to justify the request or offer a concession. Don’t overdo it: you’re not supposed to appear terrified, merely surprised.

MARKETING

Meet the Cool Staff

Now this is how you introduce potential clients to your staff and project a friendly, patient-focused image… The short online staff bios at Accurate Vision in Anchorage, AK, reveal a little of each person’s personality while also coordinating with the store’s design and brand. “The ‘Meet Our Team’ materials are a fantastic invitation to the practice,” noted Brent Zerger, a judge in our recent America’s Finest Optical Retailer contest.

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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Tip Sheet

Spend an Hour a Week Making Decisions 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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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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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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