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The Big Survey 2020: Operations and Marketing

Marketing gets customers in the door and then your processes ensure you close the sale. Here, ECPs reveal the challenge of dealing with the newest generation of shoppers out front, and share their ingenuity out back.




47. How long has it been since you updated/overhauled/installed new …

big survey 2020-operations

48. Please rate which generation is your key market segment. (Results reflect a weighted average with “4” the maximum score.)

big survey 2020-generations

49. In 2019, millennials became the largest demographic within the U.S. adult population. They also moved into their peak earning years and thus have potentially become much bigger consumers. As this generation matures, rank what you think is important in capturing them as customers:

young man throw bills

big survey 2020-millennials

50. Tell us about a single-purpose optical tool you’ve successfully “MacGyvered” to use for something else.


  • Garbage bags make nice slit lamp covers.
  • I use the UV light for transitions to clean frames sometimes.
  • I once saw a lab guy get a lens into a metal frame that had been soldered shut using a corded computer mouse.
  • Branded frame holders. Converted them to generic and arch crown tabs; able to reuse and recycle them.
  • A seam ripper is my new favorite gadget for poking at all sorts of small screws, rimless cords etc.
  • Used pen spring on an old axis alignment pliers.
  • Plano plus/minus lens blanks center-drilled to help newby opticians choose the right SV stock blank size versus surfaced lens choice.
  • Made an aluminum foil attachment to my frame warmer to heat zyl frame bridges with out exposing lenses to heat.
  • Dental tools are amazing for lots of things.
  • File down a screwdriver to make the perfect rimless mounting tool.
  • Using a section of packing straps on grooved rimless.
  • Homemade exhaust fan for our edger.
  • We cut and built a plexiglass “windshield” to protect our front desk staff from patients.
  • The ring doorbell to communicate with patients waiting outside our office.
  • Pushpins are used for 100 different things.

51. Who is the face of your social media presence?

big survey 2020-social media face

52. Tell us about something you bought for less than $100 in the last year that had a significant impact on your business or your day-to-day work life?

  • A washable uniform; it’s like wearing pajamas to work. Comfortable and safer than street clothes during the pandemic.
  • Whiteboards. Love me some accessible and visible checklists.
  • We bought a portable picnic table to use on our roof when we need to get out of the office for a break and don’t want to sit in our cars. It’s been fantastic!
  • Blue blocker demonstrator
  • Those cushy mats that you stand on while doing lab work. Huge help for my knees and feet!
  • Scrubs… My dry cleaning bill is gone!
  • Supplies from Amazon to make face shields in the office during the pandemic.
  • RightInbox: $10/month app that I use with Gmail. Allows me to schedule outgoing emails a few days, weeks, months in advance.
  • Scarves of every color to hold near their face so that patients can try on frames to see what they look like when wearing other colors.
  • Essential oil diffusers
  • UVC cabinet. Saves so much time cleaning frames, etc.
  • The Bionic Thumb; such a great tool to have on hand (no pun intended!)

53. Have you ever had a social media item go viral? If yes, please provide a few details.

black cat

  • At the height of COVID, my lab provided free prescription safety glasses to first responders.
  • We have a signboard out front and we put catchy eye-related items on it. It has gotten lots of attention and shared by other optical outlets.
  • Yes, a video we made of us making face masks during the pandemic.
  • Yes, when we had the total solar eclipse here a few years back. We were one of the few places that kept eclipse glasses in stock and got a lot of traction on social media from those posts.
  • We did the first-ever live virtual event with Maui Jim on our social media channels. Great event! We provided Happy Hour treats that were delivered. Provided information on frames and what worked best for men and women.
  • Verdelle, my cat, had a small cult following locally on his Instagram until he sadly crossed the rainbow bridge last November. A store cashier recognized me and asked “Are you Verdelle’s mom?”
Note: Our question prompted more debate about what passes as “viral” than solid replies, but here are a few cool success stories.

54. Check all the social media platforms on which you have a presence.

social media platforms list

Note: Many of the “other” responses referred to business websites, presumably meaning live chat boxes within sites. WeChat also got a shoutout.

55. Please tell us a good thing about the rise of the millennials.

redhead girl taking selfie

  • Brand loyalty
  • More likely to be wearing contacts
  • Likely to try new things, such as interesting eyewear styles/CLs/laser vision correction.
  • They are open minded to new products and willing to pay for what they want
  • Good with social media and pop culture information.
  • The sheer number of them who will someday become presbyopes.
  • Tech savvy
  • Willing to spend on what they see as important to them.
  • Do their research so they understand products.
  • Trendsetters and activists

56. Please tell us a bad thing about the rise the millennials.

  • They follow someone famous who endorses a company, even if it’s garbage.
  • Too much online shopping & price comparisons.
  • Instant gratification issues.
  • Entitled and demanding.
  • Looking to technology to solve everything for them without using their brain.
  • Indecisive.
  • Not good self-starters.
  • Detached and untrusting.
  • Virtue signaling.
  • Tattoos and piercings.

57. In the history of your business, what promotional offer or event elicited the most excitement from your market?

Sales, BOGO, second-pair discounts, trunk shows, email blasts, gift certificates and website discounts were the most commonly cited. Here are some slightly more left-field offerings, including some novel trunk show ideas.

  • An advertorial that I personally wrote. Giving stuff away never works.
  • Custom winter hats with our logo that we sell to raise money for charity.
  • Our “green screen” campaign on Facebook.
  • Pop the balloon to receive a percentage off.
  • Speed dating.
  • 50% off on specific brands or colors on certain days (green glasses for St. Patrick’s Day, red for Valentine’s Day, etc.).
  • A booth at a Senior PGA event paid for by Alcon and an MD that I referred Lasik patients to.
  • Free color CL trial
  • ‘Wine glasses and Eyeglasses’ trunk show. It was buzzing for weeks before and months after.
  • Big trunk show at the city’s new art museum.
  • A SALT. trunk show with a postcard mailing featuring a special printing method to look like water washing over sand. We had the largest sales and attendance of any show.
  • When I built my new building.
  • We invited women from our small town to attend a ladies night and we were so encouraged by the feedback!

58. What eyecare industry tradition needs to be retired?

Vision plans, free adjustments/repairs (or free anything) and MDs performing refractions were the runaway winners here. Here’s a selection of some less common replies.

  • Shipping charges on back-ordered product.
  • Online refractions.
  • Face shape frame styling. Just let people be happy in what they like.
  • CL follow-ups.
  • Frame reps giving gifts/incentives directly to staff.
  • Charging for warranties, although when the competition does it we look better.
  • The idea that you can never tell a patient “no”. Stupidest advice I’ve ever heard.
  • OD’s wearing terrible glasses!
  • Glass lenses
  • Executive bifocals.
  • The puff of air when taking pressures. It scares people and then it is hard to get close to them.



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