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The Big Survey 2020: You, the ECP

Each year we try to get to know our readers a little better and each year we’re glad we made the effort. This time we explored your idiosyncrasies, your missteps and what your peers in junior high thought of you.




33. Back in 8th grade (or whenever), what did your classmates vote you?

big survey 2020 8th grade votes

Note: You ECPs sure are a friendly, successful lot. And some were so singular, we just had to include them here: Most Likely to Disappear, Most Likely to Party Down, Biggest A**hole, Biggest Weirdo, and Most Intense. Also, one respondent shared the girls referred to him as Doctor even then because “I always made them feel good.”

34. What is your gender?

big survey 2020-female and male shoes

35. How old are you?

Above 70

36. What do you proudly “do wrong” as a business owner? Why?

  • I don’t follow the display rules. I use other items to display like salt and pepper shakers, phones or clocks… No peg board. I want it to feel like a funky home, not a store.
  • I talk people out of glasses when I know their cataracts are changing quickly or another issue will cause an Rx change very soon.
  • Share savings I get with the customer by way of discounts. Customer service is a dying trend and it’s what keeps people coming back.
  • I allow staff to dress as they wish, with very little restriction.
  • My return policy is very “soft,” i.e. If your dog eats them, we will replace them.
  • I give ridiculous discounts to those in need because my need to give everyone sight is bigger than my need to “get rich.”
  • I refuse to work on eyewear purchased online or at Costco.
  • I don’t streamline my suppliers, which is admittedly awkward sometimes. I like being able to get anything I need for my customer, which is my reason for going into business.
  • I procrastinate. I meant to remove a sink in our optical to create more space for more frames, but never got around to it. Since COVID, it has become one of our most used sinks when checking people in.
  • I am not proud of anything I do wrong, but I proudly do not take managed vision care.
  • We defend our business and our time when a customer is out of line.
  • I don’t give discounts on my services.
  • I price products by feel and am not afraid to take a smaller profit to move something.
  • I don’t use the word patient. I hate it … our customers are just that, customers or clients. Patient implies “sick” to me.
  • We tell people we aren’t the right choice for them because they aren’t worth the hassle.
  • I don’t allow my patients to dictate how I schedule.
  • I don’t undercharge for my time and experiece.
  • I err towards overcompensating my employees. When COVID started and there were lockdowns, I didn’t furlough anyone even though that was the prevailing advice. I bonus pretty generously, and I give extra paid time off around holidays. I also pay above going rates for the positions. I’d rather pay a little more to keep amazing employees than worry about that as a big cost-saving area.
  • As a manager, I always tackle the most challenging customers/patients. I should let others learn how, but I enjoy the challenge of satisfying the most difficult customer.
  • I spend too much time with patients. I love chatting!

37. Check any mental health issues you may have considered getting professional help with (or did get help with) during your career as an ECP.

Anxiety disorder
Other (please specify)


Note: “Other” responses included no rest, ADD/ADHD, OCD and, sadly, divorce.

38. What was the biggest screw-up you ever made but were able to fix before anyone found out?

  • I gave a $100 bill in change for a $1.
  • Left a large deposit in my car for two weeks.
  • Brought in a frame line, then canceled it the next day.
  • Ordered the wrong custom contact lenses for the wrong patient.
  • My biggest screw up was working for someone else for too long. Giving other people my rad ideas and talents. I think I surprised a lot of people when I finally did it on my own.
  • Ordered the wrong Rx for the doctor. Somehow got his old and new Rx mixed up. Caught it before I gave him the new glasses. He never knew.
  • I broke a pair of one-of-a-kind glasses. Thank goodness the patient didn’t like them to begin with.
  • Put a progressive lens in upside down… found it on final inspection. Luckily, patient was on vacation.
  • I had a staff member a few years ago that was wonderful! Smart, personable and tech savvy. She improved a lot of systems and was always learning. Unfortunately, I did not pay her well enough and she found a higher paying job. When you come across those shining stars try and pull out all the stops to ensure that they stay.


  • We accused a patient of leaving without paying for her contact lenses, even called the cops on her, and it was our manager that took the money. We apologized and this wonderful patient still comes to us. Manager, not so much.
  • Left front office door unlocked overnight.
  • Broke a frame… quickly swapped the frame for an identical one without anyone knowing.
  • Spilled superglue all over a lens while a co-worker was bragging about my expertise in the waiting room within earshot.
  • I sent a mass e-mail to all patients without doing BCC. Everyone saw everyone else’s email addresses. Thankfully we had opened not too long before so it wasn’t a ton of people.
  • I had Joe Namath in my store. I was fixing his glasses and broke them so I just casually talked to him as I went to my Silhouette display, picked up a new frame, put the parts together and gave it to him like nothing had happened. of course, I crapped my pants when I did it but it all worked out in the long run.
  • Not showing up for work because I thought we were off that day. Then realizing I was wrong, showing up, and finding that only one patient needed help and was happy to wait.
  • Went to a nursing home to deliver +12.00 lenses to a patient and put them on the wrong lady. She made a groaning sound which I mistook as delight. However, it was probably a groan of motion sickness! I quickly switched the glasses to the correct lady before anybody noticed.
  • I put the doctor’s salary on one of our receptionist’s payroll, but fixed it before it went through. What a nightmare that would’ve been.

39. What’s your favorite eyewear or lens brand that a customer has rarely heard of?

big survey 2020-eyewear brands

Note: Three new-to-us brands you put on our radar: Veronika Wildgruber, Yuichi Toyama, Johan Von Goisern, and Dream Eyewear

40. Are you an ECP who runs a nicely profitable business, still has time for your family and friends, and your own recreational pursuits? What’s your secret?

clock on plate

  • Work hard but you don’t have to open as many hours as you think, i.e. Saturday.
  • I keep mornings free for necessary communications, cleaning, errands and self-care (still not enough time). I’m a night owl so like to do my thinking, and often technical aspects of orders, in the evening and at night, when I’m alone.
  • Get everything done as it comes up — don’t procrastinate — and leave yourself extra time during the week to catch up if you need to. Space exams far enough apart that you’re always steady, but have time for dispenses and repairs in between.
  • Keep it small.
  • I force myself to follow a pretty strict schedule for my management duties, making sure I “clock out” at a set time each day. After that moment, I am now only an owner and will only deal with owner-related issues should they arise. Management stuff will wait until the next morning.
  • Create a plan. Stick to it.
  • Pick your battles. Then let go some of those battles. Delegate the battles you picked to the leaders you developed. Stop telling yourself you have to do everything and control everything. Develop amazing leaders, empower them and be happy and profitable. Share that profit with your leaders so they feel appreciated and help you grow your practice.

41. If you were an eyewear brand, what would you be, based on your personal characteristics/personality? Please explain in a sentence.

  • Costa Del Mar. I like the ocean.
  • I would be l.a. Eyeworks, fun and colorful.
  • Fatheadz, because they seem to be an edgy brand.
  • Cole Haan, conservative with a flair, not too pricey, and attractive to a broad audience.
  • The old Alain Mikli, well-made, beautiful in an artsy and original way. Strong yet elegant, hard-working and dependable.
  • JF Rey. I like the unique and out of the ordinary.
  • Rag N Bone, sophisticated but quiet.
  • Lafont, solid, a little sassy but strong.
  • WOOW, colorful, fun, quirky, and always have something to say.
  • I feel like a Miraflex frame now. I could be run over by an eighteen wheeler, but I still function.
  • DITA, bold, brash and don’t care what others think.
  • I’d be Jonathan Cate, unique, fashionable, confident, and a bit quirky.
  • Theo, funky, colorful, and irreverent.
  • Christian Lacroix, fun, funky and smart.
  • FYSH! I’m fun, funky, and make people talk.
  • Ray-Ban… I have the type of personality that goes well with anybody.
  • Perhaps Autoflex. Not crazy inventive, and I always bounce back.
  • Coco Song with peacock feathers in the frame … I like to strut.
  • Stepper, hard to break but easy to work with.
  • Flexon. Pretty durable. Not too flashy.


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