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THEY SAY THAT in every crisis lies an opportunity. We asked INVISION readers to tell us what has permanently changed for the better at their businesses as a result of COVID-19 — what positive things they’ve learned, what new approaches they’ve taken, what efficiencies they’ve permanently implemented as a result of having to do business differently. From appointment-only optical visits, spotless frame boards, and wearing scrubs from now on, here are some of the new normals they found during a year when it was anything but business as usual.

  • Slowing down the process of daily activities. Hearing patients’ concerns and addressing them with more time between patients. Appointments in optical and frequent cleaning and sanitizing in all areas of the clinic. — Deb Jaeger, Eye Center of the Dakotas, Bismarck, ND
  • Cleanliness of the shop on a daily basis. — Paula Hornbeck, Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids, Delafield, WI
  • Shortened work hours for increased business; selling more second pairs; better customer service; making house calls for adjustments. — BJ Chambers, Carrera Optical, McQueeney, TX
  • Frames are cleaned multiple times daily. I believe mask wearing, for staff, is here to stay. — Elias Awad, Invision Eyewear, Overland Park, KS
  • Our office has never been cleaner and we started wearing scrubs. — Maureen Garbis, Compass Eyecare, Oak Park, IL
  • I think our staff has bonded even tighter than before. Which is pretty incredible, given the extra stressors and work and potential for conflict. — Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID
  • We have finally been able to implement optical services by appointment. It makes the work day run so much smoother, with less stress on staff. — Elizabeth Knaus, A to Z Eye Care, Arcata, CA
  • Not letting patients with crazy complaints get to me. Taking time off for family. — Rick Pascucci, Towpath Vision Care, Clinton, NY
  • TeleMed. — Richard Frankel, OD, Atlantic Cape Eyecare, Wildwood, NJ
  • I think it has made a more tight-knit employee family. My office was closed for 10 weeks but I paid my employees their full salaries. I think that showed my employees how important they are to me. — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • I will probably wear a mask going forward while taking measurements — even after we are beyond mandates — especially during flu seasons. — Monica Tracey, MED/Drs. Record and Record, Charlottesville, VA
  • Limiting access to optical; controlling our schedule more; no walk-ins accepted; less contact for simple pickups/dispensing. — Heather Aites, Family Vision Center, Westminster, CO
  • The optician helping them with frames, taking them off the board. We can narrow the selection faster than the patient trying on 50,000 frames. — Scott Felten, Fox Valley Family Eye Care, Little Chute, WI
  • We now require everyone to have an appointment, which has drastically improved our flow and efficiency throughout the day while maintaining our patients’ health. It has reduced no-shows, and by spacing out appointment times we are able to ensure proper disinfection and plenty of dedicated time to browse at eyewear. We’ve added curbside pickup options and have increased our text-to-pay option in our office, so we have fewer bodies in the office at a time. We may continue to require appointments for dispenses, as it is working nicely for our small practice. — Selena Jachens, Urban Eyecare & Eyewear, West Des Moines, IA
  • I think the only thing that will be permanent in our business is our hand sanitizing station. — Harris Decker, Eye Designs Of Westchester, Scarsdale, NY
  • We only work four days a week and everything is by appointment only. Our appointments are now every hour and though we see fewer patients in a day we have not lost any revenue. I think the difference is knowing we can dedicate time to our clients/patients, which allows for a more personalized experience. The number of new patients and clients we see has increased tremendously with a significant amount coming from word of mouth referrals. — Sherry Berry, Ardmore Eye Care, Ardmore, PA
  • We will be scheduling all optical appointments. This has made serving our patients a much more personal experience. — Gayle Bergthold, Bee Cave Vision Center, Bee Cave, TX
  • Having all (or most) patients check in online has made the entire process move along faster and kept us on time or even ahead of schedule. There is no one stuck hanging out in the waiting area. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH
  • It forced us to update a few things online that were backburner items for years. The biggest change we will likely keep though is SCRUBS! Not sure any of us can ever go back after the scrub life. — Zachary Dirks, OD, St. Peter and Belle Plaine Eyecare Centers, Saint Peter, MN
  • By cleaning so much we stopped putting tags on frames and the frames look better. Also kept the number of customers in the store down; less chaos. — Steve Geis, Metro Eye, Milwaukee, WI
  • Adding hours to accommodate the increased business. — Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA
  • We are an optical boutique but we moved to scheduling appointments and will continue this practice. It makes the day flow so much better for the opticians, and we can be prepared for each client when they arrive. — Verbelee Nielsen-Swanson, Ivanhoe Eyes DBA Oxford Eyes, Orlando, FL
  • Everything by appointment is awesome for the team. — Kristina Jordan, The Eye Site, Mishawaka, IN
  • Sanitizing frames and tools with the UV light disinfecting box will probably become routine even after COVID. — Carissa Dunphy, Monroe Vision Clinic, Monroe, WA
  • We have had some great changes. Fine tuning our web design, patient links, efficiency in the front of house. Gave us an opportunity to see where we can brand beyond our four walls. — Sherry Morgan, Logan Eye Care, Lake Mary, FL
  • Less gross income but fewer employee hours = higher net profit. Also, you can operate with your doors locked, scheduling appointments for all services. — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • We went from walk-in services to appointments for everything…dispensing, adjustments/repairs, etc. While that can still get a little hairy sometimes, it’s led to fewer patients having to wait for service due to a rush. And since there aren’t any surprise drop-ins, it’s helped the staff be better prepared for what comes their way. — Christine Howard, Attleboro Vision Care, Attleboro, MA
  • A permanent change to our business is the greater cleanliness of the office — the frames and everything. The staff has no issues with cleaning any longer. Another positive thing has been listening to the needs of the staff, trying to keep everyone in good spirits during these trying times and continuing during our new normal. New approaches and efficiencies to business include staying on top of reordering top-selling frames, making sure we have all the PPE for staff in all locations, and holding monthly meetings to address issues and concerns before things get overwhelming. — Danielle Doniver, Heritage Optical, Detroit, MI
  • We schedule everything and that seems to be something that we will keep for a while. No patient coming in at close or after hours for a “quick” look around! — Kim Hilgers, Monson Eyecare Center, Owatonna, MN
  • Our optical now has a schedule, so you must schedule for a pickup or adjustment. We are able to better keep track of exactly when someone will be in the office and what their needs are. We will keep this moving forward. — Nytarsha Thomas, OD, Visionelle Eyecare, Zionsville, IN
  • The office is a heck of a lot cleaner! — Mark Perry, OD, Vision Health Institute, Orlando, FL
  • Pre-COVID our office was open until 6 or 7 PM every night. When we were shut down at the beginning of COVID we shortened our hours to 4 PM, as we were only answering phones and seeing emergency patients. Since the shutdown, our office has only had one 6 PM day. We leave at 4 PM and 2 PM the other days and we are busier than ever. With virtual and hybrid learning and patients working from home now more than ever, the new office hours work well with scheduling. I even get to make it home to watch the evening news. — Ann-Marie Weaver, Optimal Eye Care, Lewis Center, OH
  • Prior to COVID we weren’t scheduling dispenses. We LOVE that now our patients have to schedule a time to come in to the office! This allows us to have more time with them again, and resell! — Sarah Montes, Hockemeyer Family Eye Care, New Haven, IN
  • No overbooking appointments. A full waiting room is definitely not healthy, especially during flu season and of course during this pandemic. — Barry Merenstein, 20/20 Opticians, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Taking appointments for opticians! Geez, it’s SO much easier to control the traffic flow in the store! Our doctor also took the opportunity to change her exam schedule and carve out more free time. — Nikki Griffin, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, Oakdale, MN
  • We have become much more focused on the experience of the client in the office. Also only drop-ship CLs to clients and started an auto refill for CL clients that are interested. Bespoke frame making is on the rise and in 2021 we’ll lean harder into that as new efficiencies are being worked out to speed up the process. — Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL
  • Work life balance. We have trimmed hours and aren’t looking at going back to our pre-COVID hours any time soon if ever. — Travis LeFevre, Krystal Vision, Logan, UT
  • Working fewer hours, seeing fewer vision plan patients, seeing more medical patients and never seeing HMO patients. — Robert M. Easton Jr., OD, FAAO, Oakland Park, FL
  • Curbside pickup. Our patients have loved being able to just have us run contacts right to their car. — Nicole Leonard, Custom Eye Care, San Antonio, TX
  • I don’t mind wearing a mask if it keeps my staff and I healthy during flu season! Also continuing to direct-ship contacts and even glasses when applicable. — Jennifer Stewart, OD, Norwalk Eye Care, Norwalk, CT
  • Online CE. I like it! Saves me a lot of time and money. — Douglas Holle, OD, Sunset Eye Care, San Angelo, TX
  • We schedule all appointments: eye exams, testing, spectacle selection, pick-ups, etc. It has helped control the traffic and allows our staff to be attentive to that one patient. We are calling patients and getting more information over the phone instead of them doing paperwork in office. That has been very efficient in working the lanes. — Melanie Jenkins, Spring Hill Eyecare, Spring Hill, TN
  • Making appointments! We are an optical shop and it’s always been walk in. Now we’re enjoying the less congested, smoother, running appointment schedule and reaping the benefits of more time to place orders and clean up. (Fewer mistakes!) The appointment thing is annoying my patients but is helpful in keeping us on track for the day. I don’t feel as rushed with each patient because we’ve blocked enough time but it also helps speed along the patient that’s taking too much time to decide between blush fade and lavender fade… — Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical, Dansville, NY
  • Appointments for everything! — Ron Catterson, Clear View Optix, The Villages, FL
  • Just learning to live with a slower pace and wear a mask. I started sterilizing all frames after they are tried on. I plan to continue that. I think it makes patients feel safe. — Star Taylor, Richens Eye Center, St George, UT
  • We have learned the importance of cross training! We have a number of staff members out currently and the rest of the staff is happily learning new skills to enable the team to still function. — Tiffany Firer, Lifetime Eyecare, Jenison, MI
  • Telemedicine has been helpful all around, although I use it infrequently. I think that it is here to stay. — Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ
  • Cleaning procedures have improved. Locked entry keeps better control of dispensary; folks seem to like the more personal and safe attention. — Billy Isgett, Eyecare of Florence, Florence, SC
  • I didn’t realize the little things we let slide when it came to cleanliness between patients. We will never stop sanitizing everything between patients. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • Scheduling patients for services, sales, repairs, adjustments, pickups. We no longer get the last minute rush to pick up at closing. Patients have dedicated times and the quality of transactions has skyrocketed as a result. No more clumps of people gathering at frame boards, which is more challenging to keep track of than cleaning the ones between patients. — Chris Dudley, Lake Eye Associates/Precision Optics Lake County, FL
  • Visits with our opticians are by appointment. This has been great to allow the opticians to better plan their day and helps avoid the crush of people on Saturday mornings. — Barbara Bloom, OD, Weber Vision Care, Harrisburg, PA

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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