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Three Simple Steps to Increase Employee Engagement




Getting employees to act with purpose, dedication, attention to detail and a high standard of service is the biggest challenge to running an optometry clinic. I hear it repeatedly consulting with optometry clinics across North America about their employee engagement and recalling strategies. I also experienced it as a clinic employee for over 17 years.

Data reinforces this challenge. According to employee engagement analysis by Gallup, the top quarter of businesses outperform those in the bottom quarter by 10 percent in customer loyalty, 20 percent in productivity and 21 percent in profitability, all due to engagement. Research by Ere Media also found that replacing an entry-level employee costs 30-50 percent of that employee’s salary. That jumps to 150 percent for mid-level employees. Overall, $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover across the U.S.

That’s a lot of numbers, and the impact can be hard to understand. So, I created a workshop to help optometry staff develop ideas and foster intrapreneurial initiative —entrepreneurship within a company — to positively influence their clinic, and to experience more career satisfaction as a result. Conducting this workshop at conferences and clinics, I’ve heard a lot from staff about what their employers could do better. Based on that feedback, here are three simple steps to increase employee engagement at your clinic:

Inspire your team with a clear vision.

It’s inspiration, not motivation, that ultimately rallies the troops. While it seems simple, identifying your vision and repeatedly communicating it to your team helps everyone have a sense of purpose when executing their respective roles.

Your vision or mission statement should be short, concise and answer why it is you do what you do. Referring to it regularly in meetings, placing it on your website, and ensuring your whole team feels part of your vision are all ways to help motivate your team through inspiration.

Set compelling and concrete goals that benefit everyone.

Your goals may involve increasing the number of new patients you reach, growing your eyewear sales or reducing unbooked appointments. While your staff will determine whether or not the clinic achieves its goals, it’s you, the business owner, who stands to benefit financially from attaining them. Be sure to implement a system that acknowledges your employees’ dedication to accomplishing these goals.

Starting a conversation with your employees about how they would like to be part of the clinic’s success is a good way to engage staff — it promotes inclusion over the imposition of a system they may not be on board with. After setting a budget and any necessary parameters, put it to staff to choose how they would like to celebrate when the entire team meets its monthly or quarterly target. Using a social or team-building activity as a reward for achieving a goal provides an extra opportunity for engagement.

Show your people that you care. 

This is by far the most important of the three steps, and it does not have to be a big endeavour. In fact, Gallup data found that private recognition from the boss, increased responsibilities, and positive evaluations or reviews are among the most memorable forms of recognition.

If you don’t know where to start, try engaging in a few minutes of one-on-one conversation with an employee, giving them a thoughtful card where you acknowledge their unique contributions or even asking their opinion about something relevant to their role.

Employee engagement is critical to the success of your clinic, and making improvements doesn’t have to be complicated. Get the ball rolling by taking small steps to increase your communication with your staff.

Pauline Blachford consults with optometrists across North America on how to reduce un-booked appointments, increase eyewear sales, and improve employee engagement and productivity. She writes regularly for the Canadian Journal of Optometry and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events. For more information, visit


This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of INVISION.




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Robert Bell

Peak Performance Selling Techniques

Plot twist: Robert Bell decided not to teach you a damn thing a long time ago.




GUESS WHAT? THIS issue of INVISION marks my five year anniversary writing this column for them. That means I’ve written about 50 articles for INVISION on selling philosophies, strategies and techniques. The challenge, for me, has been: How do I teach you how to sell in 500 words?

It can’t be done. So, I decided not to teach you a damn thing.

Instead, my goal was, and remains, to make you think! To make you think in ways you never had before. To inspire you to look at things from different angles or points of view. To encourage you to let go of your traditional ideas of what selling is and to join me in embracing a new experiment in sales strategies and techniques.

So, let me dedicate this month’s column to those of you who want to be Peak Performers in sales with the following:

  • Let go of those traditional selling techniques that continue to fail. Where did you pick up those techniques, anyway? Think about that. Did it come from observing others who are mediocre at selling? Is what you were observing actual sales skill or was is just someone with a charming personality? You understand that’s it’s next to impossible to adopt someone else’s personality and make it your own, right? Sell like you, not someone else (including me). Customers can always pick up on someone being disingenuous and that never bodes well.
  • Read my articles (you can find all of them at or hire me to come in and train you and your staff. Take the techniques I share and make them your own. It’s easy to do.
  • Lose your ego! Embrace your mistakes and foul-ups. It’s part of the learning process. When you screw up a sale, think about it. Is this a one-time thing or is it a pattern? Write down what it is you think you can do better next time.
  • You don’t have to do this alone. Ask for help. Go to your boss or co-workers and ask them what they think you can do better. Hey Bosses… ask your employees what they think you can do better at selling. Again, lose the ego. Accept the fact that there are no sales courses in optometry school and ask for help!
  • Find an article of mine that has meaning to you. Read and discuss it at your next staff meeting with everyone.
  • Ask your state optometric or optical association to bring in a speaker. I’m available. How cool would that be? We’d get to meet each other in person.
  • Ask one of your top vendors (frame, lenses, labs, etc.) to sponsor a training for your area or, specifically, for your practice. Trust me, they want you to sell more! The more you sell, the more you buy from them. Talk about a win-win.
  • Successful selling is not about you, it’s about the customer. Folks, I’m not going to comment on this as it’s fairly self-explanatory. If you don’t really get this, you’re doomed. If you get this and embrace it, your customers will buy enthusiastically.

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John Marvin

The 4 Key Elements to Building a High Performance Team

It isn’t experience, skills or talent… it’s all in the mindset.




MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE that the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team is the greatest team in the history of sports. This means all sports, any team all over the world. They are three time world champions and have a winning percentage of 77 percent over the past 100 years. They have not lost at home in the past 10 years.

What is it that creates a high performance team? It is not merely talent. There are many professional sports teams with a roster full of superstars, but which do not live up to their potential. It is not the money invested in payroll; the New York Yankees have famously spent far more money than other teams but often fall short of even making the playoffs. The 2008 World Series Tampa Bay Rays had the 29th payroll ranking out of 32 teams.

When you break it down, all high-performing teams have certain traits in common:

Shared Leadership

A team that reaches toward its full potential does not rely on one person for leadership. Each member of the team steps up when required to provide leadership. Each member respects the talents and abilities of other team members and follows another when the job requires.

Leadership in difficult situations requires different skills, and a high-performing team recognizes that each member brings their own talents and skills.

An Achievement Mindset

High-performing teams are focused on accomplishment. They are unified toward reaching their goal, be it winning a championship or hitting a sales target. They understand that accomplishment is not a once in a while endeavor, but the result of habits executed consistently each hour of each day. They don’t understand or accept the concept of close enough. Successful teams take the view that either they got the job done or they didn’t. Failure to them is not an option; they figure out a way to make success happen.

Integrity and Respect

High-performing teams believe in the dignity of each team member. They perform their responsibilities with honesty and integrity. They know that cutting corners when offering a service is not good for the customer or the practice. If a mistake has been made, they own it. They don’t make excuses or blame the customer. They truly believe that while the customer isn’t always right, they are always the customer. They do not encourage or tolerate team members who do not live up to the same standards of integrity.

High-performing teams respect each other by listening and considering the views of others. When faced with a challenge, they work together instead of believing that they alone have all the answers. They understand that collaboration among many can produce a better result than the opinion of one individual.

Look for Opportunities

High-performing teams are continually working to improve their skills, their services, their products and their processes for delivery. They foster an environment of continual training, understanding that it is the excellence of consistent execution that delivers to the customer.

They encourage learning of new technology, new products and an ongoing review of how the work flow process can be improved. They don’t believe in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” To the contrary, they believe that they must break it to see how they can make it better.

Developing a high-performance team requires selecting team members with the right mindset. This mindset is more important than years of optical experience or years in a particular position. The owner or hiring manager’s job, in many ways, is to select the right people, give them direction and then get out of their way.

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Editor's Note

The Year’s Not Over Yet. There is Still Time to Fix It

And you won’t need a magic spell to do it.




IN FULL DISCLOSURE, I am not a Potterhead. I don’t know an apparate from a veritaserum. But I do love a personality assessment. (I’m a Cancer, INFJ, and Idealist, in case you wondered.) So when we asked, “What Hogwarts House would you belong to and why?” in Buzz Session (page 60), I thought I had a pretty solid idea what my Pottermore results would be… definitely Ravenclaw, maybe Gryffindor.

To my shock, I was sorted into Slytherin. The snakes! The house all the villains come from! But I’m a good guy! So, of course, I retook the test but the results didn’t change … even when I fudged a few of the answers (so Slytherin of me!)

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries

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?

Podcast: What the Heck is Marketing? And What Should ECPs Focus on to Attract New Clients?

To be fair, I am a good guy but I can also be cunning, aristocratic and power hungry… though I prefer the synonyms clever, refined and ambitious.

Sometimes we don’t like to acknowledge our less desirable traits. Like that we can be lazy, unmotivated, or procrastinate until the stress of getting things done becomes overwhelming.


Maybe that’s where you find yourself now. The last quarter of the year snuck right up on you and you’re nowhere near meeting the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning of it. Don’t worry, you don’t need a magic spell to fix it. We asked a few industry experts and our own Brain Squad what to focus on for end-of-year peak performance and came up with a 90-day plan you can start executing now in our Big Story on page 34.

If you’re just feeling a little burned out and apathetic, visit our Special Feature (page 44) to help remember why you do this. It’s all about ECPs’ MVPs, those most valuable patrons that have become so special the relationship has transcended the office environment. Eyecare is an intimate business and sometimes “How can I help you?” can be the start of a beautiful relationship.


Most of us feel we’re working harder just to stay on top of things (One Quick Question, page 47). That can be frustrating. But as we head into fall and holiday planning, I hope these stories leave you feeling a little more prepared, and grateful for the privilege of working in such a crucial and dynamic industry.

Best wishes for your business,

Dee Carroll


Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Party time! As we head into the holidays and the invitations start streaming in… say yes! (Manager’s To Do, page 20)
2. Do you provide vision therapy? Try practicing it at its highest level. (Best of the Best, page 48)
3. Forget Christmas cards. Birthday cards are where it’s at. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
4. Sometimes a new employee is just not gonna hack it. We tell you when it’s time to let them go. (Ask INVISION, page 52)
5. Trouble finding good help? Have you tried a working interview? (Do You or Don’t You, page 61)

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