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Why Your Staff — Not Your Location, Inventory or Equipment — Should Be Your Greatest Investment

The main driver of revenue — the staff — often gets the least amount of investment but they can make or break an office.




IN AN OFFICE there is one investment that should be placed above all others: Staff. I don’t mean cost either; they are an investment. Very probably the most important one you can ever make. The people you choose to employ are vital to making you — the manager or owner — successful in your endeavor.

If you’ve been in business and talked to a consultant or three, you’ve heard some variation of keep payroll down or make sure it’s 15 to 20% of your costs. Seems reasonable … after all the goal of a business is to make money. But even though we see things like edgers, the best diagnostic equipment, frame lines and other things as investments because they increase net revenue; the main driver of revenue — the staff — often gets the least amount of investment. When you look at it like that, it seems weird not to invest in them since they can make or break an office. Each area — optical, techs, and front desk — is vital to the operation and should be seen that way.

For the optical staff, we all know they are the salespeople, possibly the lab folks as well, and are often underpaid because of the idea we should hire for personality, not skill, or that commissions will make up what salary is lacking. But here is the thing: If you invest in skilled optical staff not only will you see an improvement in sales, because they understand the why of things like anti-reflective and top end progressive lenses. They also know how to fit lenses properly and troubleshoot, opening chair time and reducing remakes. A skilled person in your lab will reduce breakages, catch costly mistakes, and ensure lab equipment runs smoothly to keep down time to a minimum. Paying them an extra few thousand a year will save tens of thousands in other costs. If they have letters after their name treat that as a green flag.

Many techs do everything from pretesting to I&R training and most of the client work up with the doctor just finalizing their findings. They set the mood for the exam. If they are scribes as well, they make or break the notes in the charts. Someone working that close with the doctor and understanding the ins and outs of the clinic seems like a good place to invest money as well.

The front desk is often the most underappreciated and underpaid group. It may seem like they have the simplest job: answer the phones, schedule people, pull and verify insurance, be the first (welcoming) faces clients see as they come in. But they are in fact the central hub of the office. A good front desk can make sure the day runs smoothly, prevent any after exam issues by reviewing copays, making sure the schedule is full, and having replacements ready for cancellations. Does it seem smart to pay someone in that position less than they could make working at a retail chain?

Basically, when employees are happy, they will make sure the clientele is happy and well taken care of. When that happens the office gets good reviews and they recommend it to their friends and family. That brings in more revenue and ensures that the office stays open long term and continues to thrive. Win win.


Jason Boldt has been in the optical industry for more than 20 years. He started in a LensCrafters lab and has worked in every aspect from lab, to tech, to management, to consulting, and repping. He is ABO and NCLE certified, a Georgia LDO, and is currently working on an ABO advanced certification. Email him at


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