Staff Management

Training Pays Back

By John Seegers, EdM

OD-owners tend to think of investments as just real estate or instrumentation. Just as important is the investment you make in your staff. Train staff well, and enhanced practice revenues will follow.

Great service differentiates you from competitors…but it doesn’t just happen. You have to design it in, allocate it in, train it in. Here are three steps to training–to gain great ROI. In our on-demand culture in which patients can have what they want when they want it, at the click of a button on the phone in their hand, efficient service is expected. The way to provide patients with the service level they demand is by having a well trained staff that can deliver that service. Here are key points to consider to help you improve the staff training you provide.

Three Keys to Make Training Effective

Give the big picture. Teach the practice mission to all staff so their role is more than just a job; it’s an opportunity.

Allocate resources and take time. For instance, it may be worth taking a whole day once a year for in-depth training. Do what you feel is necessary to cultivate a topnotch staff.

Cultivate and reward staff engagement. Individual and staff-wide incentives like bonuses can spur a higher level of performance.

Training Staff is Necessary

Some doctors may neglect systematic training because they feel incapable of providing it. They may not have the know-how themselves and feel that none of their staff can provide it, either. No need to worry! Delivering well-organized, consistent training is a must, but no one says you have to do it all yourself.

Continuing education courses and other resources (listed below), which provide even less expensive education to your staff, are available. The advantage of going the continuing education route is the training will be specific to optometry or eyecare professionals, whereas there are few consultants who specialize solely on training optometric staffs. A practice could create their own training program, and many do, but why re-invent the wheel when there is a program like the one my company, OpticianWorks, offers that can help?

Raise the Competency of Staff; Raise Employee Engagement

Providing training not only improves service to patients, but it also increases the loyalty of your staff and your staff’s buy-in to your practice. When an employee feels that her employer cares enough about her success on the job, and the service to patients, to provide structured training, that employee usually feels like sticking around. The employee who feels she is sent into her job to “sink or swim,” so to speak, will probably be so full of stress and so demoralized she will look for a new job elsewhere.

The key is letting new employees know from day one that you will be providing training and letting them know of the training plan. Doing so will reduce anxiety about their new job and will let them know that you are invested in helping them succeed.

How Much Does an Optician Earn?

The median compensation for an optician/frames stylist is $33,883/year or $16.29/hour, according to MBA’s Key Metrics: Assessing Optometric Practice Performance.

This compares to a median compensation of $26,437/year or $13.21/hour for an optometric assistant, according to the MBA. –ROB Editors

Put New Staff in Business Frame of Mind

The optician needs to realize that, in addition to being part of the practice team that improves the vision and eye health of the patient, they need to generate revenue. Comprehensive training is a key tool that allows them to make more money for the practice. To that end, having the ability to make the sale means having a complete understanding of the products sold. You cannot sell or recommend in good faith a product or service that you know nothing about. The more you know about a product or service the easier it is to adapt your sales strategy to meet the patient’s expectations. Saying, “Do you want AR?” is not the same as saying: “We strongly recommend a non-glare coating, it helps you see much better when driving at night and reduces glare off the screens on all your electronic devices. The one we offer is oleo-phobic, hydrophobic, etc…”

Teach to All Learning Styles

Everyone learns in their own way. Some are verbally-oriented learners who can read and hear information to understand it, while others require tactile experience to understand concepts. For that reason, teach your key lessons a few different ways. For example, have vendors come in weekly to discuss their products and the essential selling points, but also have the vendor have the exact products she is talking about in her hand for staff to also hold in their hand and try on. Some staff members can fully understand what photochromatic or polarization means from reading or hearing about it, but many staff members will not only benefit from, but will actually require, trying on lenses with those qualities to explain it to patients. This is why OpticianWorks delivers content to match variable learning styles.

Training ROI is Measurable

The effectiveness of training doesn’t have to be a mystery. You should always have a way of measuring whether the training you spent money and time to provide is working. For instance, if you paid money to have employees take a sales training course, to improve sales in the optical, and sales continue to be lackluster after a few months on this training regimen, you know it’s time to try another learning strategy. Sometimes other factors, like a weak economy or particularly poor weather, can be to blame, but if all other factors point to what should be a strong selling season, and you’re coming up short, a poorly trained staff could be the culprit. Fortunately, with so many training options available, this factor, unlike the economy or the weather, is something you can be proactive about and change for the better.

What is Opticianry? An overview of the profession from the Opticians Association of America. The site lists training events around the nation and also directs readers to state opticianry societies that offer training.

What Dispensing Opticians Do: An overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that defines the role of the dispensing optician and the pathways to education and training.

Optician’s salary: A range of compensation metrics, computed hourly and annually and adjusted regionally.

OpticianWorks provides high quality, online training for opticians, opticianry students, those studying for the ABO exam or those working to become non-licensed optical dispensing professionals. It is also a great place for training support staff in optometry and ophthalmology eyecare practices and optical labs.

OpticianWorks Resources Online
Curriculum overview

Concept of Axis (video)

How to Use a Lensometer
Detailed tutorial on how to use the Marco Lensometer for finishing and edging work.

Dynamic Dispensing Tips

Related ROB Articles and Videos

Train Employees to Provide Consistently Superior Service

Ramp Up Staff Education by Inviting Reps to Staff Meetings

Put Performance Goals in Staff Terms

John Seegers, EdM, is CEO of OpticianWorks, an education service that provides opticians with training needed for certification and competency. To contact him:

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