By Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO
Sept. 14, 2022
Opticians, like most employees, can be shy about pointing out areas of needed improvement to the boss, especially if those needed improvements require the boss to change their ways.
After over 40 years in the optical industry working for solo optometry offices, large ophthalmology practices, lens manufacturing companies, as an instructor in a college of optometry, and writing about eyewear for decades, I have some sage advice to share. Many of these points likely echo the thoughts of your opticians, who may want to make these same suggestions to you, but haven’t felt comfortable enough to speak up about it.
DO – Be more involved in your dispensary. It is likely the area of your practice that provides the most profit. Patients like it when you show an interest in their eyewear. This includes talking to your patients about additional eyewear they would benefit from.
DON’T – Please don’t recommend OTC readers! And especially when the patient has insurance coverage to cover most of the costs of getting a pair of reading glasses that are the right prescription and fit for both of their eyes – not just a compromise. People who buy prescription reading glasses enjoy reading and are much more comfortable with the correct prescription, including cylinder correction.
DO – Please remodel and update the dispensing area. It’s hard to sell upscale frames in a pedestrian-looking dispensary. Patients who want style will go elsewhere.
DON’T – Tell patients whose prescription hasn’t changed much that they don’t need a new pair of eyewear. Many patients have unused vision insurance and could benefit from a pair of prescription sunglasses, reading or computer glasses.
DO – Recognize opticians’ achievements in the office – as a team and individually, so the overall practice team understands the value of your opticians’ work and how significantly it contributes to practice profitability. And praise your staff in front of your patients!
DO – Get involved with more fashionable frames yourself. Wear new frames, call attention to exciting new frame lines in office meetings. Get excited about eyewear and different types of eyewear – computer, sunwear, reading glasses, etc., etc.
DO – Hire an ABOC optician with practical, hands-on experience, an outgoing personality and a genuine interest in fashion and style. You won’t regret it.
DO – Encourage and provide education whether it be lunch and learns or national/regional conferences.
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DO – Get in more fashionable and up-to-date frame lines. It will pay off in more eyewear sales and happier opticians and patients.
DO – LISTEN to your staff and include them in your planning and thinking. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much they can share with you from the patient’s point of view. This will also build your relationship with your staff, resulting in more loyal and engaged employees.
Implementing any of these ideas will powerfully increase your bottom line. And that brings me to the Last DO – set goals and track your progress!