The Six Most Profitable Strategies Learned From My Optical Business Coach, Part 2
Release Date: October 2008
Expiration Date: April 6, 2014
Upon completion of this program, the participant
should be able to:
- Learn how traditional business coaching applies to optical.
- Develop a mission, vision and value statement.
- Understand how to measure business effectiveness and a unique selling proposition.
As president of Victory Business Coaching Ted Frangos advises small to medium size business owners by assessment and evaluation, exploration of strategies specializing in growth for the ophthalmic office. Frangos has had a long history of management and consulting experience in the wholesale and retail sectors.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by theAmerican Board of Opticianry (ABO). Course STWJMI108-2
Six Profitable Strategies from My Optical Business Coach
1. A Mission, Vision & Value Statement — It’s vital.
2. Your Business’ Effectiveness — How good are we really?
3. Your Unique Selling Proposition — A few words can change
4. Laser Accurate Target Marketing — Are You Talkin’ to Me?
5. Increasing Conversion — Converting just looking into buyers
Skills — How Charlie,
Lucy, Snoopy & Linus
can help increase profits.
Let’s face it, it doesn’t
matter how well you can
service your patients, or
how impressive your inventory is or what a great pair
of glasses you can produce
if you don’t have someone
to sell them to. The bottom
line for all businesses is profits
and profits won’t exist without sales and sales won’t
happen without marketing.
In part 1, we described
how to develop the business
mission, ways to measure
you and how to develop a
unique business proposition. In part 2, we’ll learn
the importance of marketing and communication to achieve the
strategies that will grow our businesses.
4. LASER ACCURATE TARGET MARKETING — ARE YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?
It’s important here to distinguish between marketing and advertising. Although all advertising can be considered marketing, all
marketing is not advertising. For the purposes of this section, we
are going to consider marketing as the strategies you will be
developing to decide the content (message) and the outlet (medium) of your advertising. This is critical to being effective and
efficient with your advertising budget.
In his best selling book, “Book Yourself Solid,” Michael Port
talks about six points of contact during the marketing cycle that I
have found to be the most powerful teaching on the subject target
marketing. I highly recommend B.Y.S. as Michael calls it. More
importantly, these principles are always effective in growing a business’ market share. I believe before you even think about spending
a nickel on your advertising, you must first know…
Who is your target market?
What is it they want from you?
When do they think of you or your services?
Where do they look for you?
Why should they do business with you?
How do you want them to contact you?
Write a short paragraph describing who you want to be your customers (target market).
I don’t mean just age and gender and their geographical location.
Write down a full description of exactly who you want to come
to your practice to do business with you. It should include, but
not be limited to, the neighborhood(s) they live in, the vehicle
(price range) they drive, the number of children and the school
the children attend. Also include where they shop, is it Kmart,
Neiman Marcus... or both? Do they eat out and how often?
Where? McDonalds… Ruth Chris? Lastly, are they professionals, business owners, blue collar, retired, college students?
Take the above criteria and write a long sentence describing the
patient who your practice is targeted at serving. You probably
can do more than one, but only one should be the overwhelming
primary target market patient. It may look something like…
My ideal patient is female, married, two children in xyz private
school. She drives a late model SUV that cost above 40K new; he
drives an import sedan that cost over 50K when new. They live
in the gated community, xyz country club, have memberships at
the golf club and fitness spa… they both work, eat out two to
three times per week, shop at the mall consistently, and vacation
for at least one week in the summer and ski at least one week in
the winter in Vail…
You get the idea. Obviously these are upscale patients for an
upscale optical. They may be who you are looking for or your
optical may be more family and budget oriented. The point is, if
you take just a couple of minutes to do this exercise, you will be
able to see where you should and shouldn’t be spending advertising dollars. One more thing—the change to the economy may
have also changed this patient—be aware of their status now.
Notice I did not ask, what do they buy from you. I asked what
they want from you… big difference. What they buy from you is
eyeglasses, contact lenses, services, etc.
I want you to think about what they want. Do they want an
inexpensive or fast solution to their vision problem? Or could it
be that their vision issue is really pretty low on their list of wants?
Maybe they’ve come to you because they are looking for the
fashion side of what our wonderful industry can provide. Or
maybe, they just feel like YOU are the one they want serving
their needs and/or the needs of their children and family.
When you have clearly determined what your patient really
want from your particular practice, you have now identified
one of the major strengths of your business. Something you
want to exploit as you create your advertising tactics. The main
objective of this exercise is to get you to stop thinking about
what you offer your patients and start to focus on the benefits
they receive when you serve them… because that is all they
care about and therefore it should be the way you are communicating with them.
This is the beautiful part about our industry. We have an incredible advantage over most retailers since we can remind our
patients about their need for an annual check up… oh, by the
way, are ODs the only eyecare professionals who can send out
However, if you are relying on just that to drive business to you,
you’re leaving a lot of business on the table… or worse, allowing
your competition to go after your “loyal” customers. How many
customers do you have who are getting married or have children
getting married or graduating from high school this year? Is it
possible they may be interested in updating their eyewear for the
photos? Maybe if you ask them they will. Or how about employment? Do you have any customers who are spending hundreds
of dollars on a new resume and more on new business wardrobe
items who maybe should get that eyewear with the paper clip
holding the temple on replaced before the “big interview”?
How many opticals jumped on the Sarah Palin bonanza? I
know of several around south Florida where I live, but the question is: did you? Start to think about when… when people think
about optical services and you will start to see opportunities that
you probably have been ignoring.
Yellow Pages? Online? Are you visible from a main street or are
you in a heavily trafficked shopping center or mall? Back in the
early ’80s, I considered purchasing an optical that was on the 26th
floor of an office building in the Gramercy Park section of New
York. Talk about needing to know where my customers would
have looked for me.
How about word-of-mouth? The answer is still all of the
above although the phone book is in my opinion, breathing its
last breaths for this industry; which brings us to the Internet. A
moment ago, as I was writing this, I Googled “eyeglasses.” I
have to tell you, my optical colleagues, I don’t feel very well. In
fact, I think my Google experience has made me ill. If not ill,
Almost all of the web sites Google brought up on the first page
were not ECPs. They were advertisements with small pictures of
frames from catalogs and big bright starbursts that read: “quality
prescription eyewear for $8.” I could not find a local optical where I could go and get professional, personal, service
anywhere on the Google
search results page. Having a
quality web site and using
search engine optimization
(SEO) to get potential customers to see your site is not
that expensive anymore.
There are customers who are
ready to buy eyewear looking
for YOU there everyday.
If you go back to the June
2009 issue of 20/20, you will
find Part 1 of this CE. Contained therein was an exercise
for creating a mission statement and a Unique Selling
Proposition (USP) for your business. If you completed those
exercises, you have more than enough powerful and compelling
reasons why your target market should be doing business with
you. Use your USP in all your advertising and you will certainly
see a marked increase in new and loyal customer activity.
This is where you begin to take control and dictate where you
want your customers and future customers to enter your sales
cycle. Do you want them to call you first or do you want them to
go to your web site? If you want them to go to your site, what do
you want them to do next? Do you want them to enter their
name and email or do you want them to call you after they have
navigated a while? Maybe you want them to make an appointment right there on your web site. It’s not difficult to setup. Your
web designer can do it for you quite easily. There are several
directions you can give to your prospective customer at this
point. The main thing is once you have gotten the attention of
someone who is even remotely interested in purchasing eyewear
or contacts, you must make it very easy and very simple for them
to take the next step toward doing business with you. Even if
they stumbled upon your ad or site at a time when they don’t
need or want your service, you want to get them to at least leave
their contact information so you can keep in touch with them
through a drip marketing campaign so when they are ready, you
are the one they think of first.
5. INCREASING CONVERSION — CONVERTING “JUST LOOKING” INTO BUYERS
Although most opticals work by appointment, it can’t
hurt to utilize the same strategies that retail locations
with high walk-in traffic employ. The first thing people
should see when they enter your location is the product
you would like to see on their noses when they are leaving. Successful retailers always have the best “pieces”
immediately visible when you enter the store.
The idea is to get customers “juices” flowing from the
minute they enter your practice. When it comes to
making a buying decision, it’s all about emotion. Think
about it, when the exterior of your home starts to look
old, faded or dirty, what do you do? Paint it of course.
How about when your car starts to look old, faded or
dirty… not quite the same solution comes to your mind
does it, especially when you see a brand new beauty
You may be able to live with your current vehicle
or even clean it up a bit, but that “feeling” that comes over
you as soon as you let your mind wander to thoughts like,
how nice that new car would look parked in my driveway!
That’s the emotional urge we want customers to have about
the finest and most profitable eyewear we have in inventory.
At the end of the day we don’t sell someone anything that’s
not appropriate for their prescription or situation. Professionalism and prescription analysis skills will always be of primary
concern. At the same time, the retailing aspect of eyewear is
one of its best attributes. Retailing is the science of getting
customers emotionally connected. Do it well, create a wonderful experience for the customer and it will create a long
6. COMMUNICATION SKILLS— HOW CHARLIE, LUCY, SNOOPY &
LINUS CAN HELP INCREASE PROFITS.
In the fourth century BC, the Greek scholar Hippocrates identified
four basic traits of human behavior. While nobody’s personality
consists of only one of these observed traits, most everyone is dominant in one or two of them. Hippocrates termed these traits choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic. We’ll dispense with the
Greek and use characters that are much more familiar to us to help
us understand this concept.
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Linus are walking down the
street on their way to play baseball. As they go past Lucy’s house, she appears at the door, joins them and they continue
on their way. Except there’s a conflict. Lucy says she wants to
play football. Football? Charlie exclaims. We have the bats,
the baseball, the gloves. We aren’t going to play football Lucy,
we’re playing baseball.
Football. Baseball. Football! Lucy says as she grits her
teeth… Guess what they play? Football, of course. But what’s
important is why they play football. And that’s because Lucy
is the dominant character. It’s how she’s wired. Actually it
doesn’t matter what they play as long as it’s her idea. To
Snoopy; it’s “all good.” He’ll play, because it’s, well, play.
Linus, will stay in the game but won’t understand why in the
world anyone would want to sweat and get dirty. Sooner or
later he’ll lose concentration and worry about his blanket. And Charlie; he’s a wreck. He wants to keep everyone happy.
Baseball was his idea and he got everyone out in the hot sun
to play. But he knows there’s no way he can stand up to dominant Lucy. So he sets out to compromise with everyone so
everybody’s happy and nobody gets their feelings hurt.
So, what does all that have to do with optical sales? Everything.
Because patients are like Lucy or the others. Identify them and
you will have a much easier time communicating and achieving the desired outcome.
To properly deal with each type of person, don’t manipulate anyone; and try to
make them comfortable by treating them
according to their personality. In the long
run, that will make everyone’s experience
go a lot smoother. Here are some tips:
Often (but not necessarily) someone’s
occupation indicates their personality
profile. An accountant, engineer, computer programmer for example are likely
to be much like Linus. They love detail,
perfection, order and neatness. Spend a
little extra time on technical details such
as materials and even progressive lens
design. They will enjoy the education and
be more attached to their eyewear. Sales
people on the other hand, (Snoopy) often
are not concerned with a lot of detail.
They strive to be friendly, move forward with matters quickly.
They’re main goal in life is getting things done just like everyone
else, but it better be fun! Make the eyewear selection process a
good time and you will have a friend… and customer for life.
Then there’s the Charlie Browns of the world: calm, serious,
quiet, goes along with the crowd just to be nice and not make
any waves. These people are dedicated, loyal and very even
keeled. Make sure you don’t give them too many choices. If
you’ve ever had a customer who just couldn’t make up his
mind or make a decision, chances are good he was a Charlie
Brown. You can easily steer these people to where you want
them to go … and they will actually appreciate the guidance.
Which brings us to Lucy. She could have run just about any
company. Maybe even some mid-sized countries. These people are all about get it done, stick to the facts, don’t waste
time, mine or anyone else’s. They’re not shy about telling others their opinion and often seem to be in a hurry. Be direct,
brief and to the point. Tell her that anti-reflective treatments
are valuable and important. She’ll take your word on it as a
professional. If you start telling a Lucy about how many layers
are on each side, how the light waves cancel each other, where
the titanium in the frame was mined or other minute details,
they’ll glaze over in a New York minute. You’ve lost them.
They’re mind is back at work or on something else and quite
frankly, they’ll consider you boring. Show them just a couple
of excellent frame choices; explain how
someone like them should be using
progressives with AR, etc. Set it up to
make a quick educated decision and it’s
done. When you know how to treat
these tough-minded demanding individuals, they are actually the easiest to
get along with. One more tip; when
possible, let them think everything is
their idea, they love that.
Understanding people’s personality
traits and adjusting the sales process to
them is critical to your success at the
time of purchase. It creates rapport and
relationships with your customers that
will last for decades.
Make purchasing easy. Decide who you want to have as customers and target
them with specific marketing. Create and
maintain a professional retail environment for them to visit.
Know how to interact with each customer by learning about him
or her. Take the time to apply these principles for a successful
and profitable business.