So, you want to be the best practice around, right? Of course you do. We all do. But what are you prepared to do to make that the case? Good question, right? Let me help you shed some light on a few answers you hadn’t considered.

Reputation Matters
If you’ve never considered what makes your practice special and different, then you’re probably missing the boat. The fact is that Optical Retailers are a dime a dozen. If your patient doesn't like you, they don’t have to come to you. There’s likely a shop right down the road that would love to have your patient’s business. That is the sorry truth.

So this leaves us to ask the question. What are you prepared to do in order to make your practice the place that your patient not only comes to, but also tells their friends to come to see you? Better yet, why you, why now?

Have I got you thinking yet? Good. Because you need to have the answers to these questions ready to present to anyone who will listen, at any given moment. It’s called an “elevator speech” and if you don’t have one, you need one. Here is the kicker, if you aren’t able to say amazing things about your practice, how is your patient supposed to be able to say these things to their friends? Reputation matters, and sometimes you’ve got to be the one to start making your reputation into one that you would be proud to have.

Do The Right Things
This sounds simple, but patients notice when things are being done the right way, and for the right reasons, so always tell your patient what it is and why you are doing it. To me, this simply means that from the Optical retail side that we should be having consultations with our patients to really find out what their needs are and helping them select products that truly are the right ones for them. Present yourself as the Optical Expert, not just an order taker, and if this is the case, make the right recommendations based on what their needs really are not based on what you think they can afford.

Take the approach that as an Optician, your job is to provide education about what the options are, and their job as the patient is to choose the product that is the right one for them based on the information you have given them. For example, in my practice, Trivex is our go-to lens material; we use it at least 90% of the time. Why? Because, when we present the information that Trivex is lighter in weight, has better visual clarity due to better ABBE value, utilizes the newest optical technology, and has 100% UV protection, it is kind of a no-brainer. And, the most common response we hear from our new patients is “why hasn’t anyone told me about this material before?” Imagine that patient going home to tell their spouse about the new lens material they ordered for their glasses today. Offering the newest products and educating your patients helps build reputations. The truth of the matter is the patient has already experienced run-of-the-mill experiences, with run-of-the-mill products in their lifetime; give them a reason to choose something different. Give them a reason to choose you.

Become Educated in Order to Provide Education
Know why you offer certain products. For example, why do you use the PAL lens designs that you do? Is it because the lab offers you a good price for them? Or because you’ve always used that design and your patients seem to like them? Or is it because you have educated yourself about the options and have made a decision based on lens design? Seek out information from your lab reps about these things, they would be glad to share this information. Or better yet, reach out to your other optical friends and ask them what lenses they are using successfully. Do some research so you can share information with your patients.

You’d be amazed at how frequently I ask my colleagues why they use the PAL design they do, and the answer is almost always “Because it is what we’ve always used.” Doesn’t your patient deserve to have a better answer than that? I bet if you asked the patient this same question, they would respond that they would like to go to an optical retailer who stays on top of the newest optical technology and offers the newest products that work the best. Don’t get stuck offering products that are “good enough,” offer the best products because your patients deserve to have the chance to make that decision for themselves. Their vision is precious to them, and it should be precious to you as well.

When you offer your patients the best products and can educate them about why these products are beneficial to them, you separate your practice from the rest and you become a cut above by not only providing your patient they education they needed in order to make an informed decision, but you also followed through by creating a product they will undoubtedly see the value in as they look through it. These things create a reputation that will speak for itself.

Johnna Dukes, ABOC is currently the owner and operator of an optical boutique, with experience in both the private practice sector as well as the retail chain setting. She has a wide range of experience varying from optical support staff to dispensary management to practice ownership. She lives in Okoboji, Iowa.