By Linda Conlin, Pro to Pro Managing Editor

Before I get into this week’s column, I’d like to extend warm congratulations to one of our contributing authors. Maryann Santos, Program Director of the Vision Care Technology Program for Goodwin College, was named one of Vision Monday’s Most Influential Women in Optical 2018 in the Mentor category. VM describes Mentors as “women who are team builders and developers of talent.” Maryann was chosen because “She created and manages the Licensed Optician Vision Care Technology program at Goodwin College. She is the leader and mentor of our future rising stars.” You can read more about Maryann’s work in her columns for Pro to Pro. Congratulations, Maryann!

And now for the column …

I recently joined a new “online community” for my neighborhood. It’s a great forum where people look for recommendations for babysitters and handymen, recover lost pets, buy and sell household items and discuss neighborhood concerns. The other day, someone posted a question about getting an adjustment on a pair of glasses he bought online. I gritted my teeth when I saw he lived in the wealthiest part of town. I couldn’t bear to chime in. I couldn’t come up with an answer that wasn’t snarky, but my “neighbors” quickly filled the void. Several told the gentleman that local opticians and optometrists were “glad to do it – free.” While I know that’s true, I secretly hoped he would have to suffer a little longer with poorly fitting glasses.

It’s clear that my neighbors equate the local optical establishments with service, as well they should. And service can be a very broad term. I work at an upscale dispensary where the word “no” is rarely spoken, and “service” means everything from creating personal frame collections for patients to walking them to their cars in the rain when they’ve forgotten their umbrellas. Even there, I happily replaced a pair of nosepads for a gentleman who smirked when I returned them to him, and announced that he’d gotten the glasses on the internet for $15. Obviously, he thought he’d put one over on me, and I could manage to say only, “Please keep us in mind for your next pair.” But then, why would he? I could have done more to convince him about the value of personal service.

Certainly, correcting the problems patients have with glasses they purchased online can be tough to swallow, but we also have an opportunity. While there’s plenty of disagreement in the field about serving online eyewear buyers, the internet got that patient to walk into your office without you spending a penny on advertising. Now’s the chance to make a personal connection. Everyone who comes into our offices should be made to feel welcome. Anyone who is “just browsing” or needs an adjustment on glasses from another source should leave with a business card and a few verbal bullet points about your products and services. Let them know that you’d love to “show and tell” them about the latest in progressive lenses, photochromics and frame designs.

These shoppers have already spent time on the internet looking for glasses, so invite them to visit your website. Make sure your website is up to date, allows shoppers to browse your latest frames, and offers information about lenses, technology and your services. Some frame and lens vendors can help add these features to your site. Remind them that you can offer a personal consultation and demonstration of the products. Not only will patients get a great pair of glasses, they’ll get you! For some helpful information about creating a patient experience that creates loyalty, see our CE Engineering an Experience at