I remember sitting in my first graduate course and the professor started by asking us to define our culture. He gave us a few minutes to think. The only thing I was thinking was, well, I’m Puerto Rican. So, I raised my hand very confidently and said, “I’m Puerto Rican. We dance to salsa and eat Hispanic foods.” He said, “No, Ms. Soto,” in his heavy Puerto Rican accent. That is your race.” Hmmm, what is he talking about? Well, I learned as the lesson moved on. Let me explain and how it applies in our world of Opticianry.
As a business owner, I can’t even begin to describe how much I value Independence. It lives in every corner of my business. It shows itself in how I purchase goods, it becomes apparent in looking at the companies I choose to do business with, it can be seen in the interactions with my clients. Independence is the inherent understanding that you are ruled by no one, you are doing things your way, and that your gut is the only compass you follow.
You’d have to have been hiding under a rock somewhere if you haven’t yet discovered that there are some companies offering glasses for your patients to purchase online. (And at prices that are hard to compete with.) So, it’s here, people. The apocalypse that has long been predicted. But, I don’t think it is as scary as the nay-sayers think. I actually think the advent of online creates opportunities for human opticians to become great. So, while the internet is trying to pass itself off as an optician, what can actual opticians do to distinguish themselves?
In an age when brick and mortar must compete not just with internet but big box and other opticals, presentation is key to not only differentiating yourself from the competition, but providing patients with a pleasing ambiance and atmosphere to encourage browsing and purchasing. Done well, good presentation can lend generous dividends. In-store visual presentation is accountable for the majority of retail purchases, according to Joseph Weishar, author of The Aesthetics of Merchandise Presentation (2005, stmediagroup.com/stbooks). How, then, does an optical retail—especially one attempting to compete by offering patients the boutique experience—succeed through presentation?
Goodwin College’s Optical Training Store (OTS) is trying something new! It’s MOD. I am not referring to the modernistic style that started in London during the 1960’s, characterized by bold and bright colored fashions and popularized by The Beatles. But now that I am thinking of the MOD fashion, I am visualizing an eclectic optical shop carrying unique frames in bold and bright colors while “Here Comes the Sun” or “Love is All You Need” plays softly in the background. While we play coffee bar music on Pandora in the background of our Optical Training Store, I am thinking of maybe having a Beatles themed day next semester.
A new, exciting and "radical" way of establishing office efficiency is by allowing the doctor(s) to delegate refraction duties to scribes and technicians. This allows the doctors to dedicate more personal "one on one" time with the patient thus increasing the quality of care, provides the patient with a more personalized experience, and also allows the doctor(s) to increase the number of patients seen per day, which nets an increase in office revenue.
When I was new to this field, a mentor told me that when people asked him what opticians did, his answer was, “Opticians make people happy.” Doesn’t that really sum up what we do? We help people to see better and look better, and that makes them happy. That’s something we should all be excited about.
What is the difference between a good dispense and a great dispense? In my experience it is the patient’s response to the product they have just received. Do they LOVE their glasses, or do they merely like them? I’m not saying it’s wrong for patients to like their glasses, but isn’t it much more fun when they LOVE them? I certainly think so, and it’s that feeling of excitement that keeps me coming to work every day. The key is enthusiasm.