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.
Have you ever been to Alaska? Do you live there? If so, you know the beauty and splendor of America’s largest and 49th state. We all learned in grade school that Alaska is the largest state of the union, larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined!
Will it be sunny or cloudy? Probability of rain? The forecast is some of the first data we consult at the start of the day. Based on it, we decide how to dress, whether or not take an umbrella and even consider outdoor plans. Most of the time we ignore the existence or relevance of another index as important and accessible: UV RADIATION.
It’s not often that a technological innovation comes along that stands to potentially change the face of the optical industry: Nosepads; PALs; spring hinges. Each answered an extant demand, and, in the process, forever altered the way glasses are made, sold, and worn. In my years of selling, I wondered myself what it was like to have been around to witness such radical new developments. Now, I know.
During a recent vacation in Maine, I was reminded that Mainers view bats – the funny looking, furry, flying kind – rather fondly. Two iron bats adorn the gates outside author Stephen King’s home in Bangor. An entrepreneur in Searsport makes “bat houses” for sale. They are a protected species in Maine, unless they find their way into your attic or eaves. In many visits to that beautiful state, I never found Mainers to be anything but pleasant and practical. So why the apparently odd affinity for creatures most of us view as creepy? Because Maine bat species feed on huge numbers of mosquitoes (the bane of Maine summers) and other pesky flying insects.
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?
My 15 month-old grandson came for a visit recently. He’s a busy little guy – walking (or, rather, running and crashing), chattering and exploring everything. Of course, he loves toys that talk and sing when he pushes the button. After 30 minutes of a squeaky voice singing the same three songs, however, I’ve had it. This visit to grandma’s house was different. Entertainment consisted of a kiddie pool, plastic cups, a squirting rubber ducky, pots and pans, and picture books. He was happy (most of the time), and little did I know that my back-to-basics approach might actually be good for his visual development.