In April 2020, when Connecticut optician Norma Brown opened ProVision in Hartford, she wasn’t interested in making history, but she did – and already had. In 2008 Norma became the first Black female licensed optician in Fairfield County, CT and next opened the state’s first Black-owned optical shop. When a sales rep who had done some research informed Norma of those distinctions, she was surprised. She wasn’t interested in making history. As Noma puts it, she saw only an opportunity and “let down my net for a catch.”
The end of the year is upon us, and I, for one, am excited to turn the calendar page on the year 2021. This year has been full of highs and lows, a pendulum swing of hope and optimism followed by a crash of reality that we are still not out of the clutches of a pandemic. Collectively, we’ve seen people at their best and at their most divided. Yet here we are, we are still standing. We have been weathered by the storm; we are (hopefully) emerging into a more promising 2022. We have been changed by having lived through these strange times. So, for a moment, I’d like to ask each of you reading this to take a moment and appreciate how strong you really are. Just the fact that you made it this far is an accomplishment. Yes, it counts.
Self-reflection is something I like to practice, especially during a new year/chapter in my life. I love celebrating the holidays and getting into the spirit for winter. However, the last quarter of the year for this industry is busy and important to the business. The holiday season is filled with bustling shoppers who have expiring insurance benefits, which means last minute shopping! This also means a crowded optical, many phone calls, and beating the clock to the new year for some patients.
I’ve been checking in with many of my optical friends across the nation lately, just trying to see how they’ve weathered the pandemic and the easing of restrictions. What I’ve heard from several of our optical friends is that the gravity of this last year and half has been difficult to shoulder, and things feel a bit unsettled in general. And I can relate, I’m located in an area that has removed most mask restrictions except when in medical settings, which has led to me growing weary of having to defend my office’s position on mask wearing to clients on a sometimes-hourly basis. In these times, and to be honest, in most times in my personal life, I tend to lean a bit on sarcasm and humor to get me through when things feel weird.
As an optician, my priority is for the patient to have the best vision with their eyeglasses. That priority includes multiple pairs. The idea of buying two or more pairs of glasses can meet resistance from some, but I learned ways to make it more appealing. I’ve learned to maximize business opportunities with kindness. These are some tips that can help build sales!
When Danielle Crull, owner of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, PA, found a stray kitten, little did she know that this cute ball of fur would become the celebrity of her children’s eyewear practice. Since 2018, Truffles has helped children overcome their anxiety about wearing glasses and patching by modeling them herself, and that includes wearing a mask.
Every optical has its own unique approach to marketing frames. I recently took an inventory and realized how much product I could display instead of keeping it in storage. It was satisfying to rearrange the office and display new posters that mirror current trends. Here’s how we did an office makeover to stand out and attract business.
Word-of-mouth advertising begins with our attitudes. The attitudes of each of us are based on our likes and dislikes and are expressed in our words, our actions, and our behavior. Some of these attitudes become habits, some of which are helpful, but some are harmful to us, the people we work with, and the patients we greet and serve. The eye care professional can analyze these attitudes and try to eliminate those that are inappropriate.
Optical practices should welcome the idea of selling high-end luxury eyewear. The bigger price tags do not necessarily scare customers away, but rather tend to lure them in. Yes, understanding your clientele, practice location, and market certainly is a huge factor in this endeavor. Providing luxury and high-end eyewear and services in your practice, however, means larger revenue and happier customers. The rewards in doing so for any optical establishment outweigh any risks and provide a superior store reputation.
There’s always an opportunity to improve someone’s daily life. I know many of my patients can relate when I mention my career and hobbies consume the bulk of my time. This usually leads to my curiosity about whether they are wearing the appropriate eyewear for both. I discovered how many ‘almost lost my vision’ stories came up. People suffer eye injuries from using improper eyewear or not using anything altogether. Scrapes and scratches on the cornea are extremely common (and painful by the way) but the good news is it is all preventable! Safety glasses over prescription glasses, protective goggles or face shields are protection for those precious eyes. There are a variety of safety glasses that can be worn over prescription glasses as well.
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