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.
The pandemic is still here, but it hasn’t stopped people from needing eyewear. Business has been non-stop with high demand for eye exams, contacts, and glasses. In a busy location like mine I learned some strategies to help me get through hectic times while managing COVID.
Did you know that the OAA is opening the Guild to individual opticians? Being an independent optician doesn't mean you have to go it alone. The purpose of the Guild is to unite Independent Opticians and use their collective voice to strengthen their position in the marketplace. The Guild was formed in 1926 to establish the highest-level skill set for opticianry that an office could attain. To be a member of the Guild meant your office had met the strictest standard achievable.
What are the most common complaints from consumers about their experiences in optical shops? According to an article in Consumers’ Checkbook in April 2020, “complaints usually relate to second-rate customer service—rude salespeople, long waits, indifferent advice—and high prices.” The article continues, “But many things can go wrong when buying glasses: Lenses can be positioned wrong or be defective. Opticians and optometrists must understand a slew of complex matters including matching your lenses to your eyes, fitting frames to your face (the contour of your nose is critical) and knowing what to recommend for people who need big corrections.” Sitejabber posted reviews of an optical that has both online and brick and mortar venues. There were a number of positive reviews, but of 70 recent negative reviews, 31 cited poor product quality and 39 cited poor customer service for an overall rating of 2.8 stars for both in-person and online services.
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