Optician Success 64
Weekly nuggets of random goodness, hand-picked to complement the OpticianWorks Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Rock Star Optician; tips, stories, and science helping you focus on getting the most from your optician business/career.
Giving Away The Store… or Just The PD?
While tales of the Retail Apocalypse may be a little overstated—maybe you aren’t even feeling the pinch yet—that doesn’t mean you don’t need to change. It may not be too late, but it could be later than you think.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”—Chinese Proverb
For years now, customer experience has been the way small retailers could compete against the chains and big box stores. It took awhile, but even theyare starting to catch on. The future of retail is stores that aren’t stores.
It’s pretty clear that conducting business “the way it’s always been done” is going to be difficult, if not impossible in the years to come. But, what exactly do you need to do to remain competitive in the world of falling prices and online domination?
First, realize that, if you’re an optician selling eyewear, you are in retail. You are not practicing medicine. While it may boost your ego to call yourself a medical professional and think of the people that walk in your door as patients, you might want to reconsider. What if you were instead to work on elevating your profession to a craft or an art? Focus on becoming the best optician you can be and do it in the service of your customers. Always remember, people hate going to the doctor, but they love to shop. If you’re in the business of selling eyewear, which side do you really want to be on?
Next, as I’ve always said, you can’t out-Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart. Lowering prices is usually not a good strategy. The problem with engaging in the race to the bottom is that you might just win. Just as true: you can't out-Amazon, Amazon (or WP). But here’s the thing, you probably don’t have to. The most disruptive challenge retail faces IS actually not e-commerce, but the fact that most buying decisions start online. It turns out, digitally-influenced brick-and-mortar sales dwarf online sales. It’s even truer in optical.
...which is why your website, social media presence, and online reviews are so vitally important.
Then there’s this little bit that Gen Z is 2 to 3 times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts.
So, get out there, manage your online presence, and start asking for those reviews!
Finally, take the time to really get to know who your customers are. Focus on building more personalized offerings and experiences. As I mentioned last week, it’s not as much about giving them more stuff to buy as it is giving them more stuff to experience and do in your store. Studies have shown a major factor in retail success is time spent in the store.
Which brings us to, should you give away the PD?
As difficult as it may be to admit, you probably know the answer. Of course, you should give away the PD.
Not giving away PDs or going as far as posting notices warning of the “dangers” of purchasing eyewear online may make you feel better, but it will likely have the opposite of the intended effect. Remember those online reviews? Do you really want to put more distance between you someone that has decided not buy from you? Or instead, do you want to accept the challenge, give the PD measurement, use it as an opportunity to have a conversation and try to pick up a sale either now or some point in the future? Yes, it can difficulty when someone is looking for Zenni prices. But you don't need to convert every one of them, just a few. The only thing chasing them off accomplishes, is guaranteeing that you convert none.
Your job, as a rock star optician is to serve people, not to make their lives more difficult then pretend that you are somehow doing them a favor by not giving them a PD. You’re not saving lives and you’re certainly not teaching anyone a lesson. Optical owners spend thousands of dollars in advertising to get people in the door and here you have people walking in for the negligible cost of a PD measurement. Take advantage of it!
If you still feel like you need to charge for a PD measurement, combine it with a liberal policy that allows you to give it away in “special circumstances” (which happen to be virtually every time someone asks). This way you have the added benefit of making a customer feel like you’ve done something special for them.
Going even further—this will almost certainly sound sacrilege, but—consider becoming an expert on online eyewear sites. Offer to help steer those insistingon purchasing their eyewear online to their best options and tell them why. The same (or similar) reasoning, when taken to the next logical step, is likely to apply to why they should buy from you.
So, why go through all this trouble and break with the heard mentality that insists online optical is the devil?
Remember that the longer people are in your store (willingly) and the longer they engaged, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Remember that the way you differentiate yourself is through service, expertise, and experience. Think Apple’s Genius Bar.
Remember the importance of online reviews.
Remember that, contrary to popular belief, people don’t actually die when they get a pair of poorly made glasses online. What's more, not all online glasses are actually poorly made. I’m sure you’re all too aware of this, but if someone gets new glasses and can’t see, they’re probably going to notice… and they're probably going to complain.
Remember that the real impact of online eyewear sales is much smaller than we make it out to be, but is absolutely here to stay.
Vive la Difference?
When it comes down to it, how different are you from your online competitors anyway? If you are like the most, you might not be as different as you think.
Video Of The Week - One Simple Trick To Choose The Best Freeform Design… Every Time.
Want an easy, fool-proof way to choose the very best free-form lens design for your customer? No interrogations, no lifestyle questions, no guesswork! We call it, “free form by the numbers.” Learn the method Laramy-K has used to match tens of thousands of wearers to their perfect freeform lens based on the prescription. Plus, find out what are the best circumstances to use Camber, balanced designs, new wearer designs, and sport designs.
Don’t forget, our goal is to provide a more accessible and higher level of education for opticians everywhere. If you like Optician Success and our free weekly videos (and haven’t done so yet), please consider showing your support by becoming a member of OpticianWorks.com which includes access to even more high-quality optician training. Or, better yet, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the best in truly independent uncut work and we'll throw in OpticianWorks memberships for your entire office for free.
I hope you enjoyed this issue of Optician Success.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading and sharing!