Optical Retail Success 111
Tasty, weekly nuggets of random goodness; tips, stories, and science hand-picked to help you find the most success in your optical retail business/career.
The average dog is nicer than the average person.
Law of Average
General practitioners, as indicated by their very name, are meant to serve “the average.” A general practitioner’s job is to handle average health care needs of most people. When someone doesn’t fit into the average profile, they are referred to a specialist.
Optometrists, in most cases, are general practitioners of eyecare. A large percentage of the population requires corrective lenses and optometrists are setup to handle the average vision and eye health needs for average people.
Opticians, whose job it is to fill prescriptions in the office of an “eye care GP”, have traditionally done well (enough) by offering a selection of frames that doesn’t stray too far from average along with providing a commensurate level of service. This model has worked for as long as it has largely because prescription laws made buying glasses from the in-office dispensary the least-inconvenient option.
But now, there’s a problem.
The people who are content with “average”—which is, by definition, most people— are finding they have cheaper and more convenient alternatives when they need new glasses—alternatives that are becoming cheaper and more convenient every day. A smart business person realizes, there’s no way a brick and mortar can win the race to least expensive or fewest clicks. So, what are we to do?
The answer is pretty clear, but it can be uncomfortable to realize, difficult to accept, and scary to implement. Here it is: Stop catering to average people. Go full-on in the opposite direction. As unnerving as it may be when you look at the alternative you’re not left with much of a choice.
The golden era of selling average eyewear for average people is all but over. Those who continue down that path will only see more and more prescriptions walk out the door until eventually, it's too late. Now is the time to find your niche or your tribe and focus on them relentlessly. Focus on them so intently and intensely that they have no choice, but to become raving fans. Because when you have raving fans, when you have prescriptions walking in the door rather than out, your fans are your biggest marketers and you no longer have to worry about the average.
But, while the customer profile for opticians is changing dramatically, the patient profile for optometrists essentially remains the same. For the time being anyway, optometrists are still going to find success serving a broader population, while savvy opticians or optical owners are finding they do much better serving a more demographically and psychographically focused clientele.
This, of course, is one of the reasons I preach separating medical and optical. Even though, we like to pretend they are the same and have gone to great lengths to make customers and patients believe they are the same, the goals of the two are very different. And now the markets are different too. So, we either recognize it and separate optical from medical—building optical retail as a destination instead of the last stop on the way out of the doctor’s office; a necessary bi-annual evil—or there’s a perfect storm of transparency, technology, and behavior change bearing down on us that is set to rip them apart.
If you are shifting the focus of your optical to one of retail and customer experience, location is a crucial ingredient. If retail is going to drive your business, not only do you need foot traffic, but you need the right kind of foot traffic. Just like everything else, the definition of a good retail location is changing too.
The Big Crunch
Even big box retail stores are losing relevance, while e-commerce and speciality stores grow in appeal. People no longer want — or need — to shop as anonymous customers in large stores with shelves stocked high in aisle after aisle. As a result, big box retail must shift its strategy. https://hbr.org/2016/06/big-box-retailers-have-two-options-if-they-want-to-survive
A Different Prescription For Optical
We need to change the perception that laughter and productivity are at odds. They’re not. According to a 2009 study, people are more likely to be better at problem-solving if they are in a better mood.
Remember To Be Kind
Each of us is a hero in our own story. Your life is a narration, one that concerns itself with you, that centers itself towards you, that has supporting characters around you, that is good or bad or right or wrong as it relates to you. We are all, of course, aware of this self-centeredness, but we don’t openly talk about it. It’s unbecoming: uncomfortable, even.
The mere fact that we don’t talk about it, however, means that we also let it delude us. We convince ourselves that we — the hero — are always the good guys and that anyone who is in our way, or who disagrees with us, or who has wronged us in some big or small way is by definition the bad guy — that they don’t deserve the same empathy or kindness or understanding that we would expect if we were in their position.
We forget that the human condition is diverse, that different people have different belief templates, and that most bad guys don’t think of themselves as bad guys; most of them, too, think they are doing the right thing, the noble thing. Even when they aren’t, they — like you — are flawed human beings, shaped by billions of variables, many of which they had little control over, that may not have provided them with the luxury and the comfort to do the right thing at each and every moment in their life.
You don’t have to look much further than the current political climate in the world to see an illustration of the problem I’m talking about. We have become so comfortable hating each other that it completely escapes us that the point of having these conversations is to better understand each other. In the process, we have become exactly the kind of people who do and say things that actually merit the label of the bad guy.
Video of The Week: How To Make Intermediate-Near Task Specific Bifocals
This week we cover the steps of converting a distance eyeglass prescription with a given add power to a lined bifocal with both intermediate and near accommodation. Here are step-by-step examples of the math involved in making that conversion.
Through the OpticianWorks free video lessons, Laramy-K Optical is making every effort to provide better and more accessible education for opticians everywhere, but we’re only able to do it with your support.
You can help keep it going in two ways:
Become a paid member of OpticianWorks.com for access to the best in online optician training (The videos are only a small portion).
Or, even better, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the very best in independent uncut work and we'll throw in the OpticianWorks memberships for free! Your customers and your staff will thank you!
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Optical Retail Success.
Here’s to your success in this year and beyond.
Thanks for reading and sharing!