Optician Success 74

 

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.

 

A Tale Of Two Opticals

My mom was in town for the week of Thanksgiving. It just so happened, my entire family needed new glasses so, we decided to venture out to see if we could hunt down some relatively cool frames in not-so-cool, semi-rural North Georgia. We started with an obligatory Google search to see if we could find anyone that carried decent independent lines nearby.

Quick Sidebar and Critically Important Point: An Internet search is the first step for the overwhelming majority of retail purchases. If you haven’t already, put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. Consider as many search phrases that you can come up with that your ideal customer might use and enter them into your favorite search engine. You may find there is some work to be done.

Our search yielded two promising OD offices with a few independent lines listed on their websites. The first led us to the upper floor of a small medical plaza. We walked through a couple of narrow doorways and into a clean, but stuffy 15’x20’ waiting room. The wall opposite the entrance bore the familiar closed sliding glass window. To the right of the window was a closed door, presumably leading to the exam rooms. The near wall was tightly lined with uncomfortable chairs occupied by equally uncomfortable patients, each trying hard not to make eye contact with one another or let their elbows touch. In the middle of the room was a nondescript coffee table covered in dated magazines. No frames or even pictures of frames were anywhere to be seen. I walked back out and down the hallway, looking for a dispensary.

Nothing.

Back to the waiting room. This time I noted a TV mounted obnoxiously high in the corner of the room blaring big optical (guess which one) lens and coating propaganda.

The experience was already enough to make me want to turn around and try our luck elsewhere.

My mom, however, is not so easily deterred. She stepped up to the window and knocked on the glass while my wife and son waited in the narrow hallway just outside.  Roz slid open the glass. “Do you have an appointment?” “No.”, my mom explained we just wanted to shop for frames.” Roz paused, gave a puzzled look. Finally, she uttered “Someone will be with you in a minute.” With that, she closed the glass window and went back to her work.

So, we stood in the doorway and waited.

5 minutes passed. I suggested we leave.

10 minutes. I decided to take another walk down the hallway.

15 minutes. Roz slides the open the glass, “Do you have insurance?”

“No, we won’t be using insurance.”, explained my mother.

Another pause.

 

“Do you have a copy of your prescription?”

I really wanted to leave.

 

“No.”

More puzzled looks from Roz. Maybe even put-out. “Someone will be with you in a minute.”

Now admittedly, this probably isn’t the most typical occurrence for a lot of opticals. People shopping for… medical devices? WTF? But why is it so unusual?  Why is it that people don’t go shopping for eyewear?

THIS! This is why!

I also understand that someone shopping for frames without a prescription could be showrooming and intent on purchasing their glasses online. But let me just say that first of all, this had nothing to do with online shoppers and secondly, no one is doing themselves a favor by making it more difficult to look at frames.

So, another few minutes pass. Finally, a young lady dressed in scrubs opens the door? “Can I help you?” Again, more explanations required. My chest tightens.

Eventually, she leads us to the back corner of the building through another closed door, into a 15’x15’ “dispensary” consumed almost entirely by an oversized desk in the middle of the room. A quick look reveals the walls are covered in cheap mass-market crap—not what I was looking for. Walmart would have offered a better selection and far-better experience—and I hate going to Walmart.

 

“I’ll be waiting in the car.”

I nod to my son and we quickly find our way back out through the maze to the daylight and fresh air.   

Don’t get me wrong. The place was not a dungeon. It was clean and perfectly acceptable as medical offices go. But who in their right mind wants to go out of their way to visit a medical office when they don’t have to?  

Not long after, my mom and wife return to the car.

It turns out they did actually have some nicer frames… locked away in the cabinets below the displays. Oy.

I wondered if the next stop will be any better. It couldn’t possibly be any worse. This one was called a “vision center” the next one a “boutique” so there was reason for hope.

...

We walked through double glass doors into a small, but open and airy showroom with high ceilings and funky decor. Every wall was lined with custom shelves, not the standard sterile-looking optical displays. The shelves were adorned with a combination of independent frames (a few popular mass-market selections), eclectic items, and fashionable products, jewelry, scarves, and other items from different sources, including local artisans. No gaudy marketing POP could be found littering the walls or countertops.

Even though the space was small, there was a comfortable seating area, a coffee machine and bottled water. The opticians were excited to talk to us about their frames,  different options and willing to offer suggestions. We weren’t slammed over the head with questions about insurance or prescriptions. Just a welcoming environment. My wife immediately fell in love with their vintage frames.

The exam lanes, were just as cool as the boutique, if not more so. They were dark, but with fun colors and interesting lighting. Each had it’s own hand tiled mosaic sink with matching artwork. There was also a selection of art from local artisans. It’s hard to explain, but it felt kind of zen and moody, but in a funky colorful sort of way. It was put together so that you really didn’t mind sitting and waiting for the doctor.

It turns out the doc that owns the boutique happened to be going to school to become an esthetician. She wanted to further expand the services and experiences she offers her customers.

My son later said, “The biggest difference was the people. In the second place we went, it seemed like they cared about us. They talked to us and were helpful. They were nice. In the first place, they were just like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ ”

For me, it boiled down to: In one, I wanted to stay, explore and interact. In the other, I couldn’t leave fast enough and of course, will not return.

 

When I talk about the importance of treating the people like customers instead of patients, I’m not just talking semantics. This experience describes it to a T.

 

Kudos to Spec-takular Boutique for their incredible personal engagement on the part of all their staff and their ability to build a memorable experience, even in the small town of Dawsonville, GA. 

 

Hopped Up Experience

In a video interview, when asked about staying relevant in a world where everyone is “staying home and ordering on Amazon”, new Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson talks about elevating experience around a modern need for convenience and connection. Sound familiar? He also recognizes the importance of establishing retail locations as destinations in themselves as opposed to just trying “capture traffic as it walks by”, a key reason why Starbucks is closing many of its mall locations.  

 

 

Video Of The Week - Soft Jaw Pliers

These pliers are a great addition to any optician’s toolbox. However, because of their design, they may be used for things they shouldn’t. This quick video covers both proper and improper use.

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 surfacing and coating 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!

-Keith

 

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