Be an Observer

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One of my friends recently said to me, “Do you ever stop thinking about your business?” I had a good laugh and thought about my answer. While I almost said, “Well, of course,” I then paused and really considered. Do I really? And the answer truly is no! While I may not be always thinking about optometry in general, many of my best ideas have come from just being an observer of other businesses and using these in my eyewear studio.

What do I mean by this? One of my favorite things to do at lunch (now that the weather is nice!) is to take a walk and stop in local businesses and see what I can learn from them. What are some of the things I have learned (and applied at Look New Canaan)?

An immediate welcome is essential. Have you ever walked into a store and wondered if they’re open? Am I supposed to be here? Does anyone work here? The reverse, however, is super powerful. When you walk into a store and the person behind the counter or folding clothing excitedly welcomes you and asks how they can help. What experience would YOU prefer? Is this the experience your patients have? All too often, a patient walks into an office where a front desk person is either looking down or on their phone, making it an unwelcome or unsure start to the appointment. The next time you go to a store or shop, see what type of greeting you get and how it makes you feel.

Presentation matters. With online shopping, fitting rooms can feel like a distant memory. But think back to the last time you tried on clothing in the store. What was the state of the fitting room? When you entered, was there a haphazard pile of the previous occupant’s discarded clothing? Were there empty or broken hangers on the floor? Or, did the salesperson greet you in the store and offer to start a fitting room for you? If so, when it came time to find your room, did you have to wander around, or was your name written on a small chalkboard and your clothing nicely displayed in your personal space? These were both experiences I recently had, and what a difference I felt!

How does this pertain to our practices? Are there discarded frames scattered on your optical desks? Are patients left to browse themselves and self-select? Does your optician greet your patient right away and get them seated and bring them a personalized showing? Or, as we do at Look, does the optician pre-shop for the patient while they are in the consult room and present them with a curated selection based on their face shape, coloring, and current eyewear? The next time you are shopping for yourself, take a pause and see how the dressing room presentation (or lack thereof!) affects your perception.

Mix and match. One of the greatest parts of our location is the number of local business neighbors we have. I try and visit one and meet the owners every week and introduce myself. Last week, I popped into a cute boutique right down the street that sells jewelry, housewares, clothing, and gifts. What struck me immediately was the way they had everything displayed. Instead of having candles separate from jewelry separate from photo frames, etc., they had a delightful mix that invited you to look at everything! I spent more time than I had anticipated, checking out each shelf and nook for fear of missing something.

While we don’t typically want to mix and match lines (I like to organize by brand), can we infuse a little fun and whimsy on our shelves? Can we add plants or flowers on the shelving to dress it up a bit? Can we sprinkle products we sell in with our frame lines to create interest and showcase more of what we do? Consider a summer display with sunglasses, sunblock, a beach tote, and some beach reads. Maybe even partner with a local bookstore or library. 

Are you looking for ideas? Visit some local boutiques and shops and see what piques your interest.

When we are trying to make changes or updates at our practice, it can often be difficult to know where to start, or feel paralyzed with decisions. Instead of feeling pressured, start to collect ideas (good and bad!) from businesses you frequent, and be creative in implementing in your practice!

Yours in success, 
Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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