Our industry is always changing (which is a cool thing), but it seems like it has been especially crazy the past few years. Consumers now have lots of options to buy eyewear and it is time for us to take it to the next level. In the past, our office was able to differentiate by selling unique frame lines. It seems like that is harder and harder as there is more accessibility to "exclusive" lines. How else can you differentiate and stand out besides just carrying different frames than the local competition?
I believe one of the biggest opportunities is understanding the difference between viewing your role as an optician as a career instead of a job. With any job, you can clock in and clock out, go through the motions, arrive at work right at the start time and take off right when you're scheduled to leave. You can leave work at work and not think about it until Monday morning again. As an industry, some have been able to get by like this in the years past.
When we think of being an optician as a career, we change the mindset of what it looks like when we show up to work and how we continue to find ways to get better and better. I love team members that are fully engaged and present at work. They are passionate and make the optical experience an event for clients. They know their stuff and aren't "too above" learning new things. They look for continuing education opportunities (not just for credit) to help stay on top of technology and problem solving. They read industry magazines and check out websites to stay current on fashion trends and products. They learn about the competition and continue to explore ways to rise above and strive for excellence.
Many states are licensed and have great training at colleges with apprenticeship opportunities. More states have no regulations...anyone can come off the street and declare themselves an optician. This is a big disconnect across the board. I beg you, if you are in a non-licensed state, become ABO certified and keep this profession a career instead of a job. There is so much value in a trained and skilled optician. It's more than the ability to sell and have great customer service. Take the plunge, get certified, and become a lifelong learner. Know your shtuff...it will keep us rockin' as an industry.
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