Roll With the Punches [Lori Fender]

Times are tough for independent optical shops right now. Heavyweight online retailers are becoming more and more attractive to bargain shoppers, insurance companies are strong-arming their way into every office, reimbursement for goods and services are getting lower and lower. It appears we are on the ropes. How do we not just give up and take a dive?

Industry written articles assert that the industry is strong, independent optical shops are fine, there's nothing to worry about. Others industry experts do not paint such a pretty picture. They say our days are numbered.

It is true, our industry has overcome a lot of scary transitions and have come out stronger and better than ever, but the most recent blows to our industry have been felt right in the bread basket, and continue to pumble independent businesses. We've been sucker-punched with threats to take away certifications, licensure, choice of labs, choice of frames, etc. Saying everything is going to be fine is not going to cut it this time. We must act, we must change, we must roll with the punches. We all need to step up our customer service, encourage education for staff, manage tighter inventory, keep a keen eye on trends, foster creative and impactful advertising, and make each experience unique for our patients. We must embrace change, know the change, so we can best defend our industry. For every blow we get, we must fight back and hit below the belt. It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Here are some tips to help your business stay strong:

Target The Right Customers

You've heard the saying: If you try to market to everybody then you end up targeting nobody. Study your neighborhood, listen to your customers needs and meet those needs. Once you know your target customer base, deliver a jab of appealing advertising to draw them in.

In Person Networking

Go bare-knuckle. Don't be afraid to promote your business through channels such as your local Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood fundraisers, social events, art walks, etc. Volunteer to be a speaker to talk about what your business has to offer. Meeting a representative from your office will make your office a shoe in for the next time that person needs eye care services.

Benefits vs. Features

Features don't mean a thing to a patient if we don't express to them the benefits they will gain from the features. Know your products inside out so that you can encourage your patients to choose the features you recommend, once they see it your way, deliver a swift jab to seal a deal.

Education

Education is super important. Proper training of staff will increase sales, reduce mistakes and keep patients coming back again and again. Education is the corner man to keep us on our toes and to remain a contender in the industry.

Persistence Will Pay Off

Having persistence with sales is key. Often, we don't want to seem too aggressive with sales in the optical, but a friendly follow up will go along way. It's ok to go the distance in the ring. The next blow could be the knockout you need to make the sale.

I hope these tips help you TKO your next industry opponent. Fight on!

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