Field Trip to Milan!

(Image by Shaun Dunmall)

(Image by Shaun Dunmall)

The DailyOptician team is heading to Milan today to attend MIDO!  We will be working on a special project in Milan and are eager to share photos with you when we return.

On a very related topic, I often talk to opticians and optometrists about big optical events such as: MIDO, Vision Expo East/West, The LOFT, Silmo, 100% Optical, OptiCon, SECO and more. When we chat about these events, I’m shocked at the number of optical professionals that have never heard of these conferences, expos, and tradeshows.

Many owners of private practices (as well as optical shops) do not send team members to these tradeshows. The excuses I usually hear:

  1. We don’t have money to spend for sending anyone to a conference.
  2. We have no time to attend those luxury events. We can’t be short-handed.
  3. What if I send staff to an event and they leave after they come back?
  4. We do good enough; we stay on top of best practices, etc.
  5. They usually don’t implement anything they learned at the conference.
  6. We see our local reps. We don’t need a new rep that never shows up again.

My response:


  1. Look at it as an investment for your practice to find new ways to make and save money. These shows have the best education possible for the entire team. It probably costs you MORE money by not participating in CE for your team. 
    Good guide for your investment: Have team members pay for flight (so they are invested in it), then you cover hotel, CE, taxis and $50 per day for meals. You can do that!
  2. You may be short-handed for a day or two, but again, when a team member comes back from a tradeshow, they are a new person. They are pumped up to implement new strategies to help your business be more successful. Being short-handed for a short period of time will help in the long run. Look at the big picture.
  3. This is maybe one of the biggest fears for optical business owners: If I spend all this money on a CE event AND we are short-handed for a couple of days, then the team member LEAVES our practice, now I’m really upset. 
    Many speakers and practice consultants have said before me: what happens if they stay? There is a big difference between an employee that views their role as a job in your practice versus a career. I’d take the optical professional who sees this as a career any day. Staff that look at it as a job are robots. They clock in and clock out. Invest in team members by sending them to events where they will understand the big picture our exciting optical industry, one that they will love to engage in and grow with. They’ll be happy to be supported by an owner that invests in them. 
  4. You’d be surprised at how quickly things change in this industry. NEW technology, exciting NEW frames, NEW ideas, NEW best practices, NEW everything. Chances are if you’re not participating in events, you’re out of touch with the industry. Stop being complacent and stagnant and learn the NEW now!
  5. This excuse actually has some merit to it! Many times only one team member gets to go to a conference. Then they come back and it’s hard to implement ideas. Others may even resent the employee who got to attend the event. Create a “What I Learned” folder where each team member attendee takes notes on classes and on the new technology/eyewear they learned about. Then, schedule a team meeting where the conference attendee shares all this new info. This keeps the individual(s) accountable. To avoid resentment, rotate who gets to go next time with the same expectations.
  6. Chances are if you are seeing the local reps, your product can be found many places in your area, including your competition. Go on a field trip, visiting optical shops within 30 miles of your practice. You’ll be surprised how similar each optical looks to yours. Be unique and differentiate your frame collections. Hold the outside rep accountable. They should visit you a minimum of 3 times per year.

Stay on top of best practices and employee engagement… invest in optical conferences, tradeshows and events.

To help you plan your next event, check out our DailyOptician mobile app. We included an “Events” section to keep track of state, national and international events. You will find a chronological listing of the events as well as links to their websites and more.

Make sure to check it out, and please, start sending your team members to conferences and tradeshows. It’s necessary for your business.

Tim SlapnicherComment