The Dirty Optician

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Like many of you, I like to have fun. Not just at home but at work too. Day after day and year after year I take PD measurements. Whether it be a high tech pupilometer or an old school PD ruler and flashlight you need these measurements to make an accurate pair of glasses.  Every day, clients ask me about the measurements I am taking and why.
 
Nothing makes me laugh harder than when someone asks me what a PD is and I tell them it is PENIS DISTANCE! Or when I ask them to look through the pupilometer and ask the client to focus on the green light and if they see the NAKED LADY I know they are looking in the right spot. I would say that 100% of the time this gets a huge laugh! Of course we have to retake all the measurements since they client is shaking with laughter!

I have to say, people like a dirty joke with their optical experience. Of course you have to choose your audience. We happen to have a seminary of Basilian Catholic Priests down the street from us and I don’t make the same jokes with them as I do the university students.  We are known in our store for brutal honesty and fun.  Don’t ask me to say I like a frame on your face when it is horrid.  I will tell you what you are wearing makes you look old and that we can do way better. Just last week a VERY handsome man came in to the store and was very stressed out because he had been to absolutely every store in Toronto and could not find a frame that he liked on his face. I told him right away, “it’s because YOU are SOOOO UGLY that you can’t find a frame. Too bad you aren’t better looking...it would be easier!”  It was hilarious and he laughed so hard he cried! No one had ever said anything like that to him before and he loved it.
 
Although many people enjoy the process of choosing new frames, there are some that need a little cheering up. I have been told that going to the dentist and having a tooth extracted is more fun that choosing new eyewear. Well, not on my watch! After many years I know that there is a tremendous amount of technique and skill in fitting a quality pair of specs but I also know that it can be fun as well. My favourite thing is when clients come back and are excited to choose new eyewear because they know with us they are going to have a ball!
 
Have fun today and make someone smile!

THE RELENTLESS OPTICIAN

Yesterday, a client called me “relentless” and I took it as a compliment. His wife was purchasing sunglasses and he has been happy with his two pairs of new glasses he picked up before the new year. She pulled out of her purse a personalized, handwritten thank you note with a $25 gift certificate that we had sent her husband. He joked that he couldn’t remember the last time he had received a handwritten thank you note in the mail! He shrugged and admitted that our persistence paid off because here they were... back for more glasses!

The note we send follows the thank you call we make to each and every client after they pick up their new glasses. We make sure our clients know we are grateful for their purchase and remind them to bring in their glasses for proper maintenance and adjustments.

Most often our calls are answered with positive feedback and compliments. Once in awhile, there are prescription concerns or growing pains and we always insist the client comes in as soon as possible to resolve any issues. Sometimes, the best and most dedicated clients are ones that have come from problem solving. We are never afraid of facing a challenging problem and we welcome the most demanding cases.

We try to be in constant contact with our clients so when they need an exam, contacts or glasses, they come straight to us! We send emails offering special events and promotions and keep active on social media sights. We are obsessive about collecting email addresses as it is our main marketing tool. Traditionally, clients are called to pick up their glasses but we have found that NO ONE EVER answers their phone anymore and RARELY listen to their messages. So, a quick email to clients informing them of them of the status of their order is a welcome change.

Independent opticians have to fight harder and smarter for a piece of the optical pie. Our competition is fierce with big budget chain stores and on-line retailers. WE HAVE TO BE RELENTLESS! We have to be the best and most creative marketers and merchandisers. We have to be the most knowledgeable and specialized in our field. We have to support each other and DailyOptician provides an excellent tool for collaboration and creative thinking. Join the conversation!

How do you connect with your clients? What is your secret to success? I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and challenges!

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TO SELL RAYBANS OR NOT TO SELL RAYBANS....THAT IS THE QUESTION!

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Hello to all my friends at #dailyotician! It has been a long time since I have posted and I do apologize for not keeping up. In the past few months my sister and I have taken ownership of our Toronto location and have been focusing on building our business together. Keeping in mind the location has been here for over 30 years and we have been running it for many years.  In any case, when you become an owner of your own independent optical store it seems there is less time to write! I have not lost my passion for social media and the international optical community.  In my quest for the latest information on frames, lenses, marketing and all things optical I have come across many fantastic forms on Facebook and other sources that are engaging and dare I say...helpful. What I have learned is that fellow independent opticians are very proud of their profession and the products the choose to sell. They are very supportive of each other in many ways including their struggle against BO. BO is short for Big Optical (and you know who they are), which I have recently learned.  This is something we all have in common and are very passionate about carving out and maintaining the future success of the independent dispensary.  

Recently, I was part of a discussion about Raybans.  Independent opticians are passionate about not carrying BO products.  They strive to differentiate themselves by carrying independent brands.  That is what we have been doing forever and maybe it has been part of our success.  Going from store to store with a style number  looking for the cheapest price is not a game I like to play and avoid it like the plague.  The controversy I mentioned was whether to sell Raybans or not.  There are definitely two camps.  There are those who absolutely refuse to sell it because it supports Big Optical and under no conditions will support it by selling their products. There is also a group who feel it is necessary to sell it even though they know they shouldn't because it supports BO ie/ the competition.  Rayban is for sure a staple in the industry regardless of who has owned the line.  It seems not to be replaceable by anything else.  The marketing is outstanding because, of course, BO has the dollars. When someone comes in and asks you for Raybans every day and is ready to buy what does a business person do? Not stock them and have the person walk out no matter how you try to convince them that "X" brand is superior in quality and style etc....??? OR do you carry a few of the most important pieces so that you can either make a sale and over time help them make different choices in their eyewear. I have to admit that I am not as strong as some. We do sell Raybans and that is the only brand we sell from BO. Our sales rep understands the problem independents have with carrying the line and is very supportive by making it possible to carry just a few pieces. He says we are for sure his smallest account but his favourite ;) The relationship with your reps is so important but that's another story.  Other optical brands from BO seem easily replaced and not an issue when it comes to closing a sale. But Raybans somehow are different....and I have huge respect for those independents who refuse to sell it under any conditions but in today's competitive environment. Independent bricks and mortar stores are doing whatever it takes to stay in business while continuing to provide clients the outstanding service and quality they have come to expect.  

Do you cut off your nose to spite your face or do you swallow your pride and give the people what they want??  Only you can decide....

How do you feel about Raybans? Do you carry them?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Vintage is the New Black

Vintage is the new buzz word in optical and fashion worldwide. We have always seen a nod to the past with fashion but now eyewear is taking on more than a nod! Thanks to the ever so fashionable millenniums and generation y's we are seeing a huge resurgence in vintage eyewear. Not just reproductions but the real deal. At our store we have been doing vintage alongside the newest products for years. Luckily for us, we have been in business since my father opened his practice in 1953 and as a result of some excellent organizational skills (aka hoarding) we have ended up with original and mint condition frames from the 1950s, 60s, 70s , 80s and 90s. We display our vintage frames in a special collection in the store where they are accessible to our clientele to try on and have fun with. We get super excited when we find product with a vintage designer story but we also truly appreciate the workmanship and details that went into the manufacturing of frames. The materials, the hinges, the bridges... the old saying "THEY DON'T MAKE IT LIKE THEY USED TOO" has never been truer. 

When clients get a peek at our vintage collection, they absolutely go crazy! To be completely honest, some laugh hysterically and tell us stories about the frames they were forced to wear as a child or of their Great Aunt Thelma's cat eye glasses with the diamonds. But then there are those who are giddy with excitement and love the idea of authentic vintage product. They tell us we are crazy for charging so little and that others charge hundreds more. What can we say...we are suckers for the sentimental! Many of the 18-25 year olds attack the collection first, loving the current 80s trend of huge oversized round plastic frames in every color possible (REMEMBER TO MEASURE OPTICAL CENTERS!!!) Then you have your hipsters who go nuts for the perfect aviator with a great gradient tint! Suits their passion for 70s TV detective shows and rock and roll lifestyle! And then there are our little old ladies who have been looking for the past 20-30 years for a frame just like the one they lost on the golf course at their condo in Boca Raton. They can't believe their luck when they find it! " Do we have anymore?", they ALL ask...but the answer is always... " Just what you see here but if you give me your email address I will contact you when we have more!!" Anything to get an email address from a perspective client! ....Collecting emails....that's another story for another time! 

Keep in touch and let me know how you are all doing! Do you have vintage collections? Where do you find your products?