Last a Lifetime
ghost of Christmas Past can still teach a few painfully obvious lessons.
THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jim Thomas
me say that while I have no experience in managing an optometric practice, I did
once work as a shopping mall Santa Claus. What do Santa Claus and optometry have
in common? Looking back, there were a few similarities.
First, let me tell you that a top St. Nick,
the guy with a real beard and jelly belly who works at a top shopping mall, can
make $75,000 or more a season. I worked for minimum wage. So I didn't represent
the high-end Santa. I was the polar opposite call it the South Pole.
Lesson #1: Dress professionally.
On arriving at work the first day, my boss
handed me my costume. The outfit didn't include boots, rather, the bottoms of the
pant legs were black. "Always wear black shoes," he instructed. "It gives the illusion
of boots." After several sprays with Lysol, the suit, hat and beard were as ready
as they would be.
In this get-up, folks just weren't
buying the idea of a 6-foot, 2-inch, 170 lb. Santa who uses pillows to round out
his mid section. One of the more positive parents commented, "Well at least with
the kids on his lap, you can't see how bad the suit looks."
To which her spouse replied, "What
about that lame beard? Can't we take the kids to get their picture with a real Santa?"
Lesson #2: Use only the best equipment
Yet families decided to take their kids to
a "real" Santa even before they saw my costume. They left when they saw "Christmastown,"
the place where kids wait in line, which included a broken train and electronic
reindeer that moved with such a loud creak that several of Santa's Elves would
unplug them. One child told his mom, "I didn't ask this this Santa for a train.
I want one that works."
Lesson #3: Your staff makes the difference.
A good elf sets the pace. Compare an enthusiastic
"Welcome to the Christmastown Santa will be so happy to see you!" with the
monotone "The line starts here."
My best elf, Louise, alerted me to
the tougher customers. She would rub her forehead to indicate that the next kid
would ask for the impossible, such as, "I want a hippo."
"How do I answer that?" I asked.
Louise replied: "Relax. You're not
really Santa. Your job is to make kids smile so their parents walk away with a nice
picture. For years to come, they'll see the photo and laugh. What more could you
On behalf of our team at Optometric
Management, we wish you a prosperous, joyous and safe holiday season.
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2006