They closed the gym in my office building for renovations and it won’t reopen until January. That has no relevance here except for me to tell you that it has me really annoyed. I had a plan! I was going to be proactive! I was going to start my New Year’s resolutions early! I was going to get fit while everyone else was getting fat and happy on turkey and stuffing. I was going to be miserable and slim in the gym! They ruined everything!
Sure, exercise enthusiasts would tell you that I can work out at home, that if I get up an hour earlier, I could squeeze in a run, or several sets of squats. But, what they fail to consider when they dole out these worthless little advice pellets from their ab dispenser, is that I am not a morning person. I must ease into my day. First, I have my snooze button, sans interruptions. Then, I have my coffee with a side of donut. Then, my eyes remain open while my body blissfully remains asleep through most of the first few hours of my day. It is so hard to get me up early in the morning that my most vivid memories from my childhood are of my mother stomping down the stairs, screaming "I’m leaving in five minutes whether you’re in the car or not!" and my grandfather dumping water on my head to get me out of bed.
So, you see, I have no choice. I too must live in the moment, enjoy the season, and stuff myself happy. My baby daughter will be a duck for Halloween, I have three Thanksgiving dinners planned so far, and several Christmas celebrations, all with different people so the food and the gifts just keep coming!
In what would seem more relevant news, most of my consultations this month have focused on goal-setting. This is about the time of year when we evaluate our waistlines alongside our bottom lines and discover that we have indeed, messed up. I am left to break the news that now is the time for goal-setting but not long-term. All we need are holiday goals to end the year strong.
The easiest goal to focus on during the holidays is increasing plano sun sales, because, like our waistlines, our wallets are uninhibited this time of year. It is not too late to order some in to the assortment. I spend the better part of my time asking practices to cut back on their inventory, but that speech won’t be coming today. This is the time to over-prepare, over-staff and over-stock.
Seize this opportunity! Optometric practices, in general, struggle with the plano sun category, but the holidays are the perfect time to drive this part of the business, while simultaneously creating sales behavior that will survive in the staff long after the trees have come down, a long-term benefit to the practice.
I want everyone in the practice to have a conversation about the holidays with every patient. Ask a simple question, "Have you finished your holiday shopping?" The answer will inevitably be no.
Then, for the Front Desk, "We do sell some beautiful sunglasses which make a great gift and we have a free returns policy until January 30th."
The Opticians then ask the same question, and make the same comment, just to reinforce their procrastination after the exam.
If they don’t bite…
"Are you still shopping for the women in your life, or the men?" A critical step in side-stepping the spouse/gender minefield.
If the answer is women: "What color is her hair?" It is an out-of-left-field question that will catch people’s attention. Unlike the scintillating "How are you, fine" dialog, the question of hair color requires some thought. When they answer, which they will, you immediately know they are thinking of a specific person for whom they do not yet have a gift.
That’s the sales holy grail right there.
As a practice, agree to 2-3 brands in the men’s and women’s category that are top sellers. Ensure at least 2 name brand fashion lines fall into this list. Order in 12-16 pieces of sun plano for those lines and display them right next to their ophthalmic parents. Then choose exactly one style in each of those brands that looks good on everybody. To find them, have everyone on the staff try them on. They should look good on most people. We’re not looking for perfection here, we’re simply looking for a high rate of success.
When someone answers the hair color question, for blonde hair, show them the go-to style in tortoise or blonde tortoise. For brunettes, the black or brown frames. This will give the impression you are selecting a frame that is unique to the special person in the patient’s life and give you a leg up in styling authority, increasing the likelihood of closing the sale.
Ask yourself, how you will be closing out the year? By focusing on things you cannot change or by attacking this holiday season for what it is? Not a time to focus on trimming the fat in the Optical, but instead to seize the opportunity to drive incremental revenue in your practice and satisfy a real need our patients have, finding that perfect gift.
Now go out there and start the seizin’… get it?
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find success on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.