Opticianry is defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the patient.
Opticians must assume responsibility for loss of market share.
a big disparity today in the quality of
optical dispensary is a health and wellness
facility where Opticians
optical outlets are 'ready-to-wear' stores
POINTS TO PONDER
"What do Dentists, Manicurists, Hairstylists and Opticians
Opticians relate to consumers as Customers,
"The real challenge for any Optician is to handcraft a symmetrically
is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
"Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile contact with the
"The closer providers are to the Patient, i.e., laying hands directly on
Retail Optical paradigm needs a long overdue shift to the point
"Man's purpose is to serve. Service is an intrinsic value, not a
OpticiansForThePeople.com is devoted to the principle that the prescription eyewear Consumer is best served only when they receive competent, 3-Dimesional Dispensing services, i.e., in-depth Discovery, bias-free Design, and hands-on Delivery of eyewear from a skilled Dispenser. In other words, Consumers deserve a) a full discovery in-depth lifestyle interview, b) comprehensive design of lenses and frame, and c) hands-on, in place, on-the-face delivery of service including multi-dimensional, handcrafted, form-fitted eyewear. Anything less is unacceptable. See Letter to Eye Care Professionals.
Independent Opticians Do It Better
Too many retail optical stores owe their allegiance to stockholders, not Consumers. Ophthalmic consumers are better served in most cases by Independent Optical Dispensaries, whose Opticians tend to be more caring and experienced, more flexible with their policies, and more inclined to put service ahead of sales, and prudence ahead of profit since they serve the consumer directly with more accountability for their actions. See GlassesOnlineWarning.com. See Common Complaints and Causes. See Find a skilled Optician in your area.
As senior, independent Ophthalmic Healthcare Providers, we are interested in sharing our experience as dispensers of prescription eyewear. If you are a Consumer who recognizes the decades-old decline in dispensing skills and you need any assistance, please contact us here.
The Open Letter to the American consumer, which follows, presents a 'Bird's eye' view of a) the business model in use today by many Retail Optical Dispensaries; b) the conflicted relationship between experienced Opticians and many Retail Managers and Executives; c) the retailing practices, which have led to a steep and steady decline in the practical design and up-close-and-personal, and on-the-face delivery of custom-fitted, prescription eyewear; d) practical remedies.
The opinions and conclusions are based first, on our direct observation and experience, and second, on the first hand testimonials of Patients with whom we have had the opportunity of serving. And they are presented with the hope that consumers will resonate and be inspired and motivated to demand improvements in the training of Opticians. Note: An abbreviated version of the Open Letter appears in the November 2009 edition of Eye Care Professional Magazine.
Open Letter To Consumers
First, a brief personal history about Hari Singh Bird, Optician, the author of this narrative. Mr. Bird's career as an Optician began following active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and his subsequent employment with an American Optical Company Branch Laboratory in 1958. He spent more than 2 years in all phases of Laboratory operations as a Lab Technician, which included hand surfacing, power generation, hand stone and automatic edging, bench work, finishing, final inspection and hands-on-the-Patient custom fitting.** (At that time AO and B&L, Bausch and Lomb, laboratories dispensed eyewear to the public at the request of eye care practitioners, i.e., MD's and OD's. See OpticianryToday.com for additional background.) Mr. Bird then became the Manager of an AO Branch Laboratory, and later a Sales Rep for American Optical lenses, frames, and ophthalmic instruments. He subsequently returned to Ophthalmic Dispensing with a joint MD-OD practice. He holds active Dispensing Optician licenses in Florida and Arizona. He is also ABO, American Board of Opticianry, and NCLE, National Contact Lens Examiners, certified. He is a current member of POF, Professional Opticians of Florida, and he has several years experience as the owner of an independent, privately operated Ophthalmic Dispensary, and more recently as a Licensed Optician for a retail optical chain. See DispensingGuidelines.com.
.) Many Optical Retailers are well positioned in the marketplace, but few are ready to be America's 'Premier' Vision Care Provider. Many of them employ a business model that works well for marketing general merchandise. But an Optical Dispensary is different. Like a Pharmacy or Health Clinic, an Optical Dispensary is a Healthcare Facility where prescription eyewear is designed, fitted and serviced. It is not a strictly mercantile sales facility. The comparison can be likened to the difference between a retail outlet where only stuff is sold to Customers versus a Health and Wellness Eye Care Dispensary where prescription visual devices are designed and custom-fitted on Patients. (The concept lost in today's retail optical market is that an Optician's mission is more for the purpose of Serving than for Selling. See ServingVersusSelling.com. See To serve is to succeed.)
An aspiring 'Premier' Vision Care Provider must focus on a) ongoing practical training of Staff, b) highest standards of care for Patients, c) inclusion of qualified Opticians in upper management positions, d) sensitivity to Patients' eye care needs, and e) realistic sales goals.
expect Opticians to be more Health Care Professionals than merchants.
the last time you saw or heard a retail optical
.) There is an acute need for many Optical Dispensaries, including those associated with US government agencies, to acquire 1) adequate workspace and staffing, and 2) the expanded and ongoing training of staff that includes practical, i.e., Hands on the Patient training, which includes a) the Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview; b) Customized Frame Fitting and Adjustment Techniques; c) familiarity with both the lensometer and a wider range of dispensing hand tools; d) working knowledge of optical laboratory operations, e.g., Layout, Surfacing, Finishing and Final Inspection practices; e) working knowledge of the Ophthalmic Refraction, and f) adequate training in contact lens care and Patient compliance.
Retail Optical Executives and Managers have no
.) Some corporate Executives and Managers within the retail optical industry, some with MBA's as their only prior experience, tend to make decisions that adversely impact an acceptable standard of vision care. Some are focused too exclusively on their career advancement as Managers, while promoting unrealistically excessive sales goals and requiring interminable amounts of paperwork and reports from subordinates. This in turn interferes with the practice of Opticianry, and the delivery of quality healthcare. See 1Plus1Equals11.com.
conflicted relationship between Professional Opticians and
Retail Managers who are absent Opticianry skills need sufficient training, possibly even in-house certification, in subjects such as the Lifestyle Interview, Optics and Lens Design, and Custom Fitting and Delivery of prescription eyewear, including contact lenses, BEFORE they assume any policy-making or supervisory roles. Currently, most get on-the-job training only, and their actions and decisions reflect their inexperience to the detriment of acceptable service. Again, providing professional vision care, i.e., designing, measuring, and custom-fitting prescription eyewear ON PATIENTS requires much more technical expertise and people skills than what is required to service mercantile CUSTOMERS.
customized fitting of eyewear involves far more than just
Contact lens fitting and Patient compliance requires attention to details.
Example: Newly purchased eyewear, including contact lenses, is routinely and casually handed over to Patients without any custom fitting of the frame directly ON the Patient, or without sufficient instructions regarding contact lens wear and Patient compliance.
Number-one Patient complaint
"Nobody adjusted my glasses. They just handed them to me."
you fit my glasses to my face, ears, and nose with exquisite
care and attention to detail, making minute but essential
adjustments was the best experience I have ever had of having
glasses fitted to my face, during my lifetime of wearing glasses.
The first time you did my glasses and your wife suggested
to me that I also have my lenses tinted to gently soften the
lines around my eyes was a very memorable experience. I have
shared the story of the day in your Optician Shop very often
whenever I try to get ‘new’ glasses. Most opticians
are surprised to hear the story and also amazed that having
that care and attention to detail as a part of having glasses
fit properly made such a difference in my life. Having my
glasses not hurt and having them fit properly was an incredible
blessing. Having my glasses fit gracefully and painlessly
under my turban was
nothing short of a Godsend. I can honestly say that no other
optician ever did such an impeccable job as you did.
Every Patient deserves a fully personalized design and fitting of their eyewear. The fact that the frame lies on a flat surface squarely should never preclude fitting the frame directly on the Patient. This becomes obvious when after fitting a Patient with facial anomalies, the frame no longer fits squarely on a flat surface. Facial structure, the positioning of each eye and ear, the mastoid area behind each ear (see photo), all of these differ with each person. See Common Complaints and Causes. See GlassesOnlineWarning.com. See also The Final Fitting.
many Consumers, the personalized fitting of eyewear
Example: Experienced Opticians are required by inexperienced Managers to reduce or even by-pass the time necessary to conduct life-style interviews, design appropriate lenses, and custom-fit prescription eyewear directly on the Patient. See How To Manage An Optical Dispensary.
as a Dentist cannot practice dentistry without direct Patient
Again, fitting a vision appliance on a Patient involves a different level of technical knowledge and people skills. Dispensing prescription eyewear includes many elements of craftsmanship, artistry, and Patient-Dispenser interaction along with significant technical skill and finesse in their application. All of these are key to the success of any Vision Healthcare Facility.
well-known optical chain's list of expectations for
Greet Customers in a friendly manner and
Drive profitable store sales by fostering a retail selling
Notice that these Merchandisers rank Retail Sales over Skill whereby 'Customers' are the focus. In contrast, a Vision Healthcare Facility emphasizes Skill over Merchandising whereby 'Patients' are the focus, which produces higher levels of Patient satisfaction, fewer remakes and refunds, and subsequent profitability due to increased referrals.
here's a personal profile submitted
Optician focused on converting patients
Again, the focus here is on a selling opportunity not a serving opportunity. Of course, merchandising is an important and necessary service, but all too often the healthcare delivery component of the Optician-Patient equation becomes secondary to the act of selling, i.e., in too many cases unrealistically excessive sales goals override the mission of providing professional healthcare, whereby personalized, custom fitting of eyewear is given only minor consideration, if any. The reality of this issue is clearly demonstrated by a steady albeit unfortunate number of unhappy Patients and the subsequent loss of revenue by way of return visits, remakes, refunds and fewer Patient referrals. See Testimonials. See Common Complaints and Causes. See ServingVersusSelling.com.
"Serve people well, and more will follow."
the over 67,000 Opticians designing, manufacturing and
Several well-known Retailers have a history of financially supporting all kinds of community activities and philanthropic gifts. Their investment in the ongoing training and advancement of their Opticians is a gift that will keep on giving.
to their market share, the largest Optical Retailers are
Much of the optical industry, as reflected in the media, is obsessed with commentary on things like frames, lenses, and sales promotions; how to pump up sales; how to sell extra pairs, etc. Very little of the mainstream media has much to do with issues like service; how we put People first; how we put Serving before Selling.
In other words the industry's emphasis is too much on THINGS, NOT PEOPLE. Because Opticianry is a very People-centered art and science, Opticians and Managers have to be devoted to giving People conscientious and caring service. See Shift Happens.
"Hands on the Patient
dispensing is a soon-to-be lost art. If the trend
For a free consultation on ways to acquire the hands-on delivery of prescription eyewear, click or call OpticiansForThePeople.com here or at 855-410-2700. We welcome consumer feedback. See our Privacy Statement.
all doctors are healers.
A) A special note re Hands-on Custom Fitting: It seems the term 'hands-on' has different meanings among members of the optical community. Click here for our definition. For an example of what we call hands-on-the-Patient, old-fashioned design and custom fitting of prescription eyewear, click here. And for those consumers who are looking to acquire a higher standard in hands-on delivery of their prescription eyewear, please contact us here.
B) Too many retailers have a 'bottom-line-is-all-that-matters' mind set along with an attitude in which they exist only to serve company goals, not the needs of the consumer. They're not alone. Corporate America, in general, must soon deal with some heavy karma due to the public's current anger, and the public's demand for the return of more qualitative and thoughtful service with less emphasis on profits. The hope is that Optical Retailers can upgrade their thinking and focus on becoming genuine Healthcare Providers. Find a skilled Optician in your area. Check out the Eye Library With Videos.
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