Article

STAFF TRAINING

Thinking Outside the Box

Got kids? 2 ECPs serve up smart, insider tips on how to train staff to work with them

When you have a lot of children visiting your practice, traditional staff training tactics don’t always apply. To get some specific working-with-kids strategies, we checked in with two eyecare professionals who focus specifically on children’s eyecare needs:

Kathy Dabbs Schramm, president of Schramm Enterprises, is founder of A Child’s View in Laguna Hills, CA.

Linda Chous, O.D., is owner of pediatric-focused The Glasses Menagerie in Minneapolis.

MAKE AN ASSESSMENT.

“Before you can train and hopefully even hire,” explains Schramm, “you need to thoroughly assess the person’s knowledge of the unique needs of a child, as well as their ability to work comfortably with children.”

“And, with parents,” adds Dr. Chous. “What people sometimes don’t understand is that they won’t just be working with kids. And, sometimes parents can definitely be more challenging.”

TRAIN THE BASICS.

Schramm says that staff training for those who will deal with children should cover some basics:

 Development of the visual system.

 Pediatric fitting basics.

 How to sell in a professional and ethical setting.

 Pediatric liability issues.

 Parent interaction. “Parents will ask questions of the whole staff, not just opticians,” adds Dr. Chous. “So, everybody, including people answering the phone, need to be trained to respond.”

She adds that, with training staff how to work with children, “It can be as simple as understanding a child’s first prescription or, since I do myopia management, the basic ‘why’ behind prescribing a bifocal. It’s important to train not just how to do something but why.”

DEVELOP A STRATEGY.

“I like to hold staff meetings where we include reviews of eye conditions that may have come in recently,” explains Dr. Chous. “It could be something like eye muscle imbalances for albinism, for example. And, it’s really important to be able to communicate that with the patients, too.”

Your training program, adds Schramm, “should also include follow-up on employee reviews, as well as any reviews posted on social media. Most important, training should be ongoing to include new products and new techniques.”

— STEPHANIE K. DE LONG

+ THE PARENT TRAP

You don’t have one customer. You have two. So, how do you train to keep the focus on the child?

Schramm says, “While the parent watches, show the child features and benefits, demonstrate cosmetic considerations, and continually ask their opinion.”

Dr. Chous adds, “The dispenser needs to get parents to understand that if kids don’t like the glasses, they won’t wear them. So, we train staff to ask kids, as one of the first questions, ‘What colors do you like?’”