Article

Staff Training

Are You Ready?

In today’s new era, training is more important than ever before—as is giving your staff a retail-savvy edge as we enter eye care’s new normal.

As practices and optical shops enter a new era for eyewear and eye care, it is crucial for staff to be educated in how to excel in today’s retail world. This business edge will help your optical thrive by encouraging staff to embrace new ways of doing business, fresh opportunities, and new patient preferences.

Here, we check in with Colleen Hannegan—optician, author, speaker, and business consultant who works as the marketing manager and optician for European Optical in Orange County, CA—to gain insights on training based on her own experience as well as lessons learned from and shared with clients.

COLLEEN HANNEGAN, marketing manager + optician for European Optical

MIX FORMATS

Certain kinds of training work better than others when it comes to delivering authentic retail-focused service and product.

Verbal Training: “Tap into frame reps to teach [the story behind] the product you’re bringing in. They can tell the product story—where and how it’s made, the extra time needed to craft it, why these hinges are superior, and what the label behind it means.”

Role-Playing: “This is a great way to train staff how to easily explain the features and benefits of that new titanium frame...the handwork that goes into it, perhaps the family legacy that stands behind it. This storytelling makes a lasting impression with clients.”

Managing Messaging: “Training also needs to address how not to oversell and when to stop selling. Once the consumer gives the cues to stop selling them, instead simply ask how they wish to pay.”

BUILD RAPPORT

The new rules of business may well require building a more personal rapport with patients.

Flexible Scheduling: “Train staff to show genuine interest and be willing to accommodate early openings if requested, and perhaps later hours one evening a week. The goal? Create a space that makes this individual feel like the most important person you have helped all day.”

Mindful Listening: “Superbly trained ‘salespeople’ know how to converse in a manner that’s always centered on [the patient], not on us. Less ‘I like’ and more ‘You look great in…’”

—STEPHANIE K. DE LONG

+ The Big Idea:

Hire for attitude and train for skill. As Bruce Nordstrom, former chairman of the Nordstrom chain, said, “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice.”