By Daniel A. Amyx , ABOC NCLC Florida Board Certified Licensed Optician
Since the early times when salt and sea-shell necklaces were used for currency and trade, business has been an intrinsic part of our lives. Most people think of business as a way to earn a living or invest in the future, and not as an expression of human social interaction. But business is actually a social contract. It is a way of providing products and services, things we need and value, in exchange for other things of value. It brings people together across boundaries of race, religion and geography for a common goal. Human beings that might otherwise never speak with each other are united in a combined expression of imagination and creativity, in order to reap the rewards of their labor.
In our field, selling eyeglasses has both the financial and social benefits of exchanging a product of labor for financial gain, and working closely with other human beings. Unfortunately, if the primary focus is on the bottom line alone, we turn the patient into a commodity, having a value that is only based on what they are willing to spend. This business model generally develops a short-term gain but often a long-term loss.
In the eye care industry we have an opportunity to provide added value to the products we sell. Instead of looking for how much money you can make at each transaction, look more into how you can serve each person. Listen carefully to what they say and how they think, not just with your ears but with your whole being. I tend to treat each person at my dispensing table as a close relative, someone I want to help. This makes the experience personal, and adds an almost spiritual value to the exchange.
The person across the table can actually feel your sincerity and concern, in who they are and what they need. In almost all cases they reciprocate, and they enjoy being in your presence. The human need to be valued, appreciated and respected has just opened the door to a long-term and enriching relationship. Many of these patients, over time become part of your extended family, and their loyalties to you will run deep – and they bring their friends, to share in the relationship.
There are many examples of the success of this business model in our office, but two specific ones make my point more clear.
As our local economy was affected, in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008, we had many discussions on the need to stay true to our ethics. One lady in particular came to us with an outside Rx that was essentially the same as her current glasses. We explained the small differences and suggested that she did not fill the prescription, that it was not worth the cost. She thanked us for our honesty and left. It was hard to give up the income as we were struggling, and every cent counted. The next day she came in with two of her friends who both bought glasses – because of our honesty. And these ladies continue to refer new friends to our practice.
Another example was Helen, and elderly lady who was obviously an unhappy soul. She was abrasive, bitter and unpleasant, but we treated her with respect and sincere friendliness. Over the years we provided her eye care, we could see her slowly becoming friendlier, even sharing moments of humor and laughter. One day a couple in their early 60s came into the office. It was Helen’s niece Brenda and her husband, who made a special trip to tell us Helen had passed away.
They talked about how difficult Helen was as a person, setting the stage for their reason for visiting our office. Brenda said: “She looked forward to visiting with you, and would occasionally talk about you. She really loved coming in here.” Brenda expressed her appreciation for our ability to work past Helen’s attitude and create a little happiness in an otherwise unhappy person’s life. By the way, Brenda and her husband have since purchased glasses from us, because we had such an impact on her aunt.
Sincere relationships contribute to you and your bottom line.
So, fellow business owners, next time you greet someone as they walk into your shop, don’t just sell a product, build a relationship – one born of honesty, trust and service. You will experience riches far greater than the money you earn.
Brought to you by your friends and neighbors at Hillmoor Optical.
8958 U.S. 1, Port St Lucie, FL 34952
Open M-F 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Se Habla Espanol”
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