Before I became a rep I remember thinking I would hate to be a sales person, before I became an optician I thought the same thing. Once I became an optician I realized it wasn’t about sales but about building relationships and helping people find eyewear that suits their needs. Being an eyewear rep is just like that, but on a larger scale. There’s not a huge difference between the two, however sometimes it can feel like we are worlds apart. One thing that I love about being a rep is the flexible schedule. This allows time to network with other people and form partnerships to help optical spaces thrive. I’m hoping to break the barriers between opticians and reps, of course not all are created equal. My goal is to be a resource for all offices that I come in contact with whether they carry my product or not. This is basically going to be a how-to guide for all the reps and opticians out there to grow stronger together.
The first thing that is key to maintaining a good office/rep relationship is open communication, and which type of communication is preferred. Do you prefer email? Text? A phone call? If a rep calls and leaves you a voicemail, are you going to listen to it? If they shouldn’t be reaching out to you, about certain questions, who should they be asking these questions to? In general, all offices should establish their preferred contact method so all parties can get their questions answered, saving all parties time. Some offices want to directly communicate with the rep to place orders while others want to do it themselves; Make sure that your office has the resources that you need to complete the task. B2B websites are great for opticians when they need to show patients different frame options and colors. Take the time and get help setting up your account so you can login to use this valuable resource.
Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok are some of the platforms that are free for offices to use to market their business. I see a lot of offices, and there are so many lacking on their marketing strategies. Many people spend a lot of time on their mobile devices and when they are looking for an eye clinic they’re more likely to schedule an appointment with a clinic that utilizes a social media platform. I’m not saying you need to make an account for every network but Facebook and Instagram are a great start. You can even link them to each other to save time. If you don’t know how to begin or what to post there are free content calendars you can use to get inspired. Reps can also provide offices with social media content for easy posting. Working in a busy eye clinic, nobody has the time to run social media. This could be an advantage for a rep to help promote their product and help sustain the marketing of an office. I have taken time in my day to go into offices and teach employees on how to use social media. We set up their username and passwords and helped them create a bio that is captivating for their practice. One of my favorite things to do for offices is to create a QR code for patients to scan when they come into the practice. They can follow the office online and tag them when they post pictures, wearing their eyewear they purchased there.
The most FUN way to be a resource as a rep/optician is to have a trunk show. If you have never had a trunk show I would highly recommend it. It comes with little to no effort to your office and staff. Bringing in the good energy and increased selection for your patients for the day can help your office thrive. Trunk shows bring in patients and create an experience that they will remember. The best day to schedule a trunk show is when your schedule is full. That way you have the rep there to help support great customer service. I like to call myself a freelance optician, but frames and lenses go hand in hand and being an optician has really just helped support me on this eyewear rep endeavor. Not all reps have this advantage if you don’t build a good relationship with your rep, you may never know all the skills and resources they could provide. Which leads me to my next idea on how to bond with your rep…
One of the best ways to be a resource is to help offices find training. In today’s employment climate there is a lot of turnover! There are tons of free resources that you can share with new employees to help them understand optics better. UUniversity Is my favorite because it contains things like insurance and customer service along with optical training. A great optician never stops learning and if they are certified, they should keep up on those CE credits. Going to local events is a great way to maintain relationships and receive education! On top of optical training, as a rep you should know everything about the product you’re selling. Whether it’s eye drops, eyewear, contacts or cosmetic products., if you’re not teaching your accounts how to sell the product, you have done them a disservice. They might miss something important, or worse… A lot of frame reps only communicate with opticians or sales managers, when it’s always a good idea to get everybody on board. You never know if the front desk might need to step in to help a patient.
As a rep I’m going from office to office, which is always an opportunity for me to help spread knowledge and ideas that others might not have thought of. A few of my favorite attention grabbers for offices to provide:
Photo opportunity for patients to take pictures in your office! Whether it’s wings on a wall to stand in front of or a really cool mural outside the building. Have something unique that’s fun and gets your patients attention!
Optical spaces that have aesthetically pleasing organizational processes to help day to day business run smoothly.. I’ve seen many offices, many processes and I’m full of tips and tricks if you’re interested.
I recommend having some of the more recent technology in offices to measure seg heights, pupillary and vertex distance, and others, but hold onto the basics too. Patient’s love the new technology and it makes the experience cool and exciting.
I love to go to offices and share information on the Optical Women’s Association and state Optician Associations. A lot of people wonder what benefits these associations offer and I am happy to tell you that they provide discounts on educational and networking events most of the time. The Optical Women’s Association is my favorite, because of the educational blogs and the podcasts that I love to listen to, while I’m on the road. Their Instagram is inspiring and the networking opportunities are incredible. When we have our Fireside Chats it is literally a melting pot full of ladies inspiring and encouraging each other to keep growing, which I’m sure you know is super rare to find! I was hesitant when first joining but I have made so many new connections and enjoyed everything it has to offer.
Take a chance, call your rep. See what some of your favorite eyewear reps have to offer. You want to make your office memorable and set yourself apart and your rep wants the office to thrive just as much as you do. Use your resources that your reps can provide. Invest in your office and it will grow!
Written by: Jesse Anderson