In any business, the most important asset the company has is its employees. In the optical business, no truer words can be spoken. A strong optician can make a so so dispensary soar and a poor optician can bury you. So…it is time to address the elephant in the room so to speak. Just what does it take to oversee and manage an optician to their peak performance.
THE STARTING LINE – FIND THE RIGHT OPTICIAN
The first rule is that who you hire is alot more important than the company’s ability to train. You cant train character into a person/employee and you cant train heart. I live by this rule and all of the hiring decisions at MEC start with the premise that you must be a person of high moral character and you must have a strong motor. Clock watchers need not apply. It does not take all that much in a standard interview to determine if the candidate in front of you is genuine, is a hard worker, and stands on a solid moral foundation. Ask the right questions. Create multiple scenarios for the candidate and ask them how they would respond. For example, lay out a scenario where the optician is working solo, and there has not been a sale or visit to the optical in the past 4 hours. It is Thursday of a 5 day week which ends Friday at 5pm. The doctors are busy working in their lanes. And you are $1400 short of your weekly plan number. Tell me how you plan to make goal this week? Listen closely…ask follow up questions…then hold them to it down the line if and when you hire them. Also, check on references. Ask the references serious questions about your candidate. Not what did you think of them when they worked for you?…but detailed questions….like describe how they handled an upset customer for you or what initiatives did the optician take that you did not direct them to that lead to more sales.
OPTICIAN OVERSIGHT EXPLAINED
Once you find the right candidate and you hire and train them…then the oversight of that optician is next. Oversight of an optician is about dedication to communication and ongoing dialogue with your employee as well as your ability to access data about their sales results and then discuss it productively with them. Data comes in all forms. At MEC we track more than most. Capture rates, percentages of patients closed versus those not closed, average transaction price, AR percentages, poly, UV, progressives etc. All data points that reflect back on the opticians selling habits and skillset. Habits can be changed and new ones, more productive ones, can be formed. But that takes data, then training, then monitoring…followed up by more training and repeat (as often as necessary until you both get to where you expect to be). The key to maximizing the optician skills and performance is to monitor what you feel is important, communicate consistently and productively with the optician about your objectives and expectations, then work that oversight to its conclusion.
RULES TO LIVE BY
1) Only hire opticians of high character and a passion to be great. Don’t settle for average
2) Set up scenarios in your interview to extract what you want to know. Listen closely to the answers, probe them aggressively on the subject you have chosen and then hold them to the answer if and when you hire them. Go so far as to tell them you will hold them to this if they are hired
3) Monitor data points to really know what is happening in the optical. Not just sales or collections for a time period…but more in depth items which point to how they sell not how much.
4) Communicate consistently with the opticians about how they are doing relative to your expectations – people of high character and a desire to be successful want to please and want to deliver on your expectations.. A managers job is to tell them what you want from them and then train them to give it to you.
5) Reward your best performers – in whatever way makes sense for you. Time off, more money, a piece of your business, bonuses, whatever you feel makes sense. A great employee is worth twice her weight in gold!