During my second year as an optician, our office signed up with a lab to handle a particular type of specialty job. This lab was considered one of the best in the Continental United States for handling this specific order, and came highly recommended to us by a number of frame reps and experienced opticians. Their testimonials were backed up by the jobs we got back: They were well made, the lab had a quick turnaround time, and we had a high satisfaction rate with our patients. There was only one drawback: The lab required paper orders to be filled out by hand.

When we signed up, we received a UPS box filled with order forms, each of which had carbon paper attached. When a patient ordered a job, we filled it out, kept the carbon copy, put the job and the order form into a pre-paid UPS box, and shipped it off. Because of the type of jobs this lab handled, filling out the forms often took several minutes—during which, depending on the traffic in the office that day, other patients could potentially be kept waiting while we were trying to get the order completed in time to meet our UPS shipment.

Why am I telling this story?

As an Optician, think about your most important resource. Some may say a good frame selection or a lab with whom you have a positive working relationship; others may say it’s good frame and lab reps with whom to coordinate and who can handle difficult situations. Undoubtedly, all of those are indispensable resources, but I’m going to say that the most valuable thing you can make an investment in is time and the software tools that can give it back to you.

Hear me out: without the system to actually place your orders, things fall apart. If orders aren’t being processed, or processed on time, or if ordering a job in office takes an inordinate amount of time, it causes a breakdown in the natural flow of office procedure. A lack of jobs and slow-ordering jobs means unhappy patients, which means high churn; meanwhile, all that time spent ordering jobs with inefficient software is time you could have spent with another patient.

With a range of choices available, which system should you use for the highest level of office efficiency?

In my time as an optician, VisionWeb was our go-to choice for ordering lenses. It’s easy to use and offers a wide variety of resources for the optician or practice manager who wants their ordering system to do a little bit more heavy lifting than the competition.

Total Integration: To start with, VisionWeb integrates with a number of practice management systems, making it easy to transfer patient and Rx information into your order form. Click a button and—boom—you’re on VisionWeb, with your Rx boxes already populated. No copying and pasting, no manually inputting the Rx and risking an error, no inadvertently attributing the wrong Rx to the wrong patient. On top of that, the system also comes with a built-in order verification tool that alerts the optician to irregularities in the Rx, in the event that an error was made when the prescription was initially input into the system.

Quick, Efficient Ordering: Once that Rx is in place, ordering becomes a breeze. Rather than require you to go to individual labs to place an order, VisionWeb allows for total integration of all your labs into a single ordering screen. In fact, VisionWeb is connected to over 450 laboratories, meaning odds are, if you’re working with a certain lab, they’re set up on VisionWeb. Simply click the lab who you want to fill your order through, or to whom you’ll be sending a job, and a variety of dropdowns appear populated with that lab’s products. From there, it’s simply a matter of checking off the boxes. SV, BF, PAL? Click it, next step. Material? Click it, next step. Orders can be ready for review in a matter of minutes, and be submitted to the lab almost before your patient is out the door.

One-Stop Status Checks: VisionWeb’s online tracking tool allows opticians to stay on top of order status without any messy (or easily lost) faxes, calls to the lab, or late nights spent wondering when a job is coming in. The integrated system also means that opticians can view every job in process at every lab, without having to go through each lab individually checking orders. What’s more, statistically speaking, orders placed through VisionWeb come back to your office 1-2 days quicker than orders placed via phone or faxed in. You won’t just be able to watch the progress of your job on its’ way back to you, you’ll be able to watch it come back quicker!

Superior Customer Support… If you need it: In all the years I used VisionWeb, I never had an issue with the ordering tool—in fact, in doing some preliminary research for this article, I was surprised to hear VisionWeb boast about the superior quality of their tech support team, because I never even knew there was one—I never had to call them! It took me a while, but I found a former co-worker who did once have to speak with VisionWeb regarding a software update, and she was happy to report that the individual to whom she spoke was courteous, professional, and quick in getting her issue resolved. VisionWeb customer support—think of them as the Maytag Men of the lens ordering world.

It’s Free: If I hadn’t already convinced you to take a look at VisionWeb, this one’s sure to do the trick: all of this is yours absolutely free. No, there’s no strings attached, no trial periods, no hidden fees. VisionWeb is a free service provided to the optician for a more efficient ordering process, happier patients, and a better future for your business.

In today’s optical world, differentiating yourself from the competition is a must. One of the best ways to do that is to provide patients with hands-on service and quick turnaround times on well-made jobs. With the help one free, easy to use piece of software, you can do that. Take a look at VisionWeb today. Your patients will thank you tomorrow.

This content sponsored by Vision Web

Preston Fassel was born in Houston, Texas and grew up between St. Charles, Missouri and Broken Arrow, Okla.

In 2009, Preston graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Liberal Arts. In 2011, he graduated Cum Laude from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor's of Science.

Preston currently works as an Optician in the Houston area. His interest in the history of eyewear goes back to his time in high school, when he developed an interest in all things vintage.

In addition to his writing for The 20/20 Opticians Handbook and 20/20 Magazine, Preston is a featured writer for Rue Morgue Magazine, where he reviews of horror and science-fiction DVDs. His fiction writing has been featured three times in Swirl magazine, the literary arts journal of Lone Star College and Montgomery County. He is the author of the definitive work on the life of British horror actress Vanessa Howard, Remembering Vanessa, which appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of Screem Magazine.