By Johnna Dukes, ABOC
Some Business Changes That Will Stick Post-COVID
It certainly felt like the earth shifted on its axis on or about March 13th, 2020. For me, that was the date that my business came to a screeching halt, my anxiety about the future skyrocketed and my worries about the health and safety of my clients, my employees, and my family shot through the roof.
The following weeks included more of the same and slowly, painfully slowly, I began to see a tiny, I mean microscopically tiny, lightening at the end of the tunnel. Somehow this teeny tiny little light began to peek out of the darkness and the more I looked at it, the more I began to understand what it was. It was hope. Hope that this darkness wouldn’t last forever, and that somehow we might be able to remember that we are humans with a skill set that the public is in need of, even if we have to make changes to how we utilize our skills and how we interact with people. But this glimmer of hope also challenged me to make some changes to how we do business, and some of those changes I believe will be longer lasting than this current pandemic.
One of the things I’ve tried to do in this strange time is to reach out to my clients via social media and to let them know that we miss them and that we are still there for them. Even though that looks diﬀerent now, we are still here. I ﬁnd that the businesses that reach out with personal messages of caring are going to weather this storm better. I think people will remember who cared about them in these times. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Being a compassionate business is something that I believe will propel any business forward at this time and caring about each other should include more than just caring about their eyes.
Looking at Debt
Another nugget I’m going to take going forward has to do with how much debt I’m comfortable carrying. Up to this point, ten years of business gave me lots of data to draw upon when it came to what I could comfortably predict to bring in per week or month, but it didn’t tell me nearly enough about what would happen if the business screeched to a halt for two months and then slowly trickled on for another month. I anticipate that many businesses are going to be looking diﬀerently at purchases for the next year and determining whether that new piece of equipment will be ﬁnanced or not purchased until there’s enough cash to pay for it outright. Also, I believe many businesses will be looking at their cash reserves diﬀerently; I know I certainly will be.
Something I heard years ago but never really thought much about until this pandemic, was if you look at each frame on your board as if it were a $100 bill you might think diﬀerently about how you choose your inventory. How many of those $100 bills are just sitting idle on your board not making any return on your investment? If your practice is like mine, I had not spent much time ﬁne tuning my inventory because, you know, we were too busy, and when I did look, there were plenty of frames that had been sitting for far too long. I took some time to get hold of my reps to see about frame buy-back programs and moved some frames to the discount shelf as well. At this time, I’m also looking at using some of these older frames in a value package program to open more options for people who have been ﬁnancially aﬀected by the pandemic.
This one has been tricky because how do you tell people we want to see you, but we still have to schedule people who couldn’t be seen for two months before we can see you? How do you ask people to stay with you even though you can’t accommodate them currently? You stay top of mind, but you also want to give them a compelling reason to wait for you, such as personal connection. Jim Trick is a life coach (and optician!) and his idea for marketing was to make it personal. This is a paraphrase of his idea, but it goes something like this, “Tell your customers that Zenni is not a real person, but I am. Zenni can’t adjust your glasses, but I can. Zenni doesn’t live in your community and donate to your children’s fundraisers, but I do. In these times, we still need people. I’m a real person who lives and invests in your community, and I’d love to do business with you.” I thought this was brilliant!
Take Time for You, Too
We’ve all been spending more time at home than we have been used to, but hopefully in some of that extra time you’ve been able to attend to your inner thoughts and pay attention to your self-care needs. One of the things I’ll be taking with me after the pandemic is to make time for me, too. I’m one who is thinking of everyone around me all of the time and I developed a new practice that gives me ten minutes to turn the worry oﬀ within my own brain and to sip my coﬀee outside on my patio and to just be. It isn’t the spa day that I’ve dreamed of, but it does give me a moment of peace every day. This ten-minute break is something that I’m deﬁnitely going to keep going forward, and hopefully, even extend into a few more minutes here and there!
Since we have no way to know what tomorrow will bring in these uncertain times, I hope that glimmer of light within the tunnel gets brighter every day and we can all emerge from these dark times more human and connected than we were going in. And maybe even having learned how to use a few more tools for our business toolkit.
You can learn how to use engagement and connectivity between the patient and the entire practice to guide the patient and deliver the best optical retail experience with our CE, The Art of Dispensing at 2020mag.com/ce. This course is free thanks to an educational grant from De Rigo Rem.