Thankfully, many of you have reopened and have started doing business in this new normal Covid-19 world we find ourselves in now. We are strong and resilient and will recover from this, but things have changed. As 2019 closed out our economy was booming. We were seeing some of the lowest unemployment levels in history, consumer confidence was high, and all was good. Then along came this virus and everything has changed.
Unemployment is at 15% and many believe it is closer to 20% with those on temporary furlough included. The consumer confidence index crashed in April to its lowest point in 6 years. We are starting to hear from a sizable group of economists that we have already entered a recession. In this politically polarized world we live in I am not sure just what to believe. I do think we all can agree that our consumers have to be shaken. Even those not affected by lay-offs or decreases in business will be a bit more conservative with their money.
How can you keep your focus on the success of your optical dispensary?
Your customers are looking for 2 things from you at this time:
- Safety – Give them a safe optical environment to do business with you.
- Value – Even in tough times most consumers are not looking for cheap, they are looking for value.
Historically, the majority of businesses suffered from lost sales during downtimes while a few thrive when times are tough. Those who thrive have adapted their approach to doing business. The ones who win are competitive in their market place, offering quality value products at fair pricing.
We do not have to stop selling premium branded products as many of your customers are looking for the best, but do you need a value offering for those seeking a lower price!
This is where house-branded products like our Heritage, Legacy, and IceAR come into play. Properly utilizing house products allows you to be more competitive with your pricing while holding your margins.
Here are a few key tips to help your business focus on success while opening back up:
Focus on how you can help your customers
Listen to your customer! Do they have any fears that you can help eliminate? Do they have special needs? Going the extra mile at this time could turn a 1-time buyer into a lifetime customer.
Gauge their pain. While we all deal with customers who are just plain cheap, you now will be dealing with people who are legitimately hurting. Listen to their stories and find products and price points that will work within their budgets.
Speak to your customers
There has never been a more important time than now to speak truth to your customer. This needs to be done before, during, and after the sale.
Before the sale – Make sure they understand your Covid-19 safety protocols before coming to your office. This will make them much more comfortable with your process.
During the sale – Don’t be afraid to recommend products and add-ons for their new glasses based upon their needs. Under-selling your patient is even worse than overselling. They might be happy with the price but won’t be happy with the product. This will cost you lost revenue down the road.
After the sale - Set an honest completion date for your patient. Turn time from your suppliers has been negatively affected by Covid-19. Delivery services are buried and we are seeing many delays with shipments. Labs and other suppliers are working with shortened staff gearing up as the business begins to increase. Your patient needs to hear this should there be delays.
There is a ton of uncertainty now. None of us know what lies ahead, but worrying about this will not change a thing.
Try to unplug throughout the day. Don’t spend time on social media or news sites while working. This will let you be a positive light to your customers. They need this as much as you need it.
As an optometrist or optician, make sure to smile. Someone once said, “too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”. I would add that these kinds acts also have the potential to create a lifetime customer.
Avoid using all the clichés like “we are all in this together". They hear that 50 times a night while watching TV. Just be yourself and conduct business as usual through the sale. Enjoy the time spent with your customer. They will notice and appreciate a “normal” transaction.