It takes data to determine who your outstanding staff members are, and it takes nurturing to motivate them to stay that way.

Jennifer is the best optician we have. All the patients love her!” Jennifer must be a superstar. Everyone in the office thinks so and so do your patients. Or should we look deeper? She does have a high capture rate. Nearly 70% of her patients order glasses, but only 22% have AR, and very few maximize their vision plan benefits.

“Jennifer [number two]is the best optician we have. All the patients love her!”

Is Jennifer number two a superstar? From her numbers we see that nearly all of her patients order AR, most are in digital lenses, and one-third with a vision plan choose a second pair.

Even though your patients are “happy” with your optician, that doesn’t mean the job is being done as well as possible. It is also not uncommon for optical staff to defer to the patient, especially when someone says, “I only want what’s covered by my plan.” This doesn’t make your optician a bad person, but it does open the door to educate and train.

How do we know when there is opportunity? We need to consistently measure and to know what we are measuring against. Some places to look are industry averages from trend data published by sources such as EDGEPro. You can also ask your lab rep. Larger labs have national, regional and local data that will help you understand how you compare to a large cross section of the industry, and local labs can offer specifics about your particular market. If you work with a consultant they can tell you about their clients’ metrics.

Once you know how the industry is doing you can look at each individual staff member. Remember to also look at the capture rate by doctor. Ensure each doctor is prescribing from the chair and following the established hand-off procedure. Eyewear sales are a team effort; everything cannot be left up to the opticians.

Your practice management software as well as tools that overlay your system provide robust metrics. The numbers will tell you who the real superstars are. Their average sale for both private pay and vision plan patients will be high, and their premium product, AR percentage and multiple pair sales will also be high.

Your superstars are part of your brand. They understand the need to add value. Superstars educate patients on the materials they dispense and the services that accompany eyewear from your practice. In addition, they are sincere in their desire to ensure that the best vision solutions are offered to every patient without judgment or feeling confined by the perceived boundaries of vision plans.

If you have superstars, congratulations. The trick will be to keep them motivated and to desire continuous improvement. Different people respond to different rewards, and they don’t all revolve around money. Sure, some people like to be rewarded financially, but others respond to recognition or praise. Find what works best for your staff, and if you don’t know, ask them.

Keep in mind the job at its core is to do certain things well. A bonus is for when someone goes above and beyond stated goals. Transparency about goals and rewards is critical. People get discouraged when there are moving targets or if rewards are too unrealistic.

Friendly competition among staff members can be good, but again, you need to know the nature of the staff. A rewards program can easily backfire if it is not right for the group.

Once you have found your superstars be sure to glean as much as you can from them. Have them share tips and best practices at staff meetings. Ideally, you should show stats for the entire staff, then your superstars can explain how they achieved their numbers.

If “Jennifer” is your superstar and you don’t really know why, find out. If she’s not, you have a path to get her to become one. If she is, ensure her knowledge is shared with your team and that she stays motivated.

Evan Kestenbaum, MBA, is chief operating officer of GPN Technologies, providers of EDGEPro eyecare industry analysis software and co-owner and business manager of Optix Family Eyecare in Plainview, NY.


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