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Editors of 20/20 and Vision Monday
Price and promotions may pull some patients into your optical shop for their first visit. But to keep them coming back, you need to satisfy their eye care needs with superior service that makes a lasting impression.
For independents, having a lab on premise is one way to make sure you are providing the best possible patient service. With a lab, you can offer patients a range of eyewear product options with fast turnaround and superior quality that you control.
To maximize the benefits of your lab, develop a customer-centric operating plan and consistent quality control guidelines.
Having the right lab equipment in place is the first step to ensuring patient satisfaction. The “right” equipment can produce eyewear and value-added features that will satisfy the needs of your patient base, both present and projected.
In selecting new equipment or upgrading machines, don’t simply evaluate what you are currently selling and producing in house. Apply some out-of-the-box strategizing, and look also at the products you could offer with equipment that expands your lab’s capabilities.
For example, older edgers may be unreliable and slow in processing newer lens materials like AR coated lenses or small B rimless or large wrap-around frames. Savvy customers learn about these options from friends or advertising, and will seek out these products where they are offered.
Speed is also part of the satisfaction quotient. With today’s fast-paced lifestyles, consumers want their new glasses yesterday. Same day or next day service creates a positive impression they’ll share with their family and friends.
Your choice of lab equipment is an investment in building your business by satisfying the needs and wants of both current and future customers.
Today’s newer edgers feature built-in electronic controls that help avoid human errors and produce high quality products consistently. But people, not machines, ultimately control quality.
As a practice owner, you set the tone and attitude that prevails in your office and lab. Your employees should understand how important quality and service are to your customers and to the success of the practice.
Agree on specific goals for overall quality assurance. For example, have employees track and evaluate redos resulting from patient dissatisfaction, and use this information to identify steps to avoid any recurring problems. Conversely, be sure to communicate positive patient feedback to reinforce quality success.
If you have a full-time optician or lab technician, delegate responsibility for lab quality control to this person. If multiple employees work in the lab part-time, assign individuals to handle lab quality and maintenance on a rotating basis with clearly defined quality control tasks and schedules.
Encourage your employees to get on-going training and education to improve job performance. Manufacturers offer training when new equipment is installed; make certain every member of the staff is included in training sessions. Provide time for staff members to attend seminars and workshops sponsored by professional organizations, held throughout the year.
Maintaining a clean, orderly lab area contributes to overall quality control as well as improved productivity. Direct staff members to keep the lab area free of clutter build-up and remove debris often. Edgers require simple daily and weekly cleaning steps to keep them running properly.
Set up a schedule that identifies the employees responsible for routine lab and equipment maintenance.
Consider getting a maintenance contract to have the manufacturer perform a maintenance check on your edger periodically.
High quality products produced in your in-office lab will contribute to the high level of patient satisfaction that can grow your practice. When patients are satisfied with the products and services you provide, they will show it with their repeat business and referrals.
— Compiled by the editors of 20/20 and Vision Monday