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The Psychology of Business in Corporate Optometry


You would already know that this industry is dominated by only a couple of large organizations so we’ll avoid dropping names here. Many industry professionals will go from one company to another and utilize the same strategies and business tactics. Understanding the differences between strategy and tactics will help guide you through your career in corporate optometry.

Power of influence.

Corporate optometry is a field where charisma and similar tactics are often employed to influence ODs into making certain decisions. Even the employees in this field have to tread carefully because corporate optometry practices can be quite manipulative at times. When it comes to corporate optometry, this is just how the business works. The way things are shown is not always the reality. Many times younger ODs are influenced into thinking that working more hours or seeing more patients per hour would increase revenue for their offices as a solution to managed care plans. Yet careful calculations indicate loss in revenue with increased staffing, decreased insurance reimbursement and increasing chair costs.

Understand that corporate opticals are in the business of selling glasses. The optometrist is a part of the puzzle that needs to fit in their plan. Finding ways to elevate their business is sometimes done at the expense of the employed or sublease OD. These tactics are sometimes completed in a charismatic way to influence the OD that it is in their best interest when in reality it is just a way to get the OD to cooperate in a strategy to sell glasses.

Many times Corporate ODs are told that how fierce the competition is and going out on their own would be more difficult than subleasing when in fact that is not the case for many ODs. (There are many different situations)

Here’s what you need to know about the psychology of business in corporate optometry.

The awestruck effect

Charismatic people have this endearing ability to almost hypnotize their audience. Their personal energy, aura and the manner in which they convey their message can persuade you to make the decision they want, without you even recognizing it. It is not until later when you walk away from them and the effect fades away that you realize you have been manipulated. Getting the individualized attention compared to your colleagues maybe one way to influence business decisions on OD side of the business, yet collaborating with others you will find that the same individual discussions are repeated in order to advance the corporate optical agenda. This can lead to emotional exhaustion as ODs suppress their emotions.

For employees in corporate optometry, the awestruck effect can occur for instance when they accept to work for the job that they soon realize is not what they were looking for. When a recruiter promotes a location for its work life balance, medical model and flexible schedule, an OD should also question the regional manager and store manger. Ask other ODs in the area. Many times if it is too good to be true it is. The “honeymoon” stage can only last so long. Understand what you bring to the table for that location and the value that you provide the corporate optical and the staff at that location. What was presented to you at the time of signing should be consistent throughout your time there.

As for sublease ODs, many are painted a picture of a high volume practice, that are turn key and potential of expanding to multiple locations. Optical sales will not directly reflect OD income, there are many factors that shape this. Leading on a sublease OD about additional locations and potential perks is another tactic to pursued ODs to do things that is in the best interest of the optical. Learning to see these tactic trends will help you target the right sublease.

The effect of compelling storytelling

Stories are known for the lasting effect they can have on the audience. A great story not just captivates the listener’s attention, but can also impacts their decision-making ability because the events stick to their mind and influence their actions.

When you interact with a regional manager about telemedicine or increase hours , if they are manipulative then they can lure you into taking an action that might not necessarily be in your best interest. How a story is told can help you differentiate between what is best in your own interest. Many times illustrating how another OD has been a great partner within the organization to impact your decision. That others are doing this and you don’t want to be excluded. Fear tactics can be applied in the same way as a story is told about a sublease termination or not evolving as the optical business evolves. The way that a story is told can increase emotions that can impact a business decision. Business decisions should be based on analytical data and metrics not emotions.

Consider the possibilities that corporate optometry can offer you. The stability, potential to grow a business, income and security. Yet listening to a regional or eye care director might have made you feel like you can pull this off for the numerous ‘benefits’ that it offers. There are many “stories” to the chapters in corporate optometry some you might have to skip.


Attention is (not always) a good thing

Corporate ODs who want to be satisfied with their job. Corporate opticals offer recognition awards for the ODs that have excelled in a regional or nationally. Some provide Doctor of the Year award while others receive accolades via email or social media.

If you are an OD, a corporate giant might initially make you feel welcomed in the workplace by adjusting your work hours, putting you at a location that’s feasible for you and so on.

However, despite the possible relaxations, being burnt-out is still very common in corporate optometry jobs because the rules and regulations are rather binding.  So, if you too are getting stressed at work then it’s time to evaluate what’s wrong and take the appropriate measures if required.

Sometimes attention is given to the younger ODs to sway them to work more hours, help recruit younger ODs or just because that specific location is hard to find OD coverage. Attention can be given to the ODs that are in states that is hard to find coverage to try and sway them to stay when competitors are opening new locations. “Celebrating an OD” but not providing tools and resources that are needed can be tactic that is very familiar in corporate optometry.

Manipulative tactics can be subtle or obvious so whether you are a sublease provider or an employed OD in corporate optometry, the key to ensuring that you don’t fall prey to such techniques is to always stay clear about what you want.

Whenever in doubt, step back from the situation, analyze and evaluate the circumstances and then regain control by asserting yourself more tactfully.

CREATING A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE IN CORPORATE OPTOMETRY

Creating a Memorable experience in Corporate Optometry.

When you think of  memorable experiences you think of positive times filled with joy and laughter. It could be a game winning shot, a vacation, childhood memory of your parents or even just enjoying a loved ones company as laughter fills the room.  You tend to remember the times that you felt something. Creating a memorable patient experience is no different! The way a patient “feels” about the experience will reflect directly to your bottom line. People will generally really love something or not like it and there is no room for in between or being average in today’s competitive market.  Creating a memorable experience involves everyone through the patient journey. Think of a patient experience as a journey, it is not a single appointment or transaction but a journey that can evolve over the next 20-30 years as they continue to see you and refer others to your office.   Here are some ways to make a memorable patient experience:

1. Active Listening

Active Listening is paying attention to the patient from the moment they call for an appointment. Train your staff to take notes during the initial touch point. If a patient is calling the office because of having a negative experience at another office, have the staff ask probing questions to understand what type of experience they are looking for. Once the patient is in your exam chair you have a “blueprint” of their expectations. You are able to address their pain points that guided them to your office.  Provide a personal approach by facing  them when they are talking and maintain eye contact. Many times patients will tell you want they want, it is your job as an eye care professional to recommend the best options and help guide them to best personalized solution. Active listening establishes  the patient/ doctor relationship and aligns an active approach to their health care. If they feel like their part of the decision process it will create a memorable experience that will make your office stand out from the rest.

2. Doctor Driven Dispensing

Whether you own your office or are an employee, doctor driven dispensing is a way to not only to create a memorable experience in the optical, but create patient loyalty through patient education of products. The clinical findings from the examination should be aligned with the eye wear lenses options that you recommend, to the specific artificial tears that you prescribed to that patient. It goes back to active listening. You are the authoritative voice and experienced professional of that office, “customize” and educate patients to why you are recommending a product and how it is different from online retailers. Maintain eye contact when discussing personalized eye care. Doctor driven dispensing is an art that is frequently ignored by many ODs. Asking different questions will create a “wow” experience for the patient, ” they never asked me those questions before, maybe I wasn’t getting the right exam or eye wear that I should have had before”

3.  Storytelling

Storytelling can be an influential connector to your patients because it is an emotional driver. Memorable moments are created by emotions. It makes the patient experience a human experience. Storytelling can be formulated from active listening to understanding what the patient likes to talk about and transitioning it to an assessment/plan strategy for that patient encounter.  Storytelling by itself can be a powerful way to be memorable. Be yourself. Being authentic will connect with people. Letting them know that your family member has a the same issues with  progressive lenses and what specific product you prescribed compared to an affordable option creates more value for your office than competing on price.

4. Marketing a memorable experience

Online retailers like Warby Parker will donate a pair of glasses. It creates a memorable experience for the patient because they know that their eyeglass purchase with help others in need. The promotion is “Since day one, over 4 million pairs of glasses have been distributed through our Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Alleviating the problem of impaired vision is at the heart of what we do, and with your help, our impact continues to expand.” The key phrase is “The whole story begins with you“, it creates a memorable experience where the patient is involved in something for a bigger purpose. Whether is is a local charity event or mission trip your office can do the same. Use your email database and social media platforms to educate your patients about your involvement in the community and how they can be involved by donating old glasses or how you can do a promotion for free eye exams for those in need through your office.

 5. Follow up

The patient experience does not end at the end of the exam.  Making a follow up call to a patient can make a lasting impression. Whether is it a follow up on corneal abrasion or a call to see how their contacts are performing. This discussion has more impact than you think in making your business successful and developing the critical doctor/patient relationship. Following up 1 week, 1 month or 6 months will create a memorable experience, simply set reminders in your EMR system to have your staff follow up on progressive adaptation or simple satisfaction with service or products. Let your patients know that you remember specific personal information, document in your chart; job information and children’s names to have a starting point for your next exam.  Your EMR system can be a great way to follow up on reactivating patients by sending birthday texts/emails with special promotions.

6.Unique Style

Your unique style makes you memorable. Humor is a memorable factor. Don’t be afraid to have a different approach to patient care, humor will make you likeable and approachable to new patients. You want patients to feel comfortable, being funny is one way to do it. Everyone likes getting compliments and it will also make people feel comfortable to ask questions and enhance the doctor/patient experience.

Your personality, humor,empathy, attention to detail is your signature to the world. It speaks volumes, use it to create a memorable experience that no one can mimic because “you” is UNIQUE.