April marks the last month of Seeing is Believing 2014, which goes "offline" on May 1st, bringing its 90 Day OnDemand period to a close until next year’s conference. The event brought some of the industry's top speakers to laptops, desktops, and mobile devices across the globe to discuss the latest developments in clinical eye care, innovations in Practice Management and even staff focused tracks. SiB2014 also brought online education for opticians with insightful talks from Mark Hinton, Cathy Ives and Jody Shuler.
While Mark joined SiB for his second year, discussing Social Proof and Say This and NOT That, this was a first for Cathy and Jody to step up to the virtual podium. Both are certainly no strangers to educating in a virtual setting, though, as regular contributors to the Optical Vision Site blog. Indeed, you can read Jody's latest post discussing how to do sales without being a sales person here: (http://www.theopticalvisionsite.com/sales/selling-without-selling/#.U0EBZfldVuM). Cathy and Jody didn’t fail to impress with their topics for this venue which included, How to Compete with Online Eyewear and Secrets to Making your Practice Exciting.
We caught up with Jody Shuler, wherein he discussed how he found himself joining the eye care world, his thoughts on education, and what he believes is the most important thing you can be doing right now to survive in the industry.
#1. You had an interesting entry into the industry at a young age, namely as a lab technician in your hometown, La Fargeville, NY. How did that come about and is it a path you would recommend for others?
"I started working as a lab technician about 6 months out of high school, which was a job I knew I could do because I enjoyed working with my hands doing technical and mechanical things. My brother had started in the field a year prior to me. I found myself there for 15 years, with the better portion of my career there spent learning the trade.
It is absolutely a path I would recommend to others. I enjoy teaching and helping people learn the trade correctly. I have been at an independent Practice for a little over 7 years now, near my hometown. It's very much a small, community practice; we've been here 100 years with a strong base, quality customer service, and quality client care.”
#2. What do you like most about working for an independent Practice?
"My Practice is the same one I had gone to as a young child for my first pair of glasses, Meade Optical in Watertown, NY. I did previously find myself working at a Lenscrafters for a year and knew that I wanted to be at an independent Practice that would allow more flexibility, the ability to change products, and to create and do things that an independent has the freedom to do.
There are many memorable experiences. We fix problems. My interaction with clients consistently opens up my eyes to the quality of products and top dollar lenses. Being able to help people and doing it right the first time stays with you. "
#3. What are the secrets to surviving in today's optical landscape?
“We need to not only hand-off inventory, but knowledge. Help your clients to better understand the products you offer them, which means that you must always educate yourself. Taking CE courses helps, as well as going to annual meetings and possibly even smaller venues that your state program may offer. Forums like ODs on Facebook and others help me to stay abreast of technology. Always research products, engage with others in the industry, and talk to the labs. I'm always willing to listen to get a different view point. I'm just a small oval that doesn't fit inside the box of the traditional lens idea that has been around for 20 years. I ask, ‘If it's worked for 20 years, what can we do differently? Is there something new?’ Always research the details and know who you're buying from: who owns them, what they do, how they do it, and how it helps you as an independent. “
“Strongly educate yourself and your clients. That’s really been my mantra for years.”
#4. What are some innovations you're looking forward to this year?
“I look forward to seeing what we can do as skilled opticians and what comes out of the design market, and the next level that physicists and tech experts are bringing to the market, too. In particular, digital design lenses have been my passion for the last few years. “
#5. Any further words for other optical professionals out there?
“Do your best. Offer the best. Don’t ever assume that somebody doesn’t want the best products that they can get. Always educate yourself as to what’s available in the industry with regard to lenses and frames. Be consumed in your trade. It’s a trade, not just a job.”
For more great advice from Jody, all SiB registrants are invited to visit his full lecture "Three Secrets to an Exciting Practice" OnDemand to learn more about what you can be doing now to build enthusiasm for your optical dispensary.
Listen to Jody along with 26 other informative and inspiring speakers before time runs out. Even if you weren’t registered to attend the live conference, you can still register here. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the event at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our attendee survey at www.sib2014.com/attendee-survey.