Member Spotlight: Vision Today
In the age of pop-up kiosks and online experiences, Vision Today is boldly taking a bigger approach. For the relatively new eye care practice, located in Jacksonville, FL., thinking big is a key differentiator in its success, leading to the practice recently being voted “Best In Eyewear 2020’ by readers of Jacksonville Magazine.
Creating a Positive Experience for Patients
“We wanted to give the patient a very specific experience once they’re in our office,” Lanh Powell, Optician and CFO of Vision Today, explains. “It’s going to be more of a retail-based experience than a medical-based experience. So, we practice like a medical office, but we conduct business like a retail store.”
It’s an approach that expands the definition of what an eye care practice can be.
“Online shopping is such a big thing is in our era, everything is searched for online,” she explains. “And so, if we continued to run our business like a medical practice, then it doesn’t really distinguish us from any other optical offices out there. We wanted it to be more like a shopping experience.”
When the business partners were designing the 5,200 square foot practice, they left the ceilings high to create an open, unstuffy environment for patients. “Patients always say, ‘Oh, your office is so, so big!’” Lanh exclaims. But it was important for the practice to create points of differentiation that would leave a positive, lasting impression on patients.
Another area they strive to differentiate themselves is how staff and patient encounters are treated. “We’ve always told our staff that consistency is key to a positive customer experience,” Powell says. “How employees treat the patient should be uniform throughout their visit. And if we are going be helping one patient, we stress that employees have to make sure that we might [one day] be helping their friends and family as well.”
The Importance of Training Your Team
Creating that uniform experience for patients requires plenty of training for staff.
Powell and her partners, Jayson Baron and James Powell, OD, conduct up to five 1-hour training sessions per month with the rest of their team.
“When we have downtime, we hold a training that is very specific to one topic at a time to not overload [staff] with information,” Powell explains.
“For instance, if we’re going to be discussing how to explain benefits to patients, we focus only on VSP for that hour,” Powell says. “And we allow the staff to role-play as well. That way the staff get comfortable using certain verbiage with patients.”
Vision Today is able to hold so many training sessions because Powell and her team have figured out a way to fit them in to their workload each week.
“When we first started up, we organized the schedule with smart scheduling. So, we tried to book all our patients in groups,” Powell explains. “That way, we can have an hour-long slot free that we can use for training. We can be working ON our business instead of IN our business all the time.”
To keep the office open during training, Powell and her partners have taken advantage of their square footage.
“Our main front desk area is pretty large, so we congregate in the front area and designate one person to carry the cordless phone and answer it,” Powell explains. “So that way, we’re not all jumping up for the phone—we have a two-ring rule where the phone needs to be picked up by the second ring.”
“And it’s the same setup for walk ins.,” she says. “The designated phone person can step away to help those patients.”
Playing to Team Members Individual Strengths
“I think the main thing that has allowed us to have as much growth as we’ve had is that we’ve learned to really understand people very well,” Powell says.
This understanding extends not only to patients, but staff as well. “Each manager has a certain set of skills and we try to allow them to work their strengths within that area. Jayson is perfect with employees and front office management. So, he’s pretty much the face of the practice, whereas I’m better with finances,” she explains.
“We all work together, but we all have our own roles,” Powell says. “And if we need help from each other, we ask for help, but we all know that everybody has an important role to try and make this thing as successful as it can be.“