Opticians: Hiring Plans for Higher Sales
By Keli O'Connor, COMT, ABOC July 14, 2021
Optical sales are the bread and butter of any eye care practice. While the primary focus of an optometric or ophthalmic group may be to care for and refract patients, insurance payouts have made it more and more difficult to keep afloat in today's modern medical field. Often, to stay alive in the business, eye care practices need to ensure their patients leave the office with glasses ordered and that their eyewear sales numbers are high.
If capture rates are low because too many patients are making it out the door before being helped or if business is picking up and there is clearly a need for additional assistance on the sales floor, hiring an optician may be in the cards for your office. Cross-training within your office is always a great idea, but if you need a full-time optician on the sales floor, taking a tech or a receptionist will only stretch your staff thinner; sometimes, it's best to hire from outside. Bringing a new optician into the practice can seem daunting at first, as there are many considerations to factor in, but deciding what is best for your practice's needs and going in with a hiring and subsequent training plan will help ensure the best outcome and most successful yield for your bottom line.
First, while selling eyewear is technically a sales job, it is important to recognize that not just any salesperson can be hired for the position. Similarly, while the role involves a significant amount of ocular knowledge, hiring any eye care professional may not be the best course of action either. Opticianry requires a complex understanding of light refraction, ocular anatomy, and lens specifications, all while possessing the personability of being able to listen to a customer's needs and translating those needs into the perfect product.
Offices with optical teams can assess what their team's strengths and weaknesses are and hire based on those opportunities. If the team already has a master optician, perhaps a salesperson with less optical knowledge could be brought onboard and thoroughly trained in optics before seeing the sales floor. If your sales team is motivated, but the office remake numbers are high, perhaps it is better to hire a more qualified and certified optician to measure the seg heights, PDs, and further train the rest of the floor.
Even as early as when drawing up the job posting, it is essential to know what type of optician you are looking for and cater your listing accordingly. If your practice emphasizes driving sales and offers commissions or bonus systems for its associates, adding this in the benefits section of the job description may help attract more motivated candidates. Carefully wording the job skills and experience section to include phrases like "goal-driven," "self-directed," or "proven success rate at meeting/surpassing quotas" can also help prime applicants for the job.
Once a job posting has had some talent leads and it's time to bring in the top opticians for formal interviews, it is vital to ask interviewees about previous work experience, especially their proven success track record. Uncovering their previous sales and eye care experience is crucial, but gauging the candidate's ambition and personality can be just as vital. Inner-office workings, sales tactics, and even intricate optical know-how can be learned, but attitude and drive attributes that applicants either have or don't possess. Unfortunately, neither can be easily taught.
Hiring an optician requires research and patience, but the end results can be the difference between mediocre sales and record profits. Assessing the needs of the office and coming up with a hiring plan before beginning the talent search can help ease the stress of sifting through mounds of applications to find the perfect fit for your practice.