20/20 Vision - 10 Wacky Ideas for Opticians

Two out of three in my family wears specs!

I've never revealed it before, but I am a closet consultant. I love to provide business and marketing advice to people. After so many years working with entrepreneurs, media, lifestyle and tourism businesses, I do have some thoughts welling in my head. Whether they take it or not is another thing altogether of course.

Let's start with the optical business. It is a booming business, with 80% of adult Singaporeans being shortsighted and us having one of the highest myopia rates in the world. What can opticians (like eastcoastlife's hubby Chris) do to make themselves stand out clearly from the competition?

1) Do something superlative. Create Singapore's (or the World's) largest pair of contact lenses and put it somewhere prominently outside your shop. Or the largest vision testing chart and hang it somewhere.

2) Provide a FREE but VALUED service. This is related to goodwill. For example, you can have free eye tests, spectacles adjusting service, screw replacement services, glass cleaning and so on. Make it known that you DON'T have to be a customer to enjoy this, and it will be done without any obligations. Of course, there may be freeloaders, but trust me, the goodwill will be worth it.

3) Share information that will help your customers. The best way to do this is probably through blogging. Little nuggets on how you can take care of your eyes, exercises that you can do, eye-friendly diets, latest trends in four-eyed fashions and so on.

4) Sponsor or organise an optical related events that are truly radical. For example, "Miss Bespectacled Singapore" (inspired by Dove's Real Beauty campaign), or "Eyes that sparkle", or even a "Most Improved Vision" contest.

5) Keep in touch with your customer AFTER the sale. Get their contacts and give them a call thereafter on how their spectacles or contact lenses fit, do they need any adjustments, can they see more clearly now etc.

6) Get your customer interested in the "Making Of" process. How do your manufacturers come up with a frame for glasses? What goes into the grinding of new lenses? Again, this can be covered in a blog (maybe visionary.blogspot.com ;)).

7) Serve them a drink and maybe some carrot sticks (eye friendly foods) ;). Invest in a couple of Osim massage chairs so that they can be comfortable while waiting. Spectacles and contact lenses are not cheap consumables. They can easily cost hundreds or more, comparable to lower-priced jewellery. As these are high value customers, perhaps more attention could be paid to make sure that their experience is exquisite rather than excruciating.

8) Theme your shop with different corners for different customer groups. Sections can be imaginatively named like "Metrosexual Male", "Sophisticated Urbanite", "Outdoor Adventurer", "Active Boy or Girl", etc. Have some photographs to show the context of how certain frames can match certain outfits. Currently, most optical shops are entirely product focused, with a gazillion frames and bottles of contact lense solutions everywhere.

9) Up the hip quotient by using famous bespectacled celebrities, like Harry Potter (or Daniel Radcliffe, though lately he was more famous for something naughtier). Even Kylie Minogue and David Beckham looked cool with glasses.

10) Most importantly (and I am sure eastcoastlife herself knows this) is that your customer should have FUN. Don't make going to the optician like seeing a doctor or worst a dentist. Offer little drawings for kids to doodle, or adults to practice their eyes on optical illusion puzzles. A little humour doesn't hurt anyone, and I think frazzled Singaporeans certainly need that.

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