I was sitting here, perusing Facebook land, and a dear friend in the industry who also has a serious, bordering on obsessive, love of guitars-posted about Mayberry, and Andy Griffith. And it started me thinking.
WHY do your customers buy their eyewear from you? Most likely, you are priced higher than the ‘BOGO for a bag of peanuts’ large chains. You probably aren’t open as many hours as they are. You probably take longer than the 1 hour-but-you-only-have-a-33%-chance-your-eyeglasses-are-the-right-prescription Big Box stores. Your customers can’t buy their groceries, underwear, and eyewear from you all in one place. So..did you ever really think…WHY?
Here’s an interesting thought..You give them something they can’t get anywhere else.
No, I am not talking about your experience. Or the fact that you offer them lattes (or infused water, or whatever it is you think distinguishes you from the above-mentioned opticals). The average consumer’s perception is that every retail optical has ‘experienced’ opticians. Just watch their commercials, they have all the fancy gadgets, and they even give a number to the size of your head! Nor is it the fact that you carry a line of frames with THIS name or one that they can’t get elsewhere within 100 billion miles. They don’t care that you can recite the history of progressive lens technology all the way from its inception to present day private label lenses. They really, truly don’t care that you offer them XYZ brand of anti-reflective treatment. They have it on their phone’s camera and have no clue what brand it is.
Simplicity. Simpler times. Think Mr. Olsen’s general store on Little House on the Prairie. Mike and Carol Brady solving their family’s problems with love and Alice’s ‘pork chops and applesauce’. Ben Cartwright-you won’t find a more respected man in the west, and he raised those three boys (with help from Hop Sing, of course) to be upstanding men. He was a pillar of his community. Trusted. At a time when a handshake or a person’s word meant as much as a signature on a piece of paper.
Yep. That’s you. Without (hopefully) Nellie or Mrs. Olsen. Your customers walk in, knowing that they will see faces they recognize. People whose stories they somewhat know (depending on how much you talk lol). They see you in the grocery store, and greet you by name. And then proceed to ask if you can adjust their glasses on the spot, but that’s another topic for another day.
Stability. We spend all our time as adults attempting to attain the level of stability we had as kids growing up. Or, that we didn’t have but saw others with, and wanted. And when your customers deal with you, that is what they get.
Just like everyone knew everyone else’s business in those simpler times, your customers feel like they KNOW you. You are the local optician or optometrist, in their comfortable dream world of Mayberry, or the Ponderosa. In a world where we don’t know which whacadamia nut is gonna try missile tests, or unspeakable cruelty to their own people or others, there is comfort in the continuity of your sameness-the fact that you remember their kids’ names, that you know they love golf, that you know their favorite color is red, their momma passed last year, or that their significant other loves them in glasses.
If they walk into one of those big box or other types of chain opticals, do you really think they get that feeling? When’s the last time you walked into a Target and thought, ‘ahhh…they KNOW me here’?
Embrace your inner Andy Griffith. Or Robert Petrie. Your Ben Cartwright taking Lil Joe to task, while Hoss and Adam laugh at his latest escapade. Love that you are Carol or Mike Brady, and are able to give your customers that feeling of continuity. Cultivate it. Be as technical, educated, and urbane as you would like. But never lose that little inner spark that gives your customers the sense of being wrapped in Gramma’s quilt.