3 Lessons I learned from my eye doctor

I had been putting off a visit to my eye doctor for two reasons: 1) I’m lazy, and 2) I shudder when I hear the word “doctor” (it’s a slightly irrational fear, my mind knows this, especially since my eye doctor is one of the nicest people ever). So, last month, I sucked it up and got it done… because I was on my last pair of contacts.

Anyway, I expected to walk out of there with a new prescription, which I got. But to my surprise, I also walked away with a few lessons on how to run my business better, too. Here’s what I learned from my eye doctor.


Cut the fluff

If there’s no reason to have extra stuff bogging down the transaction, don’t do it.

I got in, got my check up done, and was out of there in 20 minutes. It took me longer to drive there and back than it did for my actual eye exam, and that’s because that office cut out the stuff that didn’t need to be there. Even their small office was streamlined – they only had so much space to put things, so they only had what they absolutely needed on hand.

For me, this was a good lesson, since I know that I have a tendency to give all of the information I know about a topic all at once… whether people ask about all of that or not. Beyond that, I can easily see this translating into things like reducing the number of steps before checkout, eliminating superfluous text in the item descriptions, and streamlining my own production/shipping system.


Be quick and efficient

The entire staff were quick, efficient, and on their game. They knew were everything was, how it all worked, and what to do next.

Now, I’m a one woman show, so I don’t have staff (and I don’t think a lot of you do, either), though I wish I did. Still, there are people and businesses I rely on to get my work done – printers, support lines, tax consultants, domain hosts, fellow business owners, etc. I depend on them to do their jobs well and quickly so I can do the same. So, the lesson here is to choose people who can help me work better and faster, and who understands what my needs are as a business owner.

The other lesson for me is to understand the entire transaction process so I can answer questions intelligently, and to anticipate any questions or issues that may arise so I can troubleshoot for my own customers.


Know your limits

My eye doctor’s office is a small, hole in the wall kind of place. Clearly, she is a small business herself, and while she might like to see 400 people a day because that’s more income for her, she knows that’s just not practical. Her staff schedules no more than what the doctor can reasonably see each hour… which is nice for me as the customer since I never have to wait long (the maximum I’ve ever had to wait was maybe ten minutes). And it must be nice for the staff, too, to not have to juggle and rush to get the customers in to see the doctor.

This compared to an old cardiologist of my mother’s, who never, ever saw someone on time. Average wait time? 3 hours. No joke, 3 freaking hours of sitting in the waiting room before we ever saw the doctor, then another hour waiting in the room while she popped in and out. Who has that kind of time?? I don’t have four hours to spend at a doctor’s office for a routine, fifteen minute check up.

That doctor was a brilliant cardiologist, but she clearly needed a better planning system. I saw it as her or her staff having far more ambitious goals than any of them were ever able to follow through on. None of them really knew their limits, which probably had to be as frustrating to them as it was to every patient waiting.

My takeaway? There’s clearly value in saying no and knowing what your limits are. It’s easier to under guess and add more options later, than to take on too much that you can’t handle the amount of work. This goes for anything related to business – projects, custom orders, wholesale accounts, etc.


What about you? What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever gotten business lessons from?


4 Responses to 3 Lessons I learned from my eye doctor

  1. Ever heard of the Pike Street Fish Market? They are in Seattle at the best market place I have ever been. I had done a retreat for the Leadership Portage County for years and we used this video about the Pike Street Fish Market and their lessons for creating a memorable customer service oriented business. These rough fishmongers are characters who really involved their customers. People can’t get enough of them. You should look into it if you haven’t seen it, I know that it has been shot and packaged as a motivational tool. What they live by is ‘make their day customer service.’ That is a model that I strive for! And I did have the chance to travel there and experience it firsthand and it is quite the experience!
    Enjoy the day.
    P.S. I am having my eyes checked next week. It has been about 4 years since I have seen anyone and my last trip to an eye doctor was very bad customer service. I am choosing to go elsewhere because of that rotten experience. I will keep an eye out (pun intended!) for the customer service at this new place and what I can take away from it!
    Erin Prais-Hintz recently posted Sow Seeds of LoveMy Profile

    • I have heard of Pike Street Fish Market and the fishmongers! I think it’d be awesome to see in person one day – it takes some serious skill.

      And I love their motto – I think customer service is becoming a lost art that I find myself surprised and delighted when I DO encounter good customer service. Having worked primarily only customer service jobs my whole life, it kind of second nature to me to at least be pleasant with buyers, and I’m disappointed when people either don’t know how to do it, don’t care, or don’t train their employees about how important it is!

      And I left my fancy eye doctor a few years back for that same reason! It amazes me how much better the service is at my new eye doctor’s office versus the old one!

  2. I think my inspiration comes from the local farmers market. I buy produce from the person that grows it. I pay the price they feel is fair market price for their product, time and expertise. I don’t ask for a discount and I wouldn’t think of asking for a freebie. In the last 3 months I’ve got better at quoting on what I’m worth and what is a reasonable market value for my time and expertise. I’ve had a few people decline my services as a result. 5 years ago that would have distressed me but now it’s liberating. It means that I get to work with people who value my work and this mostly turns out to be a better experience.
    Libby recently posted Old fashioned phones and bee hivesMy Profile

    • It IS liberating! There’s a great freedom is saying no or having people say no, isn’t there? Because I love that more and more people are getting comfortable with their true value and not apologizing for it.

      I think being a small business owner myself has changed the way I view products for sale. I’m with you – whether it’s at a farmer’s market or a craft show, never would I ever ask for a discount. If that’s the price, then that’s the price. I stopped questioning higher prices for goods when I started making goods to sell myself – I understand what goes into it all. You know what I mean?