How do I…

Running a staff training system

Owner of Loftus Optical, John Prouse, on staff training

John Prouse

The thought of staff training can send shivers down the spine of employees and employers alike. It may sound as appealing as your Granny’s slippers, but slippers have come to the rescue of many cold tootsies, just as staff training could come to the rescue of your business.

I established Loftus Optical from scratch five years ago and currently have more than 5000 clients on the practice database. Staff training has been one of the secret weapons behind attracting, on average, 1000 new clients every year since opening our practice doors. 

As routine I collect client testimonials, and in nearly every one clients talk glowingly about practice staff. This is no accident. My staff are well trained and it is much more pleasant and easier than it sounds.

A training system

At Loftus I have found it extremely beneficial to perform staff training on a weekly basis. The reason for this is that there is no chance that your staff will remember what training they received last month, never mind last quarter. Therefore, regularity is key. 

When it comes to training, I like to keep it simple. It is rare that I use fancy pants technology during training sessions. There is no death by PowerPoint and no fancy graphs and tables, I use a pen, paper and a notebook to carry out staff training. 

I pick seven areas of the practice to focus on each year. I then spend seven weeks mastering these topics with my staff. I use the word “mastering” because I don’t want my staff to be dabbling in areas and switching topics each week. We pick one topic, we master it, and then we move on. I guarantee that by using this technique, in 49 weeks you will feel your practice has been turbo charged – you will feel that you can conquer the world. 

"As routine I collect client testimonials, and in nearly every one clients talk glowingly about practice staff. This is no accident"

No to procrastination

Stick to a weekly plan, no excuses. This is one of the biggest hurdles to get over. You may feel like you are too busy working in the business and dealing with clients, but there will always be something else you could do. 

You have to make time for training, and the good news is that your practice will not collapse and all hell will not be unleashed if you take time out once a week and just do it.

One story to drive this message home. My practice is in a non-affluent area and initially I purchased a lot of nice expensive stock. The trouble was, my staff felt that it was too expensive for our clients. I would actually catch them saying: “Oh those frames are nice, but they are a bit expensive, how about these…” This went on for several weeks until I dedicated a staff training session to dispensing high-end stock. I spent one hour every week for seven weeks covering this topic. 

The result was that we went from selling zero frames priced at £360, to selling at least two per week with an average dispense of £500. Doing the maths…£500x2x52…that’s £52,000+ a year extra. 

Yes, I could have used those seven hours that I spent training my staff testing eyes, but that would not have aided my staff’s dispensing skills. Staff training is working smarter not harder. It is one of the best investments for your business. 

Three steps to success

  1. Hold weekly training as routine, no excuses
  2. The delivery of training doesn’t need to be complicated  
  3. Pick a topic and master it before moving on. 

For more information, visit Mr Prouse's website