What can fine dining establishments teach us about running a great optometry practice? Matt Rosner and Dr. Fishbein talk about some interesting parallels between these areas and some actionable advice for running the “Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse of eye care practices.”

October 12, 2022

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Matt Rosner: “Is there something we need to know to deliver the best experience possible?” I don’t know how many practices or how many hospitality-focused people ask that question because I think that actually is at the core. The process is one thing and being organized is a skill. But the talent to ask, “What can I learn?” or “What information will help me deliver a better experience?” I think is at the core of just like memorable hospitality.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I’m Bethany Fishbein, the CEO of the Power Practice and host of the Power Hour Optometry podcast. And my guest today is Matt Rosner. I met Matt through his work with the NeuroVisual Medicine Institute. He’s the Director of Growth and Development for them. But in our conversations, we started talking about the work that Matt had done in his previous life before he got into the Eye Care space, which was working in restaurants and hospitality. So Matt share a little bit about what role you held. Or what did you do before?

 

Matt Rosner: Thanks, Bethany. It’s so fun to be here. So I started in the Restaurant industry as a Line Cook and it was after graduating from college. I was an Art and Design major focusing on Product Design and User Experience. And so I thought, well, you know, cooking food. Food is just another medium. It’s just, it’s basically art. And I also wanted to be a chef. And so I thought, “What better way to learn the restaurant industry than just cooking and being a Line Cook?” And this was the same time that Chef’s Table was really like blowing up on Netflix and everyone was just like googoo gaga for I don’t know all of the International Michelin Star chefs. And so I think I might have been riding a little bit of a high from that as well. But at about a year mark of cooking through a couple of conversations and we can go into it. But I ended up working with the Owner-Operator, the restauranteur, an amazing person by the name of  Sava Lelcaj. And she really took things to. I saw she wanted to take her Restaurant Group to a next level and the interiors were beautiful. The food was really well plated and had great flavors but the organization, I thought you know, “I think there’s an opportunity here to work together.” So long story short, I ended up taking the title of Organizational Steward and worked with at the time SavCo Hospitality for about two years on the Cultural and Organizational growth of the Restaurant Group. So that’s like in a nutshell, what I did in the Hospitality industry.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool. And the reason that we’re doing this, in our conversations, we’ve talked before this about how many similarities there are between an Optometry practice and really any other service industry and a restaurant is a prime example. People who have listened to me and my clients, like people who’ve worked with me, know that restaurant experience on a resume is the number one green flag for me because I love restaurant people. They’ve got the service culture and that service personality. And our current manager is a Food Service and Hospitality major. I mean, this is like, there’s so much that we can learn. So I’m excited to do this together and bring some of this information to everybody else because I love it.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, me too. And you know, it’s funny when I was in the Hospitality industry. So I also am a third generation in the Optometric industry. So my grandfather was an Optometrist. My mom became an Optometrist.  And I’m not an optometrist but I work very hands-on in the industry. And when I was in the Restaurant industry, my parents had a clinic in Michigan and they had grown a fair amount from I believe, 10 employees to like 35 employees. And it was one of those scenarios where the demand for their services really lead to their growth. But they needed to then catch up with all the systems, and the processes, and the job descriptions, and all of the things. And that was part of what I was doing in the Hospitality industry helping build cultural expectations, build kind of guidebooks or tools for frontline staff to use and to know what’s expected, and know how to deliver excellent hospitality. And so I ended up doing a little consulting and that was how I got my foot in the door of the Optometric industry with my parents. Helping them sort of streamline and lay another level of hospitality into how they were already working with Patient Care.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Some of the things that I’ve learned from restaurants and I’ve been trying to think, “How do we go through this in an organized fashion?” Because I could just throw things out and I know you could as well. But some of the things that I think about that I’ve learned from our staff members who have restaurant experience that I’ve learned a lot from and I think others could as well. The first thing that comes to my mind is the difference in preparation for the day that a restaurant crew does compared to an Optometric practice. There’s so many practices that I walk into that kind of feels like the day starts at 9 am when the first patient arrives. Staff is wandering in. The doctor is wandering in. Sometimes after that, they’ve got no idea who’s on the schedule. They just kind of figure it out as they go. So in the Restaurant world, in a great service-focused restaurant, what are the things that they’re doing to prep for the day? Because I know they’re not walking in when the first table is already there.

 

Matt Rosner: That would be chaos. I can only imagine opening the doors and the staff walking in at the same time as we start service. So, okay a couple of things that I think. So in the Restaurant industry and for people who haven’t worked for or seen sort of under the hood of the Hospitality industry, there are two groups of people that are worth talking about maybe a third. There’s front of house, and there’s back of house, and then there’s management. So front of house is your server. It is your food runner. For larger restaurants, it might be your Auxiliary Bar staff. Anyone who’s front facing, or in the Hospitality Group I was with, we call them guests instead of customers. So guest-facing people is what the front of house focuses on and they have their preparations and we’ll go into it. Back of house which are all the cooks, the chefs, and Prep Cooks. They have to prep in a totally different way for service because the role that they’re performing is completely different than being a server. So one thing that I would say. One way that the back of house preps and you might have heard this from Chef’s Table or any chef show is called mise en place, which is a French term for put in place. And in the kitchen that means spending one, two, maybe even three hours, prepping your ingredients, organizing your space before even the first guest comes in to sit down. And what it enables us to do is have everything right in front of us because as a Line Cook, you’re like a dancer. You’re a performer. You are working on an assembly line and your goal is to be as efficient and as clean as possible. And the best way to do that is to have everything in its place, neat, tidy, clean, and ready to perform at high volume.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Before you even do the next thing, I’m thinking about that as an Optometrist, right? That there are times when you get in there with your first patient. The first patient of the day and go to grab a tissue and there’s none in the box, or you need tonometer tips, or you need something that’s not clean. So the idea of having designated prep work. What’s the mise en place? 

 

Matt Rosner: Mise en place. Yeah. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Mise en place to allow you to have clean contact lens cases when you need them, have your trial lenses clean, your contact lens samples stocked, your drops full when you need them, any papers or brochure, like whatever you give out all there. It would make a difference in practices.

 

Matt Rosner: 100% And if there’s one nugget that I think will come up throughout this conversation, it is process. And to do good mise en place, we always have a checklist and doing the work to build the process before you need the process is like. I imagine this could be so helpful as either a beginning-of-day checklist for a doctor, right? It’s not about giving the care but getting everything ready to give the care could be you know, a really transformational and simple tool to add.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I think so. And I’m thinking about books I’ve read like 2 Second Lean that talks about what can you do to save yourself time later in the day to make something smoother or more efficient. So it’s a simple concept and one that just gets ignored by a lot of people and a lot of practices all the time. Even every position in the office making sure there’s paper in the printer, the toilet paper in the bathroom, the autorefractor has a print, and there are cleaning cloths ready to go. Like you could take that concept right through the office. And what could you set up beforehand to make your day go smoother, right? And then you have to allow the time for that to happen because those back-of-house people don’t get there, right? Like you said it could be one hour, two hours, or three hours of prepping to make sure it’s available. So you’ve got to allow the time for that to happen.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, and you know, the thing that I think about is you know. When there isn’t paper in the printer, or when there isn’t, you know, clean contact lens cases, it’s a small hiccup in the flow of a slower day. But when you’re running at full volume, if you’re working towards having a peak performance environment, where you are seeing a lot of patients during the day and you never want to compromise the care. You’re always trying to, you know. We’re talking about hospitality when it gives like peak experience to each patient. Then those things can gum up and they start to add up. And I’m thinking of in the kitchen if I ran out of something mid-shift. Because there’s like it’s slow, right? People trickle in at 4 pm, 5 pm, or 6 pm. The minute you get to 6:30 pm or 7 pm, it is go time and you are getting tickets, on tickets, on tickets and you have to keep up, you know? You have to be an athlete in those moments. And I think the pressure is a little bit different than an Optometric practice, but not a ton. And so I think that yeah, prepping, so you can deliver at peak flow and peak performance is. I love this conversation because it’s something that people don’t necessarily think about. But when they get there, it’s a whole different environment.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. And we do have rushes in a practice and maybe it’s not as predictable as a dinner rush or an after-theater rush but it happens. And I remember in those moments when something isn’t ready, it’s not a hiccup. It’s like it can be anything from just pulling your attention away from the clinical care you’re providing at the moment. So now you’ve got to worry about paper towels, right? But when it’s bad, it feels like the staff is out to get you. And I know they’re not. I know you’ve had this conversation in my office a million times. But when you’re backed up, and the next patient is waiting, and somebody’s really tricky, and they bring in that patient with, you know, who’s hard of hearing and doesn’t speak English, and their adult child is frustrated and yelling at them while trying to be on the Zoom call for work. And you run out of paper towels, you’re looking around for the hidden cameras like, “Who’s pranking me because it can’t be this bad?” So I love the idea of that. What does the front-of-house mise en place checklist look like?

 

Matt Rosner: Front of House ends up happening at the end of their day. So because of the way the Restaurant industry or the cadence of customers in a restaurant, for the most part, let’s just talk about like a lunch and dinner restaurant. At the end of that schedule. At the end of the day, you’ve got an hour or two where as a front-of-house person, you’re not getting a lot of people at 10 pm or 11 pm but the restaurant is still open. So that’s a perfect opportunity to maximize time as a staff person and roll your silverware. I think it’s so funny. I went to a restaurant yesterday and I had like a little rolled plastic silverware in a napkin. And we were eating right as the restaurant was closing and I saw the three servers just sitting at the bar rolling their plastic silverware. Because anytime we get rolled silverware at a restaurant, it doesn’t roll itself. You know someone’s doing that. And so that’s usually you know, one of the front of house mise en place activities. But I think what’s interesting about you know if we talk about hospitality and giving great hospitality, mise en place for someone who is a hospitalitarian, a term that I love. You know, someone who’s giving hospitality isn’t always like physical. It’s not always like rolling silverware, although you need enough silverware for a shift. But it’s more like an emotional prep.  And it is, you know, if you’re looking at you know, it’s gonna be a busy service. It might be like taking some deep breaths before you hop into your shift, or just doing some meditation, or you know. Something that we do as a front-of-house team activity is what we call it a pre-shift. It’s like a huddle in scrum or agile theory where the entire front-of-house staff gets in a circle with the shift manager or floor manager. And the manager has a template of things. They’ve got a checklist of things they want to run through for that shift. And what we would do is we would put, you know what’s on special today, right? Let’s get everyone on special. We’re going to bring the chef up with samples of that food to taste because we want every single staff person who’s going to be interfacing with customers or guests to know what it tastes like, know the texture, and be intimately connected to what they’re about to sell. And I think there might be a fair amount of parallel to the let me know if we’re introducing a new lens or a new kit or a new product. Taking the time to really and I’m sure that the lens reps will hear this and say thank you. But in terms of just like patient experience, the more you feel connected to the thing you’re about to deliver or the experience you’re about to share, the better you can do it.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that’s totally true. I mean, I may not be in a huddle each morning although we recommend that too for other reasons. But one of the things that I’m hearing a lot from practices, especially as everybody’s getting into the medical and specialty eye care is that opticals are feeling a little bit disconnected and practices. So as you’re talking about that, I’m thinking about bringing in a new line, having that huddle, and having everybody on staff know the story behind the line. These frames are made in the US. These frames are you know. This is the designer. We got to meet him. He’s a really cool guy. He uses feathers and seashells or whatever the information is and letting them see it, feel it, and touch them just to keep that connection even if they’re not the ones directly selling. And then the morning huddle. What did you call it? A pre-shift? 

 

Matt Rosner: Pre-shift.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I’m learning restaurant words here. We do that in my offices every morning. It’s who’s coming in? What are some of the things that we need to be aware of. Oh, here’s a family of four. But two of them are at two o’clock and two of them are at four o’clock. Do we think they’re coming together? How are we going to handle it if they show up to make sure the patients in between them get cared for? Here’s somebody who just needs a little bit of extra care. Here’s someone who left a great Google review last year. Here’s somebody who had a terrible experience last year. Like stuff that we need to know as well as like who’s out that day and we were short at frontdesk and we need people to jump out and help with checkout or whatever. This stuff is huge.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, I love it because I think we did this. I mean, I remember we did the same thing with our guests or our VIPs tonight. Who are our regulars? Is there a birthday? You know how many birthdays are there? Do we have enough desserts for each of those birthday tables? And I’m curious to hear from you. Because I’m sure practices are curious. Like, “Okay Bethany, how do you keep that all organized as a practice?” You know, how do you know who left a Google review or how do you do? I think there’s, I am curious, like, you know. What sort of system does a practice use to keep all that really important, more hospitality-oriented info, you know, together?

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, it’s hard to do. I mean, what we do and I think most do is use if there’s a Notes tab or like an Extra Information tab in the EHR. So when we’re meeting, we’re going through almost patient by patient to know if there is something we need to know. You know? This person uses a wheelchair. This person doesn’t speak English. This person is very concerned and petrified of eye exams. This person you know, stuff like that. And then over time, the advantage of being established in practice and having long-established staff is there are people too that you get to know. And just by their names either get a “Oh, yay.” or  “We’re not so yay.”, or whatever. It happens. So I think there’s that and in the schedules in the different EHR, there is usually fields to schedule things other than patients. So in those fields, somebody would say, “To text out. No contact lens lessons today.” or something like that. So that everybody can know at a glance that those things need to be accounted for.

 

Matt Rosner: That makes sense. And then one thing that you mentioned that I think is the question at the core of hospitalitarians is, “Is there something we need to know to deliver the best experience possible?” I don’t know how many practices or how many hospitality-focused people ask that question because I think that actually is at the core. The process is one thing and being organized is a skill. But the talent to ask, “What can I learn?” or “What information will help me deliver a better experience?” I think is at the core of just like memorable hospitality.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I couldn’t agree more. It’s so true. So I have one more question that says prep for the day. So my latest restaurant knowledge comes from watching The Bear. Do you watch it? 

 

Matt Rosner: Not yet. But I’m writing it down.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, anyway, so before the service starts, they do a family meal where they sit down and have dinner or whatever for everybody working. Is that really a thing? Or is that a TV thing? I’m sorry, I was just curious.

 

Matt Rosner: It is but it looks different at every restaurant. So for us, we in the kitchen. When I was working as a Line Cook a couple of years ago. In the restaurant where I worked in under the chef that I was under, because it’s kind of Chef centric, we would have the Prep Cooks. There, I’m gonna get down a rabbit hole. But there’s two sets of cooks in bigger restaurants that I didn’t know existed. One that were Prep Cooks and one that were Line Cooks. And the Prep Cooks got everything ready for the Line Cooks to prepare, plate, and serve. So at the end of their day, which started at 7am and ended at 3 pm, they would cook a house meal or a family meal with leftovers or with things that were about to expire in the fridge. You know things that might not be good for our guests, but they’re fine for us. And we would. It wasn’t as organized or as beautiful with candles or flowers. But we all had the opportunity to share a quick meal together standing up, you know, nudging each other and joking. So there was definitely an opportunity to build family over that meal. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I like the idea of it. Those little connections and those celebrations matter. Because, not as much in optometry practices as in restaurants, I don’t think. But during the chaos when things get hot, we might snap at somebody or say something in a way we don’t mean to say it. Something may just come out quickly like a barked command. Stuff happens in the moment. And so it’s nice to have those periodic reminders that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, we come together again as a family and as a group of people that’s getting along and working together for a common cause. Celebrations are important.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah. And you know there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. And I think that taking those opportunities whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, you know, work anniversary, or just a you know. Today’s a Wednesday and I wanted to just take you know, 15 minutes to. We are doing a Bagel Wednesday this morning and everyone you know, come get bagels. We scheduled patients, you know, 15 minutes later. So we have time to connect. I think on the hospitality side, there was a term or a phrase we always use that we said, hospitality starts on the inside. And how can you expect somebody to deliver a memorable experience if you don’t deliver them a memorable experience as a staff person? And so I think these family meals, or little Bagel Wednesdays, or whatever ways you can show appreciation and give hospitality, empowers them. And it gives them a sense of pride and a position of, “I’ve been taken care of and therefore I’m delivering. I’m in a stance or in a mindset of abundance. And I can now give what I have of myself to the patients or to the guests.” So I love it. And it comes back tenfold. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, we’ve always said, “Treat your staff the way you want them to treat your best patients.” And that carries through to that. So then service starts, right? So we’ve had all this discussion about preparation and talk about the training to give the best service experience once the guests start to arrive. Like what happens from the very beginning that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the encounter? 

 

Matt Rosner: Okay. Wow, where to begin? So there’s a tool in hospitality called Steps of Service. And it’s something that I don’t know if every restaurant utilizes but restaurants that are at the top of their game and doing fine dining restaurants certainly use this. And higher-end restaurants that are focused on the experience will always have a Steps of Service document. And it’s the sequence of activities that you want every guest to experience from the beginning of their experience all the way to the minute they leave the restaurant. So it starts with when the guest sits down and you’ll notice as a guest, righ? Someone will come provide water for your table at a nice restaurant, or a medium restaurant, at a dump, or actually at a diner really anywhere. There’s going to be someone who comes to water the table and that is the first step of service. And they’ll likely provide a menu and they will also likely ask you if, “This is the first time you’ve been dining with us?” or “Have you dined with us before? And what’s interesting about this is it gives them data. It gives them a playbook. And this Steps of Service is almost like a decision tree, right? So everyone gets watered within two minutes let’s say or 90 seconds. You set that expectation as you’re training staff that this is how every guest is greeted and is welcomed to our restaurant. Then we’re giving them the menu. But there’s two, we call them Menu Tours. There’s two tours you could give someone. If someone’s dined with you before, you just want to focus on what’s new, you know? The Specials of the Day or the Week or any new menu items that have come up recently. And if they’ve never been there before, you kind of want to show them around. “Here’s some favorite appetizers. This is chef’s favorite. And Oh, take a look at the back. There is a ton of great cocktails that we serve with in house spirits, etc.” So you wouldn’t want to give that tour to someone who was at your restaurant a week ago. And so I think there’s a way that we train staff to gather data along the way like little breadcrumbs so that they can give the best hospitality possible based on who’s sitting in front of them. So anyways, we use Steps of Service from the minute they walk in the door all the way through. Let’s say. You might have noticed that nicer restaurants, they don’t give you the check. You have to ask for the check and the reason that they do that is because if you’re. Let’s say, you know. You and a friend are having a meal and you just finished your main course. And you know they have dessert. They might have put a dessert menu on the table. But at that moment they gave you the check and said, “Thanks so much for coming.” They just lost an opportunity to deliver one more product, right? They could sell you an aperitif or a dessert. But also there might be other things that you want to order. They haven’t asked you, you know? So what we do is we create space after the main course for guests to kind of sit in their comfort, sit in their experience, and enjoy each other. Maybe they plan to sit for another half hour and just catch up. And they might also want another glass of wine. And so what we do is it’s also a business tactic, right? But it’s more than anything a hospitality tactic that you want to let them dictate the experience. And this might have some optical implications in terms of the hospitality delivered in an optical and sales environment. But we never give the check. We always have them ask for it. Because then we know they are ready. They are complete with their hospitality experience. And they’re ready for the check and need to be on their way.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that makes sense. And there are parallels right at the end of the first pair of glasses, “That’ll be $550. How would you like to take care of that?” Versus “Okay, so that pair is $550. What else can I help you with?” And maybe one says, “You know, I wanted to look at sunglasses.” Alright, right? But are we even giving the chance? My question though Matt is about training. So once you set the Steps of Service and I like and appreciate the difference between a new guest, somebody who’s never been there and somebody who has and kind of flexing accordingly. How are people trained to follow them? Because that’s going to be everybody’s question. And I would say. I don’t want to generalise. But I think the restaurant bar for hiring is at the level of optometry. Maybe a little bit lower than an optometry practice like, you know? It’s not that the best service people in the world work in restaurants. But restaurants do a better job of training the people they hire to be good service people. So once you set it, how do you teach it?

 

Matt Rosner: Okay. I love this question and because. I’m glad you asked because I had a note to mention. There are. Okay, I’m gonna derail again that it’s important because its foundation to answering the question, which is we have to hire the right people. There’s two categories that I think are helpful to think about. One is talent and the other is skill. And as I was doing HR strategy for our Hospitality Group, one of the things we reworked and rebuilt was our theory of hiring and the way we thought about hiring talent and hiring people to work in our restaurants. And I’ll do quick definitions. Talent is something that is and it’s not like tap dancing and you’re a savant and your natural. It is what your a natural at. Let’s say you’re an optimist. You came out of the box as an optimist. You’re just generally optimistic or you see the world as glass half full instead of glass half empty. And skills are things that. Yeah.  Steps of Service. I can train you with a stopwatch. Not that that’s how we train. But I can train you to do a physical task and that’s a skill that you can build. And so one of the things that for a long time, and I would say a lot of I imagine a lot of practice owners or just general managers have never taken the time to separate these two. Because you’ll find a lot of really frustrated managers trying to train talent which is going to make you feel crazy. So the first thing I would say and we talked about hospitality and a hospitalitarian is. Figure out in your practice or in your business, “What are things you want to hire for that you can’t necessarily train someone to do?” So it’s more of the question of how do they filter the world? How do they navigate their environment? When someone looks at them? Do they look for an opportunity to you know, give eye contact? Or do they shy away because that’s the way that they’re conditioned to navigate their environment? So first and foremost, is hiring people with a high, we could say, hospitality quotient. And you can see that when you’re doing your interview, you know? How do they interface with your staff? Did they hold the door for a patient even though they don’t work there? That’s just something that they do. That’s a quick rant on skills versus talents but there’s a lot of things we can train skillwise. But I would say first and foremost is getting the right people in the door and defining even before you start what you’re looking for so that people who are applying for that job are self filtering. Based on you can say, “Hey, we’re an optimistic culture.” You know, “We love to give hospitality.” There are certain people that will not apply to work at your company because they know they’re not that person. So that’s the hiring. Now training. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay. 

 

Matt Rosner: So now we’ve got the right person in the right seat. They have the right headspace. So they’re already looking for ways to deliver hospitality just on a regular basis. They call people “Hon”. They wipe up things for servers even though they’re the guests at the table, right? They’re just like looking to make the place or the world cleaner and better and happier. That’s the seat they’re starting in. So now we just need to give them framework on how to do that with our brand of hospitality or our type of service. It’s all about see one, teach one, do one. Or see one, do one, and teach one. So when we train someone in the Hospitality industry, they are a shadow. For their first couple of days, they are following around someone who is our expert or our trainer. Also, experts don’t always make great trainers. I’ll just say that. So I want them to see what we do and how we do it because what we’re hoping that they do is model the behaviour that we’re leading. And so let’s say they’re on a shift and we will have them follow a server trainer around and they’ll be doing their job. In this person. We set the context before to say, “Okay, you’re going to be following one of our best servers and I want you to look.” So we have to kind of prime them, “I want you to look for the ways in which they are operating in our environment. The way they interact with our guests. The way they look to deliver these little moments of hospitality because this is the best person in our environment for you to pick those things out from.” And at the end of the shift and throughout the shift, we’re going to ask you, “What did you see? Now what did you observe?” Because we’re hoping and what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build their own system of awareness. We want to make them as aware, and as critical, and as curious or opportunistic in the hospitality mindset that all of our other servers are in. And then they’re flying. That’s like the last step you know? Then then they do it, and we follow them, and we give them pointers. We give them guidance and give them support and encouragement. And at some point, they’re flying on their own.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: There’s so much in there. It sounds very logical when you say it and it all makes sense. But it’s quite different than how training occurs in a lot of optometry practices. So to think about having a new person number one train with someone who not necessarily is the most knowledgeable as far as the skills or the tasks, but is the best one for the way you want your patients to be treated, I think is a shift for a lot of practice owners and managers. They say, “Nope, this one’s the best. They know how to push the buttons in the right sequence every time.” And I think too, that just opening the awareness to the new person training that, “We want you to learn not only the what to do but to observe and be critical of and absorb the how we do it.” can really be kind of game changing. Because it’s not about running a visual field or pushing the buttons on the autorefractor or taking a picture. It’s about how that person makes the patient feel while they’re doing those things. You got to just assume that they’re going to be able to learn to run a field or push the buttons or take a picture. But it’s how are you going to be while you’re doing that. And we want you to pay attention to that. We’re putting you at the best person to teach you that. Buttons we can teach you later. But that’s different than what practices are doing.

 

Matt Rosner: Well. And I think. I love that you said that because what it reminds me of. And I was watching a TEDX talk the other day. And it was around. I wish I had the name. But it was around the idea of service versus hospitality. And the idea that service is what you do for someone but hospitality is how you make them feel. And so I think having that as a goal, right? So when we have, “How do you measure great hospitality?” Right? That’s a really good question. And so, you know, I think the idea that, you know. We measure our P&L. We measure capture rates, second pair of sales, and all that stuff, right? But how do we know that and measure and reward that people are having memorable experiences? People feel good in our environment. And I think having training around, “How do we make people feel great?” is a really special piece of training that they’ll take wherever they go, you know? And they can use it with their friends and their family. It’s just a life skill that I’m really passionate about. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. So one of the other areas that I see excelling in some restaurants and not excelling in others, but it’s one that we look to improve in practice is in the. I don’t know if it’s considered Service Recovery? But it’s kind of what happens when something goes wrong. Recently, we were at this amazing restaurant, like the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to. And one of the people that I was dining with, all of the food was so perfect, and she got a salad and she said, “I think the top fell off the salt shaker.” Like they must have just like. There was something really wrong. What do you think optometry practices can learn from restaurants in the area of what to do when something gets screwed up?

 

Matt Rosner: There’s so much here. I love it. So okay. One thing I will start with is, I had a similar restaurant experience recently, where the food was just. But it was the opposite. The food was. The food was okay. But the problem was. The food wasn’t the issue. It was the fact that there was no one around for me to call over. Our server had left. They were assuming that the food was perfect, that you’re happy, and you’re ready to go. You’re like, you’re here. You’re just 100%. But what they didn’t plan for was the scenario where I said no nuts but there’s nuts on my plate. Or, you know, the food actually isn’t perfect right in your scenario. And so I would say the first thing to do is when we train our servers, we say, “head on a swivel.” You always want to have your head on a swivel. And that’s actually part of the Steps of Service, right? The minute you drop the food or if you have a food server drop the food. You always have your eye or the corner of your eye looking at table 54 for their first bite. We say one minute or first bite that you should check back to make sure everything tastes good. We never want to assume that they’re having a perfect, you know, a level 10 experience. We want to always be cautiously optimistic, but you know, trust but verify. And so we have, we encourage, and train all of our servers to keep their eye on because if they see like the conversations great and they’re loving the food after that first bite. Sometimes you wouldn’t want to worry about it. You don’t want to interrupt but I think the idea that we’re always looking and always looking to make sure that they’re having the experience we want them to have, enables us to recover or intervene as soon as possible. And I think timing in hospitality is everything. And so the longer someone sits with a salty salad, the more frustrated they get because everyone around them is eating their beautiful delicious food. And now there’s a power dynamic and there’s frustration and you go 10 minutes and they’re all done with their their food and you’re still sitting with the salad you haven’t eaten. You’re not having a great experience. So I’d say first and foremost, timing is everything. And the way you hit timing is by really strong culture of observation. And just continuing to check back with the guest or patient on their experience.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, as a restaurant patron, someone who eats in restaurants. I’ve been in that situation more times than I can count, right? I don’t need dairy and you know, one in four restaurants I go to they bring out the plate and there’s cheese on something and I don’t eat it. And yeah, like in the first 15 seconds, I’m looking around for someone. And so someone being there who says, “Was there a problem?” Let’s the restaurant have an immediate apology, whisk it away, and bring a new one while everyone else is still eating. And I can think of situations where I’ve cancelled my food because I’m waiting so long that if I make them make something else, everybody else is going to be done and I’m the only one eating. You know what I wasn’t even that hungry. Don’t worry about it. And maybe it’s wonderful and I don’t even know.

 

Matt Rosner: How did they deal with the salty salad? I’m curious. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: They did fine. This was like a crazy experience. But they apologized and whisked out a new one very quick. And I wonder what happened on the back of house and I imagine the Gordon Ramsay making everyone taste it and yelling obscenities or something. But what about the situations where there’s a big difference in empowerment and staff empowerment in these situations? Where there is a problem, “Even I thought I would like this drink and I don’t like it.” And “Oh, hold on a minute. Let me ask my manager. I want to see if we can do anything about that. Maybe we could.” You know? Versus, “Oh my gosh, you don’t like it? Let me get you something else.” Is that policy from the top or is that people training? Where does that come from?

 

Matt Rosner: All the above. But what I want to mention so there’s. I’ve been waiting for the moment to drop their name because they had been really transformative in the way that I learned hospitality and that I trained to help other people provide hospitality. It’s a bakery out of Ann Arbour Michigan named Zingerman’s. And they started, I think they’re maybe 35 years old as a company. They started as a deli and over time they’ve grown to be, I think 15 different smaller concepts, whether it’s a Korean restaurant, or a bakery,or a creamery. Anyways, what’s amazing about Zingerman’s is they have a process for everything. And they do it in a way that is really emotionally intelligent. So as you were mentioning, you know how to how to handle this issue. I was just pulling out my favourite resource from Zingerman’s, which is the Zingerman’s Five Steps to Effectively Handle Customer Complaints. So we use this and our own. You know, I didn’t work for Zingerman’s. But we use it because it’s such an effective set of steps. So first, is acknowledge. So acknowledging the complaint. There’s a lot of times where people don’t even acknowledge that there’s an issue. Second is to sincerely apologize, right? An apology goes so far. And third is to take actions to make things right. So that’s the step that warrants conversation before an issue occurs. So kind of as a team or as a staff scenario. Planning or talking about, what are the top four or five issues that might happen on a given day that we can plan for as a team and what can I do as a staff person? And what might I need a manager to do in other scenarios? So I think giving a menu of choices for staff people and what they can do that don’t necessarily require a manager, right? So in the restaurant business, I can offer certain things you know. I can offer to take it back and have it remade. I can offer to make them a new dish. A completely different dish if they didn’t like the flavour. And in some scenarios, I actually have carte blanche to comp a piece of the meal whether it’s a dish or comp a free dessert. And we track that though, you know. If everyone gave away free desserts every time, tips would be through the roof but our cost structure would not be so tight. So take action to make things right as number three. Number four, I love this. This is a very Zingerman’s thing. Thank them. “Thank you so much for letting me know that that was an issue. We’re going to make sure that this is fixed in the kitchen so that this doesn’t happen again.” And last but not the least, and this is around process, document. And Zingerman’s has a really great way. They call it red light and green light or Code red and code green, which is where they they document things. Code Green things that are amazing and outstanding. And Code Red things that need improvement. And so they would document what happened, how it happened, and there would be some sort of resolution or, you know, back end. But I think having a framework that staff have. Every staff person at Zingerman’s can do these five steps and are trained to. And I think having that at their disposal gives them the empowerment or the agency to go all the way for the customer.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: This is an overflowing treasure chest of great thoughts and information. And just such a valuable conversation that I’ve been writing little notes as we’re talking. And the points that you hit, the mise en place, preparing whether it’s physically or emotionally for what’s to come, the connecting as a family, having process for things, the Steps of Service, hiring talent and training skill, teaching how you want things done and not just what you want done, and having staff trained and empowered to handle any situations that end up less than perfect. Sounds like a fantastic start to a playbook for improving an optometric practice or really any other business. So I appreciate you sharing all of these great hospitality lessons that we can take right from the restaurant and plop down into our Eye Care offices. This has been amazing. Thank you.

 

Matt Rosner: It’s been a blast. Bethany. Thanks so much for having me. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Matt if people want to get in touch with you to connect, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?

 

Matt Rosner: You can either. I think email is probably easiest. It’s matt@nvminstitute.org

and we’d be happy to connect.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: And this is some of the things you described are the things that we look at when we’re visiting an optometry practice. We’re looking obviously for great physical space and great products like you started with beautiful space and beautiful food. But we’re also looking for a seamless patient journey which is where all these aspects of service comes in. Systems and processes, financials, metrics, all of it to help a practice reach their dreams. And for more information about what we do, you can reach us on our website, https://www.powerpractice.com/ Thank you so much for listening.

 

Read the Transcription

Matt Rosner: “Is there something we need to know to deliver the best experience possible?” I don’t know how many practices or how many hospitality-focused people ask that question because I think that actually is at the core. The process is one thing and being organized is a skill. But the talent to ask, “What can I learn?” or “What information will help me deliver a better experience?” I think is at the core of just like memorable hospitality.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Hi, I’m Bethany Fishbein, the CEO of the Power Practice and host of the Power Hour Optometry podcast. And my guest today is Matt Rosner. I met Matt through his work with the NeuroVisual Medicine Institute. He’s the Director of Growth and Development for them. But in our conversations, we started talking about the work that Matt had done in his previous life before he got into the Eye Care space, which was working in restaurants and hospitality. So Matt share a little bit about what role you held. Or what did you do before?

 

Matt Rosner: Thanks, Bethany. It’s so fun to be here. So I started in the Restaurant industry as a Line Cook and it was after graduating from college. I was an Art and Design major focusing on Product Design and User Experience. And so I thought, well, you know, cooking food. Food is just another medium. It’s just, it’s basically art. And I also wanted to be a chef. And so I thought, “What better way to learn the restaurant industry than just cooking and being a Line Cook?” And this was the same time that Chef’s Table was really like blowing up on Netflix and everyone was just like googoo gaga for I don’t know all of the International Michelin Star chefs. And so I think I might have been riding a little bit of a high from that as well. But at about a year mark of cooking through a couple of conversations and we can go into it. But I ended up working with the Owner-Operator, the restauranteur, an amazing person by the name of  Sava Lelcaj. And she really took things to. I saw she wanted to take her Restaurant Group to a next level and the interiors were beautiful. The food was really well plated and had great flavors but the organization, I thought you know, “I think there’s an opportunity here to work together.” So long story short, I ended up taking the title of Organizational Steward and worked with at the time SavCo Hospitality for about two years on the Cultural and Organizational growth of the Restaurant Group. So that’s like in a nutshell, what I did in the Hospitality industry.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Cool. And the reason that we’re doing this, in our conversations, we’ve talked before this about how many similarities there are between an Optometry practice and really any other service industry and a restaurant is a prime example. People who have listened to me and my clients, like people who’ve worked with me, know that restaurant experience on a resume is the number one green flag for me because I love restaurant people. They’ve got the service culture and that service personality. And our current manager is a Food Service and Hospitality major. I mean, this is like, there’s so much that we can learn. So I’m excited to do this together and bring some of this information to everybody else because I love it.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, me too. And you know, it’s funny when I was in the Hospitality industry. So I also am a third generation in the Optometric industry. So my grandfather was an Optometrist. My mom became an Optometrist.  And I’m not an optometrist but I work very hands-on in the industry. And when I was in the Restaurant industry, my parents had a clinic in Michigan and they had grown a fair amount from I believe, 10 employees to like 35 employees. And it was one of those scenarios where the demand for their services really lead to their growth. But they needed to then catch up with all the systems, and the processes, and the job descriptions, and all of the things. And that was part of what I was doing in the Hospitality industry helping build cultural expectations, build kind of guidebooks or tools for frontline staff to use and to know what’s expected, and know how to deliver excellent hospitality. And so I ended up doing a little consulting and that was how I got my foot in the door of the Optometric industry with my parents. Helping them sort of streamline and lay another level of hospitality into how they were already working with Patient Care.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Some of the things that I’ve learned from restaurants and I’ve been trying to think, “How do we go through this in an organized fashion?” Because I could just throw things out and I know you could as well. But some of the things that I think about that I’ve learned from our staff members who have restaurant experience that I’ve learned a lot from and I think others could as well. The first thing that comes to my mind is the difference in preparation for the day that a restaurant crew does compared to an Optometric practice. There’s so many practices that I walk into that kind of feels like the day starts at 9 am when the first patient arrives. Staff is wandering in. The doctor is wandering in. Sometimes after that, they’ve got no idea who’s on the schedule. They just kind of figure it out as they go. So in the Restaurant world, in a great service-focused restaurant, what are the things that they’re doing to prep for the day? Because I know they’re not walking in when the first table is already there.

 

Matt Rosner: That would be chaos. I can only imagine opening the doors and the staff walking in at the same time as we start service. So, okay a couple of things that I think. So in the Restaurant industry and for people who haven’t worked for or seen sort of under the hood of the Hospitality industry, there are two groups of people that are worth talking about maybe a third. There’s front of house, and there’s back of house, and then there’s management. So front of house is your server. It is your food runner. For larger restaurants, it might be your Auxiliary Bar staff. Anyone who’s front facing, or in the Hospitality Group I was with, we call them guests instead of customers. So guest-facing people is what the front of house focuses on and they have their preparations and we’ll go into it. Back of house which are all the cooks, the chefs, and Prep Cooks. They have to prep in a totally different way for service because the role that they’re performing is completely different than being a server. So one thing that I would say. One way that the back of house preps and you might have heard this from Chef’s Table or any chef show is called mise en place, which is a French term for put in place. And in the kitchen that means spending one, two, maybe even three hours, prepping your ingredients, organizing your space before even the first guest comes in to sit down. And what it enables us to do is have everything right in front of us because as a Line Cook, you’re like a dancer. You’re a performer. You are working on an assembly line and your goal is to be as efficient and as clean as possible. And the best way to do that is to have everything in its place, neat, tidy, clean, and ready to perform at high volume.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Before you even do the next thing, I’m thinking about that as an Optometrist, right? That there are times when you get in there with your first patient. The first patient of the day and go to grab a tissue and there’s none in the box, or you need tonometer tips, or you need something that’s not clean. So the idea of having designated prep work. What’s the mise en place? 

 

Matt Rosner: Mise en place. Yeah. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Mise en place to allow you to have clean contact lens cases when you need them, have your trial lenses clean, your contact lens samples stocked, your drops full when you need them, any papers or brochure, like whatever you give out all there. It would make a difference in practices.

 

Matt Rosner: 100% And if there’s one nugget that I think will come up throughout this conversation, it is process. And to do good mise en place, we always have a checklist and doing the work to build the process before you need the process is like. I imagine this could be so helpful as either a beginning-of-day checklist for a doctor, right? It’s not about giving the care but getting everything ready to give the care could be you know, a really transformational and simple tool to add.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I think so. And I’m thinking about books I’ve read like 2 Second Lean that talks about what can you do to save yourself time later in the day to make something smoother or more efficient. So it’s a simple concept and one that just gets ignored by a lot of people and a lot of practices all the time. Even every position in the office making sure there’s paper in the printer, the toilet paper in the bathroom, the autorefractor has a print, and there are cleaning cloths ready to go. Like you could take that concept right through the office. And what could you set up beforehand to make your day go smoother, right? And then you have to allow the time for that to happen because those back-of-house people don’t get there, right? Like you said it could be one hour, two hours, or three hours of prepping to make sure it’s available. So you’ve got to allow the time for that to happen.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, and you know, the thing that I think about is you know. When there isn’t paper in the printer, or when there isn’t, you know, clean contact lens cases, it’s a small hiccup in the flow of a slower day. But when you’re running at full volume, if you’re working towards having a peak performance environment, where you are seeing a lot of patients during the day and you never want to compromise the care. You’re always trying to, you know. We’re talking about hospitality when it gives like peak experience to each patient. Then those things can gum up and they start to add up. And I’m thinking of in the kitchen if I ran out of something mid-shift. Because there’s like it’s slow, right? People trickle in at 4 pm, 5 pm, or 6 pm. The minute you get to 6:30 pm or 7 pm, it is go time and you are getting tickets, on tickets, on tickets and you have to keep up, you know? You have to be an athlete in those moments. And I think the pressure is a little bit different than an Optometric practice, but not a ton. And so I think that yeah, prepping, so you can deliver at peak flow and peak performance is. I love this conversation because it’s something that people don’t necessarily think about. But when they get there, it’s a whole different environment.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. And we do have rushes in a practice and maybe it’s not as predictable as a dinner rush or an after-theater rush but it happens. And I remember in those moments when something isn’t ready, it’s not a hiccup. It’s like it can be anything from just pulling your attention away from the clinical care you’re providing at the moment. So now you’ve got to worry about paper towels, right? But when it’s bad, it feels like the staff is out to get you. And I know they’re not. I know you’ve had this conversation in my office a million times. But when you’re backed up, and the next patient is waiting, and somebody’s really tricky, and they bring in that patient with, you know, who’s hard of hearing and doesn’t speak English, and their adult child is frustrated and yelling at them while trying to be on the Zoom call for work. And you run out of paper towels, you’re looking around for the hidden cameras like, “Who’s pranking me because it can’t be this bad?” So I love the idea of that. What does the front-of-house mise en place checklist look like?

 

Matt Rosner: Front of House ends up happening at the end of their day. So because of the way the Restaurant industry or the cadence of customers in a restaurant, for the most part, let’s just talk about like a lunch and dinner restaurant. At the end of that schedule. At the end of the day, you’ve got an hour or two where as a front-of-house person, you’re not getting a lot of people at 10 pm or 11 pm but the restaurant is still open. So that’s a perfect opportunity to maximize time as a staff person and roll your silverware. I think it’s so funny. I went to a restaurant yesterday and I had like a little rolled plastic silverware in a napkin. And we were eating right as the restaurant was closing and I saw the three servers just sitting at the bar rolling their plastic silverware. Because anytime we get rolled silverware at a restaurant, it doesn’t roll itself. You know someone’s doing that. And so that’s usually you know, one of the front of house mise en place activities. But I think what’s interesting about you know if we talk about hospitality and giving great hospitality, mise en place for someone who is a hospitalitarian, a term that I love. You know, someone who’s giving hospitality isn’t always like physical. It’s not always like rolling silverware, although you need enough silverware for a shift. But it’s more like an emotional prep.  And it is, you know, if you’re looking at you know, it’s gonna be a busy service. It might be like taking some deep breaths before you hop into your shift, or just doing some meditation, or you know. Something that we do as a front-of-house team activity is what we call it a pre-shift. It’s like a huddle in scrum or agile theory where the entire front-of-house staff gets in a circle with the shift manager or floor manager. And the manager has a template of things. They’ve got a checklist of things they want to run through for that shift. And what we would do is we would put, you know what’s on special today, right? Let’s get everyone on special. We’re going to bring the chef up with samples of that food to taste because we want every single staff person who’s going to be interfacing with customers or guests to know what it tastes like, know the texture, and be intimately connected to what they’re about to sell. And I think there might be a fair amount of parallel to the let me know if we’re introducing a new lens or a new kit or a new product. Taking the time to really and I’m sure that the lens reps will hear this and say thank you. But in terms of just like patient experience, the more you feel connected to the thing you’re about to deliver or the experience you’re about to share, the better you can do it.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that’s totally true. I mean, I may not be in a huddle each morning although we recommend that too for other reasons. But one of the things that I’m hearing a lot from practices, especially as everybody’s getting into the medical and specialty eye care is that opticals are feeling a little bit disconnected and practices. So as you’re talking about that, I’m thinking about bringing in a new line, having that huddle, and having everybody on staff know the story behind the line. These frames are made in the US. These frames are you know. This is the designer. We got to meet him. He’s a really cool guy. He uses feathers and seashells or whatever the information is and letting them see it, feel it, and touch them just to keep that connection even if they’re not the ones directly selling. And then the morning huddle. What did you call it? A pre-shift? 

 

Matt Rosner: Pre-shift.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I’m learning restaurant words here. We do that in my offices every morning. It’s who’s coming in? What are some of the things that we need to be aware of. Oh, here’s a family of four. But two of them are at two o’clock and two of them are at four o’clock. Do we think they’re coming together? How are we going to handle it if they show up to make sure the patients in between them get cared for? Here’s somebody who just needs a little bit of extra care. Here’s someone who left a great Google review last year. Here’s somebody who had a terrible experience last year. Like stuff that we need to know as well as like who’s out that day and we were short at frontdesk and we need people to jump out and help with checkout or whatever. This stuff is huge.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah, I love it because I think we did this. I mean, I remember we did the same thing with our guests or our VIPs tonight. Who are our regulars? Is there a birthday? You know how many birthdays are there? Do we have enough desserts for each of those birthday tables? And I’m curious to hear from you. Because I’m sure practices are curious. Like, “Okay Bethany, how do you keep that all organized as a practice?” You know, how do you know who left a Google review or how do you do? I think there’s, I am curious, like, you know. What sort of system does a practice use to keep all that really important, more hospitality-oriented info, you know, together?

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, it’s hard to do. I mean, what we do and I think most do is use if there’s a Notes tab or like an Extra Information tab in the EHR. So when we’re meeting, we’re going through almost patient by patient to know if there is something we need to know. You know? This person uses a wheelchair. This person doesn’t speak English. This person is very concerned and petrified of eye exams. This person you know, stuff like that. And then over time, the advantage of being established in practice and having long-established staff is there are people too that you get to know. And just by their names either get a “Oh, yay.” or  “We’re not so yay.”, or whatever. It happens. So I think there’s that and in the schedules in the different EHR, there is usually fields to schedule things other than patients. So in those fields, somebody would say, “To text out. No contact lens lessons today.” or something like that. So that everybody can know at a glance that those things need to be accounted for.

 

Matt Rosner: That makes sense. And then one thing that you mentioned that I think is the question at the core of hospitalitarians is, “Is there something we need to know to deliver the best experience possible?” I don’t know how many practices or how many hospitality-focused people ask that question because I think that actually is at the core. The process is one thing and being organized is a skill. But the talent to ask, “What can I learn?” or “What information will help me deliver a better experience?” I think is at the core of just like memorable hospitality.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: I couldn’t agree more. It’s so true. So I have one more question that says prep for the day. So my latest restaurant knowledge comes from watching The Bear. Do you watch it? 

 

Matt Rosner: Not yet. But I’m writing it down.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, anyway, so before the service starts, they do a family meal where they sit down and have dinner or whatever for everybody working. Is that really a thing? Or is that a TV thing? I’m sorry, I was just curious.

 

Matt Rosner: It is but it looks different at every restaurant. So for us, we in the kitchen. When I was working as a Line Cook a couple of years ago. In the restaurant where I worked in under the chef that I was under, because it’s kind of Chef centric, we would have the Prep Cooks. There, I’m gonna get down a rabbit hole. But there’s two sets of cooks in bigger restaurants that I didn’t know existed. One that were Prep Cooks and one that were Line Cooks. And the Prep Cooks got everything ready for the Line Cooks to prepare, plate, and serve. So at the end of their day, which started at 7am and ended at 3 pm, they would cook a house meal or a family meal with leftovers or with things that were about to expire in the fridge. You know things that might not be good for our guests, but they’re fine for us. And we would. It wasn’t as organized or as beautiful with candles or flowers. But we all had the opportunity to share a quick meal together standing up, you know, nudging each other and joking. So there was definitely an opportunity to build family over that meal. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, I like the idea of it. Those little connections and those celebrations matter. Because, not as much in optometry practices as in restaurants, I don’t think. But during the chaos when things get hot, we might snap at somebody or say something in a way we don’t mean to say it. Something may just come out quickly like a barked command. Stuff happens in the moment. And so it’s nice to have those periodic reminders that no matter what happens today or tomorrow, we come together again as a family and as a group of people that’s getting along and working together for a common cause. Celebrations are important.

 

Matt Rosner: Yeah. And you know there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. And I think that taking those opportunities whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, you know, work anniversary, or just a you know. Today’s a Wednesday and I wanted to just take you know, 15 minutes to. We are doing a Bagel Wednesday this morning and everyone you know, come get bagels. We scheduled patients, you know, 15 minutes later. So we have time to connect. I think on the hospitality side, there was a term or a phrase we always use that we said, hospitality starts on the inside. And how can you expect somebody to deliver a memorable experience if you don’t deliver them a memorable experience as a staff person? And so I think these family meals, or little Bagel Wednesdays, or whatever ways you can show appreciation and give hospitality, empowers them. And it gives them a sense of pride and a position of, “I’ve been taken care of and therefore I’m delivering. I’m in a stance or in a mindset of abundance. And I can now give what I have of myself to the patients or to the guests.” So I love it. And it comes back tenfold. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, we’ve always said, “Treat your staff the way you want them to treat your best patients.” And that carries through to that. So then service starts, right? So we’ve had all this discussion about preparation and talk about the training to give the best service experience once the guests start to arrive. Like what happens from the very beginning that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the encounter? 

 

Matt Rosner: Okay. Wow, where to begin? So there’s a tool in hospitality called Steps of Service. And it’s something that I don’t know if every restaurant utilizes but restaurants that are at the top of their game and doing fine dining restaurants certainly use this. And higher-end restaurants that are focused on the experience will always have a Steps of Service document. And it’s the sequence of activities that you want every guest to experience from the beginning of their experience all the way to the minute they leave the restaurant. So it starts with when the guest sits down and you’ll notice as a guest, righ? Someone will come provide water for your table at a nice restaurant, or a medium restaurant, at a dump, or actually at a diner really anywhere. There’s going to be someone who comes to water the table and that is the first step of service. And they’ll likely provide a menu and they will also likely ask you if, “This is the first time you’ve been dining with us?” or “Have you dined with us before? And what’s interesting about this is it gives them data. It gives them a playbook. And this Steps of Service is almost like a decision tree, right? So everyone gets watered within two minutes let’s say or 90 seconds. You set that expectation as you’re training staff that this is how every guest is greeted and is welcomed to our restaurant. Then we’re giving them the menu. But there’s two, we call them Menu Tours. There’s two tours you could give someone. If someone’s dined with you before, you just want to focus on what’s new, you know? The Specials of the Day or the Week or any new menu items that have come up recently. And if they’ve never been there before, you kind of want to show them around. “Here’s some favorite appetizers. This is chef’s favorite. And Oh, take a look at the back. There is a ton of great cocktails that we serve with in house spirits, etc.” So you wouldn’t want to give that tour to someone who was at your restaurant a week ago. And so I think there’s a way that we train staff to gather data along the way like little breadcrumbs so that they can give the best hospitality possible based on who’s sitting in front of them. So anyways, we use Steps of Service from the minute they walk in the door all the way through. Let’s say. You might have noticed that nicer restaurants, they don’t give you the check. You have to ask for the check and the reason that they do that is because if you’re. Let’s say, you know. You and a friend are having a meal and you just finished your main course. And you know they have dessert. They might have put a dessert menu on the table. But at that moment they gave you the check and said, “Thanks so much for coming.” They just lost an opportunity to deliver one more product, right? They could sell you an aperitif or a dessert. But also there might be other things that you want to order. They haven’t asked you, you know? So what we do is we create space after the main course for guests to kind of sit in their comfort, sit in their experience, and enjoy each other. Maybe they plan to sit for another half hour and just catch up. And they might also want another glass of wine. And so what we do is it’s also a business tactic, right? But it’s more than anything a hospitality tactic that you want to let them dictate the experience. And this might have some optical implications in terms of the hospitality delivered in an optical and sales environment. But we never give the check. We always have them ask for it. Because then we know they are ready. They are complete with their hospitality experience. And they’re ready for the check and need to be on their way.

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that makes sense. And there are parallels right at the end of the first pair of glasses, “That’ll be $550. How would you like to take care of that?” Versus “Okay, so that pair is $550. What else can I help you with?” And maybe one says, “You know, I wanted to look at sunglasses.” Alright, right? But are we even giving the chance? My question though Matt is about training. So once you set the Steps of Service and I like and appreciate the difference between a new guest, somebody who’s never been there and somebody who has and kind of flexing accordingly. How are people trained to follow them? Because that’s going to be everybody’s question. And I would say. I don’t want to generalise. But I think the restaurant bar for hiring is at the level of optometry. Maybe a little bit lower than an optometry practice like, you know? It’s not that the best service people in the world work in restaurants. But restaurants do a better job of training the people they hire to be good service people. So once you set it, how do you teach it?

 

Matt Rosner: Okay. I love this question and because. I’m glad you asked because I had a note to mention. There are. Okay, I’m gonna derail again that it’s important because its foundation to answering the question, which is we have to hire the right people. There’s two categories that I think are helpful to think about. One is talent and the other is skill. And as I was doing HR strategy for our Hospitality Group, one of the things we reworked and rebuilt was our theory of hiring and the way we thought about hiring talent and hiring people to work in our restaurants. And I’ll do quick definitions. Talent is something that is and it’s not like tap dancing and you’re a savant and your natural. It is what your a natural at. Let’s say you’re an optimist. You came out of the box as an optimist. You’re just generally optimistic or you see the world as glass half full instead of glass half empty. And skills are things that. Yeah.  Steps of Service. I can train you with a stopwatch. Not that that’s how we train. But I can train you to do a physical task and that’s a skill that you can build. And so one of the things that for a long time, and I would say a lot of I imagine a lot of practice owners or just general managers have never taken the time to separate these two. Because you’ll find a lot of really frustrated managers trying to train talent which is going to make you feel crazy. So the first thing I would say and we talked about hospitality and a hospitalitarian is. Figure out in your practice or in your business, “What are things you want to hire for that you can’t necessarily train someone to do?” So it’s more of the question of how do they filter the world? How do they navigate their environment? When someone looks at them? Do they look for an opportunity to you know, give eye contact? Or do they shy away because that’s the way that they’re conditioned to navigate their environment? So first and foremost, is hiring people with a high, we could say, hospitality quotient. And you can see that when you’re doing your interview, you know? How do they interface with your staff? Did they hold the door for a patient even though they don’t work there? That’s just something that they do. That’s a quick rant on skills versus talents but there’s a lot of things we can train skillwise. But I would say first and foremost is getting the right people in the door and defining even before you start what you’re looking for so that people who are applying for that job are self filtering. Based on you can say, “Hey, we’re an optimistic culture.” You know, “We love to give hospitality.” There are certain people that will not apply to work at your company because they know they’re not that person. So that’s the hiring. Now training. 

 

Dr.Bethany Fishbein: Okay. 

 

Matt Rosner: So now we’ve got the right person in the right seat. They have the right headspace. So they’re already looking for ways to deliver hospitality just on a regular basis. They call people “Hon”. They wipe up things for servers even though they’re the guests at the table, right? They’re just like looking to make the place or the world cleaner and better and happier. That’s the seat they’re starting in. So now we just need to give them framework on how to do that with our brand of hospitality or our type of service. It’s all about see one, teach one, do one. Or see one, do one, and teach one. So when we train someone in the Hospitality industry, they are a shadow. For their first couple of days, they are following around someone who is our expert or our trainer. Also, experts don’t always make great trainers. I’ll just say that. So I want them to see what we do and how we do it because what we’re hoping that they do is model the behaviour that we’re leading. And so let’s say they’re on a shift and we will have them follow a server trainer around and they’ll be doing their job. In this person. We set the context before to say, “Okay, you’re going to be following one of our best servers and I want you to look.” So we have to kind of prime them, “I want you to look for the ways in which they are operating in our environment. The way they interact with our guests. The way they look to deliver these little moments of hospitality because this is the best person in our environment for you to pick those things out from.” And at the end of the shift and throughout the shift, we’re going to ask you, “What did you see? Now what did you observe?” Because we’re hoping and what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build their own system of awareness. We want to make them as aware, and as critical, and as curious or opportunistic in the hospitality mindset that all of our other servers are in. And then they’re flying. That’s like the last step you know? Then then they do it, and we follow them, and we give them pointers. We give them guidance and give them support and encouragement. And at some point, they’re flying on their own.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: There’s so much in there. It sounds very logical when you say it and it all makes sense. But it’s quite different than how training occurs in a lot of optometry practices. So to think about having a new person number one train with someone who not necessarily is the most knowledgeable as far as the skills or the tasks, but is the best one for the way you want your patients to be treated, I think is a shift for a lot of practice owners and managers. They say, “Nope, this one’s the best. They know how to push the buttons in the right sequence every time.” And I think too, that just opening the awareness to the new person training that, “We want you to learn not only the what to do but to observe and be critical of and absorb the how we do it.” can really be kind of game changing. Because it’s not about running a visual field or pushing the buttons on the autorefractor or taking a picture. It’s about how that person makes the patient feel while they’re doing those things. You got to just assume that they’re going to be able to learn to run a field or push the buttons or take a picture. But it’s how are you going to be while you’re doing that. And we want you to pay attention to that. We’re putting you at the best person to teach you that. Buttons we can teach you later. But that’s different than what practices are doing.

 

Matt Rosner: Well. And I think. I love that you said that because what it reminds me of. And I was watching a TEDX talk the other day. And it was around. I wish I had the name. But it was around the idea of service versus hospitality. And the idea that service is what you do for someone but hospitality is how you make them feel. And so I think having that as a goal, right? So when we have, “How do you measure great hospitality?” Right? That’s a really good question. And so, you know, I think the idea that, you know. We measure our P&L. We measure capture rates, second pair of sales, and all that stuff, right? But how do we know that and measure and reward that people are having memorable experiences? People feel good in our environment. And I think having training around, “How do we make people feel great?” is a really special piece of training that they’ll take wherever they go, you know? And they can use it with their friends and their family. It’s just a life skill that I’m really passionate about. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah. So one of the other areas that I see excelling in some restaurants and not excelling in others, but it’s one that we look to improve in practice is in the. I don’t know if it’s considered Service Recovery? But it’s kind of what happens when something goes wrong. Recently, we were at this amazing restaurant, like the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to. And one of the people that I was dining with, all of the food was so perfect, and she got a salad and she said, “I think the top fell off the salt shaker.” Like they must have just like. There was something really wrong. What do you think optometry practices can learn from restaurants in the area of what to do when something gets screwed up?

 

Matt Rosner: There’s so much here. I love it. So okay. One thing I will start with is, I had a similar restaurant experience recently, where the food was just. But it was the opposite. The food was. The food was okay. But the problem was. The food wasn’t the issue. It was the fact that there was no one around for me to call over. Our server had left. They were assuming that the food was perfect, that you’re happy, and you’re ready to go. You’re like, you’re here. You’re just 100%. But what they didn’t plan for was the scenario where I said no nuts but there’s nuts on my plate. Or, you know, the food actually isn’t perfect right in your scenario. And so I would say the first thing to do is when we train our servers, we say, “head on a swivel.” You always want to have your head on a swivel. And that’s actually part of the Steps of Service, right? The minute you drop the food or if you have a food server drop the food. You always have your eye or the corner of your eye looking at table 54 for their first bite. We say one minute or first bite that you should check back to make sure everything tastes good. We never want to assume that they’re having a perfect, you know, a level 10 experience. We want to always be cautiously optimistic, but you know, trust but verify. And so we have, we encourage, and train all of our servers to keep their eye on because if they see like the conversations great and they’re loving the food after that first bite. Sometimes you wouldn’t want to worry about it. You don’t want to interrupt but I think the idea that we’re always looking and always looking to make sure that they’re having the experience we want them to have, enables us to recover or intervene as soon as possible. And I think timing in hospitality is everything. And so the longer someone sits with a salty salad, the more frustrated they get because everyone around them is eating their beautiful delicious food. And now there’s a power dynamic and there’s frustration and you go 10 minutes and they’re all done with their their food and you’re still sitting with the salad you haven’t eaten. You’re not having a great experience. So I’d say first and foremost, timing is everything. And the way you hit timing is by really strong culture of observation. And just continuing to check back with the guest or patient on their experience.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, as a restaurant patron, someone who eats in restaurants. I’ve been in that situation more times than I can count, right? I don’t need dairy and you know, one in four restaurants I go to they bring out the plate and there’s cheese on something and I don’t eat it. And yeah, like in the first 15 seconds, I’m looking around for someone. And so someone being there who says, “Was there a problem?” Let’s the restaurant have an immediate apology, whisk it away, and bring a new one while everyone else is still eating. And I can think of situations where I’ve cancelled my food because I’m waiting so long that if I make them make something else, everybody else is going to be done and I’m the only one eating. You know what I wasn’t even that hungry. Don’t worry about it. And maybe it’s wonderful and I don’t even know.

 

Matt Rosner: How did they deal with the salty salad? I’m curious. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: They did fine. This was like a crazy experience. But they apologized and whisked out a new one very quick. And I wonder what happened on the back of house and I imagine the Gordon Ramsay making everyone taste it and yelling obscenities or something. But what about the situations where there’s a big difference in empowerment and staff empowerment in these situations? Where there is a problem, “Even I thought I would like this drink and I don’t like it.” And “Oh, hold on a minute. Let me ask my manager. I want to see if we can do anything about that. Maybe we could.” You know? Versus, “Oh my gosh, you don’t like it? Let me get you something else.” Is that policy from the top or is that people training? Where does that come from?

 

Matt Rosner: All the above. But what I want to mention so there’s. I’ve been waiting for the moment to drop their name because they had been really transformative in the way that I learned hospitality and that I trained to help other people provide hospitality. It’s a bakery out of Ann Arbour Michigan named Zingerman’s. And they started, I think they’re maybe 35 years old as a company. They started as a deli and over time they’ve grown to be, I think 15 different smaller concepts, whether it’s a Korean restaurant, or a bakery,or a creamery. Anyways, what’s amazing about Zingerman’s is they have a process for everything. And they do it in a way that is really emotionally intelligent. So as you were mentioning, you know how to how to handle this issue. I was just pulling out my favourite resource from Zingerman’s, which is the Zingerman’s Five Steps to Effectively Handle Customer Complaints. So we use this and our own. You know, I didn’t work for Zingerman’s. But we use it because it’s such an effective set of steps. So first, is acknowledge. So acknowledging the complaint. There’s a lot of times where people don’t even acknowledge that there’s an issue. Second is to sincerely apologize, right? An apology goes so far. And third is to take actions to make things right. So that’s the step that warrants conversation before an issue occurs. So kind of as a team or as a staff scenario. Planning or talking about, what are the top four or five issues that might happen on a given day that we can plan for as a team and what can I do as a staff person? And what might I need a manager to do in other scenarios? So I think giving a menu of choices for staff people and what they can do that don’t necessarily require a manager, right? So in the restaurant business, I can offer certain things you know. I can offer to take it back and have it remade. I can offer to make them a new dish. A completely different dish if they didn’t like the flavour. And in some scenarios, I actually have carte blanche to comp a piece of the meal whether it’s a dish or comp a free dessert. And we track that though, you know. If everyone gave away free desserts every time, tips would be through the roof but our cost structure would not be so tight. So take action to make things right as number three. Number four, I love this. This is a very Zingerman’s thing. Thank them. “Thank you so much for letting me know that that was an issue. We’re going to make sure that this is fixed in the kitchen so that this doesn’t happen again.” And last but not the least, and this is around process, document. And Zingerman’s has a really great way. They call it red light and green light or Code red and code green, which is where they they document things. Code Green things that are amazing and outstanding. And Code Red things that need improvement. And so they would document what happened, how it happened, and there would be some sort of resolution or, you know, back end. But I think having a framework that staff have. Every staff person at Zingerman’s can do these five steps and are trained to. And I think having that at their disposal gives them the empowerment or the agency to go all the way for the customer.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: This is an overflowing treasure chest of great thoughts and information. And just such a valuable conversation that I’ve been writing little notes as we’re talking. And the points that you hit, the mise en place, preparing whether it’s physically or emotionally for what’s to come, the connecting as a family, having process for things, the Steps of Service, hiring talent and training skill, teaching how you want things done and not just what you want done, and having staff trained and empowered to handle any situations that end up less than perfect. Sounds like a fantastic start to a playbook for improving an optometric practice or really any other business. So I appreciate you sharing all of these great hospitality lessons that we can take right from the restaurant and plop down into our Eye Care offices. This has been amazing. Thank you.

 

Matt Rosner: It’s been a blast. Bethany. Thanks so much for having me. 

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: Matt if people want to get in touch with you to connect, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?

 

Matt Rosner: You can either. I think email is probably easiest. It’s matt@nvminstitute.org

and we’d be happy to connect.

 

Dr. Bethany Fishbein: And this is some of the things you described are the things that we look at when we’re visiting an optometry practice. We’re looking obviously for great physical space and great products like you started with beautiful space and beautiful food. But we’re also looking for a seamless patient journey which is where all these aspects of service comes in. Systems and processes, financials, metrics, all of it to help a practice reach their dreams. And for more information about what we do, you can reach us on our website, https://www.powerpractice.com/ Thank you so much for listening.