Coronavirus BRIEFING Tools Help Optical Owner Reimagine Her Business

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Johnna Dukes
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa—Like a lot of other optical owners, Johnna Dukes, board certified optician and owner of Optique in Spirit Lake, Iowa found herself in a precarious position during the early onset of the pandemic in mid-March. “My office was only open for emergency patients, contact lens curbside delivery, and emergency eyeglass repair. As the weeks passed, we struggled with communicating with our patients to let them know what to expect, and also to let them know we were thinking of them and we were still here if they needed us. We made many posts on our social media outlets and we created some videos, but at the end of the day, we are optical professionals, not marketing gurus!”

In May,, a new digital website and platform designed to help eyecare providers navigate the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses, was launched. Featuring content specially curated by a task force of vision community leaders and sponsored by The Vision Council, the website is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource to help ECPs navigate the complex journey from shutdown back to "new normal" business conditions with practical insights and a collection of best practices, protocols, tools and tips for reopening a practice and maintaining its health until conditions improve.

(L to R) The Optique team includes optician Mary Helmke, Dr. Tarra Vander Leest and optician and owner Johnna Dukes.

The website turned out to be a source of salvation for Dukes as the office embarked on its reopening. “One of the ways was of great help to me was with their prepared practice signage, customer letter templates, and ideas for social media posts. It was great to have access to tools that look professional and are easily downloaded and printed.

“I really appreciated the entire platform that shared so much information about how to best prepare your office to reopen, information about what was happening all over the country with regard to the virus, information about finances, about how to procure loans, and even information about PPE.

“It was also useful to see trends from across the country, to see what regulatory information was available, and what recommended best practices were. All of this information helped craft our reopening plan and specific procedures.”

Today, Dukes is happy to report that “business is at about an 80 percent recovery when compared to pre-pandemic times. So we are still down a bit, but compared to where we were in April, this is definitely an improvement.”

Challenges still exist for businesses during the pandemeic. Like many other offices, Optique is still experiencing delays in receiving products, certain pieces of PPE are still difficult to get, and Duke asks “Seriously, does anyone know when lysol wipes will re-emerge? Also, we received a PPP loan and there’s still some ambiguity as to how the forgiveness of this loan will work so we will still have some unknowns today but we are hoping to have more clarity soon.”

Dukes concluded, “The tools were (and are) so valuable to my office during our reopening and beyond. I am beyond grateful to The Vision Council for their ability to create such a wonderful tool in response to these unprecedented times.”