Diary of a Dry Eye Shop

Posted by Rebecca Petris on

Monday

We close for Presidents Day. Sort of. Mostly. Except Brent. And Chaidie. And me.

Brent, because I had promised him a different day off this week if he would come in and work on figuring out the new shipping software. These projects are just about impossible to squeeze in on a normal weekday. So he spends the day wrestling with it. 

Chaidie, who wants to catch up after having to stop working for a couple of weeks due to a horrible, long-drawn-out version of the flu right after we got back from the conference in Las Vegas. No school this week, so able to work during the day.

Me, because, well, I'm always working anyway. 

So here we are, and hey, the long awaited Boston Simplus finally shows up, along with a couple of other things, so naturally we have to ship them back out anyway. Meantime, who should show up mid-day but the postal carrier. Whaaaa? I thought you were closed for Presidents Day? "Yes, we are, but this is just Amazon. On Sundays and holidays, we work for Amazon." Sigh.

Tuesday

Tuesdays at 2:30 I have a weekly mentoring call with Roger from my CEO group. 

Roger runs a very successful construction business down in Bremerton. He has this great manner where he's totally blunt with me about the most important, obvious areas that I'm screwing up. By screwing up, I mean ignoring them. I have a bad habit of ignoring things I don't like. Usually only relatively trivial things though, like sales figures or possible insolvency.

Somehow, the way Roger does it helps me to get more motivated and focused as opposed to making me wallow in shame which is what normally happens when I'm staring my failures in the face.

Today is no different. I have some very simple instructions for myself on the whiteboard about what I need to be doing between now and next Tuesday. Will I Do It? Tune in next week, when Roger says....

Wednesday... oh, boy.

Today is my 50th birthday!

I am SO SPOILED by the world's awesomest staff! Flowers, wine, and carrot cake (Just Desserts make the best cakes of all time), ... and my early birthday present, an Alexa personal assistant, earlier this month! Then Roz arrives. More flowers, wine, and now fruit, a lesser-guilt form of sugar that hits the spot. Then there's The Mix, a particularly deadly form of caramel corn plus.

Today, our Oasis shipment finally shows up. It had been buried somewhere in the 25+ UPS trailers backed up in Bremerton after Snowmageddon. DMV remains buried, so customers awaiting vented scleral cups will await a bit longer.

I spend about 45 minutes on the phone with a reader/customer in England who is housebound with massively symptomatic dry eye despite 24/7 moisture goggles and pretty much all of the other treatments. We have quite a talk about the possibility of scleral lenses, her local resources and what pursuing them might look like for her. 

Later, during a 10-minute-that-became-an-hour staff meeting, we eat cake and amuse ourselves coming up with funky marketing ideas. I haven't had much time or energy for this sort of thing in the past year but I really, really like coming up with fun ideas to put a smile on people's faces. Dry eye - at least the kinds we deal with here - can be so hard on people, and scleral lenses for any purpose can be quite stressful for new users. I just really like being able to contribute a little something fun or pleasant somewhere in an otherwise unpleasant process. 

It starts with thinking of something we can do for St Patrick's Day, which is the obvious "next holiday". We quickly decide that is much too obvious and conventional for us.

So the team starts browsing through online lists of... some few "lesser known" holidays. We look at everything from National Old Stuff Day to Oreo Cookie Day to Everything You Think Is Wrong Day. In the end, we settle on a March schedule of:

  • Caregiver Appreciation Day (3/3)... Ally suggests we do a promo on everything that is practical for caregivers of the elderly, like adhesive bubble patches to protect their eyes.

  • Pi Day (3/14) ...where we can give a coupon for a slice of the price pie and can run new surveys with pie charts.

  • National Puppy Day (3/22)... do you have any idea how many people have to replace their moisture goggles because they left it out and their dog chewed it up? And did you know how many dogs suffer from dry eye?

  • National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day (3/29)... well, natch!


After that, we start talking about April Fools' Day. That gives tremendous scope for passive aggression with some of my beloved vendors.

Some of our April Fools' Day conversations and fantasies:

  • A press release about buying Amazon. Maybe we rename it Dramazon. 

  • A Manufacturer Who Shall Remain Nameless launches several updated moisture goggles, including Tranquilizers (which is how many customers actually refer to an existing product), Diamonds (as one customer recently accidentally referred to Quartz), Coel and Obsidien (variations on the Onyix -sic- theme), and EyeSqueals 4.3.7, designed to last 13.8% longer than version 4.3.6. Sadly, Miniature Ocular Swim Apparel has been discontinued.

  • Lumicry. No, Lumidye! Rats - we can't agree on a name for our breakthrough new redness reliver (sic) eyedrop.

  • Skleralphyll, our private label preservative free saline. What slight green tint? That's just the bottle.

  • Sombreros (Susan's moniker for the new contact lens sink drain thingies).


At that point - maybe it's the sugar coma - we start running out of steam. I can't think of anything suitable for Oasis. Never mind, there's always tomorrow's meeting.

Ally, who works an early shift to catch the east coasters, leaves at 12:30, so I'm covering customer service after that and trying to get some work done.

I run Chaidie home, and zip out to get some food with the gift card that was one (!) of Roz' birthday presents... Sushi from Central Market. Ahhhhhhhh life is soooo good. I eat while catching up with customer service. (Pardon me while I slurp in your ear.) 

I amuse myself reading through the phone log of everything Ally dealt with this morning. The following samples catch my eye:

  • The customer whose UPS carrier tossed the package onto the snow and her Oasis Tears Plus ended up frozen solid. In the course of a few different conversations, she talks Oasis into replacing both boxes for the customer, with UPS 2Day shipping! Go Ally!

  • The customer who has a 60ct Systane on backorder that won't be here for awhile... they decide to send 3 25ct boxes instead. Brent puts the following note on the packing slip: "Bank error in your favor. Collect 15 free vials!"


Brent leaves at 3:30. I love my staff! I also seriously love having the office to myself in the afternoons.

In the course of the afternoon, I have, not one, but two legal disasters. Two different attorneys on two different things that completely screw up their jobs. 

Deep breath. Wine bottle #1 open and flowing.

Thursday

I forget to write again till Saturday, and by Saturday I've blotted out the whole week, so let's see if I can remember anything.

Bright and early at 7 o'clock, Ally and I are on a long call about NuLids, and playing around with our test version of the device. It's fascinating. I really LIKE it. Ally hates it. And I love that she she hates it, because if we end up selling it, she can give people totally realistic expectations. But the thing that I like about it is that you have control over it, you can do it at home, and it's expensive enough to be motivating as regards actually doing it every day, but it feels safer to me than messing around with Q-Tips or other things right on the lid margins. It's off the beaten track for us so there's lots of details to try to figure out, and I'm going to get some feedback from the community first anyway. 

The day moves on. I get behinder. That's normal. Emily shows up at 4. For the umpteenth time, I am NOT ready to do another video, so I find another project for her. Will I ever get my head back in a space to do videos again? Probably. But... I really don't like having a camera aimed at me. Sitting in from of an iMac with no one around is much more my speed. But it's hard to demo scleral lenses in front of an iMac.

 

Friday

I arrive at the office at 6. Drama is right there with his nose pressed against the glass door. I love Fridays. I feel my whole body relax before I get in the door. Then I remember my legal stuff and tense up again. 6:30, I have to run to Bremerton to get my husband and take him to the farm and then pick up Chaidie on the way back. 

Brent's in the final stages of troubleshooting new software setup to *finally* have a different, better shipping calculator for our checkout screen. We need so badly to have something that tells people how long shipping will take before they check out. We also need an automated tool to make sure free shipping kicks in automatically for everyone on our DryEyeShop PF annual free shipping subscription, which I was supposed to have done last, er, November, so that they don't have to use those stupid discount codes to make it work. So we set an earlier cutoff Friday morning so that he'll get time. We're almost there!

By mid afternoon, the legal stuff is all sorted (wiping forehead). It's been a cruddy week for sales. For the first time in 15 years of owning this business, I have actually found myself starting to set sales targets. That's extremely uncomfortable territory for me, because I don't like sales. That makes me a rather odd match for the retail world, of course, but whatever. If I want the business to, you know, break even, I have to suck it up, go beyond "hoping for the best" and start actually looking at sales and trying to care. And find a healthy way to relate to the idea of sales growth. I'll get there, somehow! 

Then I remember that a shipment of Unique pH arrived just before Brent was due to leave. He pre-processed all the orders. I indulge in some therapeutic order-packing. 72 Unique pH in, 72 Unique pH out. Easy come easy go. We have another 48 arriving next week. They won't sell us any more till they receive more, and who knows when that will be. Sigh. 

UPS picks up, I run the USPS to the post office. Thankfully if you take them to the loading dock in back they don't mind if you show up after they close at 5pm.

My second bottle of birthday wine is still sitting on the counter intact when I leave Friday night, proof positive that the week ended much better than it was looking a couple days earlier. See, things always do pull themselves together, eventually!

Now all that's left is, KeratoScoop on Saturday, and the rest of the, er, weekend workload.


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  • You do an amazing job!! Happy bday and congrats on 15 years🎉🎂🍷💐

    Anne Tarbel on

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