Maintaining an eye for customer service has been optometrist Annette Contento’s secret to her success.
It’s one reason why her clinic, Eye Care Unlimited in Morris Park, is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Opening a practice back in 1993 was certainly daunting for Dr. Contento, who shares her passion and business with her husband, fellow optometrist and eye surgeon, A.J. Contento.
The pair met at SUNY State College of Optometry, or as they like to call it, “eye school.”
He normally works alongside co-owner Dr. Evan Kaplan at the Crosby Avenue store in Pelham Bay, which hit its 20-year mark in 2012.
But it wasn’t long before demand drove the Contento’s to expand to 1086 Morris Park Ave. The satellite clinic boasts an exam and pre-testing room featuring several sophisticated eye machines and a myriad of frames. Contact lenses are also available at the shop in Morris Park, where clinics were scant until the Contento’s arrived.
“They needed a neighborhood professional family practice. That was lacking,” recalled Contento, a soft-spoken professional living with her husband in Country Club.
She does remember “growing pains” in the first year, small business turmoil that was eventually managed. But customer service stood at the forefront, even as skeptical patients consistently asked to see the “man doctor,” instead of a female optometist.
“I was just very confident and assertive, and now they respect me and ask for me,” said Contento, who balances a busy 21-year career with being a mother of four.
She shares her motherly instincts with her loyal group of staffers, an extended family of sorts who all follow the creed of keeping attuned to patient needs.
“We’re not just a business,” said Megan Gilchrist, the in-house optician. “We ask people how’s their family, how they’re doing. And people know us in the neighborhood.”
Sofija Ulaj serves as the office manager, often working the phones to ensure regular clients are taken care of.
“We put ourselves in our patient’s shoes,” said Ulaj, known to help patients track down their insurance policy. “We call three or four insurance companies.”
“I don’t know anyone who does that,” added Gilchrist.
The clinic’s optometric assistant, Nezika Memedoska, has also seen that trait pay off, since many simply “keep coming back.”
But going the extra mile has served as an added incentive for customers to return, as Dr. Contento notices.
“They got to take that extra step to become our patient,” said Dr. Contento, referring to her staffers. “So it’s my job to keep them here, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job.”
Eye Care Unlimited in Morris Park is open Monday through Saturday with varying store hours. Their number is 718-892-7000.