While they have many similarities, each multiple-location practice employs somewhat different strategies that contribute to their success. For example, the best lab strategy for one might be ineffective for another. In the dba q&a below, learn why some regional optical groups turn to in-house, centralized or wholesale labs and why others use some combination of these.
Also in this month’s e-newsletter for mid-size regional optical retailers, which can be viewed at
www.visionmonday.com/dba, focalPoint’s Ron Krefman refers to a study he conducted with Jobson Optical Research to conclude that fear, not just rate reimbursement, influences ECPs’ choice of which managed vision care plans they select. Regular contributors from optical business consultant firm, GPN, describe how to realize a return by investing in certification for your paraoptometrics on staff.
Rounding out this month’s dba is a profile of Whylie Eye Care Centers, based in Des Moines, Iowa, and statistics from The Vision Council’s latest VisionWatch survey on the primary reasons consumers choose specific lenses. ■
What’s the Best Lab Strategy—In-House, Centralized or Wholesale?
Mid-size regional optical retailers can control costs and quality with in-house labs or centralized labs that serve multiple locations. Or they can reduce the headaches and upfront investments by outsourcing to one or more wholesale optical labs. Whichever strategy they choose, the following optical retailers explain their reasons for choosing how they process finished eyeglasses for their patients.
ALAN ULSIFER, OD, CEO
CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA
What is your procedure for processing your patients’ eyeglasses – in-house labs, centralized lab, wholesale lab or some other system? We are committed to digital surfacing and, in fact, we do not have a single conventional generator in our central lab. We do commit to single vision inventory and edgers in the majority of our locations in order to provide fast service where there is an opportunity.
Have you made any changes recently to your procedure for processing eyeglasses, and if so, what changes and why? Our company has undergone a complete system conversion over the last two years. We are now able to do electronic ordering in our clinics and have built a central frame trace catalog. This allows us to initiate a job immediately on receipt of the order and still generate fully compensated jobs.
GORDON A. BISHOP, FNAO, ABOC, RO
CEO AND PRESIDENT
EL PASO, TEXAS
What is your procedure for processing your patients’ eyeglasses – in-house labs, centralized lab, wholesale lab or some other system? Sunland Optical processes our jobs through a combination of facilities. Our own full-service, centralized lab does in excess of 95 percent of all jobs and 100 percent of our anti-reflective requirements from all our locations. However, in some of our larger Vision Centers, we also have in-house edging capabilities to handle our customers’ one-hour, single-vision requirements. In addition, we use Augen and Hoya wholesale labs to process our progressive free-form needs.
PRESIDENT, 947-EYES, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
What is your procedure for processing your patients’
eyeglasses? We use a centralized, in-house lab to service all four
offices. The busier offices also have finish labs to do single vision.
Have you made any changes
recently to your procedure for processing eyeglasses, and if so, what
changes and why? We added an in-house anti-reflective coating system to
shorten turnaround time and to be able to do mirror coats. It’s
increased our sales of premium anti-reflective and mirror by 63 percent.
We also added free-form equipment to control costs and provide the
Editor’s note: Joe Madore’s
947-EYES’ use of Augen’s EasyForm Digital Free Form Processing System
was profiled in the Oct. 2, 2013 edition of dba: “To Take Control of Its
Lens Costs, 947-EYES Invested in In-House Digital Processing.”
ROBERT J. PLATT
DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT OPERATIONS
OPTICARE EYE HEALTH & VISION CENTERS, INC.
What is your business strategy behind processing eyeglasses with your own centralized lab? As we began expanding, nearly 35 years ago, we quickly determined that a centralized lab was the best strategy for us to pursue as an organization. Focusing on patient satisfaction was the primary driver of this strategy, but we also quickly came to determine that it also allowed for better cost and quality controls.
Communication between our centralized lab, our distribution center and our offices is designed to allow staff to work closely together and to promptly make any needed changes and or specialties to any job at a moment’s notice. Each office can also easily and independently check “real time” status on each job processed centrally with the click of a button.
The cost savings associated with a centralized lab allow for strict cost and quality controls. Furthermore, it allows for better communication with our vendors. With one centralized lab, we are able to adapt quickly to any manufacturing upgrades, new product introductions or technological advances. ■