Acquios Alliance is a three-year alliance group featuring a membership program “aimed at mitigating the unique challenges private practice optometrists face while helping them to thrive independently.” It grew out of the Acquios Advisors organization that was founded in 2015 as an advisory firm for eyecare professionals and is adding new programs this year to help its members reach their full potential and practice goals, management said.

(L to R) Tim Merrigan, vice president, Scott Cline, advisor, and Rick Guinotte, president and CEO, lead the Acquios Alliance management team.

“As events and conferences returned to pre-pandemic policies last year, this was our first year of being able to truly educate more private practitioners about the value and uniqueness of Acquios Alliance and Advisors,” Rick Guinotte, a business advisor and owner of Acquios Alliance, told Vision Monday. “There is interest in becoming a member of Acquios Alliance both as private practice to take advantage of vendor offerings, as well as additional vendors showing interest in becoming a part of our group.

“With the additional consolidation occurring in the optometric industry, the drive to assist doctors by giving them an avenue to be offered product to set them apart from chain and online companies has been rewarding for our members. With interest in Acquios Alliance and Advisors delivering on our promises, our mission statement and core values, we are confident in the future of private practices for themselves, their teams, and most importantly, their patients,” Guinotte said.

Acquios Alliance members receive access to a curated list of vendors, webinars, workshops, newsletters and podcasts covering the latest trends and industry news, along with support from an alliance led by Acquios Advisors Membership fees are $50 per month.

Acquios Alliance currently counts over 410 doors with more than 325 practices represented. There are also approximately 820 opticians. The advisory unit was founded in 2015 by Guinotte and Kirk Kastens and they were joined by partner co-owner and advisor Tim Merrigan.

The challenge ahead in 2023 involves helping its members navigate through a continued maze of mergers and acquisitions, as well as steering them in the right direction when it comes to vendor partnerships.

“With the more recent mergers and acquisitions between some third-party vision discount plans and commercial practices, more optometrists are looking within and seeing the value they bring to improve their patient’s quality of lives,” noted Guinotte. “Also, with a strong vendor partner of ours, Neurolens, an instrument that helps patients minimize and in many cases, eliminate migraine headaches with a lens available but not covered by any vision discount plan or medical insurance, doctors are understanding patients will pay out of pocket for quality product and service.

“Because of this newfound confidence, more offices will reduce their ‘dependence’ on vision plans. Acquios Alliance is about empowering independence, and we know more practice owners will be seeking avenues to learn what vendors are here to support them and their goals,” Guinotte said.

In addition to offering savings on products for its members, whether opening a new practice or enhancing an established practice, the alliance group believes “the product we have vetted offers the best in return/exchange policies necessary to deliver great options to their patients and also products that can make a healthy profit for their practice.”

Acquios Alliance also continues to deliver quarterly meetings to help optical teams better serve their patients. Guinotte said, “Our two-day workshop teaches opticians how to educate their patients to know more about their lenses, frames and all options related to eyewear. We don’t teach people to sell, we leave that to others. We are here to teach and guide opticians to educate and give their patients options. We help them to communicate their value points to the patients. Along with better educating patients, we teach them to work closely with the representatives serving their practices.

“The representatives from labs as well as frame vendors can play an integral part in staff knowledge, employee retention, and better patient care. Opticians need to know how to work with the representatives and choose the right product for the people in their community. When opticians have a voice in the brands they invoice, the more success the office experiences. Teaching frame board management is key to the office’s profitability.”

“We also offer an HR workshop to help owners and managers to better understand all aspects of Human Resource Management. Too many people believe HR is hiring and firing. But it’s not. It is about hiring the right people for the right position, developing that person to be the success they and the office needs and so much more. Setting up and implementing tools to educate and invest in practices’ most important asset, the employees/team, is what makes the great practices stand above,” Guinotte said.

One program the alliance is excited to be introducing this year is a new management development program, which will kick off in June of 2023.

“We are thrilled to announce our new 45-hour management development program, which we will deliver starting in June,” said Guinotte. “The program will begin with a 15-hour in-person presentation, followed by multiple online meetings to help teach managers of offices, many of them with little to no management/leadership experience, to implement and become the leaders they want to be and take their practices and businesses to the next level. The workshop will feature and be led by people with proven multi-unit management experience. We are confident the participants of this event will walk away with newfound confidence, balance in their professional and personal careers, while enjoying their successes into the future.”

Over the past year, Acquios Alliance added a couple of positions to its team to add efficiencies to the organization and help with event planning, support, while allowing it to keep availability accessible to those seeking services and improvements in their daily workload at their practices.

“Acquios Alliance is about empowering private practices,” Guinotte said. “We welcome optometrists seeking to differentiate themselves through likeminded vendors to contact us. For only $50 a month, they can join our organization and work to be different by offering great products and services not available in commercial settings.”