Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC): Adding New Members at a Rapid Pace

Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC)

Infinity Vision Alliance (IVA)

The buying/alliance groups PERC, or Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative, and IVA, or Infinity Vision Alliance, are jointly managed nationwide by group purchasing organizations that include many large independent practices and some of the most successful independents. Overall, the PERC+IVA alliance includes just over 4,600 members, according to executives.

PERC+IVA, which have been strategically aligned since January 2014, are somewhat independent and provide different sets of resources to their members.

“We have kept the two brands somewhat separate because they cater to two different segments of the market,” PERC co-founder and president David Golden, OD, told Vision Monday. “PERC has always been the group that has practices doing over $1 million [annually] in gross revenue, so that their buying patterns are a little different.” He also noted that while IVA has some million-dollar practices among its membership, most of the IVA offering is designed for practices “that don’t have to buy in bulk and don’t usually inventory product.”

Another element that has evolved more recently in the PERC+IVA operation is that typically today PERC’s $1 million practices tend to always have a talented business administrator or manager who really helps drive the business decisions in the practice, Golden said. “It’s the doctor-administrator partnership that is so vital to making these successful practices.” As a result, the education and training sessions that PERC+IVA organizes for members have parallel tracks for the OD and administrator.

Within the IVA membership, which has practices of all sizes, the doctor tends to be the decision-maker and works toward “operationalizing things” within the practice.

Golden also noted that PERC+IVA will continue to build upon its effort to help members better understand and capitalize on the workings of a consolidation supply chain. “I think the one piece of our business that has differentiated us from day one is that we were the first to really think about why a supply chain solution for independent doctors is so vitally important,” he said.

As a result, he noted, five years ago PERC began thinking about “a single-box solution for our members” as a way to match bigger corporate optical operations that rely on a central warehouse system for distributing and purchasing products.

“We thought if we created a business-to-business solution, which we call Advantage, and started to put everything in one warehouse, then we could ship one box with everything inside it every day to the member,” he explained. “Today, we have about 600 doctors on the platform.”

The organization is currently adding about 50 to 75 new offices each month, according to Golden. He attributes the success to the group’s ability to offer a strong value proposition to prospective members and the organizations’ focus on innovation. PERC+IVA is free to join, and members are not subject to monthly or annual fees. He noted the alliance was founded by ODs and is still run by the original doctor founders. While Essilor has acquired a majority stake in the alliance, Golden noted that the original founding ODs “have a significant financial interest in the business. We’re really a partnership,” he said.

“I don’t know of any other group that is actually run by the original founders,” he added. “And I think that makes a difference.”