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Equipping the Independent OD to Compete

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By Angel Alvarez

ABB OPTICAL GROUP has made a merger to expand products and services to independent optometric practices. The survival of independent optometry depends on having larger—and stronger—strategic partners on its side.

VIDEO: “Equipping the Independent to Compete.”

CLICK HERE or on image to the left to watch the video in which Angel Alvarez discusses the recent merger and expansion of ABB OPTICAL GROUP.

For more information about ABB OPTICAL GROUP’s proprietary materials, such as the Business Review, Soft Contact Lens Retail Price Monitor or Profit Advisor newsletter please e-mail marketingrequest@abboptical.com.

TIMELINE
1989 ABB Optical founded from Co-Optics Distribution; Fla.
1998 Acquired RLI Vision, RGP lab, distribution; Mass.
2002 Acquired C&E Vision Group of San Clemente, CL distribution; Calif.
2003 Acquired CL business of Optical Supply Buying Group, Contact Optical; Calif.
2007 Merger with CONCISE Contact Lens Company,; Calif. founded in 1959
2012 Merger with Optical Distributors Group, NY
2014 ABB OPTICAL GROUP supplies optical products to > 30,000 ECPs; nationally

Corporate mergers are not always a blessing to the customers of merged companies. But in the case of our recent merger with Optical Distributors Group (ODG), we think it’s a win-win for us and for independent optometry.

As with any merger, things can go wrong. The very fundamental post-merger process of systems integration can cause service problems. Top management of a merged company can grow more distant from customers. Relationships with trusted sales reps can be severed. Corporate policies can become more rigid and punitive. Big company arrogance can blossom.

I’ve witnessed all these unintended negative outcomes after mergers and acquisitions in the optical marketplace, and I am highly sensitive to these issues as we integrate ABB CONCISE and ODG into our new ABB OPTICAL GROUP.

Over the past 25 years, ABB OPTICAL GROUP has grown to be the largest contact lens distributor through a series of mergers and acquisitions. I wish I could claim that all these consolidations were perfectly seamless and did not cause a single customer any pain. But I can’t. We made plenty of mistakes. But I can confidently say that the end result of our mergers and acquisitions is a company that is much better able to serve independent ODs and make them more competitive as they face off against giant optical corporations.

I’ve said many times that ABB OPTICAL GROUP’s future is inextricably linked to the competitive strength of independent ODs, whose business accounts for more than 90 percent of our revenue. We share the same interests. To achieve our corporate goals, ABB OPTICAL GROUP must help independents control cost of goods and lower transaction costs so that they can compete against the chains and Internet sellers. We must help independents increase revenue per patient and achieve a higher capture rate of patients’ eyewear and contact lens purchases. We must help independents make purchase transactions more convenient for patients. And we must help independents better understand their business metrics so that they are better able to manage their profitability.

As ABB OPTICAL GROUP, we can help achieve these mutual goals. Here are the benefits for independent ODs.

Consultative sales support. ABB OPTICAL GROUP fields a national team of sales representatives, each trained and equipped to counsel accounts on how to maximize profit from eyewear and contact lens sales. Each representative provides periodic, comprehensive business reviews to ODs, identifying weaknesses and opportunities, leading to formulation of business improvement plans. Because our customer base includes a high percentage of all independent ECPs operating in the U.S., we have a reliable normative database from which to make assessments and recommendations. To take best advantage of the ABB OPTICAL GROUP Business Review that we provide our customers, it’s useful for ODs to consolidate product purchasing with us so that we can paint a global picture of their business.

Unmatched distribution infrastructure. Our combined business base will enable continued investment in new distribution technology to assure our customers the most reliable and rapid product delivery possible. The merged company is better able to maintain a large and efficient inventory of a wide range of products and to ship quickly from regional distribution centers.

Digital marketing assistance. We will expand our investment to assist ODs to use digital media to market their practices. Mobile communications and Internet retailing are changing the optical landscape. ABB OPTICAL GROUP will help independents remain relevant and visible in the new environment.

Marketing intelligence. ABB OPTICAL GROUP will continue to develop and share proprietary market intelligence, such as our Soft Contact Lens Retail Price Monitor which has become the industry standard to helping independents understand the dynamics of pricing soft contact lenses using annual supply discounts and manufacturer rebate programs. The ABB OPTICAL GROUP Profit Advisor newsletter offers articles about practice building strategies, industry trends, and independent peer reviews on new products and business strategies.

Angel Alvarez is founder and CEO of ABB OPTICAL GROUP, based in Coral Springs, Florida. To reach him: Aalvarez@abboptical.com

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