By Angel Alvarez
Angel Alvarez of ABB OPTICAL GROUP believes that independent ODs need larger—and stronger—strategic partners on their side.
VIDEO: “Key Factors in Success”
Click the image below to watch a video in which Angel Alvarez, CEO of ABB OPTICAL GROUP, shares insights into practice success, from the thousands of independent practices that he serves and observes. A well-chosen staff and thorough staff training are critical to any practice’s success, he says. Patients should feel within the first few seconds of entering a practice that the staff is engaged and cares about its patients. Further, the staff must have a clear sense of the practice’s “value proposition” and must communicate that clearly.
Practices that succeed understand that, to patients, time is money, and they are efficient in having patients in and out within the hour that most have allocated to an exam and eyewear shopping experience. Maintaining success is a continuing process, Alvarez says: “We all must invest in becoming better.”
“It is a privilege to service the independent doctor,” says Angel Alvarez, founder and CEO of ABB OPTICAL GROUP, the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of contact lenses to eyecare professionals.
As partner to thousands of independent practices, Alvarez observes their challenges firsthand. “If Dr. Smith loses a patient, we lose a patient,” he says.
Alvarez also sees the best practices of winning practices that tend not to lose patients but to gain them. “You know at a glance when you see a world-class operation,” he says.
Key Factors in the Success of an Independent Practice
GOOD STAFF: Staff must be well-chosen and thoroughly trained, engaged and attentive.
ATTENTION TO CUSTOMER NEEDS: Impressions are made in an instant. Loyalty is built over time.
COMMUNICATE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION: Continually demonstrate to patients what makes your practice distinctive.
MAKE IT EASY FOR PATIENTS: Facilitate complex processes like dealing with insurance plans to make it easy for patients. Offer patients the convenience of ordering contact lenses through your online store.
BE CONVENIENT: Expand your hours–but be prompt in getting patients through their visit in the time they have allocated.
Rising to become a premier practice is more challenging than ever, in this era of online retailing and health care reform. However, Alvarez sees a bright future for independents with a clear mission and dedication to excellence.
“Develop your value proposition—then make sure the patient understands and gets that message clearly,” he advises. “Have a plan to communicate what differentiates your practice and makes it special.”
Alvarez also suggests that independents need not go it alone. Today, independents can partner with companies that offer profit-building strategies that leverage the inherent strengths of independents. Since 1989, ABB OPTICAL GROUP has been that sort of strategic partner, supplying independent practices with contact lenses in a way that allows them to deliver both convenience and competitive pricing, two aspects highly valued by consumers today.
ABB OPTICAL GROUP recently expanded beyond distributing contact lenses to offer independents the same collective advantages with a vast inventory of ophthalmic lenses and digitally surfaced lenses, manufactured by their newly acquired Digital Eye Lab. In that capacity, ABB OPTICAL GROUP partners with the doctor as the one maintaining inventory of all forms of eyewear. “Let us be your back-end supplier and help you to streamline the delivery chain,” he says.
Independent practices can survive—indeed, they can flourish–Alvarez believes, when they partner strategically on the road to success. “We all need to invest in becoming better,” he says. “Spend the time to make the improvements that need to be made.”