Highlights from a Webinar with
Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, Dipl.,
Senior Vice-President of Customer Development,
Essilor of America, Inc.
Sept. 9, 2015
Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, Dipl., Senior Vice-President, Customer Development, Essilor of America, Inc., recently hosted two webinars produced byReview of Optometric Business, titled “Insights to Foresight: Shaping the Future of Our Industry Together.” In Part 2 of the webinar series,Dr. Purcell discusses Essilor’s recent acquisition of Vision Source, and underscores the positive impactthis will have on independent optometry. In addition, he shareshis thoughts on how independent ODs can best thrive in the era of e-commerce.
Essilor & Vision Source:
Innovation, Partnership & Choice
Essilor’s recent acquisition of Vision Source represents an opportunity for greater investment in innovation, partnership and choice in the eyecare industry, according to Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, Dipl., Senior Vice-President, Customer Development, Essilor of America, Inc. Vision Source will continue to operate independently, with Vision Source members continuing to enjoy the freedom to purchase from any ophthalmic products company they like. Conversely, Essilor customers, who are not members of Vision Source, will not experience pressure to join the alliance. Essilor will continue to compete for the business of independent optometrists by offering superior, technologically advanced products.
Essilor’s online optical solution for optometric practices enables independent ODs to give patients the chance to purchase online, or browse online, before making a purchase in their office.
Giving Independent ODs theTools to Succeed
The e-commerce “threat” to independent optometry could become an opportunity, if managed the right way, says Dr. Purcell. About 4.5 percent of eyewear purchases occur online, but about 40 percent of consumers say they browsed eyewear online before visiting a bricks-and-mortar store to make a purchase. That’s good news to independent ODs, with their brick-and-mortar locations, provided they have the right tools to succeed.
Essilor’s MyOnlineOptical provides a way for independent optometrists to showcase their merchandise online, even giving patients the ability to buy online, with the money from the purchase going back to the practice. More importantly, it gives ODs a way to show patients an online catalog of products, so they can research your offerings ahead of time, and arrive at your office primed to make a purchase.
Essilor’s business simulation model has been accepted by many optometry schools. This toolallows students togain experience in working withrealistic financial figures forpractice acquisition and ownership.
Nurturing New OD School Grads
Essilor wants to see more optometry school graduates opt for independent practice ownership. Recent OD school graduates commonly citetwo challenges: lack of money and lack of business experience. Essilor has a business simulation now in use at many optometry schools that takes OD students through the process of purchasing and operating a practice during its first years in business.
Participants in the simulation start at the beginning using play money to select a practice name and concept, a location, staff and instrumentation, along with other needed decisions and investments. They then are asked to make needed decisions for each of the first few years in practice. In so doing, they see the impact of their decisions on the simulated business.
The simulation gives optometrists just starting out an idea of what to expect in terms of process in purchasing or starting an independent practice cold, and gets them thinking about the decisions they will have to make.
Among the challenges that optometrist face, says Dr. Purcell,are e-commerce, increased competition and purchasing an independent optometric practice.Meeting these challengesrequires new, strategic thinking. He further cites the following action points:
Differentiate. Optometry is so broad in scope today that it helps to find a niche, like vision therapy or specialty contact lenses, that suits you, and which you feel passionate about. It will give you a service you can offer that is more refined than that of your competitors.
Adopt the patient’s perspective. Think about your practice from the perspective of the patient. See why new realities like e-commerce need to be optimized immediately, rather than in the future to keep pace with patient expectations.
Challenge the way it’s always been done. Go beyond what is just good enough, and aim for even better. For instance, go beyond 20/20, and offer greater visual quality and accuracy with digital custom eyewear technology and products.
Create a private environment in the optical. If you have the room and space, offer a private area for patients to browse, try on eyewear, and discuss their lifestyle and facial features with opticians. A private area in your optical won’t matter to many of your patients, but the patients who appreciate this service will become your best and longest lasting patients.
Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, Dipl.,is Senior Vice-President, Customer Development, Essilor of America, Inc. To contact him:firstname.lastname@example.org