There are jobs, and then there are careers. Most of us in the optical industry have the latter. And because of that, we tend to think in terms of growth, potential and goals.

 STORY BY DEIRDRE CARROLL

Some of those goals are short term, some more ambitious, but they’re what get us out of bed each morning. They are why we show up every day and do what we do ... especially when the day has been particularly grueling; filled with difficult customers, hard patients and impossible managed-care providers.

Working toward something greater is a fantastic motivator. So, we asked a bunch of our readers what exactly they are working so hard to achieve. What goals do they hope to accomplish? What’s on their “Optical Bucket List?”

We were impressed with the answers. Many were specific, some were elegantly simple. Like Paul Londraville at In Focus Eyewear in Greensboro, NC: “Our mission statement continues to be — we wish to provide quality, caring service for families.” Or Thomas Stout from Morgantown Eye Associates in Morgantown, WV: “I’m just here to help people.” Of course, some were a bit more outrageous ... “I want to fit eyeglasses for celebrities!” You do you, Doreen Erbe of Snyder Eye Group in Ship Bottom, NJ.

Maybe you need inspiration, or perhaps you’re afraid to dream big. Don’t be! There’s ambition aplenty in this industry; you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Read on for the most popular items on our readers’ Bucket Lists and see if yours are among them.

 

TO EDUCATE

Train and educate new opticians on old school customized care. I want to share my knowledge of hand facets and custom tints as well as how to repair just about anything that walks in the door. The art of the optician is dying and we need to bring it back!  Amanda Barber, Desmone Family Eyecare, Havelock, NC

I want to continue to find ways to show the eyewear consumer the value of what we do. I want to de-commoditize eyecare and help people identify it as an important asset that keeps our eyes healthy and helps us to see as well as is possible.  Bob McBeath, Edina Eye, Edina, MN

I have a renewed interest in refracting, believe it or not. Although, I find that every five years or so, I want to branch out and try another facet of our fabulously faceted industry! I would also love to write more marketing articles for trade publications. This is my 31st year in the field; I want to share tips and tools that I’ve learned and connect with the next generation of opticians. Tracy Gillotte, Focusers, Bensalem, PA

 

OPEN MY OWN PLACE

I would love to start an optical only office. Or a mobile office out of a school bus. But alas, I’m too old. I’ll have to get one of the kids involved, I guess. Jim Williams, Eye to Eye Optometry, Mexico, MO

I am in the process of making my dream of my own practice, on my terms, a reality. Pablo E Mercado, Mount Vernon Eyecare, Dunwoody, GA

I always wanted to open my own luxury eyewear studio. That dream has finally come to fruition. My doors opened June 1. Sherry Berry, EYE against EYE, Philadelphia, PA

I’d love to buy out some of the slower offices in my area, and make the revenue blow up. Some of the ODs are getting ready to retire and don’t care to update their office or market their business.Jade Kowalick, Rophie Eye Care, Dunedin, FL

I’d love to open my own optical stores and retire on the millions I’d make!Melissa Williams,Village Eyecare Co., Grand Blanc, MI

I definitely want to have my own business; office or selling online.Kristy Smith, Eyeglass Wearhouse, Reynoldsburg, OH

 

LOSE THEINSURANCE

Cut back to three-and-a-half days by age 58 (I’m currently 53) and get rid of all managed care insurance. Develop a more concierge practice, one that caters to non-managed care insurance patients. Give them the “Disney experience.” One can make more money on three days of cash patients than five days of managed care patients. I’d take the two extra days off and “play” but still maintain the same income as a full week of work.  Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH

Ideally, in the utopia of the optical profession, I’d like to never, ever take insurance for glasses.Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA

I want to completely stop dealing with insurance ... only one more plan to drop by the end of the year.Harry Roth, eyeQ Opticians, Millburn, NJ

Beat the insurance industry to death!John Kwiatkowski, Buffalo Optical Co., West Seneca, NY

 

HIT $XX IN SALES

I want my team and I to hit the $1M mark in the next 18 months and then build the office of our dreams. We want the outside of our building to reflect what’s happening on the inside of our office. Selina McGee, OD, Precision Vision, Edmond, OK

Make $2M — increase foot traffic and become known as the place for unique frames! Martha Downing, Advanced
Ophthalmology Associates, Clawson, MI

Right now, we’re focusing on revamping our website, social media and marketing materials. But yes, of course, we want to make $1M! Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA

The business bucket list definitely includes hitting the $1M mark, as well as having the ability to bring in a partner and cut back on my hours. Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH

 

PASS THE TEST

I have my ABOC but I have now made it a goal this year to get my CPO. Not only do businesses need them to set them apart and shine, but as employees we also need them. Susan Frein, Ankeny Family Vision Center, Ankeny, IA

Pass ABO Advanced and begin tackling other department certifications (billing, COA, HR). Erin Pillsbury, Shasta Eye Medical Group, Redding, CA

I would like to take my NCLE and pass. Amy Pelak, Proview Eyecare Optometry, Corona, CA

Take the state licensing exam and knock it out of the park. Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA

I want my ABO Advanced certification.  Theodore Sees, OD, Rockford Family Eyecare, Rockford, MI

Take the ABO and NCLE and get my license.” Christine Howard, Attleboro Vision Care, Attleboro, MA

 

EXPAND ... AND THEN EXPAND SOME MORE

I want to grow our practice to 15 locations.  Michelle Wright, DePoe Eye Center, Sharpsburg, GA

Add two more lanes and increase display area ... and add one more doctor day. Billy Isgett, Eyecare of Florence, Florence, SC

Get the energy and time to fully promote the Mobileyes portion of the business. Meeting people at Starbucks without interruptions and walking away with a significant order is so nice. It’s happening despite a strong promotion — I need to get busier with this. Steve Whitaker, Whitaker Eye Works, Wayne, PA

The dream is to open a pediatric practice! If I could spend my days putting kids in great glasses, doing vision therapy, and educating adults on the importance of children’s vision, I would be living the dream! Jenna Gilbertson, McCulley Optix Gallery, Fargo, ND

 

MORE FAMILY TIME

Never stay stagnant. I don’t own the business where I work but I do constantly evaluate what I could do to better the company like I did own it ... All while maintaining work life balance. We all actually work to pay for our life right? My daily goal is to make and eat dinner with my family, work really hard, and retire early to a lake house. Jocelyn Mylott, D’Ambrosio Eye Care, Lancaster, MA

Opened cold in 1968, which long ago created the $1M plus, but I would really like to be more fluent in Spanish, do more foreign country travel, and be a better doctor, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA

Open a second location, and somehow manage more time with my family ... Sounds like this should work out nicely.Blake Hutto, OD, Family Vision Care, Alma, GA

 

BRING IN HELP

Bring in a partner to help with decisions and marketing, cut hours and increase revenue! I am waiting another year to see if I can get a grasp on the business as is before opening it up to another opinion. Shimul Shah, OD,
Marysville Family Vision, Marysville, OH

Have all our scheduled appointments actually show up. And then be able to bring in a partner and increase revenue. Rick Pascucci, OD, Towpath Vision Care, Clinton, NY

Bring in an associate to free up my time for more CEO-type work and to add specialties to the practice, like scleral lens fitting and pediatric work. Michael Davis, OD, Opti-Care, Eldersburg, MD

I just opened the office of my dreams (incorporating 20 years of magazine clippings and notes from shops I visited), so the next dream would be partnering with a doctor and fulfilling the last piece. Jennifer Leuzzi, Mill Creek Optical,
Dansville, NY

Bring in a full-time doctor. David Saxton, Kern Optical, Gulfport, MS

We’d like to add an associate doctor who will bring something new to our practice like vision therapy, low vision, or Ortho K. Barbara Bloom, OD, Weber Vision Care, Harrisburg, PA

Open several practices and partner with young grads in order to help them get started on their path of ownership.” Josh Bladh,Dr. Bladh OD, Diamond Bar, CA

I would like one more employee and to be open on Sundays. I would like the store to get to $1M in revenue.” Nancy Revis,Uber Optics, Petaluma, CA

 

RETIRE BY XX

Work until 88. Mel Berman, OD, Dr. Berman, Raleigh, NC

To be able to retire before age 65! Scott Felten, Fox Valley Family Eye Care, Little Chute, WI

Retire by 60. Generate a couple of million dollars. Pamela Miller, Salem Optical, Winston-Salem, NC

Sell the whole enchilada and retire by 55!!!  Lisa Floyd, Amazing Eyes Optical Boutique, Foley, AL

 

I WANT IT ALL

Get the glasses to patients in a “wow” fashion.
And then travel, travel, travel every chance I get. Sandy Slang, Ophthalmology Associates, Cudahy, WI
 

1. $1M gross sales (should hit that this year... fingers crossed!)
2. Train my replacement and get out before 50 (I’m 44 now.)
3. Enjoy the hell out of the year 2020 ... The year that was made for opticals! Todd Lapointe, VIP EYES, Portland, ME

Move to a new location in 2017. Plan an exit strategy within the next five years. Surpass $1M in a year.  Paula Hornbeck, Eye Candy & Eye Candy Kids, Delafield, WI

Update our equipment, go paperless, expand the office, and open a second location. Nicole Miele, Consumer Optical, Schenectady, NY

 

LEAVE THE BUSINESS ALTOGETHER

Slide into the finish line, beat-up, cut and bruised saying, ‘What a ride!’
GR McGuirt, OD, 20/20 Vision Clinic, Lake Charles, LA

Open up a trading post or antique store dealing in American Indian art. Jeff Grosekemper, Casa De Oro Eyecare, Spring Valley, CA

Sell earlier than expected. Jeff Hayden, OD, Vision Care Center, Brighton, MI

But perhaps Alexander “AJ” Saper of Great Glasses in Houston, TX, who has seven offices and travels 60-100 miles every day shaking his doctors’ hands and making sure small fires don’t grow into big ones, may actually have it all figured out. On his bucket list? “Watch my health, drive carefully, and only sip the best Scotch.” Amen.

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