Category Focus: Freshen Your Look


Well before patients — and eyewear buyers — meet you, they have a sense of who you are.

Each color, pattern, fixture and piece of furniture in your office tells part of the story. If your place is outdated, you’re probably not creating a positive impression. A space that’s grown cramped also does no favors for you, your patients or your staff.

If your working quarters leave you uninspired, it might be time for a design project, or even a new office.

“Moving or renovating is a big investment, one that is usually done only once or twice, so it’s important to plan and take the time to do it right,” says Dr. Jeffrey Clauss of Primary Eye Associates in Sparta, NJ. “We looked at magazine articles, vendor websites and websites of other practices and spoke with colleagues to gather ideas.”

Take a look around. Is your office sending the right message? — By James Ritchie


Reach out to other doctors who recently renovated and ask them to share their experience and refer a designer. Use your resources at hand such as frame reps, instrument companies, practice management and marketing consultants. These are great contacts who will know designers in the optical industry. — Richard Winig, Eye Designs.

You’re better off working with someone who’s experienced in all aspects of optometry. That way there’s nothing missed. You don’t end up asking, “Why isn’t there an outlet there?” Even in the exam rooms, we have list of about 15 questions to get at how they practice. — Larry Funston, Modern Design/Oadbe Designers

Often, the opticians and staff are the ones that bring the need for a remodel to the doctor’s attention because of comments patients make to them. You can have the most up-to-date and modern frames, but if they’re on 20-year-old displays, they look old. These patient perceptions make it difficult for the staff to take pride in their dispensary and their jobs. — Lori Estrada, Fashion Optical Displays

We’re seeing a trend where people are really into the way Apple stores look. They’re interested in clean lines, a smoother, brighter look, a simplified material palette. — Michael Ross Kersting, Fluid Vision Solutions

All the visual components of the optical — storefront, entrance, layout, traffic flow, signage, merchandising, lighting — determine success and failure in selling merchandise. This combined experience is the basis for patients to return to your optical and become regular patients. — Winig

A remodeled dispensary typically sees a minimum increase of 15 percent in sales, sometimes much more. — Estrada

If revenue for the practice levels out even though you’ve hired more staff in an effort to see more patients, then it’s time to do something about the size of your space. The volume of well-designed space is directly related to the number of patients that can be seen. — Funston

Instead of having dedicated waiting and optical spaces, we’re encouraging more of a blending of the two. You can spread chairs throughout the retail space and get people to spend time there and perhaps check some things out. — Kersting


MICHAEL BRUCE | OD Vision Care Associates, Springfield, IL

“Perception is reality. If you haven’t changed anything in 15 years, patients might think you’re not up to date in your professional skills or with your frames and lenses.”

“The key is to find someone who will listen to you and work with what you want — not what they want. You know your demographics, your practice, the town you live in.”

“There’s a fine line between a nice, modern facility with higher-end optical and something that’s overboard, especially in the Midwest. You don’t want to come across as over the top and alienate patients. Ours came out great — contemporary but not too glitzy.”

“We have two offices now, and the new one has a higher-end feel. People naturally feel a little more comfortable there and spend a little more money, so it’s more profitable. The showroom kind of sells itself.”