America’s Finest Optical Retailers entries show just how good independent ECPs are


Published in the July/August 2014 issue

INVISION recently asked me to be a judge for its inaugural America’s Finest Optical Retailers competition. I’m always eager to find (or rediscover) ophthalmic businesses that “get it.” I had a wonderful time reviewing the entries, and they inspired me to jot down many comments.

Editor Julie Fanselow told me she was only able to use a few of my comments with the story starting on page 34. But she identified a few themes that I make in my work with my optical and optometric clients, and asked me to share them here:

What story does your business tell? Without a doubt, my favorite aspect of Silver Linings Opticians’ website is its “Commandments” tab. The commandments themselves are brilliant. What this New York City shop’s website does is to tell a great story without actually having to write it all out. It’s a perfect mix of copy and images. It keeps you glued to your seat and you don’t want to leave until the story is done. I almost feel like a young boy, sitting on my mother’s lap, listening to her start, “Once upon a time...” Excellent job.

Do you know your market? And are you unafraid to absolutely own that niche? We definitely see this trait with the owners of Modern Eye in Philadelphia, who won me over with this statement in their entry: “It has to do with sparking interest and creating involvement. Everything has a story and we enjoy telling it. From the exam room to the sales floor , we engage our patrons in the process. We are outspoken and plainspoken. And we like to have fun.” Then there’s the fact they answered the question “How are you meeting the challenges of online and big-box competition?” with “How can online and big-box compete with us?” That garners them a score of 100 from me.

Speaking of online competition, in the home of, Seattle’s Eyes on Fremont knows a key part of its demographic are the people buying from Warby Parker. But with its own line of $175 frames, this company is saying, “You want something stylish and affordable, come to the experts and be assured of style, quality and service you won’t get online” without having to actually say it. Brilliant!

What makes you different — and better? In its entry, Look + See Eyecare of Minneapolis wrote, “We start by talking with our patients about lenses first because that’s what sets us apart.” They get it! The fact that they talk about lenses first differentiates them from the pack of average ECPs.

Most ECPs default to show frames first because it’s the easiest way to go. It’s also the laziest way to go. By talking with patients about their visual needs first, the folks at Look + See involve their patients in helping them become part of finding their own eyecare solutions.

With its strong environmental ethic, Eye Impact of Houston also knows how to stand out from the pack. There are a lot of people and companies who claim to be green, but I find an incredible consistency with this doctor, from living above his practice to the green lines he sells to his building’s materials and the future installation of solar panels. All tell his community that he’s responsible and walks the talk. And that’s just good business.

Robert Bellis creator of the EyeCoach system and a regular contributor to INVISION. See his column on “The Road to No” on page 54, and contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.