Many eyecare offices go 10, 15, even 20 years without a renovation. So why would a less than five-year-old practice opt to do one from the ground up? Well, Kevin Kretch, owner of Eyes on Chagrin in Woodmere, OH, can tell you exactly why. “When we opened, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing,” he admits. 

Owner Kevin Kretch threw out his initial budget. ‘I wanted to get everything I wanted.’

 

Many eyecare offices go 10, 15, even 20 years without a renovation. So why would a less than five-year-old practice opt to do one from the ground up? Well, Kevin Kretch, owner of Eyes on Chagrin in Woodmere, OH, can tell you exactly why. “When we opened, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing,” he admits. 

Kretch, a licensed optician and son of an optometrist, got his first job at LensCrafters. “So, this was my first optical shop,” he explains. “My father owned seven practices selling low-end stuff and he told me I didn’t want the store to look like his. I wanted it to be nice.”

So, Kretch took his modest budget and hired an industry design firm. They did a fine job but as time passed he realized it wasn’t really what he wanted. “As I learned more, saw more, I realized this is exactly what I didn’t want. It was high-end but looked too commercial. It looked like a LensCrafters and wasn’t our identity anymore.”

Six months shy of their five-year anniversary, he took it down to the studs. Of course, the plan didn’t start that way. At first he was just looking to expand his Barton Perreira feature wall. “Barton Perreira and I have a great relationship; I sell a ton of them. My rep and I discussed that 75 pairs just wasn’t cutting it,” he says. “So, we created an entire wall concept. But if I was going to do the wall, I should repaint. And if I am going to repaint, I should pull up the carpet. And if I am going to do the floors, I should just do all of it.” 

 In a snap, $20,000 turned into $75,000. “People love our staff, our frames, our doctor, our lenses but I want people to walk in and say: ‘This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen,’ walk out and tell their friends,” Kretch says. 

An ordinary store wasn’t going to accomplish that. “So, I threw out the budget. I wanted to get everything I wanted. From floors to ceiling, I want people to comment on it. We already do a lot of referrals and I’m giving patients another reason to refer us.” 


Smart Ideas From the Redesign

1. Hit the forums. “I came up with some ideas from the forums,” shares Kretch. “I looked at a bunch of different dispensaries on Luxury Eyewear Forum and Optical Independence of Facebook. The great thing about this industry is people are so willing to help ... Stephanie Haenes of Art of Optiks has been a great mentor.” 

2. Plan, plan, plan. “I planned this out for a solid six to eight months,” says Kretch. “And hire a designer. Interior design has always been a bit of a hobby of mine but honestly I don’t think anyone could or should do it without some sort of professional help. Someone to help choose paint colors and floor colors. And they can help source stuff.”

3. Find the right contractor. Kretch interviewed contractors and the main thing he discussed was how they were going to stay open while they accomplished the renovation. “Our contractor worked all night. He’d sleep during the day and work from when we closed to 4am. Then he’d spend an hour cleaning up so we could open for business,” says Kretch.  

4. Add time. According to Kretch, whatever anyone quotes you about time, don’t believe it. “It never works out the way they tell you it will.” Add in some buffer time if you’re hoping to be done by a certain time. The contractor for Eyes on Chagrin quoted Kretch two weeks. It ran closer to two months. (See item number three again!)

5. Just accept you’re going to pay more. “You’re never going to follow your budget and you never should,” claims Kretch. “I get that it’s hard to part with money, but the truth is the last thing you want is to spend money on something and then regret it later. Just get what you want the first time; pay the money and don’t live with the regret. Don’t make decisions that you could regret and have to change later. Do it the right way the first time because you don’t want to do it a second time.”

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