Longe Optical offers a 360-degree ZEISS Digital experience.

In the four years since buying Longe Optical in Fort Wayne, IN, serial entrepreneur Chuck Surack and his team have transformed the four-store, 67-year-old business into a cutting-edge operation and the nation’s first optical to combine ZEISS digital eye examinations, digital eyeglass fittings and in-house high-definition digital lenses.

The Idea:  In all of his companies, Surack touts a customer-centric approach that includes arming customers with the best available technology.

That philosophy led Longe Optical leaders to discover the most cutting-edge optical tools to service patients and a three-year, three-step, $1 million investment with ZEISS that has delivered a fully digital eyecare experience to the practice. “We wanted to create a holistic eyecare experience that was top-notch and nothing less,” Longe Optical president Jeff Ostermann says, adding that they now offer an accuracy of vision unsurpassed anywhere else.

The Execution:  Longe Optical’s journey — one it calls the ClearVu Experience — took root in 2013 when they invested in an in-house digital lab to produce HD lenses. Crafted to 1/100th diopter accuracy, general manager Stuart May says the HD lenses are like  “going from analog to HD on a TV.”

The following year, Longe jumped deeper into the digital pool, swapping its old-school measurement methods for custom measurements using the ZEISS i.Terminal 2 which accounts for every user’s unique facial features.

They then completed the loop in April by bringing in the ZEISS i.Profiler plus, technology that digitally maps a patient’s eye in just 60 seconds. That process delivers a prescription accurate to 1/100th diopters, 25 times more precise than a traditional eye exam.

Through the ClearVu Experience, which Longe Optical does not attached an additional cost, Ostermann says patients receive a more accurate prescription, better fitting and better performing lenses.

The Rewards:  Upon launching the ClearVu Experience this spring, Longe immediately got calls from patients interested in the process, many of whom felt they’d “maxed out” at their current optical office.

“Patients are more confident because they know they’re getting a state-of-the-art experience,” Ostermann says, adding that the digital technology also creates a modern workplace for Longe’s independent doctors.

While some optical offices across the U.S. boast one piece of the ZEISS digital experience, Longe Optical, Ostermann claims, is the nation’s only practice delivering a wing-to-wing experience.

“We believe that if you do things the right way in eyecare, you will have customers for life,” Ostermann says.

And though both men acknowledge that the digital experience they offer will inevitably become the standard of care, they are proud to have pushed ahead of the curve to afford their customers a one-of-a-kind experience.

Do It Yourself:Adding Digital Tech to Your Office

  • Overcommunicate with staff when incorporating new technology. It helps remove mystery and bolster buy-in.
  • Simplify the steps. Longe produced a visual aid of the process for opticians. This, May says, helps ensure no elements are missed.
  • Describe the technology for patients in an accessible, digestible manner. Drop the tech speak and clearly communicate the quality of care and potential results the new tools provide.
  • Investigate the provider thoroughly, including the training and follow-up support the company offers. Also, ask if you can “test drive” the technology.
  • Assess your commitment to integrating digital technology into your operation. “It requires time, money, energy and an ongoing effort that isn’t for the faint-hearted,” Ostermann says.
  • Monitor the experience. Address any pain points in a proactive manner, including reaching out to the manufacturer for assistance.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 edition of GO/OD.



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