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This community-proud Indianapolis-area practice brings high-tech specialty eyecare treatment and fine eyewear together in a stunning space.

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VisionQuest Eyecare, Fishers, IN

OWNERS: Terry Null, OD, and Christopher Browning, OD; URL:visionquesteyecare.com; FOUNDED: 1997; YEAR OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2020; ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRMS: Precept Design and Design Applications INC; EMPLOYEES: 5 full-time; AREA: 5,455 sq. ft.; TOP BRANDS: Safilo, Lafont, Oliver Peoples, Alcon Dailies Total 1, Essilor Varilux; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/visionquesteyecareindiana; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/visionquesteyecare; TIKTOK: tiktok.com/@visionquesteyecarein; BUILDOUT COST: $2.1 million


Christopher Browning (L) & ODTerry Null, OD

Christopher Browning, OD (L) & Terry Null, OD

AFTER A SPELL working at an HMO’s optometry office in a medical plaza setting, Dr. Terry Null opened VisionQuest Eyecare in Indianapolis in 1997, eager to practice in a less narrowly focused setting and be more involved in selling eyewear. A decade later, VisionQuest was thriving, a co-owner — fellow Hoosier Dr. Christopher Browning — had come on board and they were practicing in a new location. They eventually opened two more locations in the city’s northeastern suburbs, the most recent, profiled here, launching in Fishers in 2020. Today VisionQuest counts six ODs among its dozens of total staff, offering a diverse selection of eyewear with primary eyecare complemented by a robust pediatric service and other specialties.

According to chief operating officer Audrey Nelson, VisionQuest’s key target is moms aged 30 to 55, as they are typically the shot callers. “We believe if we can attract mom — and she has a great experience — then we’ll see the entire family.”

VisionQuest worked with designers to create an inviting space that draws the client into and through it. Echoing the exterior, a reception desk framed in natural stone gives way to wood-toned luxury vinyl plank throughout the public area, placed at a 45-degree angle to lure the client toward frame displays atop clean white-and-glass shelving. Perimeter walls are in a warm blue to invoke the “beautiful Indiana blue sky” while understated creams dominate the interior. The central core’s circular design allows the client to move easily through reception, testing and exam with a natural flow. Nothing was left to chance: The exam rooms’ carpeted flooring creates a layer of sound absorption. There are multiple seating areas with stools for kids and both regular and standing desks — the latter “for patients who prefer a more casual interaction.”

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VisionQuest stocks a varied frame selection to give patients options and keep them engaged. Their top brands currently are Kate Spade, Tom Ford, Oliver Peoples and Ray-Ban, along with sunwear stalwarts Maui Jim and Polaroid. The top contact lens brand is Alcon. “Patients love the Dailies Total 1 and Precision1 one-day lenses. The comfort is fantastic and they are the healthiest options for our contact lens-wearing patients,” says Nelson.

Close attention is paid to marketing; the practice partners with a local marketing firm to drive patients in and keeps a full-time marketing associate on staff. One of the more noteworthy results of this is VisionQuest’s lively social media presence, which keeps patients engaged and informed via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. The memorable videos featuring team members modeling eyewear are a highlight. “We like to get our office teams involved as they have a lot of fun being the face and ambassadors of VisionQuest,” says Nelson. The website features a patient portal and online store where patients can order contacts and purchase OTC medications or products. Patients can also communicate directly with the team via texts.

A High-Tech Hoosier Practice You Could Learn a Lot From

One of the reasons Dr. Terry Null opened VisionQuest was to get more involved in selling eyewear, something his previous job in a medical plaza setting didn’t allow.

The portal proved handy during COVID as a way to gather medical histories before patients arrived; this feature will be kept on, along with a number of other changes initially introduced out of necessity, including direct shipping to patients, dedicated curbside pickup areas and scheduled pickup and adjustments.

The eyecare operation stresses patient flow and state-of-the-art equipment including Marco digital refraction. VisionQuest has made a name for itself with its strong children’s services. The practice’s pediatric optometrist participates in the INFANTSEE program and runs one of the largest vision therapy programs in Indiana. “In 2020 we also joined the TreeHouse Eyes franchise to begin [offering] myopia management,” says Nelson. “We are passionate about preventing, protecting and correcting vision in children.”

As VisionQuest has expanded, Null, Browning and their management team have maintained their dedication to staff and community. Pandemics permitting, staff and their families periodically gather for cookouts, hayrides and Christmas parties. There is also an annual company meeting “to recap where we have been, where we are going, education, and hold a few fun games and giveaways.”

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Nelson sees a connection between VisionQuest’s strong service and the fact that team members and doctors all live in the community. “We take pride in offering school screenings, ‘shop local’ events, involvement in youth activities … We get to know neighboring businesses,” she says. This spirit is embodied in the practice’s contribution committee. Made up of five team members, it surveys the rest of the staff and, based on their input, makes donations to food banks and other worthy causes. It’s an approach that not only fosters community spirit but also pays off in terms of the strong loyalty the practice generates. Says Nelson: “The future is bright!”

Five Cool Things About VisionQuest Eyecare

1. PICK A COLOR… When kids come in, they get to choose which color lights up the water in VisionQuest’s cool bubble feature wall.

2. ’TIS THE SEASON (KINDA?). An annual ‘Christmas in July’ sale features cookies and snow cone trucks. Santa even “tries to come,” swears Nelson.

3. PICK-ME-UP. A coffee bar serves fresh ground coffee and hot chocolate (COVID permitting).

4. SHARING SHADES. Patients buying plano suns get a kids’ pair for free and are invited to donate these to one of the two area children’s hospitals.

5. DOG SPOKEN HERE. VisionQuest is a practice of dog-lovers. “We have pictures of our doctors, their families and of course their beloved pups.”

PHOTO GALLERY (26 IMAGES)
JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • The fixturing in the space is very unique and obviously custom. For me, the use of images in the dispensing area is awesome… I loved the Treehouse concept. Having to wear glasses my entire life, I know children would find this an awesome — versus scary — experience. — Jan Ennis, Ennco Display Group, Redmond, WA
  • Thoroughly considered practice. Great design is not typical to optometry. Open, modern gallery look. — Walter Roth, A&A Optical, Louisville, KY

 

Fine Story

As with its renowned pediatric care, all of VisionQuest’s specialty disease management services — which include treatment of dry eye, macular degeneration, diabetic eyecare and glaucoma — are backed by the latest tech. According to Nelson, “Keratography 5m and LipiFlow help us serve as a center for dry eye excellence. The new oculus ApdatDX gives us the ability to catch signs of AMD sooner… The OCT with angiogram is key to helping diagnose diabetic retinopathy sooner… It is also an important piece of technology that provides important information for the treatment of our glaucoma patients.”

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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