Connect with us

Polished Perfection

AMERICA'S FINEST (3RD PLACE): Patients from northwest Arkansas and beyond are drawn to the fine eyewear and carefully crafted customer experience at this proudly all-woman-owned and operated Fayetteville practice.

mm

Published

on

America’s Finest 2020 Sponsors

3rd Place: Uptown Eyes, Fayetteville, AR

OWNER: Megan Baureis, OD | URL: uptowneyesnwa.com | YEAR FOUNDED: 2011 |AREA: 1,665 sq. ft. | EMPLOYEES: 5 full-time, 2 part-time | FACEBOOK: facebook.com/uptowneyes | INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/uptowneyesnwa | TOP BRANDS: Gotti Switzerland, Matsuda, Andy Wolf, Anne & Valentin, Lafont, SALT., Oliver Peoples | REMODEL COST: $20,000


UPTOWN EYES WAS founded in March 2011, when two optometrists — both from backgrounds where the eyecare was fast-paced and the time with the patient was minimal — acquired a local independent optical in Fayetteville, AR, determined to do things differently.

“Some business models allow you to see 20-plus patients a day so you serve a broader patient base, but the time per patient in the exam room or choosing the perfect frame is limited,” says Dr. Megan Baureis, who opened the practice with Dr. Holly Andersen but has since taken over as sole owner. “Our main focus is the patient experience, and it’s just too easy to let that slip when the schedule is super busy.”

Dr. Megan Baureis (l), owner of Uptown Eyes, with Dr. Holly Andersen

Dr. Megan Baureis (l), owner of Uptown Eyes, with Dr. Holly Andersen.

Both doctors continue to practice in the location, and the owner of the location’s original optical boutique, Traci Wyatt, is still rocking her optician skills with them.

In 2011, calling their area of Fayetteville “uptown” was a new concept, but they had done their research, and it showed that the area was growing with new infrastructure and retail. Uptown Eyes’ clientele is diverse, from college students to professionals coming from all over northwest Arkansas.

Uptown Eyes utilizes every inch of its 1,665 square feet. “We have a small space but have come to embrace and love it,” says Baureis. The design is simple, modern and clean but with a warm, inviting feel. Walking in the front door, customers find themselves not in a waiting area, but in a large open gallery with home-like furniture and a coffee bistro.

Advertisement

The color palette was kept simple, combining crisp black and white with Uptown Eyes’ signature green. Metallic finishes mixed with bold rugs and patterned window treatments combine to create the very opposite of the sterile look they sought to avoid.

Before last year’s remodel, staff were drafted in to move furniture and role-play patient flow. “We fine-tuned every inch until it worked optimally for the comfort of patients and staff,” says Baureis.

The Uptown Eyes team love amazing frames, but for Baureis any discussion of eyewear is incomplete without considering “how it makes people feel to experience a truly genuine person-to-person interaction and how special we can make them feel in that eyewear.” The team meets at least biannually to spend dedicated time role-playing every scenario of patient care. “We call this our ‘polish,’” says Baureis.

The optical is suffused in soft lighting, glass shelving, and enough space on shelves so that each frame can stand out on its own. “We love our independent frame lines and the story each one tells. We look for brands that share our values and support businesses like ours with top-notch quality, outstanding reps and reliable customer service,” says Baureis.

The Uptown Eyes team do all their own digital marketing and social media in-house, aside from professional photography. “We don’t use stock images. We are very intentional at keeping our digital presence relevant to who we are.” The practice offers online scheduling, two-way texting with patients, online ordering of contacts, and digital patient forms.

Uptown Eyes eyewear

Baureis stresses the importance of supporting your team. This she does, “intellectually, inspirationally and financially.” She’s also proud of the fact that Uptown Eyes is women owned and operated.

On the medical side, Baureis is excited about the practice’s newest technology, the Optos retinal imaging device. Patients find it more comfortable, she says, adding that it’s a time-saver and a great educational tool.

Comprehensive exam slots are allocated no less than 30 minutes each, and Baureis says her patients respond well to Uptown Eyes’ whole-health and preventative approach to eyecare.

Advertisement

Of course these are not normal times, and Uptown Eyes has not been spared. COVID-19 forced the practice to close to routine care for seven weeks and furlough staff. “It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a business owner,” says Baureis. The team shared a few tears and have worked together to find a “new normal.” Some changes like masks won’t go away anytime soon, but there are a few small changes she is hoping will stick, such as digital check-in forms and the “opticians schedule” — the team now schedules everything from eyewear dispenses to shopping to adjustments.

In saner times, Uptown Eyes is a regular participant in local events, from sponsoring a Roots Music Festival to participating in the spring and fall fashion shows of Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week. “We have fun supporting the community as well as the independent small business and eyewear industry,” says Baureis.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Paul Storace: This looks like a place I could shop. Space seems small but maximized for efficiency. Clearly the personality of the owner is seen in the design of the shop and the philosophy of the business.

Jan Ennis: The interior uses a creative mix of color and finishes. The use of the logo on the barn door track to conceal the professional hallway is very clever.

Lance Anderson, OD: This practice does a nice job with offering online scheduling, an online CL ordering portal, and patient two-way text messaging. A big part of their marketing strategy appears to be grass-roots community involvement. This appears to be a fiercely independent optometric practice that uses up-to-date technology and entrepreneurial spirit to achieve their success.

PHOTO GALLERY (24 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Uptown Eyes

1. KEEPING THE FLAME. Uptown Eyes frequently provides observation hours and internships for students interested in the field of optometry. Drs. Baureis and Andersen both feel it is important for students to have experience in the real business of optometry and enjoy teaching about the profession.

2. FASHION-FORWARD. Uptown Eyes provides eyewear twice a year in NWA Fashion Week, sponsoring and styling the models on the runway.

3. PAPER-FREE. “From our digital check-in forms that are mobile-friendly … to our laminated consent forms, we try to minimize every sheet of paper,” says Dr. Baureis.

4. COUP DE GRACE. Dispensing is taken very seriously. Pandemics permitting, eyewear is presented like a gift, on a felt tray. After final adjustments, it is packaged in a branded bag with green tissue, lens cleaner and cloth, and chocolates.

5. FRONT & CENTER. Uptown Eyes’ front desk was designed and made by local blacksmith Dave Frazier of Fire & Iron. “It has allowed us to open the space in our optical and provide a more comfortable, efficient space for our team.”

Fine Story

Purchasing eyewear can be a big decision and oftentimes patients like to show off their options to family and friends. Realizing this, Uptown Eyes last year implemented an eyewear take-home option. Customers can “check out” their favorites, try them on and make their decision in the convenience of their own home, and bring the eyewear back to the optical after a few days. “Although we do not consider online retailers as our competitors, this is a way to offer our patients a similar convenience,” says Dr. Baureis. “It’s also a great way to advertise our unique product and services to those patients’ friends. Every ‘check out’ has resulted in a sale.”

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]

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

SPONSORED BY ESSILOR

Introducing EssilorLuxottica 360

A new program powered by Essilor, Luxottica and EyeMed that is designed to help your practice improve traffic, visibility and patient experience while maximizing profitability. Learn More at 360.EssilorLuxottica.com

Promoted Headlines

Advertisement

Advertisement

Subscribe


BULLETINS

Get the most important news and business ideas for eyecare professionals every weekday from INVISION.

Advertisement

Most Popular