Optometry Duo Sees
Their Way to Success
Husband and wife thrive at
long-planned shop of their dreams
STORY BY VICTOR PAUL ALVAREZ
One of America’s finest, most innovative eyecare shops is run by a husband and wife optometry duo named Sees. What are the odds? More manifest destiny than happy accident, Drs. Theodore and Carrie Sees opened their gorgeous and modern Rockford Family Eyecare in 2014 after years of dreaming and planning.
Rockford Family Eyecare
grand rapids, MI
OWNERS: Drs. Theodore and Carrie Sees
OPENED: November 2014
AREA: 3,300 square feet (including 1,100 for optical)
TOP BRANDS: MODO, Etnia Barcelona, Kate Spade, Prodesign, Europa
Ted and Carrie started creating their practice while living in Washington D.C. He’s from rural South Dakota, but she’s a Michigan native and both doctors agreed that the Grand Rapids, MI, area was the place they wanted to settle down and build their own practice. After seven years in the corporate optical industry, they developed their own ideas of how they wanted their office to look and feel. In 2013 they moved to Michigan and immediately got to work choosing opticians to correlate with their vision. A year later they were in business for themselves.
“We came into this business knowing we’d have to stand out by offering unique, trendy frames not offered anywhere around us,” Ted says.
Rockford Family Eyecare is surrounded by established optometry offices and opticals so the Sees diligently work to set themselves apart as a modern and trendy office that offers unique, quality frames and exceptional specialty eyecare.
“We knew we’d have to stand out with customer service as well. We try to create an experience for each and every patient,” he says.
That includes free coffee, hot cider and fresh cookies baked by the doctors themselves. It’s also common for patients to receive hand-written thank you notes for choosing to trust Rockford Family Eyecare with their healthcare.
“Doctors will even make special trips into the office after hours to dispense frames to patients who have to travel long distances to get their glasses,” Ted says.
They also offer a “3 for 3” option which allows undecided patients to take their three favorite frames home for three days to get input from friends and family.
“We realize that there are so many options for opticals and optometry practices in our area, therefore we try to create an incredible experience for those who choose to come to us,” he says.
Rockford Family Eyecare specializes in Dry Eye Disease and Orthokeratology (overnight hard contact lenses that correct vision as you sleep and have been shown to decrease myopia progression in children). They benefit from being the only shop in a two-hour drive with a MIBO ThermoFLO machine to treat dry eye.
The Sees round out their practice with a focus on family and the needs of their community. Their daughter and son were toddlers when they opened the business, pulling 10-hour-days six days a week.
“Some days Carrie was ‘on call,’ as we lived only five minutes from the office. On those days, it wasn’t uncommon for her to see patients with two kids in tow.”
In fact, much of the artwork in the shop is from a local photographer Rebecca Kohn, Dr. Carrie’s sister, and their children make many appearances in the business’s marketing materials.
“In terms of office duties we both enjoy entirely different aspects of the profession and business. I love networking, marketing and pediatric patients. Carrie enjoys billing, office/staff maintenance and ‘older’ patient care. We have different strengths that complement our ability to smoothly run our practice.”
“Being that our location is near what’s considered ‘Northern Michigan,’ we have a lot of patients or patients’ husbands who are hunters. Every year around the time of open deer hunting season, we put on our annual ‘Sees Spa and Soiree’ women’s appreciation trunk show,” Ted says.
This trunk show features various frame lines and the office brings in local businesses to offer services such as free five-minute massages, free make-up advice and samples, free nail consultations and samples, raffle prize giveaways, and food and wine from local chefs and wineries. A portion of the proceeds went a local community charity and their community activism isn’t limited to helping adults.
“We give decorated eyecare kits to about 25 local school nurses that include custom sticky notepads, pens, miniature screw-driver kits, contacts lens cases and solution, lens cleaner and lens cloth. They also include free eye exam and glasses vouchers for those kids who are less fortunate.”
5 Cool Things About Rockford Family Eyecare
How green is their garden? Patients can be sure no trees were harmed during their visit to Rockford Family Eyecare as the business is completely paperless. They’ve even laminated their forms including medical history, dry eye questionnaires, HIPPA forms, medical release forms, and frame waivers for scanning.
See early and often. Their Early Sight Program provides free eye exams to any children under the age of 24 months. “We feel passionately about early prevention of eye diseases and disorders and do whatever we can to help our community’s children.”
Gone Hollywood. The Sees set up a green screen to photograph patients in their frames in front of fun backgrounds like the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore. They post the photos to their social media pages (with patients’ permission). “It’s been very well received by our patients. Patients can tag themselves in our posted photos therefore increasing our office’s exposure to their friends as well!”
The finer (local) things. “We give bottles of wine (made by a local winery) to patients who buy our more luxury lines. We give a box of chocolates made by a local baker to each of our Orthokeratology patients.”
(MO)DO better for everyone. “Another way we support our environment is by carrying MODO. For every frame bought, they provide a frame for someone in an under-developed country. Plus, for each ECO frame bought, the company plants a tree in Africa. The line is made from recycled material.”
PHOTO GALLERY (14 IMAGES)
FINE STORY: A REWARDING CONTEST
With little experience in the Grand Rapids area, the Sees had to build their audience from the ground up. Many businesses talk about being part of the community, but the Sees knew aggressive and sincere community outreach was the best way to find their patients. They got involved — and are still involved — with the local Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and Rotary Club, giving their genuine help and precious time whenever possible. “We’re also part of a number of networking groups that help build trust in Rockford Family Eyecare.”
OUR JUDGES SAY
- The lighting fixtures and artwork in reception are very unique. Free exams for babies make me smile.– Colleen Galanti, Pascarella Eye Care & Contact Lenses/Opticians on Facebook
- Your 3-for-3 program is a great idea. The green screen room is probably a blast for people! – Andrea Hill, Hill Management Group
- This showroom drips with luxury. You expect an experience of elegance and sophistication. I love the sense of space, light and clean lines. Very modern looking and the flow is first class. – Mike Karlsrud, The Karslud Company
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of INVISION.