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Performance

The bottom line—it’s what business is all about. Want to know how ECPs think they are doing financially? Well, we asked. Here you can compare revenue, owner salaries, revenue drivers and rising costs.

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28. Looking at the last two years, would you rate either of them as the “best” or “worst” ever in terms of your business’s financial performance?

Best
43%
Worst
8%
No, they weren’t particularly different from any other year
46%
We haven’t been in business for two years yet
3%
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29. In what area are you seeing costs rise the most?

Inventory
35%
Staff
34%
Equipment
9%
Advertising and marketing
7%
Rent/location
10%
Other
5%
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30. Who is your toughest competitor?

Other local independent optical businesses
20%
Corporate optometry chains
20%
Big Box stores
20%
Internet retailers
31%
Other
9%

31. The No. 1 factor driving your sales is:

32. What were your total sales last year? (If you have more than one store, please tell us the average per store.)

33. What one thing are you doing now to drive sales that you weren’t doing five years ago?

While the most-cited categories in this and the accompanying question No. 34 indicate clear trends, the presence of similar categories on both lists (packaging products, insurance, recalling, etc.) suggests that the jury is well and truly out on sales-driving methods in today’s evolving retail landscape.

Top 10 in Order:

  1. Social media & online marketing/email blasts & newsletters
  2. Pushing multiple-pair sales/packages/bundling
  3. Traditional marketing/TV/radio/billboards
  4. Focusing on website, SEO optimization, Google/Yelp reviews
  5. Focusing on independent eyewear lines
  6. Accepting insurance plans/tying incentives to insurance or self-pay
  7. Pre-appointing/shorter exams/boosting patient numbers/recalls
  8. More focused hiring/filling of key positions
  9. Doctors selling from the chair
  10. Online store/online sales of glasses; CLs

34. What one thing were you doing to drive sales five years ago that you’ve stopped doing?

Top 9 in Order:

  1. Advertising in traditional media (print, TV, radio, billboards, yellow pages)
  2. Promotions/packages/discounts/competing on price/bundling
  3. Accepting insurance/offering out of network discounts
  4. Flyers/postcard/door-to-door mailings
  5. Selling low-cost frames/poly lenses
  6. Paper/phone recalls
  7. Poor hiring choices/putting up with poor employees
  8. Trunk shows
  9. Networking/community outreach

Note: The No. 1 category was far and away the most cited, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 responses, and for nearly 3 times as many responses as the No. 2 category.

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35. What’s the most unethical thing a direct rival has done to you in the name of competition?

We all like to think of eyecare as a noble calling. But let’s face it: It’s a jungle out there, and our respondents let us know about it. Here’s a somewhat depressing roundup of the depths to which some ECPs will stoop to get ahead.

  • “Copied a review from their Yelp page and made a fake account and posted it to our page—then took a good review from our page and posted it to their page. It was so obvious…and weird!”
  • “Kept a patient after referral for emergency.”
  • “Upon my leaving his eyecare biz and starting my own optical boutique, the vengeful doctor who was my previous employer wrote an email to a patient stating that all inventory in my new shop had been embezzled by me, from him. She ran and showed it to me. She is now my faithful client, and he had to close shop and relocate to another town. Ha Ha!!”
  • “Told a frame company that my office was 30 minutes away to get the same line I carry, but they were really only eight minutes away.”
  • “We swapped store locations with a competitor. Now, when our patients show up at our old location, our rival gets them in the exam room before he tells them we are at a different location. Also, he tells them he doesn’t know where we are located, even though it used to be his old office!”
  • “Sent people to my store to view product so they can order it with their insurance at their location.”
  • “Purchased an app so that when people search for our practice, theirs comes up first.”
  • “There is a local shop known for helping patients claim their insurance benefits for the year when they haven’t purchased any eyewear for the year. They give this money to the local shop as a ‘credit’ and come back when they want to use all this ‘credit’ towards getting new eyewear. Essentially helping patients commit insurance fraud.”
  • “Lenscrafters Corporate came into my office as a secret shopper and offered my wife, who is my optician for the past 20 years, a job. Sneaky!”

36. As the business owner, what did you earn (salary + share of profit) last year?

Note: At the top end of the earnings scale were owners of a private practice with a strong focus on retail, with 20 percent of these ECPs earning more than $250,000 a year. At the other end were owners of eyewear boutiques with no OD, 58 percent of whom earned less than $75,000 a year.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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