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2021 has been a stressful year, but in a good way for a lot of ECPs, with many reporting record sales. Here they reveal their performance over the last 12 months and some of the actions they’ve been taking to boost profitability.




1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “very pessimistic” and 5 is “very optimistic,” how would you rate the outlook for the following?

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

2. As a vision business owner, what did you earn (salary + share of profit) last year?

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

COMMENT: Not surprisingly those with a medical practice dominated the higher earnings levels, and among those with such a model, those with a strong retail component tended to earn even more. While the owners of these private practices constituted 68% of the respondents they accounted for 81% of those earning over $150,000 a year.

3. What were your total revenues in 2020?

Less than $100,000
$250,000 to $499,999
$500,000 to $999,999
$1 million to $1,499,999
$1.5 million to $2,999,999
$3 million to $5 million
More than $5 million

4. Compared to the last 10 years, how do you think 2021 will rank in terms of revenue?

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

5. Coming out of the pandemic, who is now your toughest competitor?

Other local independent ECPs
Chain stores
Big Box stores
Direct to consumer brands online
Internet retailers

6. Apple, Amazon Prime, Walmart+, it seems everyone is trying to generate recurring income. Have you found anywhere you can implement a subscription or membership model in your business?

The responses to this question really ran the gamut. Not unsurprisingly, most ECPs do not have any subscription model, nor do they have a desire to implement one, but there were many who are finding success with it and many more who caveated their “No” with a “Not yet.”

Contact lens subscriptions were by far the most popular answer among the Yes group, referencing services like LensFerry and Marlo from Alcon and noting the distinction that though it works for auto-billing for annual supplies, their daily contact lens wearers are more likely to adopt such a model due to the “lower initial financial outlay.”

Supplements, nutraceuticals and nutritional products came in second as a subscription model ECPs have found success with; with EyePromise’s subscription program being name dropped as useful.

But some out-of-the-box thinkers are working on memberships for everything from pre-depository discounts for parents with myopic children to receive new lenses as the child grows, to out-of-pocket “value added services” like OPTOS, and subscription models for eyewear purchases, optical warranties and safety products to dry eye drops and topicals.


7. What area is causing you the biggest headache in the current economic environment?

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

COMMENT: The difficulty of finding eligible candidates to replace sudden staff departures mid-pandemic—in some cases of multiple, seasoned employees—was felt across the industry. “Where did all the workers go??” asked one respondent. And like their counterparts across the retail sector, optical staff have been on the front lines of a nationwide epidemic of customer meanness. “The grumpy people are worse. We have asked more patients to leave the office this year than the last decade combined,” wrote another.

8. In which area are you seeing costs rise the most?

The Big Survey 2021: Performance

9. If you were to select three items for a dashboard that you could quickly review at the end of the day, what would they be?The Big Survey 2021: Performance

Next Part

The Big Survey 2021: The Pandemic

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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