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Want to Increase Your Business Profits? Follow the Lead of These ECPs

These Brain Squad members embraced change and now are sharing their secrets for success.




Want to Increase Your Business Profits? Follow the Lead of These ECPs
Brain Squad

What changes have you made to your business lately?

The world is not a static place. And resting on ones’ laurels isn’t a recipe for long-term success. So what do you do?

Do you make changes only when forced to do so? Or will you be proactive in your approach to increase revenue? Either way, change is most certainly coming!

We reached out recently to our Brain Squad community and asked them what change (or changes) they’ve embraced in the last five years that have had the most impact on the profitability of their respective businesses.

They came through with some great responses. Here’s what they had to say:

Finding a Niche

  • “We have gone from big company products to independents. That has secured our niche in our market, and prevents people looking up frames we could be carrying to buy online.” – Pablo E. Mercado, Highland Eye Boutique, Atlanta, GA
  • “Bringing in smaller manufacturers collections gives our selections a different look from the ‘same style everywhere’ stores.” – Mickey Bradley, Patrick Optical, Fort Worth, TX
  • “Private label that has slowly evolved into making our own brand. Margins are so much better. We control the quality and nobody else has it.” – Travis LeFevre, Krystal Vision, Logan, UT
  • “We set up one of our locations to be a center of specialized eyewear (and) really dialing in the frame brands to offer boutique or sports offerings. Training the staff at that location intensely and constantly. That location now sees less patient exams for a higher profit margin than either of our other locations. And their word-of-mouth referrals keep drawing new customers in.” – Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID



Frame It

More Equals More

  • “Expanded (doubled) our square footage in the optical and added more exam rooms.” – Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends, Dover, OH
  • “Adding another lane looks like it will pay off in the volume of patients we are able to see. And carrying many lid hygiene products and selling them online earns a bit of extra profits.” – Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ

“I had not upgraded my price list in years. I called a friend of mine, a fellow optician, and got his price list. With the upgrade, I now am in a higher tax bracket.”

Julie Uram, Optical Oasis, Jupiter, FL

Less Equals More

Not Just One Thing

  • “I got over my issues with price and how I ‘felt’ when presenting a large number. Brought in an associate. Started frame making and recently launched the Optical Kitchen™ which has explosive profitability.” – Kevin Count, Corner Optical, Glenview, IL
  • “Mailouts for zip code specific areas. Social media for 5O-to-9O year olds. Visiting retirement centers to fill prescriptions and do adjustments. Meeting with large companies to fill their safety Rx needs.” – B.J. Chambers, Carrera Optical, Universal City, TX
  • “No more free substation frames and spending time finding a part or a frame to fit a patients’ lenses. They can buy a substitute frame or a new replacement frame. Charging a fee for ordering in frames to view. Especially with shipping prices on the rise. Really researching our invoices every month. Often we don’t get credit for frames we return.” – Kim Hilgers, Akre & Clark Eyecare, New Ulm, MN
  • “New curated designer vintage ‘dead stock’ frame purchases. (Updated) the look of the store. Hired fabulous staff.” – Robert Hillman, Fabulous Fanny’s, New York, NY
  • “Five years ago, we built a beautiful new office. We removed all the price tags from our frames. Patients used to shop by price, and they settled for something within their insurance price range. Now they shop by what looks and feels great on them. We have a price sheet when requested and are very open about price. I know many opticians do not agree with this method, but don’t knock it until you try it. Profitability is up. Patient satisfaction is up, and patients see that a nicer frame really doesn’t cost that much more over their insurance coverage. They feel empowered when they have more choices.” – Ann-Marie Weaver, Optimal Eye Care, Lewis Center, OH
  • “I moved to one hour per patient, I cut out 8 a.m. appointments, and I spend more time with patients. I also removed a vision plan. I also updated my topographer, my autorefractor, my visual field unit and my OCT and retinal camera so we can offer the latest technology to our patients. All of these moves have increased profitability through referrals and happy patients.” – Robert M. Easton Jr. OD, Easton Eyecare, Oakland Park, FL

It’s all Mine!!!

“Buying the building that my practice is in.”

Kimberly Riggs, OD, Riggs Optometry, Ligonier, PA

  • “Invested in myself. I have helped other offices become successful and seen them grow while I was there. But I wanted to see if I can do it on my own. So far, so good.” – Jenifer Yerden, Sights and Shades, Canadaigua, NY

Sticking to the Plan

  • “I think just gritting my teeth and sticking with it has caused the greatest increase in profitability. Something really caused us to take off after being in business for about 10 years.” – Deirdre Fogle, OD, Eyetopia Eyecare, Littleton, CO
  • “We opened a cold-start optical boutique. Every year it has been more profitable.” – Verbelee Nielsen-Swanson, Oxford Eyes, Orlando, FL

Spend Money to Make Money

Good-Bye Insurance

  • “Dropped medical assistance insurance. How I discuss necessary products in the exam room.” – Mark Clement, OD, Gateway Eye Associates, PC, Pittsburgh, PA
  • “A commitment to controlling every interaction. We opted out of insurance plans and opted in on Anagram.” – Steve Whitaker, Whitaker Eye Works, Wayne, PA
  • “Not taking insurance has helped me up my profit margin WHILE keeping my prices lower. And I don’t waste my time arguing with insurance companies, resubmitting claims, etc.” – Kyla Skinner, Specs by Kyla, Atascadero, CA

Doing Something Different

  • “Embracing medial eyecare.” – Scott Mann, OD, INVISION, Christiansburg, VA
  • “Went to four-day work week for my employees and three days seeing patients. Made the same income but created more free time for myself and my employees. Wages stayed the same for my employees. Results were happier employees, and more efficient work days.” – Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA

“Location change.”

Jeff Rabbitt, Rabbitt Family Vision Center, North Sioux City, SD

  • “We created our own private label budget line to keep the customers we were losing to online/discount/insurance retailers. Also allows our customers who were buying their secondary/backup glasses elsewhere to do it all with us. It was the only price point we were missing.” – Jordan Flitter, Paris West Optical, Baltimore, MD
  • “Package pricing of frame, lens, and A/R to compete with Warby Parker.” – Sonja Franklin, OD, Modern Eyes, Austin, TX

Show Me the Money

  • “I implemented Profit First accounting by Michael Michaelowicz. It made me look at the concept of profit completely differently, and I was able to reevaluate the way I was allocating funds. It was a game changer for every aspect of the business financially.” – Nikki Griffin, EyeStyles Optical and Boutique, Oakdale, MN
  • “Hire different people and pay bonuses.” – Alexander Saper, Great Glasses, Houston, TX
  • “The Pair 50 program thru our lab has worked wonders. When a patient orders two pairs of glasses, we get 50% off our wholesale lab bill for the second pair.” – Susan Kantor, Central Phoenix Eyecare, Phoenix, AZ

Get Busy Living or…

Thank you to all those who responded. Reading through the comments to this question brought to mind a quote from Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” These ECPs certainly have embraced a “get busy living” ethos when it comes to their businesses. Kudos.

We’d also like to acknowledge all those Brain Squaders out there who thought about responding to the September survey but couldn’t quite get to it. We appreciate you, too. Thoughts lead to actions so you are almost there!

Next on the agenda is The Big Survey 2022 going on right now. This is the most important survey of the calendar year. (As such, there is no monthly survey for October.) Eyecare business owners and managers can follow the link and fill it out today!

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free T-shirt, be featured prominently in our magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.


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