By Chad Peterson, OD
August 28, 2019
It’s a challenging time for independent practices. Online retailers and corporate-owned optical chains mean that patients have many choices. With such steep competition, my practice has found a secret to success in subleasing from an optical retailer.
Thirteen years ago, my practice opened its first location next door to an Eyemart Express. Since then, we have added two additional locations. We are able to focus on medical eyecare, providing the best possible services to ensure our patients’ eye health. The patient is then able to go next door for an impressive selection of glasses and sunwear. Patients have the best of both worlds in a one-stop-shopping experience. The best medical care and the best in eyewear.
Independent & Primed for Growth
We opened our first office next to an Eyemart Express in January 2007, and two additional offices in December 2018. We were able to add or subtract exam equipment from the office space as desired, while maintaining independent control. All of our offices carry the S Corp designation as “Peterson Eyecare.”
Eyemart Express has same-day service for approximately 90 percent of its customers and their prescriptions. That has set us apart in a big way in the experience we are able to provide to patients.
Our daily appointment book is consistently filled, with room left open for frequent walk-in patients. One of the great things about subleasing from a well-known optical retailer are the many people who need eyewear, and then realize in the course of shopping, that they also could use an update on their prescription and an eye wellness exam. These patients are happy to learn that they can go right next door to have their eye health and prescription checked, and to get contact lenses.
Not having to worry about the optical retail side of eyecare has freed us up to focus on medical care and being flexible enough to accommodate walk-in patients. For example, I have an agreement with a metal fabrication shop in which employees in need of foreign body removal are sent to us for care. This works out both for the patients and me, as I accept all major medical insurances, including Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross Blue Shield and many others.
We often hear from patients that their last eye doctor was just interested in selling the most expensive glasses possible. I make zero dollars from selling glasses, so I’m just worried about providing the best possible care for each individual patient.
Cost-Effective with Strong ROI
Eyemart Express enables practices to buy their instrumentation outright, or lease it from them. We started out with a Topcon Autorefractor Keratometer, NCT, Lensometer, Visual Field and retinal camera. In addition, I fully outfitted three exam rooms.
We have experienced a minimum of 3-5 percent revenue growth per year, with many years being much higher.
Benefit From a Powerful Neighbor
Eyemart Express has ample resources to advertise their services. The company does a lot of advertising, including on TV and through direct mail and social media.
Much of our success is due to the location of the office. Eyemart Express looks into area demographics, traffic flow and nearby eyecare competition. As an experienced retailer that knows how to market and reach the widest base of patients, locating my practice next to Eyemart Express means always getting the best locations for new offices.
Help When You Need It
I was with a big-box retailer with an optical before subleasing from Eyemart Express. That retailer used no advertising, had poor quality control of its products and an untrained staff. I knew my patients–and my practice–deserved better.
Before agreeing to lease from Eyemart Express, I traveled to several independent practices with offices next door to their stores, and spoke personally to the practice owners. I also called many more offices for feedback. Overwhelming satisfaction was the most common reply to my questions about what it was like to sublease from Eyemart Express.
With my ability to provide the highest level of eyecare, and Eyemart’s wide selection of quality eyewear next door, my patients receive the best experience. This is a great formula for a successful independent practice.