Practice Management

The New Optometric Alliance Saving Our COGs & Supporting Independent Optometry

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By Lori Duquette, OD,
and Linda Duquette, Director of Operations,
Duquette Family Eye Care, Inc.

Nov. 10, 2021

When thinking about an optometric alliance to join, you want a group that will help you better serve patients, spur profitability, and enable networking opportunities with other ODs.

Our practice, Duquette Family Eye Care, Inc., opened in February 2010 when the practice was purchased from an ophthalmologist in Woonsocket, R.I. Since then, we have grown significantly, adding two full-time ODs and one part-time OD. We have a full-time licensed optician and seven support staff in our work family. We also often have college and optometry school students observing and sometimes working part-time during school breaks.

Here is why we decided The Eye Consortium (TEC) was our best choice for an optometric alliance to join that would help elevate our care and patient experience while helping to power our continued growth.

A Chance to Improve Our Bottom Line & Share Best Practices
We had never previously joined a large group or alliance because we did not feel the need to contribute a percentage of our practice gross income or pay a fee to participate.

The current uncertain climate and a desire to improve the business made us wonder if we should find ways to streamline our operations.

When we began to search for ways to improve our bottom line and decrease our cost of goods sold (COGS), we came across The Eye Consortium via our colleagues and TEC co-founders: Robert Chu, OD, and Matthew Alpert, OD. We were excited to learn that there is no fee to join TEC. And TEC’s members are very open about collaborating and sharing best practices.

Change Management and Calculating Cost Savings
A great advantage of joining TEC is the savings you can realize from the industry partners TEC has relationships with. One such industry partner is ZEISS. Our ZEISS representative helped us do a side-by-side comparison of similarly rated optical lens options from ZEISS compared with our current large lens lab, which every other practice in our area uses. The increased profitability just from switching to ZEISS Lab through TEC’s best-in-class program was the main catalyst for joining TEC. The ability to offer differentiated lens technology of quality, as well as the service, were also convincing factors.

Once we made the decision to switch based on quality, differentiation and profitability, we needed to devise a strategy to educate and empower our staff to switch from our current lab to the ZEISS lab. Our current lab of over 11 years was great and reliable, and we did not take lightly the decision to change.

When making any business decision and implementing change, it is critical to allow staff ample time to adapt and educate themselves about the new product or program. By teaming up with our ZEISS rep and TEC liaison, who was available for questions and encouragement, we provided our team with plenty of time and plenty of lunch in order to implement the change over sufficient time.

We have had excellent feedback from patients thus far; one of whom said that her new glasses “with the ZEISS lenses are the best glasses I have ever had!” This further affirmed our decision was for the better.

When we learned of the many frame lines and product partners being a member of TEC offers us, we were eager to also incorporate these products into our practice; patients are excited about the new Eco frame line by MODO, which is environmentally conscious in its materials and production.

Joining an Organization that Promotes Independent Optometry
We loved that TEC promotes private practices and smaller businesses. We enjoy the personal attention and small business vibe when we are in contact with our ZEISS lab and the other vendors TEC partners with.

The chance to have strong industry partnerships while learning from other ODs in practices similar to our own is invaluable. As the TEC network grows, we will be able to leverage our contacts and pool knowledge of best practices and new business ideas. I look forward to having the opportunity to share in this way.

Support to Build Medical Eyecare Services
TEC offers many ways to improve patient care; ZEISS offers us equipment rebates that allow us to pay back our equipment purchases and help us upgrade our medical technology and equipment such as automated phoropters, visual field analyzers and other important instrumentation. This will enable us to continue to provide excellent, state-of-the-art eyecare, while we maintain the personalized, family-oriented atmosphere we are known for.

Create Happy Staff & Patients
The discounts and benefits from being a member of TEC will help us to keep our staff happy and provide high-tech products and services. Happy staff equals happy patients equals good word-of-mouth reviews and personal referrals and recommendations.

Our philosophy is to go above and beyond for our patients, advocating for them while providing advanced care within an old-fashioned, family-oriented atmosphere.

Becoming members of TEC has already helped improve our practice metrics, which we can monitor easily with EDGEPro GPN, the practice metrics-tracking program offered at a discount with TEC membership.

Even after 20 years of practice and over 11 years of ownership, there is a lot to learn. Being a member of TEC is enabling us to improve our practice and patient care on several levels. We look forward to growing and improving long into the future!

Lori Duquette, OD, is the owner of Duquette Family Eye Care, Inc., in North Smithfield, R.I. Linda Duquette is the practice’s director of operations. To contact: lduquetteod@gmail.com

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And join more than 35,000 optometric colleagues who have made Review of Optometric Business their daily business advisor.
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And join more than 35,000 optometric colleagues who have made Review of Optometric Business their daily business advisor.