Opening an Optometry Practice Part 2: Build Out, Labs, and Frame Line Selection

Mar 9, 2015
3 min read

Design your optometry practice with the ideology that your ultimate goal is to be a “Destination Optical”

For most Optometrists opening a practice, creating the optical is both the most foreign and difficult. In this article, I’ll share some important suggestions and insights on how to develop the optical portion of your optometry practice.

1. Build-Out

build out

  • Call several construction companies for quotes before employing one.
  • Make sure you visit your space on a weekly basis during construction to make sure things are completed as planned.
  • When considering flooring options, consider areas of high traffic and noise wh en deciding on material.
  • When considering paint colors, cool colors are usually preferred for medical offices, while warm colors make spaces feel more enclosed.
  • Consider décor that will not get “dated” quickly, or that you can make changes to inexpensively.
  • Experts recommend office renovations every 7-9 years.
  • Doctors can be afraid of color, but white walls feel sterile and uninviting.
  • Be careful with colors of laminate as it can often appear cheap.
  • Consider traffic flow between rooms and pre-testing when laying out your space.
  • Most new offices need at least 1,800-2,000 sq. feet of space.

2. Lab Selection

lab selection

  • Lab selection for insurance jobs will be dictated to you by the insurance company. If you choose to take VSP and Eyemed, there are specific labs one is able to use.
  • Some labs offer 24-hour turnover, and you should set up an account in case of emergencies.
  • There are several luxury labs including Luxe Lab which specializes in difficult and expensive materials like Horn frames and Mykita frames.
  • Set up an account with Vision Web and look for an EMR with Vision Web integration. Vision Web is a management and integration system which transfers orders to the labs with whom you have an account.
  • Labs give discounts according to buying groups. When you first open a practice, a new practice owner has no concept of fair lab prices. I recommend looking at buying group rates.
  • Make sure when comparing prices you are comparing edged vs un-edged pricing.
  • Meet with lab reps from different companies in order to find which relationship works best for you. I’m on my fourth lab since I’ve opened, and am the happiest I’ve been yet. I’m always open to doing business with new labs, and review all lab information that is sent to me.
  • Clarify extras like shipping and handling, additional edging on certain types of frames, pair 50s, and re-do policies.

3. Frame Line Selection

frame line

  • The most important thing when considering frame line selection is to make sure y ou cover your bases.
  • Pursue as many independent frame lines as possible (more info on this to come).
  • Ask about the company’s trade-out policies and buy-in policies. Make sure you are choosing companies that are easy to do business with.
  • It is typical with luxury lines to have a set buy-in number and a greater than 1 to 1 trade-out.
  • Keep in mind, even if you don’t see many kids, many new healthcare plans cover children’s exams and hardware.
  • Make sure you and your opticians know the back story on your frame lines. This is vital when it comes to sales!

Eight frame line must-haves

  1. an acetate line
  2. a metal line
  3. drill-mount and semi-rimless styles
  4. one known name brand
  5. a high-end “classics” line
  6. a high-end funky line
  7. a line that would be covered by insurance allowances
  8. a solid sun-wear line

Read more about how I choose my frame lines, and how I utilize visual merchandising in my optical. For additional information on the ins and outs of opening cold, including information on location and loans, please see Part 1.

About Courtney Dryer, OD

Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. After 5 years, the practice name was changed to Autarchic Spec Shop to renew the practice's commitment …

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