From Ontario Opticians Association Focus Newsletter March 2015
Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Executive Summit presented by the Vision Council. The program featured opportunities for executive-level networking, leadership development, economic trend updates, industry panels and business thinking and strategy. In addition to general sessions there were limited seating workshops that allowed for intimate access to global thought leaders. The networking opportunities I was afforded gave me an opportunity to not only expand my network with our global colleagues in eye care but also with the unprecedented number of Canadians attending the summit. Nothing replaces face-to-face meetings and open conversations to form new relationships and rekindle old ones. It’s important that Canadian Opticianry is represented at all meetings of the optical business minds.
Serving as the global voice for vision care products and services, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. We position our members to be successful in a competitive marketplace through education, advocacy, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums.– The Vision Council
During the summit I heard statements and words that represented trends in the way we do business. The two themes that stand out most in my mind are “Big Data”, and “Grow The Market”. As an independent practicing optician, who is just now computerizing his practice, I haven’t had the important tool of analyzing the data relating to my business and practice. In todays world of business you must have a good handle on the performance of the various aspects of your business. Thus the need for collecting data, analyzing, and benchmarking. “Big Data”.
What really opened my eyes was the other theme- “Grow The Market”. If you’ve noticed over the years we seem to be moving our patients around to the flavour of the month product. Especially when it comes to contact lenses. The reality is that there are always new contacts hitting the market that have new benefits for our patients. And sometimes an economic benefit to our practices. We then present these new lenses to our patients and in many cases the patient prefers the new lens and they switch brands. And later when a competing contact lens supplier releases their new lens with it’s new benefits and what do we do? We hand out trials of the new lens. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. As long as we are providing professional advice and service. The point is that we are not growing the market. We are moving the market. And we’ve been doing this with contact lenses for years. For the professions and the industry to prosper there must be growth in the market. We are in a good position to accomplish this as we are in an industry where there is not a person on earth that does not need our products and services. We control light for people! Whether it’s Plano sunglasses or prescription eye wear, we have what people want and actually need! That’s a lot of eyes to work with.
How do we just grow the market? I’m no marketing genius that’s for sure. But I have noticed that when I take the time to understand my patients needs they can make educated decisions regarding their eye health and products. This usually translates into not only a general-purpose pair of glasses but also task specific glasses. When clients are educated about their eye health and optical device options they become more discerning with their vision. As they should, with sight being the most feared sense to loose and good vision is very important for quality of life.
So we have education leading to multiple pairs growing the market. Obviously the more people we educate, the more the market will grow.
It all starts with a prescription. Whether that prescription comes from an optometrist, ophthalmologist, refracting MD, or an optician, it has to come from somewhere. I’m not forgetting neutralizing a previous pair of glasses but we are talking about growing the market. With the implementation of changes to the College of Optometrists of Ontario’s Conflict of Interest Regulation, opticians and optometrists can now collaborate in various business models. Both opticians and optometrists that had anticipated this change have been working in collaborative practices for some time now. And others support each other with referrals. It seems that more and more opticians and optometrists working in collaborative business models are not only giving patients a better eye care buying experience, but also growing their businesses.
The Opticians Council Of Canada is continuing to build a successful public awareness campaign. Our Licensed Optician brand is being promoted. The optometrists run national campaigns to inform patients as to the importance of eye exams and eye health. Maybe its time for our two professions to collaborate and come together to help the public understand the importance of eye health and the benefits of quality vision care dispensed by Licensed Opticians and Optometrists. Collaborating with our common message and resources would no doubt reach a broader audience.
People want what’s best for their eyes but they need to have information and confidence in their eye care team.
Collaboration + (Education + Pooled Resources) = Growth
Let me know what you think…. firstname.lastname@example.org
Also… Please answer the Trending Questions in this month’s Focus Newsletter