It's not all bad news!
By Chris Clemence, Commercial Director
There’s not a lot of good news around at the moment, especially for the independent practitioner. The economic situation means our patients are much more cost conscious. At the same time we are seeing price rises from some of our suppliers. The competitive situation is not getting any friendlier either. The threat of on line spectacle sales may not directly affect the independent, but it would seem from the advertising in recent months that those who are affected by the internet retailers are moving into the market place traditionally occupied by the quality independent.
Despite all this, what is clear to us here at Eyeplan, is that there is a still a strong desire amongst the spectacle wearing public for quality eyewear and quality eye care. In articles published elsewhere I have read that the strategy to be adopted to counter the economic and competitive pressures is to up service levels and up-sell into the highest quality products. This is also Eyeplan’s view. It is too easy to be tempted into competing on price. Once this route is followed the service and dispense becomes only about the price. This, in my opinion at least, is a disservice to both patient and practitioner and a strategy that will ultimately fail. Quality and value will be remembered by the patient long after the short term buzz of a discount has faded, and whilst price is an important component of value, it is not value itself.
The concept of value and quality manifests itself in the Eyeplan Business Model. Here at Eyeplan we can report a growing number of independent practitioners choosing to adopt Eyeplan, and, for existing Associates, a growing membership base. In addition, from the returns on our Accidental Damage Scheme, we can also report the consistent dispensing of quality frames and lenses. Why is this? We believe it is because Eyeplan is about offering patients an alternative based on quality and value; an alternative that allows patients to satisfy their desire for the best in eye care and eyewear.
11 years ago when Eyeplan was first introduced in the UK it was met with some scepticism. Understandably so in a profession that has traditional views as one of its strengths. But a few brave souls took the plunge in the early days and these Associates are now reaping the benefits. What better insulation from a recession than contracted monthly income? If you have doubted in the past about Eyeplan, then now is maybe the time to take a fresh look.
Finally, during the last recession in the early 90s I was taught by a colleague, a veteran of the 70s, that in a recession you have to work three times harder to achieve the same result. I also learned that working harder does not always mean just more hours; it can mean working smarter!
This year Eyeplan will again be at Optrafair. Our theme this year is ‘take a fresh look at Eyeplan’. Given our market’s changing circumstances we are hoping that many independent practitioners, who may have considered us before, will visit and take a fresh look. We look forward to seeing you.