As with starting any business, creating your own ophthalmic business comes with its own set of challenges. The good news is that eyewear isn't going anywhere and customers are always looking for high-quality eyewear.
Entrepreneurs would do well to take the following into consideration when starting your own ophthalmic business.
1. Hire Experienced Employees
The good thing about starting an ophthalmic business is that your staffing needs will likely start and remain small. You'll need an eye doctor who won't be stretched thin between clients.
This is easily accomplished by hiring staff that can both perform administrative and secretarial duties in addition to taking care of routine eye examination tasks. You'll be able to keep staffing costs low by hiring just a few individuals who can handle multiple aspects of your business.
Even better, these individuals will likely form close bonds with patients over time, keeping patients coming back to a business that is familiar to them again and again.
2. Keep Up to Date With Eyewear Trends
There is a lot of competition in the ophthalmic business world. With the advent of online frame ordering, customers have a multitude of options right at their fingertips and likely know exactly what sort of style they'll want.
Be sure to do your research continually and keep up to date with eyewear trends throughout your career. You'll likely be able to draw customers in if you're known for stocking a wide variety of stylish, practical frames.
While some online services give customers the option to try frames before they buy them, they often limit the number of frames they'll be able to try at once. Your brick and mortar store will have a leg up over the competition by allowing customers to find the perfect frame for them and by offering professional feedback and recommendations on the spot.
3. Building Design
That being said, your customers will also be drawn to your business if your interior and exterior are up to par. The exterior will likely draw customers in if it is hip and on par with the surrounding businesses.
Once inside, customers should feel comfortable. Your business should feel like someplace your customers will want to spend a long period of time. Chances are, they're going to have to. Hiring professional interior designers can help ease the stress of designing it yourself.
4. In-House or Outsourced Eyewear Lab?
Next, you'll have to decide if you'll be filling prescriptions in-house or outsource them. Filling prescriptions in-house is an exact science, and may even require hiring additional staff qualified to do so. You'll also face much larger start-up and stocking costs in order to obtain the equipment and materials necessary to maintain your lab.
This is, however, a possible source of additional revenue for your business and could easily pay for itself in the long run. If outsourcing, you'll likely miss out on this income but save yourself some hassle in your already complicated business dealings.
5. Pay Attention to Your Marketing
Chain eyewear companies launch huge national marketing campaigns in order to draw in customers. These brands are familiar to customers and they bank on their brand visibility to stay
There is, however, a large market for smaller, independently run ophthalmic businesses. Customers are drawn to independently run businesses within their community and want to support them.
If you brand yourself as the local eyewear business of choice and conduct basic research of your potential demographic you'll be able to tailor your business into the business of your community's dreams.
6. Get Involved In Your Community
That being said, you can also choose to ingrain yourself within your community further by partnering with local businesses and charities. Do anything within reason to get your brand out there while remaining authentic to your vision.
For example, schools will often make a point to stress healthy vision, especially in an age dominated by screen time. Partner with local schools in order to stress the importance of taking care of your vision and be sure to provide a way for parents to reach out to your business - perhaps provide them with a discounted visit. Parents appreciate any business with their children's interests in mind.
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