December 2017

The Staff of Block Business Group hopes that you have all had a nice Thanksgiving and we wish you a joyous holiday season.

Typically, this time of the year tends to be a slow period for eye care professionals. This is mostly because people focus their shopping efforts on holiday gifts as opposed to eyewear and eyecare. That being said, why not try to refocus people’s holiday shopping thoughts to eyewear.

How about offering gift certificates, possibly even discounted gift certificates or gift cards good for merchandise in your dispensary or even eye exams or contact lenses. As an example, you can offer a $500 eyecare / eyewear package. The gift certificate or card would be paid for at time or purchase which would help to shore up your sales during this typically slow time of year.

To make sure your patient / customer base is aware of your gift certificate / card holiday promotion, we recommend a prominent counter display in your office or dispensary, and the use of an e-mail blast to your patient base and other forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, it would be wise to set up a holiday promotion area in your window if you have a storefront location, or in the waiting area of your office. This would be an ideal way to promote non-Rx sunglasses and high-end readers.

Perhaps, incentivize your staff members to offer this holiday promotion by providing them with a small commission if they’re successful in selling this concept. Your staff will be delighted to make extra money leading up to the holiday season as they promote this creative gift idea to your patients.

Another great holiday gift would be designer sunglasses. Let your customers know that these are returnable for exchange provided they haven’t been worn. They can use their Care Credit card to pay for their purchase which provides payment flexibility.

You’ll be providing your patients with a creative gift for their friends and loved ones, your staff will have an opportunity to earn extra money for the holiday season, AND, you may just improve your sales and profitability during a typically slow period…everybody wins.

Have a happy and profitable holiday season.


Michael Block

Ten things I learned at Vision Expo West:

  1. Independent ECP’s are alive and well. 
  2. The economy is growing and our industry is along with it. 
  3. Independent ECP’s need to be proactive in our marketing or we’ll be left behind. 
  4. A social media presence and an up-to-date website are a must for all ECP’s. 
  5. There is a variety of product out there. It’s important to know your practice demographic and buy accordingly. 
  6. CareCredit is a must for upgrading patients’ eyewear selections and selling multiple pairs especially in the managed care environment. 
  7. In the face of mounting competition make sure your office is modern and up-to-date. Take an objective look at your dispensary and ask yourself if it’s a place where you’d feel comfortable shopping. If not, it’s time to upgrade the appearance. 
  8. Private Equity funds are circling our industry for investment opportunities. 
  9. Consolidation is inevitable. 
  10. As Doctor Alliance groups begin to sell out (some already have) to private equity or corporate entities, Block Business Group, The Nation’s Leading Buying Group, will continue to be crucial to the financial health of your practice.

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Michael Block

Dear Members: May 2015

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Spring is in the air and it’s a good time to think about sprucing up your office.  Often we are so busy on a day to day basis working with patients, doing paperwork, and spending time with sales reps that we don’t have a chance to take an objective look at our offices.

We tend to take for granted how others view the physical appearance of our dispensary, exam rooms and even our laboratories.  People have confidence in an office that is neat, clean, modern and up-to-date.  As an example, walk into a high-end jewelry store or a designer boutique or a department store such as Neiman Marcus and look at the walls, look at the floors, and even look at the ceiling.  The executives of these retailers know the value of making sure that everything is neat, clean and current.  By that I mean, no stains on the carpeting, no marks on the walls, and no stains on the ceiling tiles from an old leak.  Personally, when I go to the office of a doctor or dentist and it isn’t current, neat and clean, it causes me to question the competency of the practitioner and his or her staff.

All this being said, walk into your office one day (I recommend doing this on a day off) and just look around your waiting area, dispensary and exam room, and ask yourself objectively if your location is one that you would feel comfortable trusting with your eye health.

Your waiting area should be comfortable, spotless and stocked with current magazines and contain neat, current point of purchase materials.  The dispensary should include well-stocked and organized frame displays.  High end products if you carry them, should be prominently located in appropriate displays in a special location.  Dispensing tables should also be clinically clean and wiped down with disinfecting wipes after each patient.

Your exam room should always look perfect.  Your chairs and exam equipment should be up to date and the room should be clutter free and professional.

Also, make sure that your laboratory is kept neat, clean and current.  Oftentimes patients will walk by or they may ask to see where the eyeglasses are assembled.  The machinery should be current, neat and clean, tools should be hanging on appropriate racks, and trays should be in neat, organized stacks.  And while you’re in there, take a look at your edging equipment and make sure that it is state-of-the-art.  It will not only impress your patients, but will also help to improve your bottom line by reducing breakage, spoilage, and be a great time saver.

If you feel comfortable that your office passes the so-called ‘white glove test’ and you are in compliance with all the suggestions stated above, then you need read no further.  If however, your objective assessment of your office is less than perfect, spring is the perfect time to prepare to make changes during the slower summer season.

This would be a good time to contact Fashion Optical Displays, one of our Block Practice Builders, who can assist you with every facet of office renovation.  Dispensary design service is free to Block members.  And if you’re considering new exam room equipment or have been thinking about a new edger, contact Block Practice Builder Briot / Visionix.  Both of the above offer excellent savings to Block members.

It’s a well-known fact in retail that updates and renovations lead to increased consumer confidence and ultimately improved sales.

Dear Members

We hear you loud and clear. We asked, we listened – and we acted. You, our members, responded to our recent Block Buying Group Member Survey with strong feelings about how we could improve your practices and businesses, and we found innovative ways to help you. Let’s take a look at what you said, and what you wanted…

Continuing Education Courses

• The majority of you (59.9%) seek out venues for continuing education credits more than twice each year, preferring to attend a one-day seminar near your home or place of business or taking online CE courses (60.2%).

• Most of you (54.8%) Have Never or Only Once participated in online CE courses.

• Yet 80 % of respondents told us they would be Very Interested or Somewhat Interested in receiving CE credit online. We can understand your reasoning. It’s a valuable option, saving time and travel costs while offering flexibility in scheduling.

Practice Management Services

• Only a few of you have employed the services of a practice management consultant or organization (16.7%).

• But it’s an appealing idea, according to those respondents who answered Very Interested, Somewhat Interested or Maybe Interested (74%).

• And it would be even more appealing if Block were to offer practice management education, said 91.3% of those who answered Very Valuable, Somewhat Valuable or Maybe Valuable. Websites

• Most of you think a website is important, with 75.3% responding Very Important or Somewhat Important.

• But you want to keep the cost of a website under control, with 74.2% of respondents who currently have a website stating that they spent up to $1000 annually on their website. Among those who don’t have one yet, the majority (78.2%) said they would want to spend less than $500 on development of their website.

Customized Videos

• Would a customized video enhance a website? Most respondents think so, with 67.6% saying they were Very Interested, Interested, or Somewhat Interested.

• Although cost control was a concern again, the survey showed that 41.7% of you answered that you would spend from $500 to $2,000 on a customized video.

We took your survey answers to heart, analyzing the results so that we could add to our list of services by offering help in areas that you find beneficial. That has always been our focus – providing you with the tools you want so that you can be more competitive and efficient.

So thank you to those of you who responded to our survey. As I said earlier, we listened to you – and, as a result, are now providing you with an expanded range of valuable services and opportunities. Take a look at our Industry Watch column for specifics – and lots of surprises…


Michael Block