Block Business Academy

Learn about the Block Business Academy at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.


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

Dear Members: December 2012

ImageYou might want to keep this month’s newsletter. It can help you save a good deal of money – in unexpected ways.


Some of you recently weathered major east coast storms and know how important good coverage is. What Superstorm Sandy also made people realize is just how essential it is to take a fresh look at insurance policies every year or two.

James DalCanton, CPCU, CIC, AAI, who is Chief Operating Officer for Szerlip & Co, Inc., an insurance agency in Millburn, New Jersey, offers the following advice on how to protect your assets and save money. He emphasizes the importance of coverage assessment, ideally on an annual basis:

Get New Quotes…You might have the same coverage for many years, yet not realize that your market has changed and there are significant cost savings from other insurers. New companies may have entered the market; others could have become more competitive, with more cost effective coverage for you.

Consider Higher Deductibles…The majority of insurers do not have losses in any given policy year, or even over a number of years. Therefore, over the course of several years the savings on annual premiums will more than make up for the increase in risk you are assuming. If you do have a loss, the savings will have been greater than the increase in exposure.

Consolidate Coverages…Most property insurance policies are very comprehensive now and include many coverages that you may be paying for separately. Most policies, for example, cover accounts receivable and valuable papers coverage for limits that are adequate for a small business.  Also, with automation and automatic back up to offsite locations, you may need to reconsider your exposure for these types of computer risk.

Risk Management…Sometimes your savings can come in the form of reduction to exposure to loss instead of in premium reduction. For a small premium, you can insure those exposures which are a great risk to your business. For example, employers face the threat of employee dishonesty, which can be minor or as major as embezzlement. It’s not something employers are happy thinking about, but Employee Dishonesty Coverage is relatively inexpensive for large limits and the risk of employee theft is an exposure which occurs with greater frequency than fortuitous losses such as fire and windstorm.


Your lease is up and you want to stay where you are, but aren’t happy about your annual increases. What can you do? Call in an expert to help you save money.

Anne Hersh and Amy Block, owners of Block & Zuckerman Opticians in West Orange, New Jersey, had been in the same location for years. They were good tenants, had an amicable relationship with their landlord, and did not want to move, yet they questioned the ever-increasing costs of their lease. Thanks to the help of a commercial real estate consultant, they changed all that.

The consultant analyzed what they were paying, compared it with rates paid for similar sites, and worked with Hersh, Block and the landlord to renegotiate the terms of their lease. “The landlord didn’t want to lose us,” Hersh explained. “There are vacancies all around here so we could have moved. It was in the landlord’s best interest to work with us, but we could never have done it so effectively without our consultant. The cost savings and structure of the lease will make a big difference for us.” Hersh suggests that everyone who wants to renegotiate a lease seek the expertise of a commercial realtor who knows their specific area.


We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Healthy employees are the best employees. They’re more productive, and they have a lower rate of absenteeism. A Gallup Poll backs us up on this observation: “Full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers – resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually.”

We’re heading into cold and flu season and every effort we can make to keep employees healthy in the short run pays off in reduced absenteeism. In the long run, it’s even more important. Encouraging healthy eating habits and employee fitness routines makes sense economically. As with good insurance coverage, good health is a safeguard against risks. And it adds to the bottom line through more effective, productive employee results.


In the Industry Watch column, you’ll discover another source of significant savings you can enjoy through a new Block Buying Group program… In this season of gift giving, we hope our money saving suggestions serve as a gift to you. And we thank you for your gift of loyalty and support. To all of you, our best wishes for a happy and successful holiday season.


Michael Block 

Dear Members: October 2012


With competition intense and the economy still improving more slowly than some independent eyecare professionals would like, every aspect of your office warrants a review.

Some of the questions you might ask are – How can I enhance efficiency? How can I save money? How can I improve customer/patient service? Should I invest in new technologies in order to improve my bottom line?

That last question can guide you through all the other questions…

Spending money on technological lab improvements and/or diagnostic instruments in this tight economy might seem counterintuitive, but investments of this kind might be exactly what you need to enhance your success.

Upgrading or Installing In-House Lab Equipment

Whether you’ve been using your trusty, long-standing edger, or have never installed lab equipment in your business before, this is a good time to consider the benefits of the computerized products available today.

New finishing equipment, advanced and intuitive, is easy to learn and to use, more energy efficient, and increases speed and efficiency dramatically. There are in-house systems for every size business, and many are so cost effective that when you factor in the time savings, price of remakes and enhanced in-house control, the decision to upgrade becomes increasingly attractive.

There’s another benefit you earn as well – the stature you gain in the public’s eye as you demonstrate the technical expertise, increased turn-around time and personalization you provide through your advanced in-house lab capability.

Investments are a way of projecting into the future; determining how an expenditure today will pay off down the road. Every business or practice is different, so it’s your own personal analysis that will give you your answer.

In another issue, we’ll take a look at the importance to doctors of technologically advanced diagnostic instruments. And if you decide to upgrade in the lab or the exam lane, we’ve reached out to leaders in the industry -Briot/Visionix – to help you make that investment in the most cost effective way. 

Briot, noted for its standing as a leader in the optical lab equipment field, and Visionix, the innovative global provider of precision diagnostic instruments, have joined forces under one corporate umbrella. With their long history of innovation and ophthalmic advances, Briot and Visionix are uniquely suited to help you upgrade.  We’re proud to introduce these distinguished vendors as new Block Buying Group suppliers, offering their products to you at preferred Block Buying Group prices.

In the Industry Watch section of this month’s newsletter, we highlight some of the products that Briot provides for in-house lab equipment. Take a look at my new video at as well. You’ll learn more about how Briot and Visionix can help you advance your business or practice through the best of technology.


Michael Block

Industry Watch: Business Strategies

What’s your bottom line? At the end of the day, what it comes down to for most eyecare professionals is the satisfaction of combining profitability with good service; knowing that your skills and efforts are helping consumers as well as providing you with financial success.

Having joined the Block Buying Group, you’re demonstrating that you’re focused on saving money, keeping up on industry trends, and learning about new products and services. Here are additional business strategies that can help your bottom line:


Practice Management

Using software programs geared specifically for optician’s businesses and optometric or ophthalmology practices can streamline your business and make it more efficient and productive. The programs can provide scheduling, communication, billing, and inventory help. In addition, practice management consultants can provide customized suggestions for each and every business.


Inventory Control

Whether it’s part of a practice management package or a stand‑alone system, an inventory control software program can help you track your product sales and trends. On a more personal level, sales reps can offer a wealth of information as well.


Risk Management

Good insurance coverage is worth its weight in gold. Loss prevention, liability protection, and safeguarding against fire or storm damage, for example, are essential for protecting business and practices’ from unexpected financial crises.


Staff Training

In such a personalized industry, knowledge and service are key. There’s always more to learn about products and customer service. In‑house sessions as well as seminars and workshops held at industry‑wide expos and events such as the Block Business Academy can provide valuable insights and information.



Personal referrals are the ideal, but they’re limited. Opticians and practitioners need exposure. Social media and personal websites are free and easily accessible. Local print, radio, and cable TV ads don’t have to cost an arm and a leg and can reinforce an online image. If you’re quoted in one of our BlockBusters newsletters, feel free to use your quote in a promotion ‑‑ with a tag stating “As seen in noted industry publication BlockBusters.”



Feeling the rent increase pinch? Maybe it’s time to downsize. Or perhaps, with real estate more affordable, it’s time to buy that larger building down the street and become a landlord yourself. Other options? Join forces with colleagues.


Creative Strategies to Help Consumers

Look for strategies to help your customers and patients find affordable options. Sign up for Care Credit. Like a credit card, but with major advantages over traditional credit cards, it’s a program we’re proud to offer you.

Provide consumers with lens menu options, so that you can show them that you provide fine quality products without a sticker‑shock price tag.

CareCredit, and all of the information we provide in our newsletter – and, of course the essential cost savings and streamlined billing program you enjoy through The Block Buying Group – all form a solid foundation for a successful business or practice. Add in some of the additional strategies listed above, and you’ll see impressive results in your bottom line.

Dear Members: September 2012

ImageSometimes newer is better.  Sometimes it’s the tried and true that works best. And sometimes the answer lies in between.

The Block Buying Group is your long‑time partner, sensitive to ever‑changing market conditions. For almost 30 years we have consistently sought out solutions to new problems, adding benefits to help you compete.

As we continue to add services, we, too, become new, building on our strengths as we offer you a helping hand in a variety of ways.

So what are the advantages of Block Buying Group?


We never charge you an upfront fee. There’s no entry fee, termination fee, product return fee, ordering fee – or any other hidden fees for Block members. Other buying groups and alliances have a variety of plans, but they may include upfront fees or processing charges. Why pay a fee if you don’t have to?

Supplier Choices

Through Block, you have an ever‑growing list of suppliers from whom you enjoy discounted products. They cover the gamut of price points and features. There are even additional discounts in the form of rebate credits for achieving modest sales goals from our most popular suppliers in our Elite Vendor Program. Why confine your product selection to a small number of suppliers when you don’t have to?

Bill Payment

You have one monthly statement at Block – a detailed, easy‑to‑read statement which covers orders from multiple vendors. One bill to pay.  One check to write – or to pay online, with the additional advantage of backup from your personal Block Customer Service rep to efficiently handle your billing questions. And when you want to see vendor invoices directly, our new “Blockuments” feature allows you to view and download invoices from a growing list of suppliers. There is no need to pay bills separately, vendor after vendor. Why add time and effort to your billing system when you don’t have to?

Coop Advertising Dollars

As a Block member, earned co‑op dollars are passed through to you on your Block Buying Group statement. You should be using your co‑op advertising to promote your practice.

Business Meetings

The Block Business Academy is a comprehensive full‑day expo filled with accredited courses, workshops, panel discussions, motivational speakers, and the opportunity to see new products and speak personally with a range of sales reps. and it’s free to Block members. Why pay for your valuable day of education and networking when you don’t have to?


To learn more about Block Buying Group, check out my video series at, and check the website for a range of information on the valuable partnership between you, our members, and all of us at The Block Buying Group.



Michael Block