By Frank Giammanco
As with any major investment, taking the plunge to get into in-office lens finishing can be a daunting commitment, especially for those practitioners who have only nominally researched the proposition. For those prospective investors, many questions—and doubts—abound. Will the time and financial outlay justify it? What about dedicated personnel, office space, training, and maintenance?
The most confident decisions are informed decisions. Here are just a few considerations to pursue when exploring in-office finishing for your practice:
THE FINANCIAL ROI: The first question to be answered when exploring in-office finishing is will the financial return justify the investment. Keeping in mind that outsourcing finishing can represent roughly 50% of total job cost, the savings can be substantial along with the practice’s bottom line.
Say, for example, that a thriving practice is producing forty jobs per week at a lab cost of $100 per job. An in-office finish lab could potentially reduce that cost to $50, or $2,000 per week. Within a year’s time, those savings would more than cover the capital equipment purchase and the operator’s salary, and still provide an additional profit margin.
And this back-of-envelope calculation doesn’t take into account premium lenses, such as high-index, Trivex, and photochromics, which will yield even greater profits.
The in-office finish lab also offers the capacity to improve practice volume. Thanks to the convenience it provides, a practice can readily offer second-pair packages quickly and cost-effectively, an advantage that will keep patients coming back. And many systems now incorporate other functions, such as drilling, which makes the process more comprehensive.
THE MARKETING ROI: An in-office finish lab gives the practice a distinct, comparative advantage over competitors without one. It offers efficiency and the ability to provide patients with the finished product within hours, if not less.
While this ability certainly benefits the practice, it’s also a great incentive for patients who don’t want to wait a week or more for their glasses. This serves as a unique advertising opportunity, especially to patients who need a new pair of glasses in a hurry. It was the strategy that catapulted Lenscrafters and can work very effectively for independents.
It also affords the practice better quality control, another readily marketable patient benefit.
In-office finishing makes the independent practice a more complete service provider and a far more versatile business.
THE MAINTENANCE & TRAINING ROI: In its early history, in-office finishing was challenging. Learning the system operations was an arduous task, requiring a lengthy training regimen. Systems were much more complicated and it was necessary for prospective operators to go through a trial-and-error period to become proficient. Today’s finishing systems can be mastered within hours and frequently require no more than the push of a button to operate, meaning that a front-of-practice employee could be trained easily.
What’s more, earlier finishing systems frequently required regular vendor-supplied maintenance, which could shut down the finishing lab for a period of days. The current roster of finishing technologies is easy to maintain and easy to keep up and running when an error occurs. Better yet, there are significantly quicker service and support resources available today to help with troubleshooting. A resolution can be just an email or phone call away.
There are still a number of practices that shy away from making the finishing lab investment. They’re often still influenced by the experiences they or others had with finishing in the past. It no longer takes a lot of research to come to the conclusion that in-office finishing is right for your practice. The investment quickly pays for itself in a short period of time, increases revenue, requires minimal installation time and training, and sets an eyecare practice apart by improving the customer’s experience. Practice owners are often surprised at the convenience and ease in incorporating in-office lens finishing, wishing they had started sooner!
COBURN PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: THE HPE-910 EXXPERT EXPRESS LENS EDGER
The latest in-office lens edger from Coburn Technologies can achieve a first-time fit more consistently than any other edger on the market today. HPE-910 is capable of seven-step bevel types and five edging styles, creating a perfect, sturdy fit for frames. It’s easy to process high base-curve lenses and lenses with various coatings. The HPE-910 safely processes lenses with an upgraded roughing wheel, adaptive chuck, and hydrophobic mode. Multiple options are available, including an optional drill, and can be paired with any of Coburn’s EXXPERT and Excelon lens finishing products.
Choose the model that suits your needs and capabilities, whether it’s a built-in drill, step bevel, U Bevel, Scan & Cut, or Chemistrie. Each HPE-910 model is the same size and dimensions; they are compact and ergonomic and will not take up valuable space in your office.
Frank Giammanco is a longtime veteran of marketing communications for the optical industry and professions. He is the founder and former CEO of First Vision Media Group, Inc., publishers of Vision Care Product News (VCPN).