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Optometrists are great at treating eye problems, but they often face a difficult time managing the business side of things. That’s because running an independent optometry practice requires a lot of negotiations with suppliers, insurance agents, and other service providers.
This is where an optometry buying group comes into play. Also referred to as purchasing alliance groups, these memberships help practicing optometrists to connect with each other. An independent practitioner would find it difficult to negotiate discounts when buying services and products necessary for their clinics. However, being part of a group of thousands of members gives them leverage and access to special discounts.
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What Is an Optometry Buying Group?
Optometry buying groups like PECAA have vendor partners. These include big names such as Zeiss, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Luxottica, Alcon, and others. By being part of the group, optometrists get access to rebate programs for buying supplies from these vendors. In other words, optometrists get discounts and rebates for supplies they need to run their clinics.
Therefore, any practitioner who is not part of a buying group is likely paying a higher cost for these supplies, and this cuts into their profit margins. Its true that optometrists need to pay a membership fee to be a part of the group. However, they can easily triple their return on rebates and discounts alone.
Apart from getting discounts on regular supplies such as lenses and frames, members also have access to exclusive discounts. Notably, these discounts can apply to expensive equipment such as retinal cameras, phoropters, autorefractors, and others.
What’s more, this equipment comes from reputed brands. Therefore, the discounts alone make these groups highly beneficial. This is especially the case when an optometrist is thinking of expanding. It’s truer still when a doctor is starting a new clinic for the first time.
Optometry Groups Offer a Wide Range of Services
Optometry buying groups have evolved over the years. Today, most of them offer a comprehensive list of services. For example, seminars and peer-to-peer dinners help practitioners meet fellow optometrists and find support.
These associations also help practitioners to find resources related to marketing and staff training. Plus, they can get expert advice on how to boost their profits. The groups also conduct regular workshops and training programs on relevant topics.
Finally, these groups are ideal for graduates who are looking to launch their own solo practice. That’s because they offer programs to assist newbie practitioners to cold start their own clinics.
7 Questions You Need to Ask Before Selecting an Optometry Buying Group
Below is a list of questions you should ask of any optometry buying group you are considering:
What Are the Types of Optometry Group Discounts and Rebates?
It’s important to find out if the group offers discounts on all types of supplies. A group that only grants discounts on equipment and not on daily supplies is not ideal for a long-term partnership.
Who Are the Vendors Associated with the Group?
As a medical practitioner, you have every right to have brand preferences. In this way, you ensure the well-being of your patients. Therefore, find out if the group has purchasing agreements with the vendors you normally work with.
What’s the Total Number of Active Members?
The ability of a group to negotiate better discount percentages is directly proportional to the number of active members it has. Therefore, find a group that’s popular in the local optometry community.
What Is the Average Savings Per Month Per Member?
Before you pay your membership fees, find out how much you are likely to save each month. This figure will depend on your patient volume and the total discount you will get by being part of the buying group.
So look through your records. Make a note of how many frames, lenses, eye drops, and other supplies you need each month. Next, learn what the discount percentages are for group members for each of those products.
It wouldn’t make sense to sign up if the total discount per month would be less than the group’s membership fees.
What Training Programs and Workshops Can Members Attend?
Optometrists need to continuously stay updated. They need to learn about the latest medical innovations in their field. Most reputed optometry buying groups conduct regular webinars and seminars on a variety of optometry-related topics. They also offer access to educational courses for doctors and their staff members.
How Busy Is the Events Calendar?
Most reputed buying groups for optometry have a full calendar. That’s what you want. A full calendar is an indication that members are active and willing to participate in various events and initiatives.
What Services and Programs Does the Group Offer to Members for Building Their Businesses?
A lot of optometry buying groups have programs to help doctors set up their businesses. This includes everything from providing various resources to offering HR training, marketing tools, visual merchandising, and other services.
Have you recently graduated from optometry school and are looking to start your own clinic? Or maybe you have operated your practice for years but are thinking of expanding. Either way, it might be worth your time to look into what an optometry buying group could do for you.