Eye Recommend NextGenOD_sponsored post April 1 2024

Whether you’re a first-year student or gearing up for graduation, you’re about to shape the future of independent optometry – and we’ve got your back every step of the way!

Imagine diving into clinical practice with the guidance of our stellar mentorship program. Our vibrant community of independent optometrists is eager to help you succeed, whether you’re passionate about tackling dry eye treatments, mastering myopia management, or delving into the world of vision therapy and aesthetics. With our connections, you’ll have the keys to unlocking exciting opportunities!

But that’s not all – our mentorship initiatives aren’t just about advice; they’re about exploring YOUR purpose through delivering invaluable personal testimony and opening doors to potential partnership opportunities, giving you a head start in your professional journey. With our network of industry pros and collaborators, you’ll build lasting connections and fuel the future of independent optometry.

Ready to hit the ground running as a new grad? We’ve got you covered with top-notch training and career development opportunities. Score scholarships, grants, and access to job opportunities, internships, residencies, and summer gigs within our network.

And here’s the best part: We understand that finances can be a hurdle, so we’re offering signing bonuses of up to $25,000 for grads who join an existing Eye Recommend practice or kickstart their own journey after graduation!

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to dive into the world of independent optometry with a supportive community behind you. Want to learn more? Check out all the amazing things Eye Recommend has to offer!

This is a sponsored post.


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Are you considering starting or buying a new optometric practice? Being an independent eye care professional doesn’t mean you’re alone trying to figure out the day-to-day challenges of running a practice.  By leveraging the power of numbers, today’s buying groups have evolved from providing ‘just a discount’ to offering a full array of resources and tools for the new independent optometric practice.

With so many diverse groups to choose from, the choice (and exactly which group to join), can be a challenge. To determine the right group for your practice, ask yourself the following questions:

  •  What do I want from my group? What is it I need the most help with? Discounts? Marketing? Financial management? Education? All of the above?
  •  What type of group do I want to join? One that offers just good discounts? Or am I interested in education and networking opportunities with other practice owners?
  •  Who are the vendors in my group? Do they align with my offerings?
  •  How is the group managed? Do I still make the purchasing decisions? Will my practice remain autonomous? Do I need to report my earnings?

Let’s take a closer look at the key buying groups available the country – each offering programs to support your business, save you money and help you succeed. The question is – which one is the best fit for you?

The Optical Group

For 33 years, The Optical Group has been servicing eye care professionals across Canada. With over 600 clinics, this group offers discounts, consolidated monthly billing, marketing, private label product and education. Recently, The Optical Group has partnered with New Look Vision Group to offer members a broader range of services.

“Not only do our members enjoy great discounts and programs, but they also receive industry leading customer service and care. We also believe in giving back. We support Seneca and Douglas college opticianry programs in addition to our Business Enrichment Grant,” says Ruth Priebe, Director of Operations, The Optical Group.

The Optical Group negotiates with over 110 vendors providing members with exclusive discounts and programs.

Members will benefit from the group’s multiple programs including website and digital marketing, social media and SEO (search engine optimization) to help promote members’ practices. In addition, accredited education including events and webinars are also part of the offering.

Members have access to a new and improved website that provides more in-depth information on available programs.

Founded: 1988
Division of Private Canadian Corporation
Membership: 600 clinics
National
$300 annual fee for first location only
www.theopticalgroupcanada.com

OSI Group

OSI is the original quintessential buying group in the Canadian landscape, having originated over 35 years ago.

OSI Group offers a wide range of training and services (financial, marketing, technology, for example). It also strives to prepare for the next generation of professionals, supporting young professionals who are starting their own business and helping those who are retiring to hand over their practice to another member.  Younger ODs looking for a practice mentor and have an interest in migrating to ownership of an existing practice may find this option of interest.

“One of the major benefits of our buying group is of course the possibility of obtaining advantageous prices from certain suppliers and access to our private brands of contact lenses and our collection of Avenue Eyewear frames,” says CEO Patrice Lacoste.

OSI Group helps independents compete with the big chains. “What sets us apart is our Optosys® clinic management platform, the latest version of which we launched last November,” adds Patrice Lacoste. This all-in-one system makes it possible to streamline the management of areas such as appointments, orders, patient relations, inventory, and sales.

“In a context of labour shortage, the automation of certain tasks frees up a lot of workers’ time,” says Lacoste. Members can choose to use a number of modules of the platform, depending on their needs.

Founded: 1982
Private corporation
Membership:  1,600 members in over 850 clinics
National
No membership fee
www.opto.com

Eye Recommend

Eye Recommend

With a focus on training networking, technology, and shared resources, Eye Recommend (ER) was founded in 2001 in Alberta but has since expanded to over 1,300 optometrists coast to coast. Their mission is to support independent optometrists by providing freedom of choice, business management and personal resources to ensure practice success.

Lee Raffey, newly appointed CEO says that Eye Recommend is member focused. “We encourage networking and sharing of ideas amongst our members and leverage the power of our network to bring the best technology, resources, and services in order to enhance the business performance of each practice. Before making a decision, we always ask – ‘How will this benefit our members?.

ER members benefit from choices with a variety of business solutions, consolidated monthly billing, suppliers’ discounts and, exclusive access to Doctor Recommends (D|R) lenses. With over 500 clinics across Canada, ER has considerable power to provide members with the resources needed to be successful.

Each practice has a dedicated certified business coach and trainer who, as a combined team, provide hands on support. These optical industry experts work to help identify opportunities and challenges to assist in the overall success of the practice.

ER conducts one of the most comprehensive training events for practice owners and staff called National Training Event. These events are led by industry professionals who have years of training experience. Two events are held yearly– one in the West and one in the East – featuring guest speakers, accredited continuing education, and team building.

Founded: 2001
Membership:  Full scope optometry only
Registered Alberta Co-operative
1,300 ECPs, 531 practices
National (excluding Quebec)
$1,000 one-time administration fee per clinic
www.eyerecommend.ca

 

Digital ECPDigital ECP

Digital ECP Inc. offers Canadian eye care professionals business solutions that save members time and money. Their focus is offering flexible payment programs and access to supplier’s discounts and support.

Founder and President, Karen Ouellette provides a summary: “Many of our members come to us by word of mouth, recommended by colleagues or suppliers. Our members are independent and have the choice on who they want to purchase from. We offer access to promos and discounts to over 80 suppliers”.

The group features many offerings on the financial side. Members gain access to suppliers’ promos, discounts, and product training. In addition, billing is consolidated in one monthly statement. Members may choose to pay their bill early for a prompt payment discount. In addition, this group offers the flexibility of split terms: Members can split their bill over 30, 60 or 90 days.  Particularly in a start-up situation, this benefit can be helpful for cash management

Founded: 2014
Membership: Opticians and Optometry
Privately owned Canadian Corporation
78 ECPs
National (Excluding Quebec)
One-time Membership fee: $150
www.digitalecp.com

Do Your Homework
There are many buying groups to choose from, so do your research to find a group that best aligns with your business needs.

Speak to your colleagues, and other group members. Some groups focus predominantly on financial (consolidated billing, discounts, and inventory tools); others focus on marketing, coaching, and training; and some do a bit of both. Finding the one that best suits your practice will take a bit of time, but it’s a step towards your practice’s success.

Note: The above mentioned organizations operate in English Canada. Among these four, only OSI operates extensively in Quebec.  Readers interested in the buying groups servicing the Quebec market are referred to a feature article in Optik Magazine

 


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Career Pathfinders

The employment market in eye care has always been a challenge but today, catalyzed by the new opportunities from eyecare organizations eager to acquire new talent, the challenges, options and opportunities are greater than ever.

An overview of the employment situation will be shared with attendees as well as some sage advice from employment gurus.

Hiring organizations will provide insights into their culture and benefits. Attendees will be able to meet with the leaders behind Canada’s largest organizations and get first-hand perspectives. OD members of the Canada’s largest optometric buying groups share their perspectives on independent optometry. 

This interactive event is ideal for early career stage eye care practitioners looking to chart their course and those, at any career stage, considering upon a change in direction.

SPEAKERS:

  • Tim Brennan, Chief Innovation Officer, FitFirst Technologies
  • Dr. Michael Naugle, VP Optometric Partnerships, FYidoctors
  • Dr. Daryan Angle, VP Business Development, IRIS Group
  • Dr. Laurie Lesser, Eyecare Director,  Canada/UK, Bailey Nelson
  • Nicholas Perry, Cofounder & Managing Director, Canada/UK, Bailey Nelson
  • Dr. Kyla Hunter, Aurora Eye Care, Grande Prairie, AB , Eye Recommend
  • Dr. Trevor Miranda, Cowichan Eyecare BC
  • Dr. Maria Sampalis, Founder & Owner, Corporate Optometry
  • Naomi Barber, BOptom, Director of Optometry, Specsavers

All events will be hosted and moderated Roxanne Arnal, OD, Certified Financial Planner. Dr. Arnal brings a unique combination of experience as a former independent practice owner and certified financial planner to the proceedings.

Mingle with your colleagues and presenters in conversation rooms following the presentations.

INTERACTIVE MEETING FORMAT, INCLUDING:

  • Presentations and Moderated Panel discussions
  • Private Video Chat tables
  • Interactive Text Chat
  • Direct Links to valuable information

Event registration is now open. Click Here for Details. 

PREMIER SPONSORS

 

 

 

PARTNER & FRIEND SPONSORS FOR THIS EVENT  

       

 

 

 

 

 

Events in the Series:  

Registration for the first event Monday October 25th,  “Technology Drivers of Change” is still open. Click here for detailed information on this event. 

Registration for the second event Monday November 1st,  “Selling & Buying a Practice” is still open.  Click here for detailed information on this event. 

Click here to register for any of the Changing Landscape Events 


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Buying & Selling a Practice

The second event of the “Changing Landscapes: Opportunities & Options for Canadian ECPs” will focus on Selling & Buying a Practice and will be held Monday November 1st (7:30 PM Eastern).

The Canadian market has experienced transformational change in the past year.

Major players have had substantial capital injection and new Canadian market entrants are making their play for market share, creating more opportunities and options for Canadian ECPs.

Join leaders and spokespersons from the world of independent optometry supported by B+L and major eye care groups/organizations including IRIS, FYidoctors, Vision Alliance Corporation, OSI/SOI, Eye Recommend and, new to Canada, Specsavers. ROI Corporation, Canada’s leading health practice brokerage will also share their experience.

This event is a must-attend for any practitioner looking to exit their business, start a new practice or formulate a strategic partnership.

Speaker List Includes:

  • Jackie Joachim, Chief Operating Officer, ROI Corporation
  • Dr. Daryan Angle, VP Business Development, IRIS Group
  • Dr. Wes McCann, Central Optometry, ON, Eye Recommend
  • Dr. Michael Naugle, VP Optometric Partnerships, FYidoctors
  • Gord McFarlane, Managing Director of Corporate Development, FYidoctors
  • Dr. Skylar Feltis, YXE Vision Group, SK, OSI Group
  • Dr. Warren Toews, YXE Vision Group, SK, OSI Group
  • Dr. Trevor Miranda, Cowichan Eyecare, BC, Independent Practice
  • Dr. Robert Allaway, Chief Optometry Officer, Vision Alliance Corporation
  • Mike Protopsaltis, Partnerships Director, Specsavers 

The event series will be moderated by Roxanne Arnal, OD and Certified Financial Planner (TM), bringing an informed and unique perspective to the events.

Event registration is now open. Click Here for Details. 

PREMIER SPONSORS

 
SpecSavers  

 

PARTNER & FRIEND SPONSORS FOR THIS EVENT  

 
Digital ECP  

Follow up Events: 

The final event in the series will be held Monday November 8th  7:30 PM (Eastern). 

Career Pathfinders| Making Informed Choices (November 8th)  
Career options and opportunities for both young and experienced ODs have never been greater as new organizations offering unique business models enter the market and established entities respond to the changing environment.
Click Here for Detailed Information.

Registration for the first event Monday October 25th,  “Technology Drivers of Change” is open. 
Click here for detailed information on this event.  

Click here to register for any of the Changing Landscape Events 


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Technology rivers of Change

The speaker list for the inaugural  “Changing Landscapes: Opportunities & Options for Canadian ECPs” event has been announced by Eye Care Business Canada.  

The first of three events will focus on technology drivers of change and be held Monday October 25th (7:30 PM Eastern). 
Industry thought-leaders will share their insights as to what technologies will have the greatest impact on eye care and eyewear in a Canadian market context.  

Speaker List Includes:

  • Dr. Alan Ulsifer, CEO and Chairman of the Board, FYidoctors
  • Dr. David Schwirtz, VP Innovation, IRIS Group
  • Dr. Trevor Miranda, Cowichan Eyecare BC, Independent Optometrist
  • Dr. Damon Umscheid, Eyes 360, Okotoks, AB, Eye Recommend
  • Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry, SpecSavers

The event series will be moderated by Roxanne Arnal, OD and Certified Financial Planner (TM), bringing an informed and unique perspective to the events.

Tele-optometry, impact of omni-channel selling and remote face trace technology enabling touchless ophthalmic lens dispensing are among the factors to be discussed.  

Event registration is now open. Click Here for Details. 

PREMIER SPONSORS

Eye Recommend  
SpecSavers  

PARTNER & FRIEND SPONSORS FOR THIS EVENT  

Digital ECP
       

Follow up Events: 

The second and third events will be held on consecutive Monday evenings starting at 7:30 PM (Eastern). 

Selling & Buying a Practice (November 1) 
In the second event Industry experts will provide perspectives on the current state of play in the Canadian practice acquisition market. A must attend event if you are considering an exit strategy or looking to buy a practice. 
Click Here for Detailed Information.

Career Pathfinders: Making Informed Choices (November 8th)  
Career options and opportunities for both young and experienced ODs have never been greater as new organizations offering unique business models enter the market and established entities respond to the changing environment.
Click Here for Detailed Information. 

Click here to register for any of the Changing Landscape Events 

 


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The Eye Recommend (“Co-op”) Board of Directors has undertaken an extensive review of the Co-op’s organizational and leadership structure to accurately assess and diligently prepare for the future success of the organization.

The board is now commencing a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) search and has made the following developments to realign the cooperative’s organizational structure.

Lee Raffey, CFA, MBA, CPA (CMA), has accepted the role of Interim CEO (previously VP Finance and Administration) as the search for the next CEO commences.

This position will continue to develop and foster the management of overall resources, operations and provide the necessary support to ensure the organization remains financially successful during this time.

Lee has over 10 years of management, financial, and Executive experience with small and medium sized businesses.

He will work with the Board of Directors to advance the strategic plan and to build upon the members continued success.

Shenif Kassam has been promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO), adding the strategic oversight of member services (Coaching, Training, Events and Marketing) to his portfolio and continues to manage and expand all vendor partner relationships.

Over the last 5 years, Shenif has worked diligently with our vendor partners and internal resources to enhance strategic partnerships, member experiences and programs.

Eye Recommend will continue to offer exceptional coaching, training, marketing, and event programs, placing a high value on these services for members.

The organization is dedicated to providing timely communication, enhanced business support, and strong financial support to help members continue to offer personalized, comprehensive eye care and strategize for their future growth.

It is the intention to optimize member value with the organization through innovation and by enhancing and increasing accessibility to existing programs and services.

The Eye Recommend leadership team is working to build a solid roadmap for continued success in order to provide members with the utmost value and to continue growing independent optometry across Canada.

Click HERE for the press release.

This post is sponsored by Eye Recommend.


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Dr. Robert Allaway is the Chief Optometry Officer of Vision Alliance, a new exit strategy option founded by Ken Barbet, former Eye Recommend CEO.

Robert is in private practice in Salmon Arm, BC where his practice has expanded over the years from a single location to three locations with four partners and two associates.

He was on the Board of Directors of Eye Recommend for 12 years.

Dr. Robert Allaway

Optometrist

Optometry, University of Waterloo

Chief Optometry Officer of Vision Alliance

 

Where do you see your practice / eye care in 10 years?

I graduated in 1996 from U Waterloo and there really aren’t many things that have stayed the same in our field since then.  Technology has changed our role from GATHERERS of data to INTERPRETERS of data.  I expect that this trend will continue which will lead to better patient care and, hopefully, an increase in our scope of practice.  On the business side of things, we will be facing increased pressure from outside forces so we will be need to evolve our business model or risk becoming obsolete.

What changes do you see in eye care coming down the pipe?

The recent move towards specialization within optometry will continue I think.  Vision Therapy clinics, Dry Eye clinics, Low Vision clinics, etc. will become even more prominent – either as a stand-alone model or as a ‘clinic within a clinic’ model.  There will always be a market for traditional optometry but alternative models will become more common.

What is something you have done in your practice to set you apart?

It sounds somewhat cliché by now but we really focus on creating a great experience for our patients.  Great service is the new norm so it’s critical that you go beyond that if you want to stand out and earn the trust of the patient.  We have found that the best way to create a world class experience is to establish an excellent culture within the practice.  Take care of your team and they will take care of your patients.

What advice would you give a new grad today?

I speak with optometry students every year as part of my Eye Recommend and Vision Alliance duties and their biggest concerns seem to be related to the business side of optometry.  All of the OD schools do a great job training the clinical side of our profession but most of them fall short in the business education area.  I HIGHLY recommend that new grads (or OD students) find a good mentor who is willing to help educate them.  Join a group and take advantage of the networking opportunities or reach out to an expert who can guide them through the difficult patches.  There are literally thousands of us who have owned a practice – no need to make all of the same mistakes that we did.

Last time you laughed?

Laughter is a huge part of my day.  I laugh with family, with my team, and with my patients.  Laughter makes everything better.

If you had a time machine what year would you travel to and why?

Well, at this point I would have to say that I would travel back to early 2019, go to Wuhan, China, and persuade them to test everyone for a new Coronavirus.

Describe your perfect day.

Sunny spring day (warm but not hot, no bugs yet); drive my restored 1983 Land Cruiser into the bush with my wife and dog; long walk in the mountains; ride my bike home; cook a great meal for my family and enjoy it with a great craft beer on the deck overlooking the lake.  Actually, that was yesterday.


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