For those of you who were at Vision Quest, or if you have been talking to someone who was, you know there are a number of new things coming down the pike. If you are anything like I used to be, when you heard these things you probably thought, oh boy. Here we go again. The TSO Network Office is telling us what to do. I got into this organization because I thought we were a group of “independent optometrists” and now we are being told what to do again. The truth is what has made us what we are today is the fact that we are a group of independent optometrists, but what can make us even bigger and better is to act more like we are a group and less like we are independent. We are all optometrists and we are very good at caring for our patients. What some of us may lack is being good at running a business, specifically at running an optical business. It is a tough job. Most of us are probably not as good at being a business manager as we are at being an optometrist. So, let’s accept the help we probably need in this area and make our independent practice even bigger, better and more profitable. How does this happen?
First of all let me explain and assure you that the feelings I once had, and I am sure many of you have, there are no orders coming down from the TSO Network Office. There are ideas being generated throughout the network that are being discussed by the Board, and if the decision is made to go forward they will then be implemented. Some examples of these decisions are:
• Restructuring the way we operate. Going to 2% instead of 5%. Doing your own marketing, and the addition of the four regional managers.
• Having all marketing be approved through the TSO marketing side and all artwork being done through TSO marketing. Thus continuity.
• Bringing on a line of frames produced exclusively for TSO. This was introduced at Vision Quest. There is still trem- endous work to be done with this concept, but it is something we must do. With so much eyewear being a part of Vision Saving Plans, not insurance, we must find ways to still be able to make money. If we can offer frames that can not be found anywhere else, that are listed in Frame Facts for around $75, that have a full warranty, point-of-purchase, and everything we get with all other frames with a purchase price of $15-$20 rather than $60 … don’t you think we should do this?
• Introducing three office designs for new and remodeled offices to allow some continuity between our offices, but most importantly to allow ease of purchase, guaranteed financing if needed, and much better pricing than we can get individually.
• Getting better pricing from some equipment companies, just because we are a TSO.
There will be other things that will be brought along in the future. All of these items are not being done to shove down our throats and take away our independence. They will all be “offered” and encouraged for each of us to take advantage of to make the network stronger and the individual office stronger. In the long run for it will allow for each of us to operate a more efficient, high quality, profitable optical business.
So why are we doing this? Why are we getting away from the concept that has worked for so long and made us what we are today? Well, we are not getting away from that concept. When the Board was expanded from six to nine members, the three non-optometrist members brought a new and fresh look at our network. What they saw and what excited them enough to agree to become members of our Board, was an organization that was strong, has the potential to stronger and has not come close to reaching its potential.
These three new Board members, Jay Binkowitz, Jack Gunion, and John Marvin have enormous retail and optical experience. TSO Network Core Values.
Did you know: Jay Binkowitz has been involved in retail outside of optical his entire life. He has been in the garment industry, the wholesale food industry, and now in the optical industry. He is one of the leading consultants to the optical industry in the nation and his company not only consults with many optometrists, but they also manage a number of offices throughout the nation. Jay also owns a retail optical in New York. Jay knows our business. Jack Gunion worked his way through college by working at Sears. After college he remained with Sears, and by the time he left he answered only to the President of Sears. He owned a 10-12 location optical chain in northern Indiana and during this time he wrote the training manual that will be presented to each of our offices. He took over a struggling Eye Masters and turned it into one of the largest optical chains in the world before selling out to Sears. Jack knows our business. John Marvin was a consultant in the optical business and was hired by the docs of TSO to help out with the purchase of the company, before he was hired by the network to be the President of TSO. He has been with TSO for 20 years and has been the main reason why TSO is probably the strongest eye care organization in the nation. He knows everyone in the industry, but most importantly everyone knows and respects him for what he has done with our network. John knows our business.
These three incredible men bring so much knowledge and expertise to our Network, that we could never afford to go out and purchase what they are bringing to our Board and thus to our network. They all strongly feel that TSO Network is a great way of practicing optometry, maybe the best way. That our independence is a valuable asset, but it may also be a liability, unless we start doing things “like a corporation” network wide and practicing independently. So why am I going into all of this detail? Because I think everyone has a right to know what is going on within the network at all times. We own the company! Like most decent sized companies, there is a Board of Directors elected by the stockholders of the company to set the direction the company is to go and then to follow thru to see that it happens. You have elected this Board to lead this company and to make it the best it can be. I can assure you this Board is doing only what is best for each office individually and the network as a whole.