Differentiating an Established Family Practice in a Saturated Market

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My parents started this optical practice in 1957. It was a true family practice—Dad was the optician; Mom was the bookkeeper; my older sister worked part-time tinting lenses; and I, even as a young child, was there sweeping the floors, emptying the trash, and working in the lab with my dad. Today, we have five generations of patients in the practice, some who remember me as a toddler, and many who watched me go off to college and return as their optometrist. 

Growing up in the practice taught me a lot—how to cut and tint lenses, talk to patients about eyewear, run a business—but the most valuable lesson was to put patients’ needs first. Despite being in a sales business, I never saw my father sell something that the patient didn’t need or want. His focus was always taking care of people—something he passed on to me, and the reason we have multiple generations of patients in the practice today.

Longevity and reputation aside, it’s been important to differentiate our practice in a big city like Los Angeles that includes thousands of optometrists. As Director of the California Keratoconus Center, I’ve helped set our practice apart by treating patients from all over the world who suffer from keratoconus and other ectatic corneas. Having this specialty allows me to hit the home runs—I can take someone who's non-functional in many areas of their life, and, all of a sudden, they're getting a driver's license for the first time in their life or doing other routine things they couldn't do before. It’s life-changing for the patient and so rewarding for me to play a role in that transformation. Today, I have invitations to visit patients in places like Africa, France, and Canada, because of the bonds we’ve made taking this journey together. 

When I think about my practice success, a lot of it is due to VSP. VSP has supported our practice in many ways, from education for our staff, frame board management, and practice management resources, to the collaboration with our VSP reps, who have become friends and are always a call away to assist with an issue or come in and train us on a topic with which we need help.  

Participating in VSP Premier Edge has provided additional benefits to the practice and our patients—patients come to us because they see their benefits go further at a Premier Edge practice, and we benefit from the increased patient flow and resources like Premier Edge Career Support, which I recently leveraged to hire a new OD. Working on my succession plan, I reached out to Premier Edge Career Support to help me find an OD who would take over the practice and embody the values my father put in place 50 years ago. In a short time, they matched us with Dr. Alex Bennett, who has become an invaluable asset to the practice, and I know will carry on my father’s legacy.

As Eye See It, I want my legacy to embody the values I learned from my parents. As I look at transitioning my practice to the next generation, I want the practice to continue offering the same type of care to these five (soon six!) generations of families that come here, and to focus on taking care of people just like my dad did.  

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