An Alliance of Multi-Office Independent Practices

This article originally appeared in Vision Monday.

Founded in 2001, Opti-Port is an alliance of leading multi-office eyecare providers that strives to leverage the combined strength of its member companies to provide revenue-enhancing, cost-saving and market-expanding opportunities, according to the organization. Today, Opti-Port consists of more than 40 multi-office Advantage Members with over 600 locations nationwide, according to Jim Edwards (pictured, left, with author Scott McKain), president and chief executive officer of the alliance.

Opti-Port’s 2018 plans include continuing to drive purchasing power for its members and expanding its marketing services by adding more access to digital marketing agency solutions for its ECPs, Edwards said. Opti-Port also plans to hold five unique practice management conferences, including the annual Managing Managed Care Workshop and Opti-Port’s Marketing Mastermind meeting, and support alliance members as they focus on driving revenue and improving patient care.

In addition, CLX, a proprietary comprehensive contact lens management and marketing system, has launched an innovative subscription service that complements the systems existing marketing features—automated patient reorder reminders via email and text, custom web stores and competitive price compare tools, Edwards said.

“Opti-Port has extended our internal eyecare-focused marketing agency and added an innovative digital marketing partner that specializes in the vision care space,” Edwards explained. “We’ve revamped Opti-Port’s Eye Care University, a leadership development program in partnership with the world-renowned Bell Leadership Institute that focuses on building strong leaders within Opti-Port member practices.”

Opti-Port received a financial boost in April 2016 when Essilor of America made an investment in the alliance. Details of that transaction were not disclosed. The move followed Essilor’s acquisition of independent eyecare groups Vision Source in July 2015, Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC) and Infinity Vision Alliance (IVA) in late 2015.

At Opti-Port, an effort also has been underway to renegotiate many of the preferred vendor programs that leverage the strength of the combined Opti-Port membership. These exclusive programs give members access to competitive product pricing in the areas of lenses, labs, frames, contact lenses and business solutions. The end result is the renegotiated terms help members reduce their cost of goods, Edwards said.

“Opti-Port provides a community and robust set of resources specifically catered to multi-office and growth-centric practices,” he noted. “With our unique focus on larger, growth-minded businesses, Opti-Port sets itself apart from other alliances in the industry.”

Membership consists of many of the largest regional eyecare practices in the U.S., with a majority ranking among Vision Monday’s annual Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers list each year. Many of these large practices have grown their businesses in terms of revenue and number of locations substantially as Opti-Port members, Edwards said. “Exposure to businesses with this experience and mindset is what makes the Opti-Port community unique and attractive to growth-minded individuals, whether they currently have three or four locations or up to 20 to 30 locations.”

Opti-Port members share a focus on both business growth and providing outstanding patient care, and our conferences and educational content cater to each of these areas, Edwards said. Beyond gaining access to “a powerful community of industry leaders,” Opti-Port members also enjoy strong group purchasing programs, premier access to CLX—a comprehensive contact lens management and marketing software—and Opti-Port’s in-house marketing agency, which is specifically focused on sophisticated tactics that drive new patient acquisition, brand awareness and patient retention in the eyecare space, Edwards said.

Over the years, Opti-Port members have continued to grow at an accelerated rate and, based on a recent survey, members grew revenue at more than five times the industry average in the last year, according to Edwards. As the industry continues to evolve, he noted that Opti-Port’s solutions for its membership will evolve and grow as well, “as they have for the last 17 years.”

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