DENVER – Pearle Vision is inviting independent optometrists to turn their practices into franchises as part of its Ignite program, launched here at Optometry’s Meeting.
Alex Wilkes, Pearle Vision senior vice president and general manager, told Primary Care Optometry News that doctors joining the Ignite program are affiliated with Pearle Vision but remain independent and retain ownership of their practice.
The market is consolidating, and some doctors are looking for exit strategies, Wilkes said.
“We think this is the right time in the market for doctors facing cost pressures,” he said. “This is a solution, but the doctor remains independent.”
Josh Robinson, Pearle Vision vice president of development, told PCON that independent doctors (or practice owners) pay a reduced initial franchise fee and royalty on incremental sales in addition to a marketing fund fee.
“They pay no royalties on their base business; they only pay royalties on incremental sales – what they make over and above what they were already making,” he said.
He noted that Pearle does not charge royalties on the medical side of the business.
Wilkes explained that Pearle will buy the practice’s existing frame inventory and replace it with a customized inventory based on their research of trends in the area.
“But how the doctor delivers patient care is up to them,” he added.
Pearle offers its affiliates training programs, purchasing discounts, practice management benefits such as online scheduling and exterior signage.
“You’re in the business for yourself but not by yourself,” Robinson said. “We want doctors to spend more time with patients.”
Pearle Vision has more than 500 locations, he said; 440 are franchises and the rest are company-operated. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO
Disclosures: Robinson and Wilkes are employed by Pearle Vision.