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Thread: Independent or Franchise?

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    Independent or Franchise?

    If you had to choose between opening an independent optical store or an optical franchise, what would it be?

    Why?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    If you had to choose between opening an independent optical store or an optical franchise, what would it be?

    Why?
    Independent. With franchises you have to do what the company wants. Additionally, a franchise is no more profitable than an independent store. The only way you can make any more money with a franchise is by owning several locations.

    At least with an independent you have more control over how you make profits.

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    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    Most of the franchises I call on do quite well!

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    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    I would love to see Independent get together and create thier own brand name. Then share advertising dollars. Getting everyone on the same page would be the difficult part!

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    Quote Originally Posted by For-Life
    Independent. With franchises you have to do what the company wants. Additionally, a franchise is no more profitable than an independent store. The only way you can make any more money with a franchise is by owning several locations.

    At least with an independent you have more control over how you make profits.
    So you're saying a franchise gives less control for the same profit? Interesting. I thought statistics show higher profits and success rates for franchises.

    What I wonder is, do opticians want to work on business systems and marketing strategy? Or would they prefer to concentrate on their profession?

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    Bad address email on file Mikef's Avatar
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    Jason,


    Went to your web site. Great Idea!

    Lady Eyes should be a Franchise. !!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikef
    Went to your web site. Great Idea!

    Lady Eyes should be a Franchise. !!!!!!!
    Thanks Mike. IT IS a franchise.

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    I know a lot of former owners of franchises. A lot of them have a sour taste in their mouth. The fact is the franchisor will always like to take a huge amount of the revenues that you make, so the advertising dollars do not go as far as people think they do.

    Additionally, as an independent you are really doing what you want to do. That is the heart and soul of the industry. Do you think the franchisee really gets to choose what lenses and frames he or she can sell? Absolutely not. The franchisee gets to pick from a list that the franchisor tells him or her to pick from.

    Edit - However, a franchisor can make things more attractive. I do not know if you are familar with the term employee empowerment. You seem to be quite educated and probably have further education in business, so you probably are familiar with the term. I think a franchisor, like yourself, needs to focus on franchisee empowerment. While McDonald's has gone the way of not leaving any room for change by the franchisee, I think you have the chance to do the opposite and give your franchisees more choices. Sure you would have the same office looks and everything, but I think certain aspects can be expanded.

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    On the Sunset Tour! Framebender's Avatar
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    Independant all the way. . .

    Maybe not the smartest way to go, but definately our choice. We looked at a couple of Pearle franchises that were for sale in our area, but didn't like the royalty structure or the thrust of their advertising.

    I have reached a point in my career where I must admit I wouldn't make a good employee. My wife used to be a GM for LensCrafters and I worked for a smaller corporate optical many years ago. We feel no animosity toward those types of operations, but they just weren't for us.

    Are we ever going to be one of the big 10?!? No, but we enjoy our freedom to be creative and to set our own standards. We are working on forming an alliance with other independants in our area for advertising purposes and we make a decent living. If we decide we want to have a summer or winter solstice sale we only have to clear it with each other. We like that just fine!! I always thought business plans and marketing strategies were part of the profession we've chosen. Of course, my Dad drilled into my head that OD's spin dials and Opticians make money. I'm not sure that's true any more, but it works for us.

    I hope you're all having fun and making money!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikef
    I would love to see Independent get together and create thier own brand name. Then share advertising dollars. Getting everyone on the same page would be the difficult part!
    Ever heard of Vision Source? Sounds like something similar to what you are describing.

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    The choice is clear for me - Independent. If you want to be in business for yourself, the idea of sharing your intimate sales details as well as well as your profits does not sound very appealing.

    I think franchising can work in certain situations where there is a unique product such as a cement refinishing technique, a yogurt recipe, a spacehip for tourists, etc... Many of these products can only be purchased through a franchise. But eyewear ? Is Pearl going to sell me something that I can't buy on my own ? Is their expensive advertising that brings people into your store for $99 packages really a value ? From the number (5 in the last 8 years) of franchise stores that I've helped liquidate, they certainly don't hold any secret to success that is otherwise not available to the general public.

    When I had a wholesale business, we used to do a lot of "trunk" sales (as in "trunk" of my car) to franchisees that were sick of having to buy from the mothership. The royalties and the extra advertising fees that were thrown in (this was back in the late 80's) were enough to drive many to leave the franchises and strike out on their own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Framebender
    I always thought business plans and marketing strategies were part of the profession we've chosen.
    You're right about that. It's part of every profession. The problem is, when the market becomes flooded with excellent competitors, a newcomer needs more than basic marketing to get started.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    You're right about that. It's part of every profession. The problem is, when the market becomes flooded with excellent competitors, a newcomer needs more than basic marketing to get started.
    But under a franchise that professional cannot do anything and is just an employee with a lot more work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johns
    When I had a wholesale business, we used to do a lot of "trunk" sales (as in "trunk" of my car) to franchisees that were sick of having to buy from the mothership. The royalties and the extra advertising fees that were thrown in (this was back in the late 80's) were enough to drive many to leave the franchises and strike out on their own.
    True... But only few of franchisees buy frames from other wholesalers here. I 've tried hard and not successful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by For-Life
    But under a franchise that professional cannot do anything and is just an employee with a lot more work.
    Could you elaborate on that a little?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    Could you elaborate on that a little?
    Well under a franchise you have to be consistant with the other franchises out there. You have to sell the same lenses, you have to sell the same frames, your stores have to look identical, your prices/discounts have to be very similar.

    Now to me that sounds like an employee. However, now you also have to take care of the risk, do the paper work, and deal with the stress of owning your own business.

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    Optical Clairvoyant OptiBoard Bronze Supporter Andrew Weiss's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jason, for starting this thread.

    I've worked in independents all of my career. I like the freedom to choose frame selection, to set price structures, to have flexibility in how I discount prices, and to set the terms on which the business operates. I also figure that anyone who sets up an optical shop should have a business plan and should have investigated the market in his/her area and come up with a marketing plan. I agree with you, Jason, that simply opening the doors and advertising and waiting for folks to come in isn't going to work.

    I think independents can niche themselves to a particular market segment, whether it's by gender (as you've done), or by income, or by managed care (as the office I work in has done), or by offering a combination of unusual styles and high-quality precision optics (as we have also done), or by creating a particular, unique style (as Texas State Optical in Galveston has done). I visited TSO some years ago and their experience has been a great education for me. Their interior and all of their furniture was designed for them by a local artist. They don't pretend to reach a broad general population; they leave that to the chains. They have their own private line of frames made for them by a small factory in northern Italy. They've niched themselves to a creative, artistic clientelle, and it works.

    Our office can carry niche products like Neostyle, Vanni, Koali, and Grant as well as the more interesting lines from the big guys (Safilo's Valentino, Charmant's Hugo Boss). I can tailor the collection to the particular demographics of our area (relatively affluent and relatively conservative) and carve out a space for our office. I may be wrong, but that seems to me the virtue of being independent.
    Last edited by Andrew Weiss; 04-29-2005 at 10:04 AM.
    Andrew

    "One must remember that at the end of the road, there is a path" --- Fortune Cookie

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    Bad address email on file VegasEyes's Avatar
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    Thumbs up The Lesser Evil....

    I've been employed by both franchises and independents over the past 15 years in this business. When I was a manager of the franchise I FELT like an employee. Working for an independent for the last couple of years has been a big relief for me. My stress level is dramatically reduced now and I again realize what drew me into this line of work. I am still an employee but now it only takes one phone call to speak to someone in charge as opposed to dozens. When I make a suggestion or view my opinion I am actually heard. Having peace of mind and not having to "crunch numbers" 10 hours a day is a blessing. We still have sales goals but my job doesn't hinge on selling a 2nd pair! :D

    JUST MY 2 CENTS.

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    Franchising new idea............

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    I thought statistics show higher profits and success rates for franchises.
    If a franchise is based on a new and attractive idea it should take off, if there is enough capital to get it known.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Weiss
    Thanks, Jason, for starting this thread.

    I've worked in independents all of my career. I like the freedom to choose frame selection, to set price structures, to have flexibility in how I discount prices, and to set the terms on which the business operates.

    I agree with you ...advertising and waiting for folks to come in isn't going to work.
    You're welcome.
    Last edited by Jason Carruthers; 05-23-2005 at 02:26 PM.

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    Master OptiBoarder rep's Avatar
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    It depends on your title.

    If you are an Optometrist I think you make more money with a franchise because you have the income from the examinations and the income from the eyeglasses and contact lens.

    If you are an optician or independent owner you have to pay someone a reasonable salary to do the examinations.

    I am speaking mainly of Pearls since that's the only franchise we have here.
    I have seen badly manged franchise locations, but the don't last long.
    I have also seen very profitable optometric and optician owned locations in this area and only a few that didn't make it.

    Rep

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    Manuf. Lens Surface Treatments
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    Most popular franchise....................

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    ...........................as tons of established practices and boutiques, all selling decent glasses at low prices. How can a new optical shop compete? It's possible but you better have more than a basic marketing strategy and a line of credit.
    Look at Specsavers in Europe..............one mans idea .............one man owned and operated.............480 stores in the UK + Ireland...............200 stores in the Netherlands.............200 stores in Sweden ............and expanding into other European countries.

    Very agressie and open to new concepts and ideas is this mans secret.

    Probably most successful optical story over the last few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser
    Look at Specsavers in Europe..............one mans idea .............one man owned and operated.............480 stores in the UK + Ireland...............200 stores in the Netherlands.............200 stores in Sweden ............and expanding into other European countries.

    Very agressie and open to new concepts and ideas is this mans secret.

    Probably most successful optical story over the last few years.
    Very true. Specsavers was recognized as one of the UK's most trusted, leading brands and Mary Perkins is well-known for her good works.

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    Master OptiBoarder ikon44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Carruthers
    Very true. Specsavers was recognized as one of the UK's most trusted, leading brands and Mary Perkins is well-known for her good works.
    you might not look on them so kindly if they decide to open in canada.
    To find out what,s happening in the UK optical market:
    http://theOptom.com

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    [QUOTE=Jason Carruthers].

    " Today, our industry is at maximum saturation. You have Lenscrafters, Pearle, Wal Mart, Zellers, Costco, Sam's Club, D.O.C., Shoppers Optical, OptimEyes etc. As well as tons of established practices and boutiques, all selling decent glasses at low prices. How can a new optical shop compete? "


    Why would you wnat to compete with that ??!!?? Sure, if you want a cookie cutter, same as everyone else, decent product, low price - buy a franchise optical. If you're an independent, you might have better products at higher prices and be in a different category all together. Why not have a better burger than joining or fighting all the "me to" places ?

    It also sounds like many take the approach of ,"if you can't beat them, be one of them."
    Last edited by Johns; 04-30-2005 at 07:47 PM. Reason: un/mis/re/spelled wordage

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