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Thread: free form lab, how much am I looking at $$$ wise?

  1. #1
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    free form lab, how much am I looking at $$$ wise?

    Hello-
    First post, 35 year optician lab monkey.

    Looking to get some kind of idea about the price ranges of free form systems out there. I work in a small 2 store practice, owned by 3 doctors. One doctor is close to retiring and wants to keep the status quo. The other 2 are looking at a Zeiss bill that increases monthly and want to reduce the cost of goods. Zeiss bill is yearly around $400k with roughly 60%AR and 40% non AR

    I want to propose to them gettting into free form for the non AR stuff, let Zeiss do the AR stuff even though Ithink our yearly bill could warrant installing AR. But, I don't want to get in too deep.

    I don't get to go to Vision Expo to get prices on these things, "Scotty" usually has to stay home and monitor the "Enterprise". AND you can't find prices just anywhere.

    Before I make a complete *** of myself, I'm trying to get some basic info at what I'm looking at. Have a Coburn SGX lab, 15 years old. Thiking of getting a system to do the non ARfree form we let Zeiss do and also start doing private label free form for the stuff we currently use conventional progressives, reduce inventory and cost.

    I get the impression, maybe falsely, that Coburn is probably the least expensive route to go with the European companies pricier. Not looking for hard numbers, just ballpark estimates from some with more experience. Thx in advance and I look forward to our conversation!

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter lensmanmd's Avatar
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    Check out Schneider and SatisLoh. Both have small lab solutions that are pre qualified for most FF designs, including AR. Coburn is very cost effective, but may not be pre qualified for all designs.
    Once you talk with all three, you can make your decision. You might also want to check out Quantim for AR needs.

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    "small" 2 store practices do not have a lab bill of 400K. Was that a typo?
    A digital surfacing lab is pointless without AR capabilities. You are selling the patients the value of free form designs and then negating the vision benefits by foregoing AR coating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OscarMadison View Post
    Hello-
    First post, 35 year optician lab monkey.

    Looking to get some kind of idea about the price ranges of free form systems out there. I work in a small 2 store practice, owned by 3 doctors. One doctor is close to retiring and wants to keep the status quo. The other 2 are looking at a Zeiss bill that increases monthly and want to reduce the cost of goods. Zeiss bill is yearly around $400k with roughly 60%AR and 40% non AR
    Get a different wholesale lab, and use lenses other than Zeiss'. The labs are usually happy to send a price list.

    A Free-form lab is going to set you back a lot, and it's a mistake to get into it if you aren't willing to do the AR coatings. The big savings won't be there, and you'll use a lot of time making the lenses.

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    THx for all the replies. AND, no, 400k was not a typo. Personally, I'd love to do AR, don't know if I can convince the powers that be. BUt, I agree, it makes total sense to me as well. Just trying to get some feedback to help make some changes in our practice so every opinion is valid and appreciated. I realize a free form lab is going to set me back "A lot", I am trying to narrow down what "a lot" is so I can really look at our numbers and see how much of a difference it will make to us.

    AND, I must also add, that while AR does have great benefits but it also comes with great drawbacks. It isn't for every patient and because they are not getting AR doesn't mean they won't appreciate a new free form design.

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    Oscar, I sent you a PM with some numbers. Hope it helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lensmanmd View Post
    Coburn is very cost effective, but may not be pre qualified for all designs.
    I believe Coburn is qualified for most popular digital designs including passing Essilor validation. Best bang for the buck really.

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    Master OptiBoarder LENNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OscarMadison View Post
    THx for all the replies. AND, no, 400k was not a typo. Personally, I'd love to do AR, don't know if I can convince the powers that be. BUt, I agree, it makes total sense to me as well. Just trying to get some feedback to help make some changes in our practice so every opinion is valid and appreciated. I realize a free form lab is going to set me back "A lot", I am trying to narrow down what "a lot" is so I can really look at our numbers and see how much of a difference it will make to us.

    AND, I must also add, that while AR does have great benefits but it also comes with great drawbacks. It isn't for every patient and because they are not getting AR doesn't mean they won't appreciate a new free form design.
    Please share the names of progressives you are currently using. And I know quite a few labs that will reduce your bill if you switch! :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LENNY View Post
    Please share the names of progressives you are currently using. And I know quite a few labs that will reduce your bill if you switch! :)
    With FF pals with AR well under $xxx at the wholesale level from already established labs, my question is why the heck would someone invest a substantial amount of money, hiring experienced techs, additional rent and inventory just to save a few bucks that will cost you way more in the long run? Makes zero biz sense to me.
    Last edited by Steve Machol; 07-22-2018 at 04:05 PM. Reason: Removed wholesale price

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    One good reason ,Steve. I am the lab tech. I do all of our surfacing. I know the costs of the products and I know I can provide them faster and cheaper, substantially. No additional hiring, no added rent as we have plenty of space and we will actually be reducing inventory. Not to mention we pride ourselves on providing fast personal service. Dealing with an outside entity that looks at your product as just another faceless piece of work is a hassle that I'd love to get out of my life. And we haven't even dealt with the tax ramifications. I may be a dying dinosaur in this world but I love what I do and do it better than some schlub in Kentucky. Hey, you want be a data entry clerk ordering from some one else, go right ahead. Me, I prefer to get my hands dirty and know that the job promised for tomorrow WILL BE READY TOMORROW.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OscarMadison View Post
    One good reason ,Steve. I am the lab tech. I do all of our surfacing. I know the costs of the products and I know I can provide them faster and cheaper, substantially. No additional hiring, no added rent as we have plenty of space and we will actually be reducing inventory. Not to mention we pride ourselves on providing fast personal service. Dealing with an outside entity that looks at your product as just another faceless piece of work is a hassle that I'd love to get out of my life. And we haven't even dealt with the tax ramifications. I may be a dying dinosaur in this world but I love what I do and do it better than some schlub in Kentucky. Hey, you want be a data entry clerk ordering from some one else, go right ahead. Me, I prefer to get my hands dirty and know that the job promised for tomorrow WILL BE READY TOMORROW.
    I get it, you seem very passionate at what you do. The $400K figure is very high for a 2 store practice; but that's good for you if you can snag it from Zeiss.

    My advice is rather than ask the owners for capital investment to benefit them in the long run with your sweat equity, go get the capital and do it yourself. Turn that passion and drive into being your own boss. Open a local lab and become a wholesaler.

    Provide additional savings for the customers and value add. If you can truly turn each job around in 1 day consistently (good luck), you will do well as an independent.

    Many practices in the smaller towns are migrating away from the other big corporations because they don't trust them, so perhaps its a good time to venture out. With 35 years under your belt, that will also work to your advantage. And you still have 10 to 15 good working years left before retirement.

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    Hey, thanks for the followup, much appreciated. And my apologies for coming across as a douche last message. I just rec'd some bad news about a friend's health and was taking my anger out on you, I'm sorry.

    At this point,don't know how I am going to proceed. Made the offer to owners to put my own financial butt on the line, luke warm response at best. May be time to put optical in the rear view. Lot of decisions to make.

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