ProVision, Australia’s largest group of independent optometrists, has undergone a major restructure of its format and services in order to give members a wider choice.
The restructure, which has been more than six months in the making, is a direct re-action to the entry of global brands into the Australian market and the ever increasing competition.
Cam Battaglia, the CEO of ProVision Eyecare, says: “As part of its ongoing strategic review the ProVision Board has consulted extensively in relation to how ProVision will best meet the needs of its members to not only compete, but to excel in the future and ensure that true independent optometry continues to enjoy the success it deserves.”
In evaluating various business model options, Mr. Battaglia says there were a number of key factors which the Board believed were imperative to the future success of ProVision and ProVision optometrists:
Mr. Battaglia says that in announcing the new programs ProVision’s philosophy remains firmly focused on independent professional practice
- The model must work to support and advance independent practices in the face of a rapidly changing market.
- The 400 plus practices of ProVision is comprised of a diverse group of optometrists with varying ambitions, needs and objectives, all of which need to be encapsulated into the ProVision offer as far as is commercially possible.
- Whilst continuing to provide exceptional patient care and exemplary levels of ethical and professional services, there is a need for independent optometrists to also adopt and embrace current best practice retail methodologies.
- The collective benefits of ProVision optometrists in conjunction with preferred suppliers need to be leveraged to maximise the financial return to all stakeholders.
- To identify opportunities that facilitate ProVision practices to market in a format that communicates to the broader consumer, the desired market positioning and benefits that independent optometry can provide over corporate and franchised formats.
To establish a business model that is equitable, mutually beneficial and which focuses on accountable and quantifiable outcomes.
ProVision currently offers three programs – a student program (Future Directions) to promote ProVision and independent optometry through the three universities; an Associate program for future ProVision optometrists considering purchasing or establishing an independent practice and a main program which incorporates various products and services which is essentially dissected into Business Services, Education, Member Marketing and Corporate Marketing.
The new programs under the restructure are:
The Essentials Program
The Essentials package is a modified version of the current core program with a lower service fee, continued access to preferred supplier discounts and telephone support on matters such as HR, business advice and marketing advice. Members opting for this program will also have ongoing access to ProVision’s e-learning resource. Face to face education, business advice and marketing assistance can be accessed on a user pays basis.
The Comprehensive Program
Retailing and Marketing form the foundations of the new Comprehensive level of membership. Practice performance across a range of KPIs will be analysed and benchmarked to facilitate superior range, inventory, and business planning decisions. The objective is to collate data electronically into a central database at ProVision, with assured highest levels of security and confidentiality.
“ProVision will engage a number of Retail Business Managers to develop and support staff at practice level, providing hands on advice and training in relation to visual merchandising, display, selling skills, range planning and sales analysis, says Mr. Battaglia.
“Whilst ProVision will continue with centralised education and rapidly grow their e-learning facilities, this particular service will be vital to maximising retail opportunities and growing the bottom line.
“Under this program, a sub-brand will be established to provide a platform for group marketing activity. This will be funded by Comprehensive member optometrists through a marketing levy. The sub-brand will be secondary to individual practice brands.
“Importantly, marketing via the sub-brand will focus on reinforcing the strategic advantages of independent optometry to the consumer. A member elected Marketing Committee in conjunction with ProVision executives will manage both the direction and separately accounted income.
“We believe that a key ingredient to the future success of ProVision is the need to continue to build and develop strategic business partnerships with our Preferred Suppliers. As part of this initiative participating practices will be required to purchase a minimum percentage of their total product through these preferred channels.
“A high level of mutual commitment will be mandatory from both parties, particularly given the significant expenditure in resources required to support this program. Therefore, the contract term will be three years. A monthly service fee will be charged which will provide (at no additional charge) access to all ProVision services including but not limited to Business Planning, HR support, all Education programs including future Retail Executive programs, Marketing Plans, E-Learning and Retail Business Managers.”
Mr. Battaglia says that in announcing the new programs ProVision’s philosophy remains firmly focused on independent professional practice. He said “there is no intention of adopting a corporate or franchise system. All ProVision optometrists will continue to own their practice, keep their profits, own their leases and own their patient files, but will have the support and knowledge to better leverage their time, talents and presence in the markets they live and operate in. All ProVision practices will be optometry owned and controlled.”