Building Blocks

Got edging? Catch the 3 business-boosting strategies of Thames Eye Group

Wow ’em with customization.
Thames Optical made this custom rimless sunwear in the shape of the Harley-Davidson shield, and then “bedazzled” it by sinking crystals into the lenses.

thames Eye Group is “off the beaten path.”

So explains optical manager Alan Bardfield, who notes that the optometric and ophthalmology practice, located in an office building in Mystic, CT, doesn’t have the ability to attract passers-by with creative eyewear displays.

Still, Bardfield has found a way to grow business over the 15 years he’s managed the practice’s optical dispensary, Thames Optical. He relies on his industry knowledge, gleaned from some 45 years in the business (he started at age 10 in his father’s practice), and a little help from the technology in his new edging lab.

Since upgrading his edging equipment four years ago to a premium system with high-tech features, quality workmanship and custom lenses rule the day. Specifically, Bardfield optimizes his edging equipment to build business through three key areas:

Biz-Builder #1


“I pride myself on my sunglasses, particularly,” Bardfield explains. “And the machine makes that easy for me.”

One of the most game-changing features in contemporary premium edging systems is multiple bevel choices (shelf, step, custom, etc.) and the opportunity for custom bevel placement.

“Wrap sunglasses can require a lot of extra handwork if you don’t have an edger with premium functions,” he says. “You have to get the bevel in the right place. I try to get my sunglasses to look like nonprescription sunwear, so placement of the bevel is very important.”

In addition, custom-shape technology allows him to get creative with rimless sunwear for his more adventurous patients—a second-pair sale made more enticing with customization. In fact, most of his customers who are not patients of the practice sought him out because of referrals for quality Rx sunwear.

Alan Bardfield, left, and his son Stephen in Thames Optical’s in-house finishing lab. The edger sports a custom silk screen of a gritty NYC streetscape that was part of a Vision Expo East in-booth promotion a few years ago.

Biz-Builder #2


“I’ve tripled my Silhouette sales since upgrading the lab,” he says. “There’s far less worry about misplaced holes, and it’s much quicker for an optician than some older drills.”

Bardfield says that the ability to create an infinite number of rimless lens shapes and drill perfectly placed holes—the first time—is a big asset when it comes to serving the creative requests of customers and selling premium-priced eyewear lines like Silhouette.

“I can do well with my pricing to my patients on the Silhouettes, and I can comfortably promote them knowing they won’t be tying me up for an hour in the lab.”

Biz-Builder #3


Add-on treatments and products are a great way to increase profit while giving patients added value. And, if you’ve got a premium finishing system, chances are it comes with a Chemistrie Clip feature built right in.

“It’s an easy moneymaker, it’s an easy add-on, and so easy to do,” Bardfield says. Chemistrie Clips connect to the eyewear via magnets countersunk into the lens. Sun lenses, blue-light-filtering lenses, 3D lenses, or computer lenses are all available via Chemistrie.

In part because of his location, and in part because of his dedication to the art of opticianry, Bardfield says the investment in premium lab technology allows him to serve patients in a way he’s proud of.

“When I became an optician, it was a profession, not a retail job. And, where I’m located, I get to treat it as a profession, not a retail job. So, customer satisfaction is a big focus. It’s important to not only treat the customer well but provide them with a superior product that they can’t match anywhere else.”

Behind the Scenes

What does Thames Optical have in the lab?

8000 Exxpert Finishing System from Coburn Technologies, which includes:

Edger: HPE-8000

Tracer/Blocker: HAB-8000

Drill: HDM-8000 Drill

—Susan Tarrant