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THE INSIDE LINE...WITH ALEX WILKES

Pearle Vision’s Senior VP and GM answers COT!’s 5 questions

In this exclusive interview with Corporate Optometry Today!, Alex Wilkes shares what’s new and next for Pearle Vision, plus how the face of franchising is changing.

Founded in 1961, Pearle Vision currently has 413 franchised and 114 corporate locations across North America. The goal, according to Wilkes? “To help our franchisees—whether a new location or converted independent practices via the new Ignite program—maintain strong margins and increase sales volumes.”

EVOLUTION

Q. How does Pearle meet O.D.s’ changing needs?

A. “Pearle Vision is a doctor-centric brand, founded by an optometrist. We keep this question at the forefront: ‘What can we do to help you do what you do best, while still driving traffic and results for your location?’ Our answers have ranged from developing an operating platform like eyecon to creating a national and local marketing plan that attracts new patients.”

DIFFERENT AVENUES

Q. What is the brand’s new Ignite program?

A. “We saw an opportunity to present a different ownership path for today’s O.D. Pearle Vision Ignite is designed exclusively for independent eyecare providers and/or practice owners and includes benefits ranging from access to our turnkey supply chain to operations support and processes that allow them to focus on caring for patients. In addition, royalties are paid only on incremental sales post-conversion.”

DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

Q. What exclusivity rights are available for franchises?

A. “Another key growth pipeline vehicle for Pearle Vision is area development agreements. This allows potential franchise owners to purchase the rights to exclusively develop an available geographic area with a minimum of three locations. This provides a clear path to multi-unit ownership without the chance of another franchisee opening in the area.”

ALTERNATIVE CHANNELS

Q. What about a nontraditional Pearle Vision location?

A. “We are opening our first alternative channel franchise location at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2019. We will continue to explore other similar opportunities across various categories.”

MARKETING + MESSAGING

Q: How does your marketing build relationships?

A. “One of the other key benefits of affiliating with Pearle Vision is our award-winning marketing campaigns. In 2017, we launched the Small Moments campaign, which signaled the end of our infamous BOGO offer and has separated us from the promotion-heavy competition in our category.

“It’s not just about selling glasses, but about caring for the people behind the glasses because we know that is what builds trust and creates lasting relationships.

“Additionally, we launched ‘Ben’s Glasses’ as part of the Small Moments campaign in 2017, and in August, we launched the campaign’s second phase with ‘Olivia.’

“This latest iteration of Small Moments further set apart Pearle Vision’s commitment to genuine eye care and building trust with each of our patients.” COT!