COT! checks in with Warby Parker’s director of vision services to deliver the goods on opps for O.Ds within the organization
As Warby Parker expands its eyecare services and retail footprint, Director of Vision Services Pratil Lal, O.D., MBA, talks with COT! exclusively about opportunities for optometrists within the organization.
Dr. Lal is responsible for strategy, operations, and innovations for all O.D.-related matters at Warby Parker. Currently, the company has about 100 brick-and-mortar locations and plans to open another 20 this year.
Q. Will you be adding more brick-and-mortar locations?
A. Our goal is always to meet our customers where they are, both physically and online. We’re excited to continue expanding our retail footprint in markets where we already have a retail presence and in new cities, and we plan to open more than 20 stores in 2019. While we’ll continue to expand our physical footprint, reaching customers through warbyparker.com and in our Glasses by Warby Parker app remains an important part of our customer experience.
Q: What opportunities are there for O.D.s?
A. As we continue to grow, we have more and more opportunities for O.D.s in full- and part-time roles. We have the full spectrum of career opportunities—part-time (including fill-in), full-time, and independent O.D. agreements for O.D.s looking to practice independently within or next to a Warby Parker. That’s an excellent option for O.D.s looking to build their independent optometry practice and has been successful in several of our markets. Involvement in any of these roles might also include working directly with our corporate office by way of special projects.
Q. Tell us how the O.D. experience is different at Warby Parker.
A. Having worked across different areas of corporate optometry, I’ve become more aware of the challenges facing my O.D. colleagues, whether it’s low reimbursement from vision plans, not having a voice in the direction of corporate policies, etc.
At Warby Parker, customers shop with us regardless of what vision plan they have. Our independent O.D.s get excited about the fact that we don’t depend on vision plans as our primary way of bringing in new customers. We believe that O.D.s are critical to our growth and patient experience and, because of that, Warby Parker creates an environment where O.D.s can thrive and focus solely on the patient experience.
Looking ahead, new technology will continue to make its way into the market, and we’re excited about its potential to help us continue making eye care more affordable and accessible. It’s exciting to be part of a company where investigating relevant technology is a priority.
Q. Please update us on Warby Parker’s “do good” program.
A. We believe that everyone has the right to see, but over 2.5 billion people around the world currently need glasses and don’t have access to them. This is why, for every pair sold, we distribute a pair to someone in need through our Buy-a-Pair, Give-a-Pair program. To date, we’ve distributed over 5 million pairs of glasses to people in need.
CARING FOR KIDS
Q. What about programs for school-aged children?
A. While our Buy-a-Pair, Give-a-Pair partners (like VisionSpring) focus on distributing glasses in developing countries, we’ve started tackling visioncare access issues in the U.S., starting with our hometown of New York City. In 2015, we launched Pupils Project, a program that provides free vision screenings, eye exams, and eyeglasses to all public-school children in New York City and Baltimore. To date, we have distributed over 72,000 pairs of glasses to children through the program. COT!