Article

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

The OD Connection’s exclusive market research reveals what ECPs across the country find most valuable from their buying group or alliance + how it’s helping their bottom line

There is strength in numbers. This is the founding concept behind optometric buying groups and doctor alliances—clearly, negotiating for prices and services as a group is more effective than doing it solo.

How are eyecare professionals benefiting from their memberships in these groups, and how are they using these partnerships to benefit their revenue?

The OD Connection’s exclusive Alliances + Buying Group Focus Group Study (a survey of ECPs across the country) reveals the facts.

GOOD TO KNOW

25% of buying group members belong to more than one group, and 13% of alliance members belong to more than one alliance.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

So what does our survey of buying group and doctor alliance members reveal? Some key results:

■ A Growing Trend

More than half (54%) of survey respondents say they belong to a buying group, and
35% report membership in an optometric alliance. What’s more,
31% of buying group members joined within the last 10 years and
34% of doctor alliance members joined within the same time frame.

■ Pricing Matters

The biggest motivator for joining the groups is to get better pricing on goods, survey respondents say—
96% ranked special pricing as the “most important” reason for joining.

■ Good Business

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents report an increase in profits since joining a buying group or alliance, with
13% being the average increase.
75% The vast majority of respondents (75%] say they’ve gotten a positive return on their investment in membership through benefits and pricing, and are happy they made the decision to join.

MEMBERSHIP

Healthy Eyes Advantage (formed via the merger of several buying groups) is the group most survey respondents belong to. For membership info, see chart, below.

PROFITABILITY

Good pricing is why the majority of members join a buying group or alliance. And it seems to be paying off in their profits.

Since you’ve been a member, has your profitability increased or decreased?
70% INCREASED
28% NOT SURE
2% DECREASED

How much has your profitability changed?
13% INCREASED
3% DECREASED

Has the return on investment for a membership been worth it for your business?
75% YES
19% NOT SURE
6% NOT APPLICABLE

Why did you join your buying group/alliance?

“[To get] support for the staff to help the practice succeed, and to get advice from other privatepractice doctors on business practices that have been successful.”

—Survey Respondent

Since joining, what has been the biggest benefit to your business?

“The intangibles that it provides more than make up for the investment.”

—Survey Respondent

Do you belong to an optometric buying group or a doctor alliance?

To which buying groups /alliances do you belong?

THE BENEFITS THAT MATTER

BY SUSAN TARRANT

Though special pricing on optical goods is the most cited membership benefit in a buying group or doctor alliance, there are other benefits as well—including staff education and marketing resources. Here’s what our survey respondents say they also like:

BENEFITS RANKED BY SURVEY RESPONDENTS AS “VERY IMPORTANT”

Special product pricing
96%

Business education
58%

Staff training
58%

Professional network meetings
49%

Digital marketing resources
42%

Social media resources
40%

In-house marketing resources
40%

Special house-branded products
38%

LOOKING FOR MORE?

When asked if there is need for a benefit or service that’s not currently being offered by their group or alliance, 63% of respondents answered “No.” Here’s a sample of what was named by those who answered “Yes.”

  • HELPING A PRACTICE GROW, MAINLY THROUGH NEW PATIENTS
  • PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
  • STAFF TRAINING
  • MORE BRANDS
  • COLLECTION AGENCY
  • HEALTH INSURANCE
  • PRACTICE BUYOUTS