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  July 10, 2013
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Today's Vision Expands Beyond Texas with Prospective Licensees Across the Country

By John Sailer

Donald R. Glenz, OD, founded Today's Vision in 1984.

HOUSTON, Texas—With 41 locations in Texas and one in Oregon, it's clear that Today's Vision's focus has been primarily on Texas. Now, with final negotiations in the works with prospective licensees in states as far apart as California, Maryland and North Carolina, that is starting to change. Currently, Today's Vision is ranked 28 on Vision Monday's Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers, up from number 27 the previous year. With more locations in the works, that has the potential for change as well.

Four of five prospective licensees currently in negotiations will be practice start-ups, as all locations have been in the past. The fifth, however, will represent the first existing practice to join Today's Vision after everything is finalized.

Unlike many chains, Today's Vision is not owned by a single entity overseeing all locations. It's not a franchise either. That changed in 2005, when its franchisees intentionally converted to a licensed operation. To be a member, each licensee pays a fixed monthly fee of $500. Today's Vision negotiates co-op dollars with its vendor partners based on group sales, and those co-op dollars plus the monthly fees make up the organization's budget. When this income exceeds expenses, that surplus is distributed equally to its licensees either in the form of cash rebates or marketing or practice programs. Every year since 2005, there has been a surplus and a subsequent payout.

Preferred vendors include Carl Zeiss Vision labs, frame companies Altair, De Rigo, Marchon, Marcolin, Luxottica, Safilo, Silhouette and Viva; and contact lens suppliers Bausch + Lomb, Ciba, CooperVision and Vistakon. While it benefits every member to use preferred vendors, because doing so results in shared co-op dollars, it is not required, and Today's Vision's executive director, Greg Watson, stressed that each individual doctor can make their own decisions. "Each licensee has the freedom to buy whatever they want," he told dba, "but it's in their interest to support preferred vendors."

Executive director, Greg Watson, helps launch start-ups while managing operations.

Today's Vision was originally founded in 1984 by Donald R. Glenz, OD. "My goal was to help independent optometrists compete against corporately owned optical stores," he said. "We have achieved that goal." The structure changed from franchisees to licensees in 2005 when members decided it would allow them more autonomy. "Now, Today's Vision is pioneering a unique model that allows our licensees to share financially in our group's success," continued Glenz. "Usually one or two individuals reap the profits of a group. With our unique model, Today's Vision licensees receive benefits the value of which actually exceed their fees."

"Everyone benefits if one benefits," said member doctor Ali Mostaghimi of Today's Vision Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas. "We all get the same benefit," he told dba.

Today's Vision has also negotiated additional benefits for its members. These include supplying each office with Eyefinity software, the Vue Eye Channel for each waiting room, Solutionreach patient communication solutions, and subscriptions to FramesData.

In addition, marketing materials such as patient merchandise bags, special offer cards, warranty brochures, thank you cards and envelopes are all provided to licensees at no cost as a part of membership.

Today's Vision also provides continuing education and organizes quarterly meetings and an annual meeting with most expenses paid. This allows for a collegiality and sharing of information that helps all of its members succeed. Some members feel this is the best benefit of all.

"It's the camaraderie between colleagues that I enjoy the most," said Gregory Breaux, OD, of Today's Vision Conroe in Conroe, Texas. He started as an employee doctor in 2006 and opened his own practice in 2008. "I worked for Don Glenz and always wanted to open my own practice. He coached and mentored me to guide me through the process of opening my own business and office," he told dba.

Mostaghimi agreed that collegiality is integral to members' success. "Today's Vision has a lot of connections, like a family atmosphere," he told dba. "Everybody helps everybody. For example, I can email a question to the group and get ten responses in ten minutes. I don't feel like I'm on my own."

"Everyone benefits if one benefits," said member doctor Ali Mostaghimi of Today's Vision Cinco Ranch.

"It's the camaraderie between colleagues that I enjoy the most," said Gregory Breaux, OD, of Today's Vision Conroe.

In addition to meetings, both virtual and in-person, members can also access information on a wide variety of topics from an intranet site for licensees only. Just a few clicks away, Today's Vision members can find information on preferred vendor products, managed care, internet marketing, billing and coding, optical training and management as well as marketing examples, forms and PDFs.

A new website that Today's Vision launched last month includes expanded sections for each location with its own home page, insurance information, doctors' biographies and special offers along with interactive pages for consumers such as online appointment requests, contact us buttons, patient registration and insurance pre-approval forms. A featured corporate blog and individual location blogs link to Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As Today's Vision's benefits grow so does the organization itself, much of it through word of mouth. Mostaghimi graduated in 2007, joined in 2009 and grew his practice to over a million dollars in its third year. He told dba that three of his classmates have already joined since then. Still, board members are being careful about where to locate new start-ups. "We're not growing for the sake of growing," said Mostaghimi. "If we grow in Houston, it hurts other Houston offices, so we're growing outside of Houston. We're growing nationwide."





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