An Opportunity That Goes Beyond Business: Q&A with Mike Weaver
Director of Development and Licensing discusses the rewards and benefits of the Pearle Vision optical franchise opportunity
As Director of Development and Licensing with Pearle Vision, Mike Weaver helps potential Licensed Operators understand the business potential in the Pearle Vision optical franchise opportunity. As they join Pearle Vision, open up and operate, he ensures they get the most out of their partnership with the trusted eye care brand. Read on to find out more about our growth plans, the benefits of partnering with parent company Luxottica and how the legacy of Dr. Pearle keeps us committed to high-quality patient care.
Where are you hoping to grow and in what parts of the country?
Right now we have a five-year plan to grow, focused on several primary markets: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. We always have room for those that want to acquire and maintain one unit, but we’re also initiating an area development program for aspiring multi-unit operators that will allow them to build between five and 15 locations over the course of about five years.
What are the major benefits for licensed operators who join Pearle Vision?
The key piece that we try to stress to our candidates is that you continue to be an independent practitioner. You practice the way you desire. Our support comes on the retail side, and with our parent, Luxottica, we are able to provide the full vertical integration of the supply chain.
As candidates look at Pearle Vision, they see an optical retailer, but we try to convey the history of the brand with Dr. Stanley Pearle. He was all about taking care of people, and we’ve reignited genuine eye care by putting doctors first. The doctors practice and take care of people as they see fit, and we help on the retail side as a specialty retail type of shop.
Why do optometrists need to really be thinking about the retail side of their operation? How does Pearle Vision make it easier to manage that side?
Optometrists go to school to help people, as with any medical profession. They’re service-oriented and want to help people. The retail side of the business is something that they look for assistance on because supporting and providing a full suite of services is critical to patient retention. Without it, patients are going to find other providers.
With our new eyecon™ supply chain solution, we take the burden of retail largely away from the optometrist. Now people have multiple sets of eyewear as they’ve become a fashion device as well as a medical device. We have sophisticated algorithms that assist in what frame assortment we should have in the store initially, and it stays up-to-date as markets and fashion tastes change.
What does Pearle Vision love about helping optometrists manage that part of the patient experience?
There’s nothing better than helping an individual that can’t see, regain or improve their sight. Seeing a patient or child put on that pair of glasses and suddenly be able to see is something that goes beyond business. It’s personal, and knowing that you’re improving someone’s life is very rewarding.
When an optometrist enters into a franchise agreement with Pearle Vision, they get the best of both worlds. They can practice as they see fit and there are no royalties associated with their professional revenues, and Pearle Vision has a wealth of resources from the medical community to give that doctor assistance and improve the quality of care. We also provide training services, recruiting services, succession planning and a business consultant. These are elements that would be extremely costly to an individual who operated without Pearle Vision, and it creates a tremendous value for the franchisee.
Who is the right candidate for Pearle Vision?
I think of three categories of candidates for the optical franchise opportunity. First and foremost, I think of optometrists. The franchise agreement and affiliation with Pearle Vision are good through the entire lifecycle of their practice. As they’re coming out of school, it provides them an opportunity to go straight into ownership with a known brand that gives them instant credibility and the ability to build a practice. When they’re ready to retire, we have succession planning strategies that can help them sell their practice to a new graduate.
We also think of opticians who are licensed to dispense the eyewear and are focused on the retail side. We provide benefits for them on the doctor side, with recruiting services and the medical model that we’re putting in place in 2016 to define genuine eye care. We ensure that our patients are getting the quality eye care that they expect.
The last candidate I would think of is an investor that really sees the benefit of optical retail as a specialty retail business. A lot of times, they use Pearle Vision as a diversification from their existing businesses. It has become very attractive to a lot of private equity firms as they have been putting substantial amount of capital into the optical space over the last three years.
What’s the timeframe on becoming a Licensed Operator?
As we start the development process with all candidates, there’s a period of one to two months of due diligence, because we truly look at it as a two-way street. While you’re looking at the brand, we’re also evaluating whether this is a good fit from a business standpoint for you so that we both have long-term success. Once we’re through that due diligence process, then we’ll start the franchise agreements. Once those are signed, we’re able to move to the construction process, which is typically a 26- to 28-week process, depending upon the geography and municipality that you’re in. Alternatively, if you’re looking at acquiring an independent practitioner instead of buying a new store, we’re able to convert those stores in roughly two to three months.
Specifically for a new location, what happens during the 26 weeks? How do you help make that construction process happen?
At the outset, we have our store design and construction team visit the site and complete a survey. Once we have the architectural drawings established, we take those to the local municipality to get all the permits drawn, and it’s not until the permits have been approved and received that we’re able to start the construction process. That’s really when you start to see the fruits of your labor as the store comes together. That construction process is typically eight to 12 weeks of that 26-week time frame.
What are the things that set Pearle Vision apart as the best optical franchise opportunity?
People frequently choose Pearle Vision over other optical franchises because of the focus on eye care. We’re about the treatment of the patient first, not necessarily the quantity of patients you see in a given hour. We would rather do one or two exams an hour very well and retain that patient, rather than just churning through four or five patients in an hour on a regular basis, saying “Here’s your prescription and go get your glasses on the floor.”
If you start looking at various competitors, they’ll offer a free eye exam to go through and push through those patients in a 10-minute exam just to do refraction. There are serious conditions with the eye that could be missed with that type of approach, and that’s not what the doctors went to school for. They went to school to prepare themselves to improve the sight of their patients, and that’s what they can do with Pearle Vision.
Learn about Pearle Vision business opportunities
To learn more about Pearle Vision and the opportunity to open your own optical store franchise, fill out the form on this page to request more information. We’re happy to answer your questions about the brand.