guess by now you’ve heard that certain online glasses sellers—who shall remain nameless—are opening brick and mortar stores. What does this mean for private practice optometry? For me, I am relieved I no longer have to spend sleepless nights working on software algorithms that would allow my patients to order their glasses through my website.   

OK, I admit, I never spent a single sleepless night working on software algorithms that would allow my patients to order their glasses through my website. In fact, I don’t actually know what a “software algorithm” is. When I searched the Internet for an explanation, my well-trained computer just said, “Doc, you really don’t want to know, but here is how you should spell it in your column.”

Thanks, Sweet Pea. 

Top 10

We do, however, like to spend a lot of our limited brainpower following online “competitors” to make decisions about our own practices. Here are the top 10 reasons you should follow online competitors:

10. We can see what they charge for stuff we never heard of. 

9. We like it when we feel totally outmanned and intimidated.

8. We can change to keep up with the latest and greatest trends like tinting lenses in house. 

7. When a patient says they are going to order whatever they need online, we can either match the price or, even better, hate their guts.

6. We can come up with verbal ammunition that we can use on our online-buying patients so they will hate our guts.

5. We can quickly and clearly recognize untapped areas of service for our patients and then more efficiently procrastinate in implementing them in our offices. 

4. Turns out we can order our contact lenses cheaper than our labs ever want to sell them for. 

3. We can misspell a couple of words in our searches and learn all there is to know about boll weevils.

2. We can compare the layouts of our websites and realize that nobody ever actually buys from us because they saw a picture of our family. 

1. If we don’t spend our time following online competitors, we will unfortunately have time to call our moms.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

So, obviously, it is critically important to your success to follow and, in your own way, emulate and reproduce what you see others doing online. When I saw that online competitors were opening brick and mortar stores, I felt proud that I am way ahead of them—I had the vision and foresight to have a brick and mortar office clear back in 1979. Tough luck for them. 

Doctors, you cannot—I repeat, cannot—exactly compete with what these tech savvy, cash flush companies are doing. Yes, you will lose a few sales along the way. You probably won’t have a logo designed by a Wall Street advertising firm. You won’t have your company go public with its stock. 

The good news? By the time they crush your business, your kids will be through college. Keep smiling!