Today’s Buying Groups and Doctor Alliances are more powerful than ever before. Your practice can leverage the size of these groups to benefit from maximum purchasing power, business and practice management advisors, peer networking events, staff training and education, and much more!
When comparing groups, there are a lot of factors to take into account. To help you decide which group would be most beneficial for your practice, I’ve compiled the benefits today’s groups offer — I encourage you to take a deep-dive into how each benefit could add value to your practice. The value of membership far outweighs the cost of not being a member — practices that take use of these business-building resources and discounts will ultimately improve their bottom line.
Deeper discounts will lower your cost of goods and contribute to increasing profits. Review the discounts the group offers to see if it’s greater than what you’re currently receiving. Some may be higher, or some lower — be sure to keep track of the net discounts when comparing.
Factor in additional rebates on top of those discounts and dollars saved can add up quickly. Rebate types can include loyalty, growth, volume, dollar per unit, percent on total purchase, vision exam and others — some of which are exclusive to a specific group.
All groups offer discounts, but often vary in choice — you would not want to join a group that only offers vendors you don’t have accounts with, and you certainly don’t want to have to switch all of your vendors. Most practices benefit from having a diverse mix of both leading and niche with the flexibility to consolidate their billing and/or direct bill.
Having a single-source partner for the following vendor categories can significantly simplify your optical purchasing process and decisions:
- Contact Lenses
- Ophthalmic Lenses
- Business Services
- Equipment & Supplies
A few of today’s groups also provide a full scope of practice advisory services. Some offer unlimited access to pre-vetted experts when you need them and other groups charge a fee for some or all advisory services. Your practice can receive guidance from these experienced professionals in the following areas:
- Billing & Coding
- Cold Start
- Human Resources
Collaborative Community and Peer Support
Another benefit of having power in numbers is the sheer amount of knowledge sharing. Being included in a community of like-minded and collaborative ECPs can provide camaraderie and immeasurable value in terms of support with day-to-day operational challenges as well as insight into long-term growth opportunities. You’ll want to consider whether the following types of opportunities are offered:
- Peer Dinners
- National Annual Events
- Optometric And Optician Association Integrations
Many groups include a variety of practice owner, doctor, and staff education opportunities — which can be included in membership dues or offered at exclusive member rates. Any help educating staff can save time, and ultimately, money — and create a high-impact learning culture for your entire team. Education opportunities vary by group but may include some or all of the following:
- Continuing Education
- Practice Workshops
- Staff Training & Development
- In-Person Education Events
- Live/Recorded Webinars
- Vendor Webinars
A unique benefit that a few groups offer is consolidated vendor statement billing. All vendors you participate with are reconciled into one joint monthly statement. Having multiple vendors on one consolidated statement can significantly reduce the amount of administrative time spent organizing invoices each month, while also having only one statement to pay. In addition to the time savings, consolidated billing provides an efficient way to monitor cost of goods.
Math Out the Details
Last but not least, math out the cost versus benefit to see the savings compared to membership dues. Here are some details to consider:
- Are there requirements to join?
- Is there a membership contract length?
- What is the membership cost model — percentage or flat fee?
- Are there administrative fees?
- Are there ‘add on’ fees for other services you’ll utilize?
Once you know what you’ll spend on being a member of the group, you will need an accurate estimate of what you’ll save each month. Start with your largest vendors, but don’t count out the smaller niche vendors — while they may not have a large piece of your discount pie, they all add up to a sizable piece. Total what you’ll spend and what you’ll save to determine the net gain from joining the group. Need help? Contact the group for a review of your practice’s specific needs and they will help you get to the bottom line — the savings is worth the time and effort!
Each group varies in the services and discounts they offer — most offer buying group services or alliance memberships only, while a few offer both. Here’s a list of groups for your consideration:
- ABB One Bill
- ADO Practice Solutions
- Acquios Alliance
- CECOP USA Buying Group
- IDOC — Independent Doctors of Optometric Care
- IOP Network — Independent Optometric Partners
- PECAA — Professional Eye Care Associates of America
- PERC — Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative
- TEC — The Eye Consortium
- The Newton Group
- Villavecchia Buying Group
- Vision Source
- Vision Trends
Utilizing both a Buying Group and Alliance can greatly impact your bottom line. The scale of these groups will allow your practice to take advantage of the best possible purchasing power, and provide the business and practice management support and resources you need to fast-track the achievement of your unique practice goals.