Have An Eye for Eyewear? Here’s How to Start Your Own Optical Business

glassesIf you’re considering opening up an optical business, good for you! Just a couple of years ago, this market generated over $95 billion in America alone! That’s a lot of cash.

So, where do you get started? Luckily for you, we have a bit of advice on the subject. Let’s dive in!

1. Craft a Business Plan

As the famous saying from Benjamin Franklin goes:

Fail to plan and you plan to fail.

This is always true when it comes to launching an optical store. Think about the following and insert them into your business plan:

  • The size of your office
  • Your location
  • How you’ll obtain the necessary licenses
  • Hiring staff
  • The quantity and quality of your products and services
  • The equipment you’ll need

These are just a few key points you’ll need to figure out!

If you want to sell fashion-themed sunglasses in basic frames, your overheads will be less.

However, if your business focuses on prescription glasses or designer frames, it’ll cost you more initially, but you’ll gain a higher profit.

The basis of your business is something you’ll need to settle on and then base your business plan around, so work that out first.

2. Selling Perscription Lenses?

If you want to sell prescription lenses, you’ll need to source and purchase medical equipment. For example:

  • A keratometer,
  • A refraction unit,
  • An auto-refractometer

You get the idea!

We also highly suggest partnering with an optician who’s able to conduct eye exams and write prescriptions for your patients.

3. Pick a Location

Location. Location. Location. This is the key to success.

You want to set up shop somewhere that’s visible and easily accessible for your customers.

As tempting as is to compromise your location to save a few dollars, don’t. This will negatively impact your profit, and you’ll regret this once you’re up and running.

The better exposed your shop is, the less you’ll have to invest in marketing. Choosing somewhere with a lot of foot traffic naturally attracts more customers.

Here are a few potentially good locations:

  • In the center of a busy high street
  • Next to a supermarket
  • Near a popular gym

You get the idea! When you master the art of storefront displays, you’ll effectively market your business for free.

Top Tip:

Pick somewhere with ample parking, access is critical for any brick and mortar store.

4. Find and Use Reliable Suppliers

Start researching the products you want to sell, and look for trusted suppliers that boast incredible reviews and specialize in authentic products.

You can’t advertise designer frames and accidentally sell counterfeit glasses. Not only will the harm your brand, but it’s also illegal!

Do your homework and source high-quality suppliers; it’ll save you a lot of headaches further down the line.

Building a frame inventory is usually a substantial upfront cost. You’ll probably want to stock anywhere between 500 and 850 frames that display a mix of designer, mid-range and affordable frames.

So, find a supplier (or suppliers) who can do this for you.

Top Tips:

  1. Get quotes from numerous suppliers and compare costs and quality.
  2. Ask whether they’ll do a bulk discount for regular orders- negotiating is vital for increasing profit margins!

You’ll quickly get an idea of the standard market value, and once you’re in the know, you’ll be in a better position to haggle.

5. Analyze Your Competition

You have to differentiate your optical store from your competitors.

Make it a priority to visit other optical shops both locally and further afield. See what they’re doing well, and replicate that. You’ll also want to look for things they could improve on, learn from that, and implement that in your shop.

6. Set a Budget and Keep to It

Write an extensive list of all your expenses. Everything from marketing to utilities, and reach a ballpark figure of your outlay.

Then analyze your expenditure and see where you can cut costs, so you have a more significant margin for profit. For example:

  • Is partnering with a local lab instead of hosting your own a possibility?.
  • Could you buy second-hand equipment?
  • Instead of having an on-site optician, perhaps try purchasing a franchise business that doesn’t require you to hire an expensive eye doctor.

You get the idea!

Then, once you’ve hit the ground running, you can upgrade everything to a better standard.

You may need to take out a small bank loan, to cover your initial expenses. The good thing is that in comparison to other startups, your costs aren’t overwhelming.

Typically, you can buy frames and lenses at wholesale prices (some as low as $3 a pair), and then you’ll sell them as much as 20 times the price you bought them for, meaning you’ll quickly make back your investment!

6. Prioritize Marketing

Think about your business goals and how your marketing will help you achieve your targets.

Consider:

  • Setting up a website
  • Running ads in local magazines
  • Claiming your business on Google Maps
  • Partnering with other local companies to set up a mutual referral scheme

These are just a few of the techniques you can utilize!

Top Tip:

Think about your brand story. A good story is relatable, via your products. Perhaps, stock contact lenses for those who are self-conscious about wearing glasses or funky patterned frames for people who want to express their bold personalities.

Did You Enjoy This Advice on Launching Your Optical Business?

If you found these tips on launching an optical business interesting, then we’re sure you’ll love the other articles on our blog. Enjoy!

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