Features: Blueprints

Aug
2003

Blueprints for Success

Chittick Family Eye Care/Fashion Optical Displays
Giving Back
When Ronald Serfoss, OD, and partner Shaun Mallady, OD, decided to expand their ever-growing practice Chittick Family Eye Care in suburban Illinois, the last thing they say they wanted was a picture of the dispensary in 20/20 magazine. Sorry gentlemen. The redesign was such a success for both the optometrists and the folks at Fashion Optical Displays that here they are.

The ODs, who went into practice together in 1995, needed more room to accommodate their staff and increasing patient base. They had been buying surrounding space, including the building the practice was located in, since 1999, so they decided to expand into an area once occupied by a sporting goods store.

“The sporting goods store was a mess,” says Dr. Serfoss. “But once we cleaned it out we had this nice empty, workable shell. Plus it had this embossed tin ceiling; some of the tiles were damaged. But we didn’t want to spend a lot of money; we just wanted more space. When we started looking at the ceiling we thought, ‘Do we really want to put in a drop ceiling?’ So we decided to save the ceiling. One thing led to another and we began talking to the people from Fashion Optical.”
The revamp included new dark mahogany furniture for the optical and installing school house lights. “They are these opalescent half moons that hang down,” explains Dr. Serfoss. “They have 600 watt bulbs. There are 14 that hang down.” They also knocked down dry walls and created a different look for the walls’ surfaces. “You knock down the dry wall but then don’t paint; you spray dry wall compound, wipe and then paint. It creates an interesting wall effect,” notes the OD.

A new outside entrance was also created. “Patients can come either into the optical or into the clinic,” says Dr. Serfoss. “At the same time we made a commitment to create a nice area for our staff. Upstairs we put a door through where there had been law offices. There’s a 20-by-60 foot space for staffers in the back of the dispensing optical work area. When we’re finished, all the opticians will have their own work area.”

The actual Chittick practice has existed since 1899. After Dr. Mallady graduated from optometry school in 1993 he bought the practice from then-owner Dr. Bill Buchanan. Once a walk-in practice, the OD transitioned it to an appointment practice. Dr. Mallady, who is 36, met Dr. Serfoss, who is 60, at the local country club. The pair got to talking while playing golf one day. Two years later, Dr. Serfoss left the ophthalmologist he had been working with for 22 years and joined Dr. Mallady in practice.

“At that time our optical department was 20 by 20 feet and we had three exam rooms,” recalls Dr. Serfoss. “The next thing we did was remodel and expand the optical to 20 by 40. Then we remodeled, recarpeted, repainted and updated. We continued to upgrade. We bought auto-refractors and added two more exam rooms. We kept on expanding. In the first year we transferred 2,500 records. We just kept putting back into the practice.”

The purpose of all the enhancements to the practice has always been to improve service for their customer/ patient. “Because it’s crowded we have the inability to run on time,” says Dr. Serfoss. “It’s a long wait to pick up glasses. Plus we never turn down emergencies. Our goal is to improve service. We go to great lengths to take care of patients.”

INSIGHT
PEEK

Who:
Chittick Family
Eye Care

What:
Private optometry
practice

Where:
 Danville, Ill.

Why:
Expansion

How many: 3

How Big:
Dispensary is 2,500
 square feet

How Much:
$150,000

THE 20/20 TAKE:
Old world meets
new order.

City Lasik & Optique/Eye Designs
A Nip and a Tuck

A high-end practice in a high-profile area needs a high-scale look. That’s just what Eye Designs help achieve for City Lasik & Optique in West Palm Beach.

“In this new location we do cosmetic elective eyecare,” explains Salvatore M. DeCanio, Jr., OD, FAAO, executive director. “We put in a laser center. But we had to have a retail component so it wasn’t just a medical practice. So we put in very exclusive high-end eyewear dispensary. The last component we put in is the cosmetic facial procedures including microdermal abrasion, Botox as well as sonic youth treatments or ultra sound treatments, eyeliner and lip liner. It’s basically everything from the face up on a cosmetic elective basis. The practice is extremely upscale.”

The 16-locations’ main office housed the practice’s excimer laser but that site, notes Dr. DeCanio, “was more of a clinic. It wasn’t the right atmosphere.”

City Lasik & Optique has more of the opulent flavor of the Palm Beach area. The practice has marble floors in rich tan and chocolate brown, granite counter tops, solid wood core doors and dental moldings in the ceilings. The rich tone is enhanced by woodwork—especially the signature wood walls and molding. “Eye Designs helped us make it look totally customized,” says Dr. DeCanio. “They built display cabinets, which we recessed to make them look built in. We put in solid wood columns. It was actually a $750,000 project. I personally have worked with Eye Designs on my own location; I have a private practice in Boca Raton. I have recommended them to many others. They built teeth molding that is consistent with the teeth molding in the ceiling. We had them design the wood to spec and we made the millwork to fit around; it looks custom fit.”

Customer reaction has been “excellent.” While volume is not the order of the day at the practice, according to Dr. DeCanio, business has been slowly but surely increasing. “We’ve been attracting some of the more active Palm Beach islanders,” says the OD. “Our average eyewear sale is $750 and can go to $1,000. We carry European lines such as Cartier, Fred, Swarovski, Lindberg and Golden Wood. Our optician can make anything. We can change the shape of a lens style. We do custom drill mounts. We can customize anything with gold or diamond applications.”

As for the laser side of the practice, City Lasik & Optique does everything it can to make both the patients and their family feel well taken care of. There is a viewing window for seminars and smaller viewing windows for the patient’s significant other. In the seating area, a loved one can actually watch the procedure on the TV monitor as well as see through a window into the operating room. A staff member is with them to explain the procedure while it is taking place.

“The practice looks like a very upscale home or living room. The look is very pristine for the ultimate in customer delight,” says Dr. De Canio. “We want to do everything we can do to be the best.”

INSIGHT
PEEK

Who:
City Lasik & Optique

What:
Private medical/
surgical practice

Where:
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Why:
New location

How many: 16

How Big:
Dispensary is
1,000 square feet

How Much:
$50,000 (for
optical furnishings)

THE 20/20 TAKE:
More than just
a pretty face.

 

Corona Vision Center/Magic Design
A Different World

Corona, Calif. was cow country back when William Rogoway, OD, opened his practice, Corona Vision Center, 20 years ago. “There were just diary farms and orange groves back then,” says the OD. “When I moved in there was a McDonald’s across the street that had a hitching post for horses. In fact, this office is on an old Butterfield stage line changing station where they used to change the horses. It’s also the old stomping ground of Wyatt Erp. The area at the time had 19,000 people. It now has 120,000 people.”
Located in an open-air shopping center, Corona Vision Center recently moved two doors down when the center’s ownership changed. “I outgrew my office five years ago,” says Dr. Rogoway. “The center had changed hands three times in the past three years. We would get to the planning stage and they would resell. A year and a half ago the current new owners took over and upgraded the whole center.”

Now Corona Vision Center could get its new look in place. “I wanted to make a bold statement that we’ve been here and want to stay here,” explains the OD. “We went from high tech to a more traditional type of office d├ęcor. We went from a lot of laminents to a lot of wood. Now the office is done in dark wood.”

When the practice first opened there were only four optometrists within a 20-mile radius; there are currently 22. Dr. Rogoway wanted to create a customer friendly dispensary. “The competition for the eyecare dollar is really intense especially in this economy,” he notes. “I want them to come into the dispensary and say, ‘This is where I want to spend my eyecare dollar.’ In so many chains people come up and dispense themselves. It’s hard to differentiate one brand from another and hard for the patient to budget themselves. What we were able to do with the dispensary layout is have the patient be self-guided if they want. We give them the choice to browse.”

The new space has an open waiting room; there are no dividers between waiting area and dispensary. Magic Design was able to help Dr. Rogoway overcome some unexpected gliches during the renovation. “For example,” he recalls, “on the original building plans there were dots that we thought were drain pipes. When they stripped out the existing building what they thought were pipes were supports pillars that had to be maintained. However, we were able to dress them and make them part of the display.”

Customers have reacted quite favorably to the new digs. “My previous patients just stand at the front door and look as if to say, ‘Is this the place that I’ve been going to all these years?’” The practice has also been featured in two local magazines.

“Cy [Furman, director of design for Magic Design] was able to change our reality,” says Dr. Rogoway. “He was able to give us the possibility of what our space reality was and where form and function went hand in hand. The office works. Since the remodel our average ticket price has gone up. The office looks like it ought to charge more so customers spend more.”

INSIGHT
PEEK

Who:
Corona Vision Center

What:
Private optometry
practice

Where:
Corona, Calif.

Why:
New location/
redesign

How many: 1

How Big:
Dispensary is 768
square feet

How Much:
$32,000

THE 20/20 TAKE:
A horse of a
different color.

 

|