By Sarah McGoldrick
Running a small businesses is difficult and it isn’t easy competing with big box stores. The buying power of a large corporation can exceed anything a smaller business could match on their own.
Bargains are always based on quantity and many smaller outfits simply can’t order products in the same amounts as larger organizations.
The Optical Group has been helping small eyewear businesses compete since 1988 by helping them attain large discounts through buying groups.
“We have more contacts with suppliers and access to discounts you wouldn’t normally get,” said Karen Ouellette, Vice President of The Optical Group, adding the company has more than 600 members across the country allowing them to buy in large shipments at reduced prices.
The company has received recommendations from the The Opticians Association of Canada for its ability to assist smaller businesses achieve better buying power.
She noted members are not restricted to use The Optical Group exclusively when they join.
“We allow our members to purchase outside the group. The are free to deal with other suppliers,” she said.
Members who do use The Optical Group often find it helps reduce the amount of paperwork and administration that often comes with buying many different frames or lenses.
Members instead pay directly to The Optical Group rather than several sources.
Ouellette noted there is also the added bonus of access to higher end and private labels at reduced prices that could not be achieved if a business tried to negotiate on their own.
Bonnie Vietch of Wainwright Eyecare Ltd., in Alberta has been using the group buying method for more than 20 years.
She said it has helped her business stay competitive as well as help keep the focus on business improvement rather than accounting.
“A small business can’t secure the discounts that you can through a buying group,” she said, adding one payment makes life much easier. “They pay all the accounts for us and
we pay with one cheque.”
Vietch also noted that buying groups offer negotiation services that many small business owners may not possess.
The buying group works with the distributor to secure a price that fits within a businesses budget and handles all the negotiations.
“I love dealing with them. It’s way less paper work for me,” she said.
Whether it’s a better deal or less paper work a business is looking for, the power of the buying group has definite perks for businesses. The reduced cost and overhead means
businesses can charge less money to the client earning more repeat customers and more sales.
The buying group will also deal directly with the distributor if there is a problem with delivery or the product.
“In this case we allow our clients to take a credit so they aren’t putting out a lot of money,” said Ouellette.
She added buying groups make great fiscal sense in the long run as businesses try to grow and expand.
“It’s one reasonable fee and a tremendous amount of time savings,” she said. •
To learn more about The Optical Group visit