Vision and Hearing, a Winning Combination
Wednesday, July 15 2020 | 07 h 32 min | Optik Magazine
In this article, Jean-François Venne, Optik Magazine contributor, features a new business model: the combination of vision and eye care with hearing solutions. Three specific retailers are profiled.
This bimodal practice model has swept some European countries, especially since the creation of the retailer, Acuitis. Dozens of franchisees have popped up in France and the brand has also established itself in the United Kingdom, Italy and even Canada, where Sevan Kechichian opened the first Acuitis store in Laval in 2017.
The latter, however, closed its doors in July 2019, but still has a store in Saint-Bruno. Kechichian did not throw in the towel. In November 2019, still in Laval, he launched his own brand: Lunetis & Acoustis. He argues that in Quebec, unlike in France, patients begin using hearing aids very late in life, often in their late 60s. Everyone who comes for eye care is introduced to Acoustis services and receives information on the importance of hearing tests.
When he obtained his optician’s licence in 2005, Jason Cheema, owner of JC Optical and Hearing in British Columbia, already knew he wanted to open his own store. But very quickly, he began to think about differentiation. A colleague told him about a hearing aid practitioner program. Cheema decided to enroll in the program so he could get his licence and offer both services. In 2015, he founded JC Optical and Hearing in Surrey, British Columbia. Offering both services increased traffic in the store. Some patients purchasing optical services become hearing clients and vice versa, but people who come in for vision care regularly refer new clients for hearing services.
While setting up this type of business model remains relatively simple in other provinces, it’s not that easy in Quebec. Four professional bodies are engaged when optical and hearing activities are combined: opticians, optometrists, audiologists and hearing instrument specialists. Each is governed by its own professional order, whose main mission is to ensure public safety.
“It slowed us down a bit at first,” admits Benjamin Blaise, Quebec development director for Optical Center. The brand, founded in France in 1991, expanded to include hearing services in 2008. It now has more than 500 stores globally. Optical Center first opened purely optical stores when it arrived in Quebec in 2017 in order to take the time to fully understand the codes of ethics of the various professional orders and to ensure that it practises according to the regulations.
The company now operates three stores in the Montreal area, but has plans to expand.
Find out which companies plan on expanding and more in the June-July issue of Optik Magazine.