If you’ve been on the ORBA Web site recently, you may have noticed the three ORBA Advisory Committee Members displayed towards the bottom of the page. These three optical professionals are helping the organization by providing advice to the ORBA team.

Madeleine Kruhsburg is a Virginia-licensed and ABO-Certified Master Optician. She has owned several optical businesses and currently owns an upscale shop called Optique of Denver in Denver, CO. She is also a board member of the National Academy of Opticianry.

Nikki DiBacco is an ABO- and NCLE-certified optician and co-owner of Wink Optical Boutique, an upscale eyewear office in Panama City, FL. She also is a consultant, optical designer, continuing education speaker, and writer for industry publications.

James (Jay) Edward Blackburn, III, is a licensed Virginia optician and the owner of McBride Blackburn Opticians, an independent optical store located in Lynchburg, VA, which is positioned as a family-type business that sees a good number of insurance patients. He is a graduate of the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Opticianry Program.

The ORBA Advisory Committee recently discussed how ORBA is doing and provided some advice for future projects. When asked what ORBA was doing right, the group’s consensus was that just having an organization like ORBA was an important move for opticianry because the profession really needs to have a place where independent retail optical owners can learn how to help improve their businesses and network with other owners. The group also indicated the Webinars were a strong part of ORBA’s services and wanted to see more of them.

Members, however, felt the Vision Business Builders program was not well known considering it represents an attractive opportunity for ORBA members to save money on a variety of services (see below). Advisors also proposed a training program be developed to help members learn how to track a variety of business metrics. This data would also be helpful so members could participate in the benchmarking, which has not been as successful as originally envisioned. In addition, the concept of a discount eyewear program was suggested along with a branding campaign for ORBA.

The concept behind the Vision Business Builders program is simple: big companies can offer services that little companies cannot, and they can offer those services at prices little businesses can’t come near. Provided through Newtek, ORBA members have access to a wide variety of financial and data services that are as appealing as any found at a large business but at a discounted price. Through Vision Business Builders, members have access to financial, insurance, and payroll services; data backup, storage, and retrieval; and Web development and hosting.

Choose a suite of services in the program or select one or more of them à la carte. Every ORBA member also receives a free three-page Web site.

Nikki DeBacco, one of Advisory Committee members, reports her office saved 35% on a health insurance plan after getting in touch with Newtek. To contact Jon Schmidt at Newtek for details or quotes on services, click on the “for more information” link in the Vision Business Builders section of the ORBA Web site.

Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group and Executive Director of ORBA.

Optical Retail Business Alliance (ORBA)
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