March 5, 2008

Ask the Expert

Q. - Do you recommend having the lab close to the front of the office or as a combination lab/staff lounge in the back to save space? I'm starting to hear the latter more and more. Also, do you think it's wise to equip the lab with an edger immediately or is it better to wait if budget is tight?

A- For smaller offices (under 3,000 square feet) we most often put the lab right next to the optical so the opticians will take the fewest steps possible going back and forth between the optical and the lab. When a practice is large enough and busy enough to have a full-time optician who spends nearly all their time working in the lab, then having the lab in the back can be beneficial. In this case we would put a mini-lab up front for minor repairs and adjustments.

In a small office the lab often has to serve as the staff lounge as well by equipping it with a refrigerator and microwave and some counter space for a coffee-maker. Once you have 2,000 square feet or more to work with you can usually find room for separate lab and staff lounge.

If this is a startup practice opening cold it doesn't make sense to spend money on an edger at first. That money would be better spent on the construction. You need to have enough frame sales volume to make edging a profitable investment. Your accountant should be able to help you figure out how many frames per day you need to sell in order to make the cost of the equipment worthwhile.

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