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Cameron McMaster, ProVision’s 400th member

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ProVision has achieved a significant milestone with its 400th member, Queensland optometrist Cameron McMaster, joining the group.

The organisation, which was established to help grow independent practice throughout Australia, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and coincidentally, Mr McMaster is also celebrating 25 years practising as an optometrist.

Mr McMaster is principal optometrist with Chas Sankey Fraser Optometrist, which operates three practices in Toowoomba, Emerald and Roma.

Charles Sankey Fraser was Queensland’s first registered optometrist, establishing a practice in Brisbane in 1912. His Toowoomba practice began in 1922 and was originally located in rooms at the Club Hotel during periodic visits to the town, before moving to permanent premises.

Charles (Chas ) Sankey Fraser

Charles (Chas) Sankey Fraser (centre), Queensland’s first registered optometrist

Mr McMaster worked at the Roma practice before becoming a partner in 2000 and now works mainly at Toowoomba and Roma. In recent years, the equivalent of one and a half optometrists have covered the workload, due to optometrists retiring and others working part-time.

‘In the past I worked with other optometrists as partners so there was always someone to talk to and discuss things with,’ he said. ‘Things have become more difficult over the past 10 years, particularly the past five, as I was often the only optometrist and couldn’t do anything other than eye examinations.

‘We decided we needed some management and marketing help as we were not getting these things done.’

Before joining ProVision, Mr McMaster chatted to other optometrists who had joined the group and their recommendations encouraged him to join.

‘I heard lots of good feedback,’ he said. ‘We signed up in February and have seen benefits already. We’ve received a lot of guidance and leads indicating what works and what doesn’t. Our staff have done courses on marketing, customer service and introductory optics for new staff. Presenters are outstanding.’

ProVision helped with a marketing campaign to boost the presence of the Emerald practice, which was the only optometric practice in the town until a corporate practice opened recently.

‘Education is the main reason we joined. We wanted to upgrade knowledge in our staff, especially as we have a lot of gap-year staff in Emerald who need to get up to speed quickly,’ Mr McMaster said.

‘Pricing and response from wholesalers has been surprising and impressive in terms of discounts. Previously being in a group, I thought we were doing well on pricing but you get much better prices if you are with ProVision.

‘They all wanted to talk deals and new suppliers we hadn’t dealt with wanted their foot in the door, which is great as we could take these deals to others and say: “This is what they are offering, what can you offer?”

‘Independent practitioners get back what they spend on ProVision fees in discounts alone.’

The group took comprehensive coverage which includes a business coach.

‘It was a good decision and I encourage others to consider it because in independent practice you are often so busy practising optometry you let other things slide. I would often key in appointment times Friday to get business things done but it never happened,’ Mr McMaster said.

His wife Kyleigh, the accounts manager, said staff were excited with the decision and were happy to have noticed differences already. ‘ProVision is helping with things such as marketing, sales, improving our website and a Facebook page,’ she said.

ProVision CEO Steven Johnston said the group could help a practice with almost any problem it may face from marketing to retail advice, HR support, technology products, recruiting advice, lease negotiations, fit-outs and education programs.

ProVision’s 25 preferred suppliers provide products at an attractive cost to members and its online image library has more than 600 practice presentation ideas.

More than 100 members have ordered through ProVision’s ProSupply website, which gives access to 24,000 frames and more than 1,000 supply and fit options, and almost 80 have produced marketing materials through My Local Marketing, which provides digital templates for postcards, letters, emails and texts customised to each practice.

Other recent ProVision milestones include beating the $50 million annual purchases mark for the first time, exceeding the 200 member mark for comprehensive membership and this financial year, saving members more than $500,000 in future rent.

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