It is the dream of many optometry students to own and operate their own optometry practice. Even so, starting an optometry practice is not something one can rush into. Not at all.
Apart from looking for financing, running an optometry practice requires a lot of planning and management.
Whether you want to break from your current employment and start your own practice or you are almost completing your studies, there are many ways you can open your private practice—the common ones being buying an existing practice or starting your own practice from scratch.
Buy an Existing Practice
Buying an existing is a favorable option for most fresh graduates. However, a lot of preparation is required before deciding on what practice to acquire. The practice that you buy will affect many areas of your life, including where you live.
By doing due diligence before buying an optometry practice, then you are sure to earn more compared to employed practitioners. Ideally, many advantages come with owning an optometry practice. Apart from the freedom that it offers, it also allows you to build your equity.
If you are worried that starting your own practice from the ground up will be too much of an undertaking, you may want to consider buying an established practice that’s on the market. PECAA, an optometrist consulting and support group has a blog post published on this very topic of finding an optometry practice for sale.
Evaluate the Practice
Just like when buying any other existing practice, you will need to do due diligence before deciding to purchase an optometry practice. Among other things, this will help you in determining the right amount to pay for a given practice and whether buying it is a worthy investment.
Ideally, you will need to evaluate where the practice is located, competition, instruments, and equipment, office design, lease agreement, growth rate, etc.
Consider Your Professional Goals
Apart from the above factors, you will also need to ensure that the practice that you buy aligns with your professional goals. To achieve this, consider looking at the average number of patients that attend the practice in a month and the fees charged.
You will also need to decide whether you need a more specialized practice or a general one.
Before you buy any practice, be sure to consider the goodwill of the optometrist selling the practice. If possible, ensure that the seller signs a non-compete agreement. This way, they will not end up becoming your immediate competitors.
Primarily, you should aim to retain patients when buying an existing practice. The seller should be willing to tell the customers that you are the new owner and that you are great too. If possible, ask the seller to work in practice even for a limited time until the transition is complete. This way, it will be easier to retain most of the existing patients.
Last but not least, you will need to look into the seller’s personality and their staff. Ideally, the staff members need to be not just knowledgeable and experienced but friendly as well. Sometimes you may want to look at the practice’s operating hours as well as the flow of patients.
Starting Your Own Optometry Practice
While buying an existing optometry practice comes with a lot of benefits, some graduates still prefer to start their own practice from scratch. However, just like when purchasing an existing practice, most graduates encounter financial challenges when starting an optometry practice.
Among other things, this is because most of them need to pay for an education loan. Even if you don’t have a loan to service, you will still need to plan well before starting your optometry practice. Whichever the case, here are some tips to help you get started:
Decide on the Location
The first thing you need to think about is the location to set up your optometry practice. Ideally, it is advisable to set up an optometry practice in an area that you would like to live in. Also, ensure that the location that you choose to set up your practice is good for business.
Determine the Right Amount of Space for Your Practice
Since you are new in practice, you should begin with a smaller amount of space. This way, you won’t have to pay a lot of money for space you are not using. You can move into a larger space later as your business practice grows.
Purchase Basic Equipment
Again, you should not spend all your money buying a lot of equipment when starting. You can begin with acquiring the necessary equipment, for instance, a retina camera and a visual field analyzer. You can buy other equipment later as the practice grows.