Just like any other medical practice, launching a private optometry practice is no easy task. Not only do you need the medical skills, but you also need to possess the startup and business skills in order to attract customers once the clinic is up and running.
This can be a serious concern for many graduates who are looking to set up their own budgets for their potential clinics. Like most graduates, they are still making payments to pay off their education loans and will probably have to make those payments for several years. Some may even have mortgage payments and a family to support. Long story short, buying an existing optometry business that already witnesses a steady flow of patients is not always a viable startup option.
Even if you are one of the few who do not have any loan payments, you should still take cautious steps when starting a private practice. If you fail to plan your expenses, then you can easily go overboard and be left with very little funds to sustain the initial months of low revenue.
To help you get started, we have provided the following tips that can help you start a private optometry practice even on a tight budget.
Joining An Eye Care Association:
When you go about making a life impacting decision you tend to go to others for advice and information. The same thing applies to those wanting to run a successful optometry clinic. When you are starting off, finding relevant information about running a successful optometry clinic is very important. Many doctors will tell you, that the most valuable information comes from interacting with your peers. You should consider joining an association like PECAA and get involved by attending seminars and joining their cold start practice program. This association organizes dinners and events to allow fellow practicing members to interact with each other and discuss their challenges and successes.
Start Small & Keep the Costs Low:
Rather than making a huge initial investment, it’s always advisable to start small and slowly expand your practice from the money you earn over time. For example, if you are launching a solo practice, then you might consider settling for a smaller space in a good location. You might look into finding a rental option instead of trying to buy a space. You can keep also the costs low by renting or buying used furniture. When you are first starting off, minimalism is the key.
Stay Busy- Consider Working for Another Clinic:
In those first few months it is unlikely that you will get enough patients to keep yourself busy for. We suggest using that free time to either promote your private optometry practice or start working for another optometric clinic. This will also allow you to earn some money in order to sustain your clinic and your family during this initial phase.
Location, Location, Location:
Like any successful business, it is important to to find a prime location for your practice. A good idea is to scout prime locations in retirement communities. You can use something as simple as Google Maps to find out your local competition. It makes the most sense to find a location that’s near malls and busy places but is not close to another optometry clinic. Spending time to find the right location is critical and is something that should never be rushed or hastily. When in doubt, you can conduct a local survey to see if people want an eye clinic in the area. This can also be a great way to build rapport with the people and get the word out about your services.
Storing and buying paper is an investment that you might not be aware of. However in this day and age, there are multiple solutions and platforms that allow you to reduce your paper usage. For starters, you can work with electronic health records and ensure everything from appointments records to prescriptions are completely digital.
Buy Used Equipment:
Money can be tight when you are first starting out so every dollar counts. It can be wise to look into purchasing used equipment that is in good and working condition. When it comes to buying expensive equipment such as OCT machines, tonometers, and auto-refractor, it’s always a good idea to look for bargains. It can be wise to reach out other doctors, especially those who are looking to close their practices or find peers upgrading to other more expensive models and offer them a deal.
It’s Important Who You Hire:
Once you have found the perfect location, and all of the necessary equipment, it is time for the next step and that is hiring a proper staff to help you run your clinic smoothly. Finding a good receptionist and support staff is critical to the flow and success of your clinic. You will need a staff that is educated and capable of doing the paperwork and handling patient queries. Luckily many optometry students will look for part-time jobs in local clinics in order to garner relevant experience and knowledge. You will want to start looking for staff members well in advance. This will give you enough time to be picky about who you hire. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute looking for staff before the clinic doors open.
Consider Splitting up the Cost & Partnering Up
So it is pretty evident that starting a private optometry practice requires a significant investment. This can easily become too much for you to bear, and you might consider partnering up with a fellow doctor who does not specialize in optometry. Having two different non-competing specialists in a single clinic can also increase the clientele. Across the nation there are many eye and dental clinics that are highly successful. This is because many patients coming in for dental appointments can be offered free eye exams or consultations or vise versa. It also allows your clients to come to one place for both their oral care and eye care.