Dental and Medical Counsel Blog

Purchasing an Optometry Practice Vs. Starting from Scratch

August 27, 2022
purchasing an optometry practice vs starting an optometry practice scratch

If you are a new optometrist in your field, you might be wondering what your first job should look like. You might be interested in starting your own optometry practice, or you might be interested in buying an optometry practice. If you decide to start your own practice, you will need to build it from the ground up. If you decide to buy an optometry practice, you might need to spend more money, but you will already have an established building, staff, and patient load with which to work. Ultimately, this is a personal decision, but it is critical to take a look at some of the pros and cons. What are some of the most important factors you should consider? If you would like help during this process, it’s always a good idea to look for help from optometric consultants such as Akrinos.

First of all, congratulations on taking the next step toward optometric practice ownership. Whether you decide to buy an optometry practice, or you choose the optometry startup route, it is important to do your due diligence. In this article, we will go over everything you need to know so stay tuned. As always, don't hesitate to reach out. 

Buying an Optometry Practice

First, you might be interested in buying an existing optometry practice. Maybe you are thinking about taking out a loan to purchase a practice in the local area. Or, you might be interested in taking over for an eye doctor who is retiring soon.

The Pros

There are several significant advantages of buying an existing optometry practice. They include:

  • More Cash Flow: This is one of the biggest benefits of purchasing an optometry practice. As long as you do your due diligence, you should have a nice, steady cash flow coming in as soon as you buy the practice. There should be an established patient load, and the practice should already have its debt under control.
  • Experienced Staff: As long as the transition process goes smoothly, the existing staff members should be willing to stick around. You don't have to go through the trouble of recruiting, hiring, and training new staff members to handle various aspects of the practice on your behalf. Many of the staff members probably already have good relationships with each other and the existing patients, so your practice should run smoothly.
  • Proven Systems in Place: With an existing practice, you don't have to worry about doing a complete rebuild of the daily operations. You probably already have the equipment in place to run your practice, and you probably have plenty of software programs that work well already. Your staff should be experienced with the infrastructure you have in place.
  • A Strong Patient Base: You also don't have to worry about building a marketing plan from the ground up. There is probably already an existing patient base in place, and as long as you continue to provide quality care, they should remain with the practice.
  • A Proven Market: One of the major challenges of opening your own practice is that you do not know if there is a strong market in place to support it. If you purchase an existing practice, you have already proven to yourself that there is a strong market to support your practice.

Clearly, there are a lot of benefits that come with purchasing an existing practice. Because many of these important details are already in place, you don't have to spend as much time on the minutia of building a practice. On the other hand, there are several significant drawbacks you need to consider as well.

The Cons

A few of the drawbacks of purchasing your own practice include:

  • More Money: If the practice already has a solid cash flow, it is inherently more valuable. Therefore, you will need to spend more money if you are interested in purchasing an optometry practice when compared to building it from the ground up.
  • Maintenance and Upgrades: If the practice has been in place for a while, there is a chance that the equipment is getting older. Maybe the software program is obsolete, and perhaps the space is becoming a bit too small. You may need to spend more money on repairs, replacements, and upgrades to modernize the practice and make it more appealing.
  • Community Changes: The current location of the practice might have been the ideal location when it first opened, but communities change and evolve over time. Maybe the current location of the practice is no longer the ideal location for an eye doctor. It may not have the same aesthetic design standards or visibility it once had.
  • Retaining Relationships: Even though the existing staff might be inclined to stick around, you should not assume that is the case. Some of the staff members may have been working with the other eye doctors for decades, and they may be very hesitant to work for you. You might have a difficult time building new relationships with the staff members.
  • Expansion Difficulties: You might find that you are paying off the cost of buying the practice over the course of many years. You can only generate more revenue for yourself if you expand the practice. What if the practice has already hit its revenue limit? You might have a difficult time expanding services.

It is also important to consider the drawbacks of building a practice. Even though it might be the right move in certain situations, you need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully before you decide if it is the right move. 

Starting an Optometry Practice

If you want total and complete freedom to design your own optometry practice, then you might be thinking about opening one for yourself. A lot of challenges come with starting an optometry practice, as you will need to put on the hat of an entrepreneur. You need to think about every aspect of your optometry practice, how you will generate revenue, and how you will provide your patients with the quality care that they deserve. You will have a tremendous amount of freedom and autonomy, but you need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of this option carefully before you decide if it is right for you.

The Pros

You will enjoy many significant advantages if you decide to open your own optometry practice. A few of the biggest benefits to keep in mind include:

  • Your Location: You get to find the perfect location for your practice. You may decide to open your practice in an area you are familiar with. Or, you might decide to open your practice in an area that is entirely new to you. You can take all the time you want to research the local area before deciding where to put out your shingle.
  • Your Designs: You also get to design your practice exactly as you like. How many rooms do you want to have to take care of patients? How many staff members do you want to hire? What type of infrastructure do you want to institute? What type of software programs do you want to use? You get to answer all of these questions for yourself before you get to open the doors of your practice.
  • New Technology: Because you are not purchasing an existing practice, you can purchase the most advanced equipment in the industry today. This includes medication, medical tools, computers, and software programs. If you want a video game system in the waiting room to entertain your patience, you can even add that to the list.
  • The Cost: Even though it is scary to open your own business, you don't have to worry about shouldering a tremendous loan to purchase a practice that is already up and running. In general, starting a brand new practice should not cost you as much money compared to buying one that has been around for several years.
  • Rent or Buy: You also get to decide whether you want to rent a building for your practice or buy one. If you plan on staying in the same place for a while, you may want to buy a building instead. This could be a way for you to increase your investment, as the value of your property may also go up over time.

Ultimately, starting your own optometry practice means that it is yours. You get to choose the staff, you get to choose the marketing plan, and you get to choose the equipment that goes in your practice. You also get to choose who you want as your patients.

The Cons

On the other hand, some drawbacks come with starting a new practice. Some of the obstacles you will need to overcome include:

  • Lack of Cash Flow: If you decide to start a new practice, you might not see a profit for a few years. You will probably have to take out some loans to purchase your equipment, and you will need to pay those back before you can start to pay yourself. Do not forget that you will also have to pay the salaries of your staff members.
  • No Patients: Obviously, this is a glaring obstacle you will have to overcome. It can be challenging to spend a lot of money without any patients on the schedule, but as long as you do a great job, your patients should start to sign up for appointments. The only question is how long it will take before you have a steady flow of patients.
  • More Time: It also takes a lot of time for you to get the practice on its feet. You probably thought you would spend all day taking care of patients, but there are also a lot of issues you need to consider regarding your company. It can take you some time to design a complete plan for your optometry practice, and that is time that you are not spending taking care of patients.
  • Hiring Staff: You cannot do everything on your own. You need to locate staff members who are willing to show up and go to work for you every day. You might have a difficult time finding qualified people willing to work at an affordable price. You need to take some time to think about what your ideal staff member looks like and what he or she brings to the table.
  • The Risk: If you decide to start a brand new practice, you are taking on more risk than you would if you were to purchase an already successful practice. You need to think carefully about your risk tolerance and whether you can go through the process of building your business from the ground up.

Starting a new practice can be exciting, but there are a lot of challenges to overcome. You may want to learn more about the process by looking at some of the lessons from Akrinos.

Trust the Team From Dental & Medical Counsel To Help You

Regardless of your path, it is important to make sure you put yourself in the best position possible to succeed. Some people might be interested in buying an existing practice, while other people might be interested in starting their own. At Dental & Medical Counsel, we provide access to an optometry lawyer who can work with you during the process and ensure that all factors have been carefully considered. An optometry attorney can take a look at your situation, review your options, and make sure you do not overlook anything important. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to speak to a member of our team.

Get Your Free Consultation Now

At Dental & Medical Counsel, PC, we understand optometrists have trouble navigating the legal process. We believe every optometrist deserves the best advice and service so doctors can do what they do best, treat their patients. We make optometrists' lives easier by providing expert guidance, so they can focus on their personal and professional aspirations.

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About Ali Oromchian, Esq.

Ali Oromchian, JD, LL.M. is the founding attorney of the Dental & Medical Counsel, PC law firm and is renowned for his expertise in legal matters related to optometrists

In addition to practicing law for almost 20 years, Ali is also a renowned speaker, throughout North America, on topics such as practice transitions, employment law, negotiation strategies, estate planning, and more! Ali has helped hundreds of optometrists realize their professional goals and looks forward to aiding you in navigating the legal landscape. 

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