Small Business Brief

Medical & Services

From the Ground-Up: How to Start Your Own Private Optometry Practice

Have you been working at someone else’s optometry practice for a while now and want to go it alone? Click here to learn how to open your own practice.

Opening an optometry practice can be daunting and risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a big investment and in a competitive field, you can’t afford to make mistakes.

Big players dominate the market, and if you want to open a successful independent practice, you need to have a plan and a team in place.

Read on to learn what you need to do to open an optometry practice that’s competitive and profitable.

Get the Right Team in Place

As soon as you decide to open up an independent optometry practice, you’re going to need to enlist the right help immediately.

You’ll need people who know business law, commercial real estate, hiring and managing staff, and accounting.

Having a mentor who has been through the process of opening up an optometry practice will go a long way to guide you and advise you, too.

The first place to start is with a business attorney. They’ll help you set up your business and make sure you have the right business structure from the onset.

You’ll also need to have a good relationship with a banker or financier who can get the capital investment required to start your business.

A commercial real estate professional will help you choose the right location for your practice at the right price. That’s going to be one of the most important pieces to consider as you build your practice.

A human resources consultant can assist with navigating labor laws and make sure you hire the best and the brightest staff.

Finally, you’re going to need a marketing expert or agency to help you generate new patients as soon as possible so you can get off the ground running.

Write Your Business Plan

In order to get financing for your practice, you’re going to need to have a formal business plan. You can’t get away with a business plan that’s in your head. You have to have everything down on paper.

You’ll need to start with your mission and vision of your optometry practice.

Next, describe what your services and products are, and the pricing structure. Do some research on the brands of eyeglasses or types of contact lenses available. Click here for more information.

You’ll do the same for your top three competitors. You’ll need to research how your services compare to the competition.

Your business plan also needs to include financial projections, including all expenses.

Know Your Target Market

You should devote a significant portion of your business plan to your target market. You have to have a deep understanding of your target audience. You have to go beyond “anyone who needs eye care within a 10-minute radius.”

That’s a good start, but you need to know their age, income level, spending habits, pains and fears around visiting the eye doctor.

These are important to know because you need to create marketing messages that will address those concerns and help your potential patients relate to your business.

What About Student Loans?

If you’re starting your optometry business soon after graduation, you’ll likely have student loans to pay off. The average amount of debt for graduating optometrists is $80,000, while some have debt as high as $200,000.

You can still get funding if you open an optometry practice. Lenders do consider this type of business to be low-risk, so it is easier to get funding.

The most important thing you’ll need to obtain funding is an air-tight business plan. You also need to show the potential locations can generate revenue for your practice.

Location, Location, Location

In a sense, your optometry practice is like a retail business because you need people to go to you. Therefore, you need to be in the same location as your target market.

For instance, if you target families with a total household income of $100,000, you want your location in a neighborhood where your target audience resides or is otherwise easily accessible.

Your practice can be in a retail location in a shopping center or in a downtown location that gets a lot of foot traffic.

After you pick out a location, your real estate professional and business attorney can go over the lease to makes sure it’s in your best interest.

Hire Your Staff

Once you have your location, you’ll need to start hiring staff for your practice. You’ll need an office manager, and you need an expert in billing and coding to make sure you get paid on time by insurance companies.

Marketing Your New Practice

If you build an optometry business an no one knows about it, does it really exist?

That’s a question that you won’t need to ask yourself because you’re going to market your practice so your target market knows about it.

There are dozens of ways to market your practice. You can use SEO, direct mail, networking,

The key to good marketing is to know what you offer, why you offer them, and most importantly, how you can help people solve their problems.

If you can communicate those things well, it won’t matter what you do to market your business. You’ll just need to do 2 or 3 marketing tactics well and you’ll have a great business.

Track Everything

Every month, it’s essential to review data to determine the health of your optometry practice. There are key metrics that you want to track and review on a regular basis.

The first is gross receipts, personal net, and hours worked. You need to make sure that you’re not spending too much time in the wrong practice areas and that you’re profitable.

Start a Successful Optometry Practice Today

Starting any business has a lot of risks. It’s well known that many businesses fail within the first few years.

With an optometry practice, you have to have a solid business plan and a team of experts who will help you get your business off the ground.

For more great business tips, check out our small business forum today.