The market has continued to change.  Many are asking great questions about corporate buyers, and the impact of the rise interest rates and inflation on practice values.

Healthcare is (still) Recession and Pandemic Resilient
The market continues to expand and corporate buyers, like traditional ones, see the value in healthcare. I may sound like a broken record, especially now that we are 2 years past those initial dark days, but healthcare has proven it is recession and pandemic resilience.

People simply need humans to take care of them. Rates of return on healthcare businesses are 8% or more depending on cost structures.

The Numbers Game (Hint: It’s Not a Game)
An individual doctor will always purchase a practice unless they want to be a career associate.  A corporate entity will go after an office where an improvement in gross revenue can be made through the increase of hours and services while also, of course, trimming expenses as well.

Practice sellers may not like their hard work broken down into “simple numbers” but the reality is that numbers drive corporate decision makers. It is just business.

Sometimes corporates will pay more than an private individual doctor purchaser and other times not.
Ultimately, a vendor must put personal feelings and ego aside in order to make the decision that makes most sense for them.

Market influencers – interest rates and inflation
Good news, historically, despite the varying rates, practice values have continued to rise.  They may jump more in value at certain times and less in others but in reality, the actual values have not decreased in my 30 years of being in this industry.

These past couple of years have certainly been interesting.  Despite a pandemic and increasing inflation, values have continued to rise.

This is simple economics – supply and demand.   There continues to be more buyers than good practices available. The vendors who may have chosen to delay due to pandemic by holding on, continue to put pressure on purchasers who are looking for something to buy.

Lenders also continue to fund these acquisitions provided that the buyer can qualify.  As long as this cycle continues, values will not be negatively impacted.

Can the rise in interest rates affect a practice value?
My initial answer is no BUT I do feel the need to qualify my response.

There are certain transactions that a bank will not provide 100% which means the buyer must put some money into the deal to successfully close.

This does not mean the practice is overvalued. It simply means that based on risk, a lender is comfortable in financing only a certain percentage of the purchase price.

The market has been trained in the past 20+ years to expect 100% financing.  However, many factors have changed significantly such as increased practice values along with increased, personal debt load of purchasers.

Practice value is not synonymous with level of financing.  Values are separate from the level of financing a bank will offer a purchaser.  For example, an insurance brokerage will sell for 12-15x EBITDA yet lenders do not finance this level.

Inflation can cause practice values to decrease.

It is quite simple – the more expenses rise (staffing, supplies, PPE), the more the net profit is negatively affected.

As such, value is impacted.  Therefore, before anyone opines as to whether higher rates and inflation impacts value, the real assessment is how these factors affect a practice on a case per case basis.

A blanket statement is always a dangerous thing to make.

It should also be noted, the final practice value is truly determined by the price a vendor and purchaser agree to. Even if increased expenses bring value down, a buyer can still offer more if they see opportunities in the practice.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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It’s been just over one year since COVID-19 interrupted life as we know it casting uncertainty on practice valuations in all health care sectors.  How has optometry held up over this period?   Jackie Joachim offers her perspective in conversation with Dr. Glen Chiasson based upon real-world experience.


Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp

About the Guest

Jackie Joachim is the Chief Operating officer for ROI Coporation. ROI specializes in assisting healthcare professionals in the Optometry, Dental and Veterinary spaces appraise and sell / transition their practices.



Episode Notes

Optometrist practice and health professional practices in general have proven to be resilient in the face of economic downturns in the past.  Jackie Joachim shares her experiences on practice valuations, transactions occuring during the pandemic and outlook with podcast host, Dr. Glen Chiasson.

Jackie offers an insightful perspective on how the pandemic effects the perspectives of sellers, buyers and, importantly  bankers, who fund the transactions.

She explains why and how practice valuations take into account the historical performance of a practice  – pandemic notwithstanding.

The key question addressed: Is now a good time to sell?



Dr. Glen Chiasson

Dr. Glen Chiasson

Dr. Glen Chiasson is a 1995 graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Optometry. He owns and manages two practices in Toronto. In 2009, he co-hosted a podcast produced for colleagues in eye care, the “International Optometry Podcast”. He is a moderator of the Canadian Optometry Group, an email forum for Canadian optometrists. As  a host of  “Eyes Wide Open”, Glenn  looks forward to exploring new new technologies and services for eye care professionals.

Dr. Chiasson enjoys tennis, hockey, and reading. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons.

Dr. Chiasson splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Roxanne Arnal.


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There is no doubt the world changed a year ago. The life we took for granted came to a screeching halt while we waited in helpless disbelief to hear how this pandemic and its incredible impact created stress and anxiety literally by the hour.

The pandemic forced the closure of schools, places of worship, community centres and businesses. Isolation was thrust upon us as we were prevented from seeing those we love and forced into mandated social-distancing and or self-isolation for our collective protection.

Take the positive from COVID
Despite the negative impact of COVID-19, we must however, recognize the positive that has also risen out of this crisis. If we look closely, there have also been many opportunities to reflect upon and be grateful. We have been forced to slow down which has allowed us to take a step back and appreciate so many things we took for granted.

Prior to March 2020, how many of us were close to burning out thanks to the pace we were running at? Being forced to spend more time together particularly from March to June, enabled us to focus on and breathe new life into the key relationships that we may have taken for granted. While we may not have been able to visit those we love, we were given the gift of time with the people in our home or bubble.

Viewing Trust Through Your Patient’s Eyes
As a practice owner, perhaps you view patients through new eyes. Upon reopening offices and during these past two months, the response of patients returning to your office should make doctors and their teams feel grateful. People are entrusting you with their health despite the fears swirling of additional strains and the stress of waiting for a vaccine.

Hopefully now, patients are truly appreciated as they place trust in the hands of those who rely on their office to continue supporting themselves and the team that works in it. Many practice owners may have also seen certain suppliers acknowledge the hardship experienced, extending flexible terms or payment plans.

For many, COVID-19 has given tremendous courage. The courage can be seen in the simplest of forms such as taking on a new activity, or reflecting on one’s self. It can be seen in the parents and teachers who are working so hard to preserve the mental health of our children. It has even caused those who are working as associates to take the plunge and pursue ownership.

It either accelerated the desire to be the owner or was the final push to pursue this. Either way, people are buying or starting practices. Again, with the gift of time, many of us have been blessed with the need to slowdown and re-evaluate our choices and the way we approach things.

Our thoughts are hopefully more purposeful and with intent as opposed to simply reactionary. My new favourite quote is from Nelson Mandela – “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears”. I recite this everyday multiple times.

COVID-19 despite the tragedy and hardship many have experienced, has also brought out the best in humanity. It has made those of us who are fortunate to look around to those in need and extend a helping hand. More businesses are publicizing donations to charities in exchange for virtual registrations, while others are quietly donating food to help feed the hungry. It has also encouraged many of us to listen more and talk less.

Grateful for the Simple Joys
Perhaps one of the best things of COVID-19 is that it has hopefully made us all more grateful. Remember the simple joy of meeting a friend for coffee in a café, lunch in a restaurant, attending your place of worship and so much more. I for one have so much to be grateful for. I am truly blessed with the most supportive husband and daughter, the ability to do what I love on an even greater level and the new people I have met because of this pandemic.

As one who appraises and sells practices, I have the privilege of listening to people as they share their hopes and dreams. COVID-19 has made us more vulnerable and human and for that I am truly grateful.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has caused changes in mindset, attitude, direction, and behaviour for practice owners. It changed for employees too. One year later, we can all agree that important lessons have been learned – not always by choice but by necessity.


Lesson #1: Learning to be agile.
We all had to respond quickly to changing events. Sometimes with only a couple of days notice. This made us realize how
important it is to be comfortable with change and willing to shift gears when necessary. A sub lesson in learning to be agile was also recognizing the gaps in the way things were being done. Because we had to change, perhaps some of these changes had positive outcomes.

Lesson #2: Appreciating technology more.
So many of us have had to change the way we do business. The face-to-face meetings, attending events/conventions and how
patients needed to be looked after are just some of the many examples. Corona emphasized the importance of technology. Think of all the virtual learning opportunities we have had to embrace or tele-medicine that became a necessary and by default option. I for one was forced to embrace webinars and Zoom calls. Prior to the pandemic, these were never an option for me because I was not comfortable. Simple applications like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram have enabled me to meet new people and stay connected to those I already knew. I must admit, until the pandemic, I never appreciated the value of these tools.

Lesson #3: Being more empathetic.
In these trying times, clear communication with all stakeholders of your practice—staff, partners, advisors, and patients are
critical. There is no doubt that the stress of the pandemic on owners is massive. The key towards sustaining your business
in this situation is being transparent with your stakeholders and prioritising their needs. Apart from supporting your staff and
understanding the situation, you must support your workforce by encouraging them to learn and give them opportunities to join Zoom training and courses.

Lesson #4: The essential nature of social interaction.
While digital collaboration tools have become critical to remote work and will remain post-pandemic, the new way of work also emphasized the need for social interaction for humans. Suddenly a trip to your office during a lockdown may possibly be a real treat or outing. People miss human contact with those outside of their homes. Never underestimate the positive effect you have on the people who walk through your doors. For the staff, as stressed as people may be, the ability to laugh or participate in banter can mean so much. For example, when I was at my office a few weeks ago, four of us, while social distancing, had the most frivolous conversation that left us simply laughing. It was such a wonderful feeling, one that has been missed from our daily lives.

Lesson 5: Keeping a cash buffer.
The period from mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020, taught all of us the importance of fiscal responsibility. Certainly, our credit cards took a beating as evidenced from the multitude of Amazon packages, however, for owners of practices as well as the associates, these were very scary times. Even with the various government programs, the major lesson learned by all was that we must have something in reserve. It is why banks are being tough on purchasers today because they must be confident that this person could withstand another lockdown if it ever happened. The good thing we have seen is that healthcare is recession resilient and now pandemic resilient. The pandemic has taught us the importance of having a cash buffer. Hopefully, it has also taught many of us to be grateful for what we have. So many have fallen on economic hardship and forced with extremely difficult decisions.

The pandemic has been an unforeseen situation for the whole world. It has brought about crisis and problems we never experienced before and has exposed us to many unknown vulnerabilities. This has been a period for all business owners to take a closer look at how their practice was run pre-pandemic versus now. However, along with the many challenges we faced due to the pandemic, it has also given us an opportunity to align, adapt and amend businesses as well as reinforce the strategies to make the most of the ongoing situation. Clearly, it has also taught all of us lessons that shall be both applicable and beneficial in the long run. A wise man told me that we do not need to embrace the reason for the change, but we must embrace change!

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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Quality patient care starts with the people providing it.

Perry Steigner, Optician-Owner

During an ownership transitions, maintaining standards of care among new staff is particularly important for practices that have thrived due to exceptional patient care.

Perry Steigner’s practice was one such case; tucked away in a medical building, Perry leveraged strong people skills to build a robust practice that stood out from the crowd.

His personalized, high-end service drew in repeat patients during its 27 years in operation, even without a street-level storefront. That lack of visibility might make it seem like an unlikely candidate for an acquisition, but Perry successfully sold the practice to IRIS in 2019.

With IRIS, Steigner was able to grow his legacy of patient care at a new location, while at the same time adopting a more fully integrated practice that enhanced competitiveness.

Below are the details of Steigner’s story: the sale, transition, and outcome.

A Second Look
When Perry started his independent practice in 1993, he wanted to stand out amongst the superstore and 1-hour optical outlets popping up in eyecare: “I wanted to get back to the basics: customer service, personal relationships and build a practice that way.” His friendly, conversational approach to service and commitment to quality care was what set his business apart in an increasingly competitive retail landscape.

Dr. Daryan Angle, VP of Business Development at IRIS, approached Perry in 2012 about partnering with IRIS, but the timing was not right for Perry. He was very interested in IRIS’s collaborative model of patient care but was not ready to make a move with a large lease term remaining on his office space.

His practice, Medical Arts Optical, depended on a strong relationship with nearby ophthalmologists and optometrists, giving Perry lots of referrals to work with.

While his store continued its robust growth year after year, Perry realized, that after 40 years in the industry, he still needed the perfect exit strategy.

When Daryan approached him again in 2018, his lease was coming up, and he made the decision pursue a partnership with IRIS.

Evolution of the Deal
IRIS provided Perry different options. He could choose to bring in a partner, keep a small percentage, or sell his practice outright. Perry decided to sell 100% of his practice to IRIS and work with them as an employee.

There were other offers on the table, but they all offered an earn-out over a specified period of time, whereas IRIS offered him the option to sell the entire practice immediately. Selling his practice gave him a chance to continue working and provided an easy exit option at the same time.

Although he did not plan to retire right away, he wanted a strategy that made the most of the business he had cultivated over the years: “All the people that I know, and I’ve been in it 40 years, don’t sell their business. They shut them down and get rid of the phone line, and that’s it.”

His passion for the work left him wanting to keep going without worrying about how he would make his exit and entrust his legacy of exemplary patient care to a responsible partner.

New Location, Same Great Service, Flawless Transition
Usually, IRIS will partner with an existing location, but this time Perry’s Medical Arts practice relocated to an existing corporate IRIS location half a kilometer down the street. IRIS made sure to bring the features of Perry’s practice with him, to keep his regular patients coming back.

Rose Chiarot, Optician

Rose Chariot, an optician with whom Perry had been working along for 20 years, was also transferred to the new IRIS location maintaining her schedule of two afternoon shifts per week.

Although IRIS does not typically have in-store edging equipment, Perry brought over his own so he could continue to provide assembly services.

Eight thousand flyers were sent to Perry’s existing patients, explaining the merger.  The Medical Arts Optical phone number was rerouted to the new location and the new welcome message was provided in Perry’s familiar voice. Steigner characterized the transition as flawless.

Perry also passed on his formula for friendly patient care to the staff at IRIS: “This is our stage, we are performers, let’s get to know our customers. It’s the personal touch that will set us above our competitors. They are very receptive to that.” Perry was rewarded by seeing the transformation among the staff, who learned from his approach by watching him work.

IRIS provided Perry with a three-year employment contract but told him he could stay on as long as he wanted. The three years will help IRIS integrate Perry’s practice successfully, and Perry was eager to help in any way he can.

A COVID-19 Lesson
On March 24th, IRIS decided to shut down the location after COVID-19 hit. After the Ontario regulatory allowed limited open hours for urgent care, the office switched to appointment-based services. Perry initially thought it would be a problem for the optical dispensing side but was impressed with the sophistication of IRIS’ digital appointment system.

His patients also commented on the shorter wait times as a result of appointment-based retailing.

The End Result
Perry has no regrets about his decision and keeps working out of love for the business. He was happy to make the switch to a great location, and to keep seeing his patients without the administrative hassle of running a business: “What I was glad to get rid of was writing the cheques, worrying about the suppliers, reconciling statements, all that stuff. All my energy now is 100% focused on getting these patients to IRIS.

“Even my accountant would say, ‘Perry, if you are looking at an exit strategy, this is textbook: here you go, you sold your practice, you like the guys you are selling to, you are two blocks away from where you were, the location is fantastic.’ It was a great opportunity.”

Perry is  working Tuesday to Saturday, an arrangement that works best for this location. The stores sales volume has been exceeding projected goals.

Due to COVID the store continues to see patient’s by appointment only with very positive feedback from patients. Perry has suggested that even when the COVID situation settles down, IRIS should continue to offer appointments for eyeglass selection or repairs and adjustments, and pursue a balance of appointments and walk ins.


IRIS provided Eye Care Business Canada full unconditional access to ECPs that have recently completed a partnership agreement with the group.  Each partner story provides and insider’s view to the the acquisition;  challenges faced, obstacles overcome and the final results.

This is the fourth of a four part series:  The Power of Partnership: Overcoming Challenges Together.

Related Articles:  

Previous articles in the Series:

Power in Partnership:  An Early Adopter Parnership:  Lessons Learned and Shared 
Power in Partnership: Overcoming Challenges Together (Dr. Christa Beverley, Barrie)
Power in Partnership: Enhancing Value Through Transformation to a Full Service Practice 
Eyes Wide Open Podcast:  How IRIS Challenged the Ontario OD Regs and Won
Eyes Wide Open Podcast:  IRIS sees Sliver Linings Behind the Covid Clouds
Insight Profile:  Dr. Daryan Angle, IRIS VP Business Development


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2020 did not work out as any of us planned. So many had great expectations which quickly came to a grinding halt. The world changed and the way we do business has too. Some of the changes will even become permanent.

As difficult as this pandemic has been for people, we must continue to believe we will come through this. Because we will. Think back to when our parents and grandparents had to experience extremely challenging times like the Depression, World Wars and other tragedies. There were always celebrations once these challenges came to an end.

No one has a crystal ball. No one knows what 2021 will really look like, but we must enter with optimism and hope. People will gather again, hug again, travel again. Global economics will rebound. There is pent up demand for products and services. After all, we caught a glimpse of this when dental and optometry offices reopened after the forced closures. Many practices are seeing revenues rebound and approach pre-pandemic levels.

Positivity in life is the key to success, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment. It is difficult to have a positive attitude and positive thoughts when we look back at 2020 but as much as there was pain and suffering, there were some silver linings.

Those of us in the people business had to really work at our communication skills. You had to ensure you kept in touch with your patients—to not only educate but to be a calming voice of science-based information. Many people improved their technology skills. For those of us that consider ourselves “too old”, we embraced things liked zoom calls, webinars and Instagram. One of my favourite moments is about my 89 year old mother setting up an Instagram account. On a personal level, we valued those closest to us. Hopefully family relationships have also strengthened.

2020 has taught us that we cannot always be in control and that we must be willing to adapt. One thing we can control is our attitude and how we choose to approach life. An optimistic attitude is critical and necessary for 2021. It pushes us forward, encourages us, and helps us overcome obstacles. It inspires those around us and helps us in accomplishing dreams and goals. A positive attitude also helps with making difficult tasks easier to fulfill. A positive frame of mind increases our motivation to
succeed. It motivates us to think creatively and therefore achieve more than we ever expected.

Most importantly, a positive attitude awakens happiness within ourselves and those around us. Goodness knows, we need happiness and hope. To be very clear, we can all agree that we need more positivity, joy and happiness in 2021. Please be a beacon of hope. We will get through this pandemic if we stay positive together!

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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people management

Even before COVID, independent Optometrists shared a common complaint. How do you see patients all day as well as manage staff and the business demands of the practice? The answer is often an Office Manager. Even with a small team, it is important that someone is leading the ship when the Owner is seeing patients.

How’s Right for the Job?
For many offices, the Office Manager can be someone who has shown interest in managing tasks and taking on a bigger role within the office. It is also possible to hire someone with an affinity for office management but doesn’t have optical experience.

I have seen some wonderful Office Managers come from other backgrounds and bring new insight and perspective to the practices they work in.

Ultimately, the main responsibility of the Office Manager is to be the contact person for staff and patients, in your absence. It is imperative that they have a consistent and direct line to you on a regular basis. The staff will be accountable to the Office Manager and the Office Manager will be accountable to you.

A great office  manager can fill the gaps.
Just recently, a client mentioned that their associate’s appointment book was starting to look sparse in the week or two ahead.

They were looking for some guidance on how to approach staff. This is the perfect example of how an Office Manager could be of great assistance. In charge of overseeing the general business functioning of the clinic, the Office Manager will have independently identified this concern. The Office Manager will “huddle” will staff and brain storm action steps to get the appointments booked.

Often, when I am speaking to Office Managers, or even Practice Owners, they will express a concern about micromanaging the team. In fact, teams need managing – and even inspiring!

Recently, when mentoring a teammate in one office to become the Office Manager, we reviewed the action steps the team had already taken – getting caught up on recalls being the big one – and it appeared the team was being proactive. I asked if the team was also asking if there were other members in the household that were due for an eye exam that wanted to come in at the same time.

Particularly during COVID, it actually benefits the family and clinic if they come into the office at once and in their bubble. The future Office Manager graciously acknowledged that although they had done so in the past, they had stopped asking this question when patients were booking.

Now armed with a suggestion that could bring fresh perspective to the situation, the future Office Manager left our call to meet with her team to brainstorm ideas to get the schedule booked! I challenged her to do a similar exercise with the front desk staff in the spirit of unearthing ideas that had simply fallen off their radar.

This type of mentorship and coaching is necessary to transfer authority to the Office Manager, so that ultimately, the Office Manager can start independently assessing the business needs and acting accordingly. It takes some time and guidance, but the end result is well worth the effort.


is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at


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Many of us believe that we are already seeing a second wave of COVID-19. We feel it is here, now that we have seen a continuous rise in cases and that we should also try to be prepared for potentially a third and fourth wave.

The COVID-19 crisis found the world unprepared, but despite this, the reaction was both rapid and responsible. Nonetheless, challenges remained – especially as practices moved from initial response to living with the pandemic longer-term. Healthcare has proven its resiliency to both recessions and now a pandemic, so now is the time to plan and not simply react. The best we can all do is take the lessons we learned from how we responded to the first wave. I am a firm believer that history truly is a great teacher. The first thing every practice owner needs to do is talk to other practice owners. Don’t use the time to complain and fear the worst but rather, ask people what they did the first time. What did they feel worked well and what would they do differently if they had to? Now is the time to do a review and see if your business plan requires a revision or modification. People will always need healthcare. That is a fact. But there is nothing stopping you from ensuring your practice operations are fine tuned in order to manage future waves.

An important measure to take is improve your communication with staff and prioritize their concerns. Despite all the protocols implemented in offices, staff are human. Many are anxious and as numbers increase, so does fear. Taking time to listen and not dismiss is critical. Addressing their concerns in an open and transparent manner will go a long way in keeping them engaged. As the owner, providing confidence and reassurance is key. Offices have gone to great lengths to ensure all the steps are in place to ensure the safety of both staff and patients within the practice. Being that calm voice in the storm is so important. Human nature is such that people will make decisions on their own, if a clear strategy is not presented for them to follow. This is where your leadership matters.

This may sound very simplistic or even obvious but ensuring that you have a proper supply of PPE, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies will avoid any scrambling or being caught in a rush that could result. Another tip is to continue to manage your cash flow – both in the office and at home. I sincerely do not believe a second closure of offices will occur, but from the various practice owners I’ve spoken to, those who could weather the storm the first time were people who were not overleveraged. It is easy to engage in retail therapy or home renovations (I certainly have) in lieu of not taking a formal vacation or just managing stress. Do your best to create a financial cushion. Also, one of the best things you can do to help calm yourself during times of uncertainty is to prepare regular budgets and stress-test them. This knowledge will give you better clarity and an important sense of control.

During the lockdown, I was so impressed to see practice owners take to the internet – whether it was videos, email messages or Facebook posts. Keeping patients connected is so critical. Now more than ever is the time to be an informative and calming voice to patients. Do not be afraid to invest wisely in your online presence.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that we need to prepare for future pandemics. Infectious disease experts warn that COVID-19 may not be the only global pandemic we experience in our lifetime. Some of the changes we have had to roll out may now become part of the ‘new normal,’ such as physical distancing in reception areas and PPE during patient visits. After all, it was the care of patients with HIV that led dentists to start wearing masks and gloves.

COVID-19 has taught us that even in volatile times, it is possible to manage and maintain your practice. Some have even been able to grow. While we all had to adapt on the fly earlier this year, this time around we can turn to the good habits we adopted and lessons learned during the first wave to get ourselves through the ones to come.

Keep staying safe and healthy!

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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It is amazing to reflect on how much life has changed since mid-March. We all went into 2020 with high hopes and had no inkling of the need to wear masks and social distance. We now know that these precautions are necessary to keep those around us safe.

It is difficult to constantly live within these restrictions and increased protocols. Many of us are experiencing COVID fatigue. We are stressed by not being able to enjoy simple things we took for granted. We also feel guilty because the sacrifices we are being asked to make pales in comparison to what our parents and grandparents needed to do during times of depressions and wars. We miss not having human touch—shaking a hand, giving an encouraging hug, or even worse, holding someone’s hand when they so desperately need our support.

When you are an owner, there is an added layer of complexity. Despite feeling anxious about the state of the world, you must always be positive for your patients and staff. When a patient asks how things are, you cannot tell the truth. You must put on a brave face and while it is necessary, it is also incredibly exhausting and takes a toll.

While the word “self-care” these days is associated with social media posts of face mask rituals, inspirational quotes and the like, the reality is that self-care for owners and leaders during uncertain times is so critical to our health, both physically and mentally. You can only look after your family, staff and patients if you are looking after yourself!!

Like you, I am looking for strategies to ride out the storm with my sanity in tact. We all need a plan to build and sustain our resilience.

• I focus first on being mindful of time. Time has always been a precious commodity. Since March many of us feel we are caught in a time warp or living through the plot of a sci-fi novel. We seem to be constantly putting out small fires on a regular basis and wonder at the end of the day—where did all the time go?

I challenge you to try this little exercise (it takes time but its worth it). Create a table with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and 16 rows (for each hour that you’re awake). For a week, write down what you did for each hour so you’ll have a clear idea of how you spent your time. You can make adjustments later on. Being more focussed on how you spend your time, allows you to have more control during a pandemic that doesn’t allow us to feel any control.

• It is critical to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. By now, we are all Zoomed or webinared out. I know for myself, the last thing I want to do is spend time on another call. However, many are feeling apprehensive about eating in restaurants, etc. so how are we engaging socially? It is so easy to let the absence of social physicality create self-isolation. We may see patients or clients, or chat for a few minutes to a salesperson but these encounters cannot replace the physical and one-on-one social interaction we have with our friends. A good old-fashioned phone call is a huge boost not only for the other person on the other line but for you as well.

• I recently read an article, written by leadership mentor Michael Hyatt, who suggested we identify our “Weekly Big Three”. Hyatt states the “Weekly Big Three” are your weekly achievements that will move the needle on your major life goals.

In the context of the pandemic, you identify in your working environment the three big tasks you should do for the entire week. The intention is to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed by your to-do list at your practice or office. Your weekly big three can range from learning how to use Instagram to cleaning out your email inbox. And if all you can do is a “Weekly Big One”, that is completely fine too.

• Personally the pandemic has made me stop and think about how I spend my time unrelated to business. It is easy to allow ourselves to become defined by our work but now, more than ever, developing a hobby or pursuing an activity outside of your practice or business can prove to be an excellent release of stress. There are so many facets to us and we must not feel guilty for taking time for non work-related interests. It’s absolutely fine to have unproductive hobbies or indulge in reality-based television.

• Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. Our egos and pride can unfortunately get in the way. Asking for help is one of the critical things you can do to keep yourself sane and well during these unsettling times as a practice owner.

It truly is important to look after yourself and others during this incredibly crazy time. No one really knows how long the precautions and restrictions will be in place or how long the recovery process will take. However, your practice will come through this pandemic if you look after its greatest asset—YOU. If you are proactive in looking after yourself and others, you will feel more relaxed, focused and have a renewed sense of purpose for not only surviving but managing the pandemic successfully.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp


Jackie has 30 years of experience in the industry as a former banker and now the Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at or 1-844-764-2020.


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Working solo in a consulting company, I normally march along fairly happily getting my job done, satisfied that I am doing all that I can. I make my fair share of mistakes – do I ever! – but I learn from them (and at least try not to beat myself up too much!) and then move on.

What I find a little harder to do is to “compliment” myself on a job well done. It’s one of the hidden pitfalls of sole ownership and I know my clients and all independent optometrists can feel the weight of it too.

As small business owners, we don’t often get the loop back of praise and encouragement. As the person at the top, it is our job to offer encouragement to others and not normally the other way around.

Words of encouragement for sole owners are few and far between at the best of times. We are in more challenging times, without a doubt. Everything is taking more time, more energy and more money. Practice owners everywhere must be starting to feel worn down.

Lately, I have had a number of clients go out of their way to acknowledge my work and offer me words of encouragement. They have struck me and the impact of these words was not been insignificant. They have lifted me up and I have felt lighter and more capable every since.

I started thinking about this in the context of my role. I am often looking for gaps and ways to improve optometric businesses.  But I also see so many great results! Moving forward, I want to add a much stronger emphasis on all the things that are going well in a practice.

2020 has been a year uniquely filled with much uncertainty and anxiety, beyond what any of us could possibly have imagined.  When you are navigating so many new policies and procedures, reassuring patients and staff that they are safe and keeping your business running as smoothly as possible, it is bound to take a toll on your energy and enthusiasm.

I want to acknowledge how the owners of optometric practices all across Canada have stepped up.

I hope every owner will take some intentional time to reflect on all that they have accomplished this year. They have all researched and outfitted their offices with protective barriers. They have all sourced PPE, taken courses on infection control and introduced protocols into their offices to keep staff and patients safe  They have reassured patients who are on edge because everything is new in their office. They have added extra measures of security to ensure staff members with underlying medical concerns feel valued and protected.

We will look back on 2020 in awe and disbelief. I hope you will also look back and feel pride. There was no roadmap, there still isn’t. And yet, optometric practice owners have not let themselves get discouraged. That is truly impressive and my hat’s off to all of you.


is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at


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