By Dr. Trevor Miranda. 

Dr. Miranda contributes his thoughts and perspectives on the topic of Independent Eye Care Practice in Eye Care Business Canada. Check out all of Dr. Miranda’s articles in Independent Insights category.

If you are a practice owner then you are a leader.

It is important to embrace this role, learn to excel as a leader and create future leaders in your organization. Too often the owner abdicates the leadership responsibility and, as a result, the void is often filled by dysfunctional power grabbing protectionist team members looking to control everything and limit the growth of others.

Driving the Bus
As a leader, you need to be able to lead from the front.

This component of leadership is tasked with the awesome responsibility of “being awake at the steering wheel”. This means being ready to make turns to keep the bus on the road to business prosperity, to deftly dodge the potholes (like the Pandemic) and knowing when to stop, rest and refuel.

The driver of the team understands what it takes to do each job to keep the team moving forward. Valuing each job is crucial to engaging the entire team to keep their eyes on the road so they can also catch threats that may end in disaster.

At the Back of The Bus
I remember road trips with soccer and hockey teams growing up.

Only the “cool kids” got the back seats. The cover of invincibility and greatly reduced accountability made the back of the bus the most coveted locale.

A great leader lets others drive. Encouraging and fostering leadership skills in others will incubate a culture of empowerment. Great leaders can sit at the back of the bus and enjoy the fun and reduced stress that comes with that.

These special leaders are in tune with the heartbeat of the team. Make sure you take time to have fun!

No Back Seat Driving
Great leaders let others lead.

The bus of business is on the road 24/7. You can’t be a good driver all the time. Encouraging other team members to lead perhaps by running a meeting, hiring new staff, creating training plans for each team member or investigating new product solutions are all key to fostering a Leadership Culture.

It is important to let the driver in training make decisions such as where to turn without constant direction. Don’t be a backseat driver! Emerging leaders of organizations need some room to FAIL (First Attempt in Learning). Crucial to a learning organization is that reviewing where we are and how we got there brings new insights.

All drivers in training need to know when they take a suboptimal route and understand ways to improve on a go forth basis.

Under the Bus
The concept of throwing a teammate under the bus needs to be revisited.

Taking team accountability for mistakes such as a missed order, incorrect Rx, or any other perceived patient slight allows the patient community to recognize the team care they are receiving.

As a leader, you should always be “under the bus” with the entire team. If we are attached together we cannot throw anyone under the bus without ourselves coming along for the ride.

The Wrong Bus
Sometimes passengers on your team bus may experience motion sickness or do not appreciate the direction the bus is going.

In your company analogy, these passengers are wishing they weren’t even on your bus. They want to fly first class (who wouldn’t?!). It is crucial that the leaders identify these team members and ensure they fully understand the direction of the organization and exactly what roles they are expected to undertake.

If that is unsatisfactory then stop the bus and exit this employee. Perhaps a different journey is more suitable for them and it’s time for them to find a different bus.

It’s better to be honest and frank in these conversations but remember to be kind.

Driving Standards
There are certain attributes that good leaders value including honesty, trust, hard work and kindness.

In the same way that we follow “the rules of the road,” great leaders don’t cut corners when it comes to “doing things the right way.” Crucially fostering other leaders is very important.

We have created a pathway or “journey” for each team member by overlapping training and compensation so that each employee feels some control of the direction that the team is heading.
Great execution relies on an amazing team all driving in the same direction!

 

DR. TREVOR MIRANDA

Dr. Miranda is a partner in a multi-doctor, five-location practice on Vancouver Island.

He is a strong advocate for true Independent Optometry.

As a serial entrepreneur, Trevor is constantly testing different patient care and business models at his various locations. Many of these have turned out to be quite successful, to the point where many of his colleagues have adopted them into their own practices.


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By Dr. Trevor Miranda. 

Dr. Miranda will be regularly contributing his thoughts and perspectives on the topic of Independent Eye Care Practice in Eye Care Business Canada.

In life and at work, we can often think it is easier not to think of something to avoid having to use the scarce resources of time and energy to properly deal with the task at hand.

For me, it’s organizing my closet or cleaning the garage. I cope by putting it off but every time I open my drawers I am reminded that it needs my attention (I finally did tidy the garage and I feel so much better!).

My stress could be reduced by just stopping the avoidance of these tasks!

Multi-tasking Owners are Challenged

Independent optometric owners have to juggle many responsibilities. Marketing, human resources, inventory management, cash flow, financial statements, scheduling, tax planning, budgeting, equipment purchasing and maintenance, product information, staff training, patient experience, E-Commerce and many other duties can easily overwhelm the minds of optometric owners.

Beyond that, the responsibilities of continuous learning on glaucoma, macular degeneration, vision therapy, low vision, myopia management and primary eye care further compete for optometrists’ time and energy.

Wearing all these hats is very challenging and often leads to avoidance coping.

Avoidance coping is a maladaptive form of coping in which a person changes their behaviour to avoid thinking about, feeling, or doing difficult things.

Stress Management versus Stress Avoidance

Avoiding stress might seem like a great way to become less stressed, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

More often than not, confronting a problem or dealing with a stressor is the only way to effectively reduce the stress it causes.

We strive for “stress management” rather than “stress avoidance”. Usually, procrastination or trying not to think of the stresses leads to further stress and increased frustrations. Actively managing stress is a more healthy and productive strategy.

Ways to Manage Stress

Delegate (don’t abdicate):
Delegation of duties is an effective way to distribute responsibility and accountability.

Effective delegation requires structure and training. It is important that there is oversight of delegated tasks.

This means using “SMART” goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timelines.

As an owner, it is important to be briefed regularly on the status of a particular portfolio. For instance, delegation of marketing in your practice should include a regularly updated budget and a yearly marketing plan with regular reviews at predetermined intervals.

There are task management applications that can assist in overseeing these delegated tasks; examples include Monday.com and Trello.

Delegation of tasks can be divided among the entire team rather than residing as the responsibility of the office manager. For instance, one staffer can be in charge of outstanding accounts; another in charge of ordering supplies.

We utilize Slack to assign tasks that combine communication to both assignee and assignor until task competition. The management of outstanding tasks allows compartmentalization of these potential stresses and combats avoidance.

Empowerment:
Cultivation of empowerment in each team member to be part of the solution is important to stress reductions and better office functioning.

The culture of not passing the buck or saying “that’s not my job” is crucial to a shared responsibility and accountability. This helps reduce the burden and decrease potential stress.

Macromanagement:
Leaders guide their businesses in a directional way. Avoiding micromanaging will reduce stress.

It is important to quickly address large issues but avoid managing each and every mistake. Resist the urge to point out every mistake as this can be demotivating and depressing while adding stress on both sides.

If something is particularly bothersome, ensure you are not actively frustrated and address the issue in private with the appropriate compassion and honesty. Collaborate on ways to improve with training and feedback. Getting buy-in is crucial.

Avoiding difficult conversations will only add to stress levels. It is better to act like the CEO of your optometric business. Guide the ship through small directional maneuvers rather than being stuck in reflexive reactions in day-to-day events.

Outsource:
Another way to help manage the myriad of responsibilities is to outsource to experts.

Companies offer marketing, human resources, accounting, and even optical dispensary management where experts take on the responsibility and reduce the owner’s stress load.

Don’t avoid the necessary time it takes to manage these areas properly. Use outsourced experts that are accountable for results and preset timelines.

I remember when I started my first clinic. I answered the phones, did the accounting, cleaned the office and helped in frame selection.

All of these duties are currently not my direct responsibility. It is important that you change as you grow.

Learning the business by doing it yourself is great if you’re capable, enjoy that aspect of business and have the time to do it.

As your business grows your management techniques need to adapt. With five clinics and a growing team, I know that I must adapt to actively manage stresses rather than avoid them.

 

DR. TREVOR MIRANDA

Dr. Miranda is a partner in a multi-doctor, five-location practice on Vancouver Island.

He is a strong advocate for true Independent Optometry.

As a serial entrepreneur, Trevor is constantly testing different patient care and business models at his various locations. Many of these have turned out to be quite successful, to the point where many of his colleagues have adopted them into their own practices.


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End of Time

By Dr. Trevor Miranda. 

Dr. Miranda will be regularly contributing his thoughts and perspectives on the topic of Independent Eye Care Practice in Eye Care Business Canada.

Time may be our most precious resource. Time has a finite and infinite horizon depending on the reference point. We all know and understand the saying “time flies when you’re having fun!” When you can’t wait until the end of the day rolls around, time seems to go slow, punishing you for watching it, agonizingly; seemingly consciously slowing the seconds down.

When it comes to time at work, most of us spend half our waking day “making a living”. It is estimated most people spend one third of their life at work.

There are those that dread these work hours. They work to have time off. They don’t enjoy work and their time at work brings them stress, anxiety and lack of fulfillment.

Then there are those of us that enjoy working. We choose an attitude and a mindset by embracing the day at work with excitement and anticipation. In this way, work is not so much about time as it is about the individual interactions and experiences that every day brings.

Slow Down Doc!
In my early career as an optometrist, I would fret about being late for my next patient. I was worried about the emergency “fit -in” that would distract my mind from the patient right in front of me.

One patient told me to slow down. It made me realize I was doing it all wrong. I still really like running on time but now I give 100% attention to my current patient.

I started using a chair-side assistant that scribes my notes so I can give full time eye contact to my patient, engaging with them on a deeper level. Rather than having to turn my side to them and type notes (I use the hunt and peck typing method), I can now pick up general body language and nuances to ensure my patient understands and can comfortably ask all their clarification questions.

I won’t leave until all questions are answered. I use videos to send information about disease conditions and invite follow-up dialogue if required. I page my optical experts to be present in my exam lane to enable a seamless hand off resulting in increased confidence in my recommendations that are reviewed by the opticians. This in-lane hand off produces greater optical capture rates and improved compliance to treatment plans.

Saving Time
Being time efficient or “lean” is something that can pay off both financially and in providing more time for other options. I calculated that saving two minutes per patient would equate to 16 days of time off or extra patient slots (based on 16 full exams over 48 weeks).

This can be done by delegating contact lens trials, utilizing a scribe, in lane handoffs, using multiple exam rooms, having scans and phoropter prepared for the patient in advance and many other ways to improve patient flow and efficiency.

Once you have saved the time you can decide if you want to use it to buy more time off or to see more patients.

So next time you are thinking why is the day dragging on, change your perspective and enjoy and be thankful for every minute of your day!

Quality Versus Quantity
It is not the amount of time that you spend with the patient that matters; it is the quality of that time.

Important to ensure you maintain as much eye contact as possible while the patient is speaking. It is challenging to look away and make notes and still have that patient know you are listening.

Delegate data gathering to techs and use the doctor’s time to listen, recommend and customize solutions for your unique patient.

Creating an amazing experience requires the team to be able to flex around each individual patient’s needs. I don’t like to see patients “waiting”.

I would rather the patient’s perception be of a new experience. Techs let the patient know that the exam is starting with some testing before they see the doctor. Perceived wait times are minimized by “pre-shopping” for glasses and education via videos on conditions and solutions which are chosen based on the patient’s profile.

The Acceleration of Time
As we get more mature in our work lives and the years pass by, we often lament that the years are going quickly.

This usually comes with the realization that time is precious and we don’t have an infinite amount of time left on this earth.

I find myself full of gratitude for each day; it’s a blessing to have the privilege to go to work, walk the dog and learn new things.

After 27 years as an optometrist, I am hoping for 27 more but thankful for each one!

 

DR. TREVOR MIRANDA

Dr. Miranda is a partner in a multi-doctor, five-location practice on Vancouver Island.

He is a strong advocate for true Independent Optometry.

As a serial entrepreneur, Trevor is constantly testing different patient care and business models at his various locations. Many of these have turned out to be quite successful, to the point where many of his colleagues have adopted them into their own practices.


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By Dr. Trevor Miranda. 

Dr. Miranda contributes his thoughts and perspectives on the topic of Independent Eye Care Practice in Eye Care Business Canada. This post is his first contribution to the series. Check out all of Dr. Miranda’s articles in Independent Insights category.

Today’s term “Independent Optometrist” has been hijacked by almost every form of practice.

Practitioners next to Lenscrafters, inside of big box stores and practicing in solo and group practices all have seized the phrase “independent optometrist” to describe their mode of practice. I would like to think I am an independent optometrist. Free to practice how I see fit with the equipment, products, staff, fees and culture that I feel suits my practice preferences.

What does it mean to be “independent”? What are the benefits and risks of being truly independent?

Dealing with Complexity
As a parent of three adult children, my goal has always been to raise independent kids. Today’s world is intricate and complex, full of nuanced relationships and global challenges. Might a better goal be to raise children that are capable of independence through interdependence? By this, I mean being stronger as an individual by learning and collaborating with others.

Can we apply the same goal to our optometric professional careers? Learning, collaborating and networking are basic tenets of excellence. In my career, I have learned processes and skills from those practitioners that have consistently shown excellence in their practice and personal lives. Learning is important but implementation is even more important to benefit from the learnings.

How to Collaborate
There are many ways to collaborate within the profession. Join your provincial and national professional associations. Be an active member and take on committee chair or Board positions. Join a buying/training network; I am part of Eye Recommend and have consistently gleaned practice management nuggets from my peers during an ER conference or get-togethers. Join a small business optometric group; I am part of a “mastermind” type group called Quantum where we share professional and personal challenges and collaborate with best practices and share the “group mind”. I am also part of our regional “BIG” (Business Influence Group). This group discusses all matters of optometry from HR and staffing issues to tricks and tips to maximize opportunities and practice enjoyment.

Today’s uber-competitive retail environment requires independent practitioners to collaborate with manufacturer suppliers. Choosing such partners requires careful consideration. Does an independent optometrist fit all contact lenses? Does the clinic deal with multiple spectacle lens companies? Does joining a buying group reduce the cost of goods and improve choices? These questions need to be answered but the most important question is what is best for the patient?

The Role of Bias
 It has always amazed me when one clinic can sell one brand of glasses and a clinic across the street feels like that frame line “doesn’t sell”.

Even at the same store, different opticians may have a bias towards certain products which can result in vastly different styles and designs of optical products that are sold.

Most professional sales personnel don’t usually have such a wide choice of similar products to choose from. For instance, a car salesperson for Lexus has a limited product offering and must understand and highlight the features and benefits of Lexus, not Mercedes.

Choose Your Supplier Companies Carefully
Limiting the product offering to excellent products and allowing very occasional ‘off menu’ choices in exceptional circumstances can improve staff product knowledge, increase supplier investment in your clinic and reduce costs in shipping and reduce costs of goods.

Choose your contact lens, spectacle lens and frame manufacturers carefully. Which companies support your independent practice ideals? Do these companies compete with your clinic at a retail level? Do they have products available online at a retail level? Do they help keep repeat orders through your independent OD channels?

The inter-dependence of suppliers and independent optometrists relies on careful consideration on choosing your supplier partners. Every purchase you make from a supplier is a proxy for your future success.

I recommend picking two suppliers in each category and deepening your partnerships. This existential dilemma will only increase as manufacturers continue to supply optometrists on the wholesale side while attempting to compete for our patients on the retail side.

Next Level Collaboration
Might the future survival of truly independent practices rely on cross-equity partnerships where independent clinics own pieces of other independent clinics? Might this joint ownership model allow for better pricing through a master account so independents can compete on a level playing field with corporate accounts to lower product acquisition costs?

I am a big believer in the future of independent optometry. Independents can truly keep the patient’s best interests at the top of the pyramid while curating partnerships with industry and partnerships with other like-minded clinics. Independence through interdependence!

 

DR. TREVOR MIRANDA

Dr. Miranda is a partner in a multi-doctor, five-location practice on Vancouver Island.

He is a strong advocate for true Independent Optometry.

As a serial entrepreneur, Trevor is constantly testing different patient care and business models at his various locations. Many of these have turned out to be quite successful, to the point where many of his colleagues have adopted them into their own practices.


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On Monday October 16, 2017 Canadian Eye Care Business Review, hosted a panel discussion on starting your own practice. The panelists shown below shared their experiences on starting the practice of their dreams. The webinar was recorded so you have the option to stream it or download it.

   

   

Topics covered included:

  • Choosing the right experts
  • Choosing the right location
  • Design & build
  • Marketing
  • Day to day operations including staffing
  • Joining a buying group and or hiring a practice consultant

A special thanks to our sponsors, without their support this webinar would not have been possible.

 

Download Now


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Editor’s Note: The Future of Independent Optometry in Canada

While US and Canadian markets have their differences, the migration of independent practices to “corporate entities” such as Iris and FYIdoctors is undeniable. The players may be different in the US but the forces of change are very similar.

Dr. Chou’s title question, “Is Independent Optometry Still Desirable?” is likely a passing thought, or more, for many.  We invite you to a discussion of this topic in a Canadian context. If you’ve considered the move or have made the move to a corporate entity, what are the factors that have made you question the value of remaining independent?

Scroll down to the end of the article to view and add your comments.

These days, the light drawing newly minted optometrists to practice ownership may seem more like a distant flicker. With the financial realities of heavy student debt and supporting a family, the path to ownership is strewn with obstacles. Still, many of us aspire for “independent optometry,” lured to this concept like moths to the porch light. Indeed, it’s been a worthy and fulfilling journey for most, and I’ve experienced this firsthand. But today, I take the position that, at least for some, it’s no longer all that it’s cracked up to be.

As a profession, we struggle with some fundamental issues. One is: What is “independent optometry?”

Our esteemed colleague Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD, defines independent optometry based on the ability to make changes. For example, you are “independent” if you can set your own work hours, decide which third-party plans you accept, what fees you charge, the décor of your practice, what products you use, which staff you hire, and so forth. Who wouldn’t want these things? After all, freedom is a deep-rooted, celebrated American value. “Independence” seems synonymous with virtue, placed on a pedestal for all to marvel and move toward.

But does the privilege of making changes to your practice come at such a high cost that you become enslaved to your business?

In the report, “Private Equity and the Investment Effect,” I mentioned that I transferred ownership of my practice to a larger one in a private equity-affiliated deal. After 16 years of ownership, I now am an employee. I have ostensibly relinquished the ability to change the business. But, oddly, while I no longer pass Dr. Wright’s litmus test for being “independent,” I feel more independent in many respects. How is this possible?

I’ll tell you why.

Today, I am much more diversified against the financial risk posed by ill-guided online and remote refraction, online eyewear, and the de facto consumer ability to buy disposable contact lenses without a valid prescription. The office lease is no longer secured in my name with a personal guarantee. If a disgruntled former employee files a frivolous and unsubstantiated wrongful termination claim, the time expenditure and exposure to financial loss falls on someone else’s shoulders.

Further, I can take extended time out of the office without the discomfort of high fixed-overhead expenses mounting in my absence. If there is a staffing-related problem, I’m not burdened with smoothing it out. Maintenance interruptions, from the printer breaking down, to a plumbing leak, to the security alarm getting triggered after hours, are out of my hands. Network security, and complying with increasing regulatory requirements, are managed by someone else.

This isn’t to say there is a complete absence of stress, however.

I’m still learning as corporate changes are implemented, and to be sure, some of these changes – including conversion to a new electronic health record that is used mostly by physicians – have alienated loyal and longstanding staff. (The EHR functionality relevant to optometry seem like they were developed as an afterthought, and I am still reserving judgment on whether this EHR can maintain workflow efficiency for most optometric practices.) Additionally, despite the absolution of business management responsibilities, I have found it difficult to watch someone else take them over if performed without the previous level of skill, time expenditure and attention to detail. But for most urgencies (e.g., plumbing leak), any member in our office just notifies the director of operations to get it fixed.

In short, I can be a doctor.

As an employee, the concept to aspire to is that I can direct my attention toward caring for the patient, with minimal outside distractions. No longer must I direct a large part of my time and attention toward managing IT, regulatory compliance, risk management, human resources, advertising and public relations, accounting, business development, buying and inventory management, billing and collections, and so on.  It’s not that I hate all those things. In fact, I enjoyed, and was good, at some of them. For those doctors who enjoy the business aspects more than clinical practice, the CEO approach described by another esteemed colleague, Neil Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, is a sound and worthy model to pursue.

I believe that many optometrists will still experience the greatest feeling of independence from practice ownership. Yet for other optometrists, the right employment arrangement will provide the greatest freedom. There are merits to each modality, and what’s best depends on individual circumstances and personal preference. Fortunately, there are good opportunities for ODs to go from employee to owner, and vice versa. For OD-owners looking to transition to employment, private equity-affiliated consolidators offer a relatively new alternative to exit ownership – yet this path requires careful planning to reduce the risk of post-transfer surprises.

BRIAN CHOU, OD, FAAO

Brian Chou, OD, FAAO, is a partner with EyeLux Optometry in San Diego, Calif. To contact him: chou@refractivesource.com.


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Introduction

Not too long ago, we introduced you to Jane and Steven Buchan, a pair of licensed optometrists who are looking to take the next step in their careers by purchasing an independent eye care practice. It’s a daunting leap forward for them, but they’ve chosen this route for several reasons:

  • They will be working with an existing client base, instead of developing one from scratch.
  • They don’t need to build the office from the ground up, choosing instead to renovate and maintain the existing facility.
  • They will have the opportunity to take over, learn from and build on the financial history and business plan of the previous business owner.
  • They will be able to get the business up and running faster than if they were starting net new.
  • They now have better chances for securing a good loan or additional lender support, as the existing business already has its own financial statements and a cash flow history that can be used to demonstrate profitability.

They’re both incredibly excited and anxious to begin putting their name on a business that they can own and grow together. Despite the comprehensive optometry training and experience they’ve acquired in recent years, they still somehow find themselves completely overwhelmed by the mountain of paperwork and obligations looming over them as they prepare to purchase. Who do they turn to for help?

The good news is that there are professionals you can count on whose expertise ties directly into complex business transactions such as these. The acquisition of any business is a big game and life changer for any healthcare professional, so it’s always good to take time and seek out specialized advice. Whether you are a seller or a buyer, arming yourself with the knowledge and counsel of licensed, reliable professionals is a benefit that cannot be understated.

Certified Public Accountant

Arguably the most important step in preparing to sell or buy a business is to make sure that its financial records are clean, up to date and duly completed. For sellers, it is also a good idea to make sure that all outstanding payments (to vendors or from customers) are settled before putting the business up for sale, as any unpaid balances increase the liability of a business and the risk associated with purchasing it.

This is where a certified accountant comes in handy. An accountant is your guide into doing due diligence and delving into the nitty gritty of the company’s financial paperwork. This will include anything from cash flow statements, evidence of working capital, accounts payable and receivable, previous and current vendor contracts, employee files, tax records, employment agreements, lawsuits, debts, leases, and all other details related to the company’s history. Accountants for both the seller and the buyer will need to examine these records. For either party, accountants will help you devise and negotiate a financing strategy that best aligns with your interests over the course of the transaction, taking into account important considerations such as capital gains deductions, tax deferral opportunities, purchase and sale of assets, purchase and sale of shares, valuations and potential sources of funds. Long after the business sale has been terminated, you will continue to rely on the help of your accountant to help you improve your business plan, maximize profitability and maintain the financial documentation required of you by the government and your shareholders.

Lawyer or Specialized Business Sale Attorney

Because businesses vary in size, specialty and complexity, it is important to find a law firm or a lawyer whose abilities cater to your specific professional needs. One of your first steps should be to reach out to your network to see if anyone has recommendations for firms or professionals with industry-specific experience, preferably a lawyer who has handled a similar transaction for another eye care professional in the past. Once you find a lawyer who appears to be a good fit, do not hesitate to check and ask for references.

An experienced, trustworthy lawyer can be one of your most valuable assets in detangling the intricacies that surround a business sale. As a seller, a business sale lawyer can assist you with drafting the necessary paperwork to prep the sale, which includes non-disclosure agreements, letters of intent, regulatory approvals, and agreements of purchase. As a buyer, your lawyer can help you evaluate the health of the business in question, examine the tax and liability implications of the acquisition, outline agreements related to shares and equity, and vet the contracts and clauses that are involved in the purchase.

In most cases, a lawyer can provide an objective second opinion on many aspects of the business sale that would have otherwise gone unnoticed and without consideration. This is the type of decision that will change your life and impact your family for several years to come. Your lawyer will be there with you every step of the way to help you face the more difficult questions that you will have to consider:

  • “What are the responsibilities of your business partner and/or your significant other if you were suddenly deemed unfit to continue working?”
  • “What will happen if the business defaults before the entire loan amount is paid?”
  • “In case of a drastic change of circumstances, is there flexibility for renegotiating repayment terms and what assets can be used to help repay the balance?

Like accountants, lawyers can also assist buyers with due diligence, which for them includes thorough research on the business’ history and finances, with a projection of its sustainability and future profitability. Most importantly, they represent your best interests when collaborating and communicating with all the parties involved in the transaction.

Since legal services are largely a buyer’s market, you have more leverage than you think when negotiating your attorney fees. At the same time, you must be cognizant of the specialization and the quality of the service provided and be ready to pay an appropriately high fee for their time and experience. Revising an existing contract or drafting one from scratch, can cost a business owner thousands of dollars for that single document. To make sure you are both on the same page, it is important to communicate your needs and your intentions for the business to your attorney early on. For the rest of the transaction and beyond, they will have a great influence on the success of your acquisition, and how well the business itself succeeds post-transition.

Business Market Brokerage

This type of brokerage is very different from other types of brokerages that you may already be familiar with. A reliable full-service business sale brokerage can provide a premium service to sellers by overseeing and coordinating the business’ entire transition from one owner to the next. A brokerage can act as the liaison between your lawyer, your accountant, the valuator and all other professionals that represent you or your buyer. The broker will also help prepare your business for sale by establishing a list of potential buyers and ensuring that a selected buyer is a good fit for the purchase. According to Jacqueline Fleischmann, Director of Business & Legal Affairs for ROI Corporation Brokerage, experience counts: “You want to identify a broker with proven expertise and a track record in your industry. Look for a brokerage that understands how an optometry practice is operated and managed. A good brokerage will be able to provide insight about current trends in the industry and how they translate to your region/location.” Brokers are typically paid a commission based on the final sale price. Jacqueline also says, “If a broker demands a fee up-front, this is a red flag.”

Brokers also help relieve business owners of much of the stress and time-consuming follow-up related to overseeing the business sale. Most buyers and sellers tend to have limited experience with these types of sales, and selling a practice that one has spent years to develop can be extremely stressful for business owners. Jon J. Walton, the General Manager of MBC Brokerage, says, “One of the most critical aspects of a broker’s job is to keep emotions of the seller and the buyer down. It is scary for all parties, and it is easy for them to get stressed out and unintentionally sabotage the sale because they allow their emotions to get the best of them.” By hiring a broker to oversee the transaction on the business owner’s behalf, the owner can continue to run the business as usual, or devote time to commitments other than what is already required for the business acquisition.

Appraiser

A professional appraisal is required to evaluate the business and establish a fair market value for it. This is done by examining its financial history and analyzing its ability to maintain its sustainability and profitability in the future, by examining it in the current economy, the economy’s projected future state, trends in the industry, the business’ current assets and liabilities and other factors relevant to the business. Although the seller almost always has an professional appraisal done as part of the preparatory work for establishing the sale, a buyer can choose to have their own appraisal done as well. This appraisal will also be required when applying for financing and most major financial establishments have strict requirements that appraisers must meet for the appraisal to be considered.

Certain brokerages like MBC Brokerage and ROI Corporation Brokerage also provide professionally-recognized appraisal services in addition to their regular role as business transaction brokers. Walton sums up the teamwork aspect of the sale very nicely: “Appraisers, brokers, lawyers and accountants all have different jobs, but we all work together to ensure everything is done properly for the seller or buyer… It’s not just about selling a business, but transferring and preserving a legacy”.

Conclusion

When you purchase a practice, you are not only investing money in the business, you will also be dedicating hard work and sacrifices in the years to come so you can allow it to grow and mold it to your vision of what it should be. As terrifying and exciting as that journey may seem, there’s no need to go at it on your own. With a trusted team of experts on your side, you’ll have the resources and the confidence to make good decisions, while dedicating your own time and energy towards your family, yourself and towards nurturing the business that fuels your dreams.

LYANNE AUGUILAR

Lyanne Aguilar is a Toronto-based writer who specializes in finance and healthcare-related content, both in English and French


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An optometry though-leader panel shared their views on the future of independent optometry in Canada in a live webinar on Monday May 29, 2017.   Hosted by Canadian Eye Care Business Review Co-Edits Drs. Jeff and Tina Goodhew, six panelists from vastly different types of practices and business areas, addressed 6 critical issues on the minds of Canadian optometrists.

Panelists included Dr. Daryan Angle, Executive VP, Iris Group, Mr. Ken Barbet CEO of Eye Recommend, Mr. Pierre Bertrand, President, Essilor Canada, Dr. Sheldon Salaba, OD practice owner, Hamilton ON, Dr. Altaz Shajani, OD practice owner, North Vancouver BC and Dr. Al Ulsifer, CEO & President, FYiDoctors.

The webinar, attended by nearly 200 attendees, was the largest ever live web event specifically for the Canadian eye care industry.  Attendees participated in live polls to provide on the fly input to the hosts and panelists as they addressed the issues, and audience questions were fielded by panelists following the discussion.

Critical issues examined included:

  • The impact of supplier side consolidation and its potential effect on independents.
  • The reasons why ODs are selling practices to larger retail groups.
  • How optometry can avoid being swept up in the general sea-change in retail.
  • Importance of the “customer experience” in practice success.
  • The risks to solo practitioners in today’s environment.
  • The commercial opportunity for optometric medical services vis-à-vis retail dispensing

With panelists representing corporate optometry, buying groups and solo entrepreneurial ODs, a rich variety of opinion was expressed.

You can stream or download an audio recording of the live webinar below.

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Canadian Eye Care Business Review is proud to announce that registration is now open for their first webinar; “The Future of Independent Optometry”.  The webinar will be available live on Monday May 29th from 8 PM to 9PM EDT.

This format will provide optometrists across the country an opportunity to hear from a group of Canadian thought leaders on topics critical to the future of independent optometry.

Drs. Jeff and Tina Goodhew,
Co-Editors of Canadian Eye Care Business Review will host the webinar with the following panelists:

Dr. Daryan Angle
Executive Vice President Chairman of the Board, IRIS The Visual Group, Waterloo ON

Mr. Ken Barbet
Eye Recommend, Chief Executive Officer, Calgary AB,

Dr. Altaz Shajani
Practice Owner, North Vancouver BC

Dr. Sheldon Salaba
Practice Owner, Hamilton ON

Dr. Al Ulsifer
CEO and President, FYidoctors, Calgary AB

The questions that will be addressed include:

  • What is the impact of supplier side consolidation on independent eye care?
  • Why are independents selling out to larger groups? Fear or opportunity?
  • What are the risks and opportunities in moving from retail to medical?
  • How should independents create great customer experiences and loyalty?
  • How do solo practitioners manage the risk in today’s environment?

We are excited to have a discussion such as this on a very important topic, one that is top of mind for many in the industry.
There is no-cost to register. Please reserve your virtual place by registering online:

We look forward to your active engagement.


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