Plants growing on piles of quarters

I received a revealing financial statement the other day. From a doctor who practiced as a phenomenally successful associate for many years. As with most Associates, the ownership motive was a large part of her career plan.

The adventure into practice ownership began about three years ago.

She was fortunate enough to be able to locate a property for sale which eliminated the landlord threat. There are too many providers in the immediate area, yet the practice is generating about $750,000 annually. That is about 20 to 30% more income than the average new startup at this early stage.

Data reveals that annual gross income for a three-year-old cold start is under $500,000. There will always be outliers and exceptions.

Let’s look at her financial journey:

  • The last year’s net income (as an Associate) was ~$301,000.
  • First year as an owner net income was ~$5,000.
  • Second year net income was ~$160,000.
  • Third year net income will be ~$225,000

And this is a success story for a three-year-old start up!

Let’s do the math:

  1. During the first three years of ownership her total net income will be ~$400,000.
  1. Had she remained a successful associate, her net income for the last three years would be over $900,000. More likely over $1 million!

What? That’s 60% MORE net income working as an associate versus an owner!

 Now let’s talk about the time invested to start and operate this new practice. I spoke about this in previous articles titled “Ownership Hours” and it is easy to invest 1,000 ‘sweat equity’ hours in the early years.

For this client, I estimate that she invested almost 2,000 hours of unpaid ownership hours. What could she have done with that time had she remained an associate?

Yes, if she were to sell the practice today there is some goodwill to be sold and that will be the return on investment in exchange for the ownership hours invested.

Pride of ownership has no price, and it cannot be appraised.

 Cash flow can be measured.

The law of diminishing returns suggests that goodwill will peak at some point and then because she is not cashing in and realizing the capital gain of the goodwill, each year she does not sell, the time-adjusted present value of her hours goes down.

Ask your accountant about this. If they do not understand, please ask me.

While she is above average and doing very well in my view, she is frustrated, and the economics of ownership are not working out for her.

The staff burden is enormous and that is why she called me the other day.

“Give it another two or three years” is what I suggested, but I do not think she will wait that long.

She is likely to sell the practice and keep the building to collect the rent and go back to being an associate.

They call it freedom from ownership.

No hassles, no staff problems, no landlords, no stress.

Ask yourself; is it better to be an owner or to be an associate?

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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A few months after opening their doors as the first Specsavers location in Toronto, Dr. Jestyn Liew, optometry partner, and Rita Charchyan, retail partner, reflect on their entry into the GTA, with the help of their experienced team.

Q: How has business been since opening your doors at Specsavers CF Fairview Mall?

Dr. Liew: Rita and I have been thrilled to see the large rush of people coming from all around the GTA to our store. People are excited to experience Specsavers. I believe that affordable, quality eyewear is an important part of this excitement, especially in our current economic climate.

And since opening my clinic within Specsavers Fairview, the consistency of eye exam bookings has been fantastic – especially considering we are building a brand-new patient base. I’m proud to deliver quality and comprehensive care to my patients.

Rita: Being the first Specsavers location to open in Toronto has been incredibly rewarding, and we’ve had a great start with 30% more traffic than Dr. Liew and I had anticipated.

Q: How has your experience partnering with Specsavers been?

Rita: My experience with Specsavers has been amazing. I’ve always had a goal of owning my own business, but there was concern about the pressures that come with being an entrepreneur. With Specsavers, I feel I have an incredible amount of support behind me, for which I am grateful. I’ve found the best partner in Dr. Liew and working with the Specsavers support office has helped bring us together as a team even more. I consider myself lucky to be in this position.

Dr. Liew: Before exploring partnership, I knew very little about Specsavers other than the tag line “Should’ve Gone to Specsavers” from viral content online. Although the Canadian partnership model is different, I spoke with a lovely Specsavers partner in Australia about the support, culture, and purpose; I felt my questions were answered. I’m truly appreciative of the support I receive from Specsavers, including those who helped lay the foundation for us when we first opened our doors. Being in a partnership means that we’re working together to reach a common goal, so we’re always sharing our feelings and ideas to help us get there.


Dr. Liew, OD and Rita Charchyan, RO, partners of Specsavers CF Fairview Mall Toronto

Q: What inspired you to become a business owner?

Rita: I come from a family of entrepreneurs and my father was my role model growing up. What stands out to me about Specsavers is their philosophy and values to make eyecare and eyewear accessible to all, aligned with my own.

Dr. Liew: When I started working as an associate optometrist in Canada, I’d always try to find ways to improve processes in the clinic – whether it was for the patients, doctors, or team. Often, everyone was stuck in their own place, and my changes would not be implemented. My better half was the one who pushed me to consider becoming a clinic owner to conduct business on my own terms.

Partnership with Specsavers checks many boxes. I was able to own shares of an optical retail store with a retail partner and start my own independent clinic at the same time. Financially, the opportunity made a lot of sense. Layering this with their excellent technology, investment in their partners and patients, and marketing, makes Specsavers incomparable.

Q: What, if any, barriers stopped you from starting your own business sooner?

Dr. Liew:  Before, my main concern with opening up a clinic of my own was always how it’d affect my family’s quality of life. With Specsavers, the start-up cost contribution and partnership model mean that a lot of the uncertainties and challenges of opening a business reduced. The timing and opportunity were right for me to proceed.

Rita: I always wanted to start my own business, so I was excited by the opportunity to minimize my start-up costs of ownership. It means I can focus on growing my business.

Q: What are you hearing from patients and customers at your location?

Dr. Liew: Our patients love all the technology in the clinic. Very often, we will get comments that certain testing or use of technology in their standard eye exam is new for our patients.

We’ve also seen a large number of Specsavers customers who lived in other markets, such as the UK. They’re so happy to see that Specsavers, a brand they know and trust, is in the Canadian market.

Q: What would you like to tell someone considering joining Specsavers Fairview Mall or elsewhere in the Specsavers network?

Rita: For anyone considering Specsavers, I’d say that you’re not joining a company, you’re joining a big community! When we were first exploring and considering Specsavers, I reached out to a Specsavers partner in Australia, who said ‘just do it!’ It’s a great place to be, it’s very rewarding and you have constant, positive support.

Dr. Liew: For any doctors thinking of starting their own independent clinic and partnership with Specsavers, I’d encourage you to talk to a local partner. We all share a common goal of helping our patients see their best by providing quality eyecare. If you want to join a network of like-minded doctors, pop over and have a chat!

For potential staff, eyecare consultants and opticians, you’ll be joining a hard-working and caring team. Each location is like a community, and we are here for each other.

Find out if partnership with Specsavers is for you. Reach out to the Specsavers Partnerships Team at

 This Post is Sponsored by Specsavers.


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Opportunities & Options for New Optometrists

On the evening of March 29, young Canadian Optometrists and Optometry students will gather simulataneously online and in person for a unique hybrid event. The event will be live at University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science and livecast via ZOOM to an online domestic and international audience. Click here for more information about this event.  The event is co-presented by Bausch + Lomb Canada and Eye Care Businesss Canada.

Optometry Students and recent graduates will hear from both industry experts and recent graduates about their various career experiences, exposing the young ODs and students to the opportunities and options that are available to them. The evening will be co-hosted by NextGEN OD ambassadors, Jenny Lee (OD-4 UW) and Nyah Miranda (OD-1 NECO).

The live portion of the event will begin at 7:30 PM (EDT) with light fare/refreshments. The remote attendees will join in at 8:00 PM for the guest presentations (See details here). The presentations will be followed by a  Q&A session and prize raffles for attendees. Nearly $1000 of value prizes will be awareded.

Interested persons should reserve their place soon as soon as possible due to space limitations for the live event.  There is no cost to attend, but available reservations will be made on a first-come first serve basis.

Other sponsors of the event include FYidoctors, IRIS Group, Bailey Nelson, ROI Corporation, Eye Recommend and CRO (Clinical & Refractive Optometry).

Registration is now open for both the live and online event. See you there on Wednesday March 29th.



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