When the time comes to take the plunge and finally purchase a practice, there are so many thoughts that race through a buyer’s mind. Everyone is looking for the perfect practice. Unfortunately, it simply does not exist. A buyer can look at 10 different offices and find something wrong with every single one. It is understandable to want the best as this is a major purchase. However, buying a practice requires a delicate balance between logic and emotion.

While some would believe that emotion has no place in a decision this important, in reality, it does. Like it or not, emotion does in fact play a very important role when buying a business. It is critical that a purchaser cannot allow emotion to dictate the decisions that have to be based upon logic. And sometimes, the purchaser should not let logic overtake the decision-making process when emotion is required. The key to this delicate balancing act is knowing how to separate the two, and to recognize when either state may be impacting your decision-making process altogether.

Becoming a well-prepared and knowledgeable buyer is the key to your success. The initial choice to purchase is largely motivated by the desire to better your circumstances. A purchaser is likely tired of working for another doctor. Why build equity for someone else? Why have one’s schedule controlled by another? Why not invest in oneself? Most purchasers have likely reached the point where enough is enough – its time to be the boss. It is important to consider the potential rewards gained from owning your own practice. While everyone has their individual reasons, certainly controlling your own destiny, making more money, having the opportunity to improve your quality of life, and helping others, are just a few of the common reasons. These are all things that most people hope to achieve.

Choosing to buy during a pandemic is truly the time to keep the emotional side in check so that you stay motivated, especially in this economy. There are likely many people advising against the purchase of a clinic. But why would this not be the right time? Interest rates are at their lowest and quite frankly because there are some people who are either afraid or simply do not qualify, you may not be in a competitive situation. This means, you would not need to overpay on a practice that you might have pre-pandemic or certainly one year post pandemic. Fear is important as long as it does not cripple you from making a decision. To be successful, you need to cut a new path to gain success. By no means should you take ridiculous risks either. Ownership is not for everyone. But if you are not prepared to be a career associate, ask yourself if the people giving you negative feedback would still say no regardless of the economy. Trust your instincts. If your inner voice tells you that you are meant to be your own boss, then stop seeking the approval of others and look for guidance from those who are well-informed and knowledgeable.

There are going to be times during the clinic-buying process that you will be knocked off track. You will face situations where deals fall through, you will find it hard to locate any decent practices for sale, or you uncover some issues during your due diligence. These scenarios, plus many others, can surface after you have invested a lot of time, effort, and yes money, to analyze the office. A buyer must, however, have the strength to dust off these little setbacks and carry on towards the finish line or make the decision to walk away. This is definitely where emotions can play havoc on a prospective buyer. On the one hand, you want to stay upbeat and committed to the goal. On the other hand, though, you also need a good dose of logic because you must decide if you can live with some negatives or simply not move forward because it is the wrong deal.

Finally, you may be the best clinician. But you still need to educate yourself and surround yourself with experts. A good accountant, lawyer, and banker are so key to the equation. The right team behind you enables you to further grow the practice you acquire.

Last piece of advice. Please do not think you are an appraiser. Even if you have seen lots of practices, you are still not an expert. For every practice a buyer reviews, guaranteed an appraiser has seen twenty. A qualified appraiser has placed a value on an office based on a variety of factors. You might not agree with the value. That is fine but telling the appraiser they have overvalued the office is simply wrong. If you like the office but do not agree with the value, nothing stops you from making an offer at a price you are comfortable with. It really can be that simple. If your offer is accepted, due diligence will give you the true opportunity to see if the practice really is a good investment. Always remember, the stress you experience as a buyer is very similar to what a vendor also experiences. These are significant transactions and should not be taken lightly.

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 Jackie.joachim@roicorp.com or 1-844-764-2020.


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Purchasing instrumentation, from fundus cameras to OCTs and digital retinal imaging, isa large investment, with a potentially huge return for your practice.The right instruments allow you to provide full-scope medical eyecare for your patients, and can enhance your practice brand. Patients are sent the message that you provide cutting-edge care, creating a practice differentiator. To ensure we purchase only the right instruments for our seven-doctor, three-location practice, we use a careful process that weighs value against cost.

An OCT, along with new retinal camera software, is the most significant instrumentation purchase our practice has made over the past few years.The OCT has been extremely valuableand has paid for itself.

We also have a Tear Lab in each of our three offices that has helped our ODs tremendously with dry eye work-ups.The OCT and tear lab have each had positive ROI’s.


The page on Dr. Richter’s practice web site detailing the instrumentation used to provide full-scope medical eyecare to patients. Dr. Richter says that in addition to enhancing patient care and the practice brand, any instrument purchased must be able to deliver a return on investment in dollars and cents.


By purchasing new equipment annually or bi-annually, you are sending a message to your patients that your office cares about providing comprehensive eyecare. New equipment also can assist in being a practice builder, as it creates a brand that your office is reinvesting in healthcare, and that the practice is the finest in the area, offering you a competitive advantage.

The most recent example of an instrument that has enhanced care, while providing us with an advantage over competitors, is our Tear Lab, of which we have one in each of our three offices.We consider our practice as a dry eye specialty clinic.So, all of our assistants in the three clinics use this instrument to perform the tear osmolarity test on any patient who may be a dry eye suspect relative to his/her answers in the pre-testing phase of the exam.


We set annual budgets for every phase of our practice at the beginning of the year.The partners of the practice discuss equipment at that time and determine if it is best to proceed with each instrument discussed, or to wait.Most of the time, we anticipate the need well in advance of a major purchase, and line up vendors offering a good value purchase.


Initially, we had two partners and I was the designated equipment person.I continue in that position with seven ODs and three practice locations.We have a partnership designation that any capital costs over $5,000 must be brought to the administrative group–our partners, plus two other employees–for further discussion.


Bradley D. Richter, OD, is a partner of Eye Care Center in Fridley, Maplewood and Maple Grove, Minn. To contact him: Brad.Richter@eyecarecenters.net


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The vendors who sell our practices products like contact lenses and frames are more than just suppliers of goods; they also are experts in important areas of our practices. A knowledgeable rep can help you find ways to be more profitable, and patient-accommodating in your optical and contact lens prescribing and sales.

The key is to ask for their help, directly and upfront.

Optometry is a service industry, and we rely on vendors to supply the materials we use to treat patients. I use eyewear vendors, contact lens vendors, equipment vendors and marketing vendors to better my two-doctor, four-employee practice, We Are Eyes, in Boca Raton, Fla.

Good vendors become business partners and advisors. They can be valuable sources of information, helping the practice and the doctor evaluate the potential benefits of new products, identify opportunities, or cut costs. They know that if my business grows, their business grows also, so they have a vested interest in helping me succeed.

There have been a lot of mergers recently in our industry, including the recently announced Essilor/Luxottica merger. Vertical integration  is changing the way optometrists do business. Moving forward, I will likely start to reduce the number of vendors I use, and will focus on building closer relationships with a handful of vendors. Fewer vendors definitely saves on time. By having fewer bills to pay, accounting is much easier. Plus, ordering higher volumes from fewer vendor increases your chances of getting discounts compared to ordering small volumes from multiple vendors.

I like to work with vendors who still care about the success of small businesses and optometry as a profession, and can provide reliable, personalized service. I rely on vendors to show me the newest in technology or latest in styles. If it sparks my interest, then I need to know the price point right away. I have to know that the price point is in line with my practice, and that I can get a good return on investment.

Let Vendors Know Practice Goals & Demographics

Vendors need to know a practice’s general philosophy and target market. Just as a doctor needs to get to know the needs and goals of a patient as an individual, vendors need to know what makes each practice unique.

For example, if a practice wants to add or grow a specialty niche service, like sports vision, then frame reps may want to show sportier styles or optical lenses designed for UV protection and enhanced peripheral vision. And the practice would want to ask the vendor for marketing material, posters of athletes wearing their frames for the office and digital images that can be posted on social media.

You also should let vendors know the average price point of complete eyewear for your target market. Vendors should know what your typical patient spends on eyewear in your practice. It’s a waste of time for both the rep, and the practice, to discuss frames that are outside the budget of the average patient in your practice.

Seek Their Help in Creating Compelling Optical Displays
Knowledgeable frame reps can help you display the inventory in your optical. Many practice owners may not be experts in merchandising. Frame reps can help rearrange displays to showcase and highlight the latest designs, and tell a story with their products. Good frame reps will also educate your opticians of the features and benefits of their products, which allows for better customer service, and facilitates higher sales and profits.

For example, a frame rep can help you, or your opticians, find the best frame groupings for your displays, and may have ideas on what times of year different frame styles will sell best. They have seen what has worked in other practices, and can even show you photos from other practices of how their products have been displayed on frame boards, to spur sales.

Attend CL Vendor Educational Dinners & Request In-Office Education
When a new contact lens product is released, vendors typically have an educational dinner meeting with local doctors, who can then request a visit to their office to educate staff.

For example,  I attended the educational meeting, and immediately scheduled a time for the rep to come to the office. The last thing I want is to prescribe something for a patient if my staff doesn’t know what it is and why I prescribed it.

Meet One-on-One with Vendors
A great way to establish good communication lines with vendors is to meet with them outside of the office, usually in a one-on-one lunch meeting. While you are busy with patients, it is nearly impossible to absorb other information. It’s nice when a rep is in the area and stops in to say hello or check on the practice, but it’s challenging to make any real decisions when you only have a few minutes.

A lunch meeting away from the office allows the practice owner, optician or office manager, to listen and ask questions without distraction.

Network with Vendors at Optical Conferences
Most vendors will attend conferences to display their newest products and meet with their accounts. It is a great opportunity for practice owners to network, learn and build relationships. I love going to the exhibit halls to see reps and managers, whom I don’t get to work with in person regularly.

For instance, I recently attended the Global Specialty Lens Symposium in Las Vegas, and I met a consultant with whom I’ve worked with over the phone several times. I wanted to thank her for all the help she has given me, and to get her advice on a challenging specialty fit that I have been thinking about. I also got a chance to learn about her background and previous training. This face-to-face meeting solidified my confidence in her, and I look forward to working with her again in the future.


Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD, teaches at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry and works part time as an associate at We Are Eyes in Boca Raton, Fla. To contact her: TLNGUYEN@nova.edu


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