Launching a private optometry practice is no mean task. You not only need the medical skills, but you will also need to possess the startup and business skills to attract customers once your clinic is up and running.
For many graduates who are looking to set up their own clinics budget is a serious concern. If you are like most of them, you are still making payments to pay off your education loan and you would need to do that for years to come. You may even have mortgage payments and a family to support. Long story short, buying an existing optometry business that already witnesses a steady flow of patients is not a viable startup option.
If you are one of the few who do not have any loan payments, you should still take cautious steps when starting a private practice. If you fail to plan your expenses, you can easily go overboard and be left with very little funds to sustain the initial months of low revenue.
To help you get started, the following are 8 tips that will help you start a private optometry practice on a tight budget.
Join An Eye Care Association
Finding relevant information about running a successful optometry clinic is very important when you are starting off. As most doctors would tell you, the most valuable information comes from interacting with peers. Consider joining an association like PECAA and get involved by attending seminars and joining their cold start practice program. The association organizes dinners and events to allow fellow practicing members to interact with each other and discuss their challenges and successes.
Keep the Cost Low by Starting Small
Instead of making a huge initial investment, it’s always advisable to start small and slowly expand your practice from the money you earn. For example, if you are launching a solo practice, settle for a smaller space in a good location. Find rental options instead of trying to buy a space. Keep the cost low by renting or buying used furniture. When starting off, minimalism is the key.
Stay Busy Even If It Means Working for Another Clinic
There is a good chance you won’t get enough patients to keep yourself busy for the first few months. Use the free time to either promote your private optometry practice or start working for another optometric clinic. This will allow you to earn money to sustain your clinic and your family during the initial phase.
Find the Perfect Location
Scouting prime locations in retirement communities are a great place to start. Use Google Maps to find out your local competitions. It makes sense to find a location that’s near malls and busy places but is not close to any optometry clinic. Spending time to find the right location is critical and thus should never be rushed. When in doubt, conduct a local survey to see if people want an eye clinic in the area. This can also be a great way to build rapport with the people and get the word out.
Storing and buying paper requires investment. In this day and age, there are multiple solutions and platforms you can use to reduce paper usage. For starters, you can work with electronic health records and ensure everything from appointments records to prescriptions are completely digital.
Consider Buying Used Equipment
When it comes to buying expensive equipment such as OCT machines, tonometers, and autorefractor, it’s always a good idea to look for bargains. Contact other doctors looking to close their practices or find peers upgrading to other more expensive models and offer them a deal.
Be Picky About Who You Hire
Finding a good receptionist and support staff is critical. You would need educated staffers capable of doing the paperwork and handling patient queries. Thankfully, a lot of optometry students look for part-time jobs in clinics in order to garner relevant experience. Start looking for staff members well in advance. That will give you enough time to be picky about who you hire.
Consider Partnering Up to Split the Cost
There is no denying that starting a private optometry practice requires significant investment. If it’s too much for you to bear, consider partnering up with a fellow doctor who does not specialize in optometry. Having two different non-competing specialists in a single clinic can increase footfall. There are many eye and dental clinics located across the nation that are highly successful. That’s mainly because patients coming in for dental appointments can be offered free eye exams or consultations or vise versa.