Pros and Cons of Corporate Optometry on the Industry

Corporate optometry has expanded greatly over the years.  It is currently estimated to make up about 30% of the industry and will continue to grow as young optometrists make the decision to go into this sector.  With this expansion come both benefits and costs to the industry, which we will discuss below.

Pros:

1. Employment opportunities for ODs

Corporate optometry creates opportunities and jobs for optometrists looking for employment.  In addition, it is a great option for optometrists who don’t have a lot of experience as business owners and are looking for a turnkey model. ODs don’t have to wait for another OD to retire to become a business owner. Many Corporate ODs have had the ability to have multiple subleases which has been beneficial for those ODs. The ability to open practices in locations where there are not many other optometry practice can help ODs have more opportunities and provide more access to patients seeking other alternatives.

2. Increased pay rate and benefits

Corporate optometry can provide higher starting salaries and pay rates than average along with better benefits for some ODs.  The days and hours an optometrist works likely will affect the rate in which the optometrist is paid; for example, optometrists are sometimes paid higher by corporate opticals on Sundays.  In addition, corporate optometry offers generous bonus structures.

3. Loan repayments

Some corporate opticals will offer loan repayments to young ODs who are burdened by student debt.  This is great incentive for young ODs to start a career in corporate optometry. Most often, corporate opticals will offer loan repayments when trying to recruit ODs to more remote locations where it is difficult to find doctors in order to spark greater interest in new ODs.

4. Innovation and Competition

Corporate optometry has revolutionized the customer and shopping experience in the industry; for example, the one-hour eye glass service has completely changed the customer’s eye care experience.  The innovation of corporate opticals to better cater to their customers leads to competition and helps to keep practices top-notch. New ideas created within corporate optometry therefore bring the industry forward.

5. Global impact

Corporate optometry has allowed the industry to have a greater impact globally.  Many corporate opticals work with charities to use their business for the greater good; for example, Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” program is a system in which, for every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is given to someone in need, and many corporate opticals supply underprivileged companies with glasses and eye exams.  In addition, Luxottica provides onesight global clinics to provide eye care for people in underdeveloped countries.

Cons

1. Exclusions from insurance panels

Being with a specific corporate optical can exclude doctors from certain insurance panels; for example, Walmart doctors are unable to take EyeMed.  Because of this, a doctor may have to turn away some patients. In addition, closed panels can funnel patients into a certain corporate optical, which can be a disadvantage for other practices in terms of creating a patient base and providing continuation of care to your patients as their benefits change year to year.

2. Vertical integration

Corporate opticals may have ownership over a variety of stages of production and may sell their own products, frames, lenses, etc., which can result in a reduced price for their customers.  This creates a disadvantage to private practices or other corporate opticals that can’t compete at a severe discount. In addition, the possibility of pushing a company’s own products rather than alternative products might not always have the best outcome for the consumer in the long run.

3. Exam Fees that haven’t changed with Inflation.

Providing affordable care to patients is essential. Many corporate opticals have offered affordable eye care services and products for many patients, yet with inflation and changes in scope of optometry exam fees have remained stagnate. Free eye exams have impacted the industry as well.

4. Consolidation

As more companies merge together, only a few large players in the industry are created, making it difficult for smaller practices to have a voice.  In addition, consolidation of companies limits the customer’s options when it comes to eye care. Consolidation needs to happen though if companies want to compete with online retailers and how customers want low prices with fast service.

5. Movements

Corporate opticals are more easily able to create big movements or waves of change in the industry compared to smaller practices. Global changes can be made. Many corporate opticals operate globally and many times movements that may work in another country might not be best in the USA.  While these movements are created in the corporation’s best interest, they may not necessarily be in the patients’ or the industry’s best interest as a whole. Among these movements have been an increase in managed care plans, telemedicine and an expansion in private equity.

In conclusion, there are both pros and cons of corporate optometry on the industry that should be considered.  Whether working under a corporate optical or not, doctors have the ability to be a voice for other ODs and for their patients to make positive changes in the industry and create a better future. 

3 Solutions to Optical Staff Issues in Corporate Optometry.

Working in the corporate optometry has its own set of challenges that many Corporate ODs face. If you are leasing space from the corporate optical, you may run into some complications with your regional manager and the optical staff.

If you are not careful, some form of miscommunication can lead to issues like mishandling of appointments, mismanagement of patients and not getting your insurances verified regularly.

These sublease issues coupled together can really affect your performance and cause patient dissatisfaction. Follow these simple steps to overcome these problems and make sure nothing comes between you and your patient.

Hire Your Own Staff

As a sublease OD, you have to let go of some control when it comes to administrative and managerial work. If the staff works directly under the corporation, scheduling errors may occur because you haven’t had the chance to train the staff.

In such cases, you can always request to hire your own staff and train them according to your needs and objectives. This requires some time and effort from your end. But once you’ve managed to train your team, you’ll have more administrative control and you can make your own rules keeping patient care as the topmost priority.

Schedule a Meeting

If you are not able to hire your own staff, you can always schedule a meeting with your managers and staff. During the meeting, you can raise your concerns in detail. Understand their objectives and expectations, and figure out a strategy to keep yourself and the staff satisfied.

Communication is extremely important. You need to let them know that the problem at hand is affecting the quality of patient care, and as a team, you should work together to enhance the patient experience.

Check Your Lease

Checking your lease may be one of the simplest ways to solve your problems. Your lease has all the requirements and role expectations stated clearly. If your staff has been mismanaging your patients and their appointments, then you can print out your lease and inform them of their tasks.

This will help clear up the confusion of who’s in the wrong and you will be able to get to the bottom of the issue more quickly.

It is important to know the roles of employees working for you to make sure everything runs smoothly and no one falls out of line.

One precautionary measure you should take is to have access to your own phone line (unless your sublease agreement doesn’t allow you, in which case, make sure to negotiate before

signing the lease). Many times the phone line given to you is a property of the corporate optical and, if you decide to end things with them, you can lose all contact with your patients.

As patient demands and expectations are increasing, you need to make sure there are effective business processes in place fulfilling those needs. You need to give immediate attention to any problems you face because with every mistake you make, you could potentially lose a patient forever.

Habits of an Influential Optometrist.

What they say almost always holds weight and all of their opinions are valued by the people around them.

But guess what? You too can expand your circle of influence if you make some important changes in the way you view the world and yourself.

1. Think for Yourself

It’s not a good sign if you’re easily swayed by public opinion or the latest trends. Believing everything you hear and forming opinions based on other people’s judgments will get you nowhere.

You need to start thinking for yourself. Do your research and study facts before coming to a conclusion. Be willing to change your mind if there’s evidence supporting it. Start tuning out what other people think and only gain influence from what you know.

2. Disruptive the Norm

So many problems result from our lack of empathy and unwillingness to change our ways. You need to be curious about the world and long-running traditions. You shouldn’t be afraid to question the status quo and challenge conventional ways of thinking.

Becoming graciously disruptive means you’re doing it for the right reasons.

3. Innovate

Explore new ideas and try to think outside the box whenever you can. Spark conversations about causes that deserve more attention. When you truly care about the world, this should come naturally to you.

Inspire people around you to think differently and be more open-minded.

4. Network

Make connections everywhere you go. Don’t hesitate to learn about other people’s background and culture. Look out for people in your social circle and add value to their lives. Be forthcoming with advice where necessary to make lasting connections.

5. Welcome Disagreement

When people disagree with your ideas, you need to humble yourself and really listen to what they’re saying. You shouldn’t respond defensively because you don’t know everything and you could’ve easily missed something. It should be more important for you to challenge your own ideas than to always be right.

The other person may have a point and if they do, you should be more than willing to change your opinion.

6. Think outside the box

Deliberately seek newer ideas and technologies instead of waiting for them to come to you. Stay updated with the latest innovations and become an early adopter. Spread the word about what’s coming in the future and always stay in the know.

7. Respond

When someone in your team or circle of influence makes a mistake, you need to take a step back and assess the situation instead of reacting immediately. Value your relationships and respond appropriately to any mishap. The last thing you want to do is cause a scene. If you overreact, people will start keeping their distance from you and trusting you less.

Learning how to be a person of influence may take a while, but with small steps every day, you can change the world and earn a place in everyone’s hearts.

Is Private Equity another form of Corporate Optometry?

Is Private Equity another form of Corporate Optometry?

Private Equity has become very popular in our industry. Many older ODs find it have found great benefits with private equity as an exit strategy. Many ODs can sell their practices and not worry about the administrative tasks and still be able to practice the way they want and focus on what they love the most and that is patient care. There are many similarities and differences among practicing optometry in a private equity firm and corporate optometry. Ophthalmology went through it before and maybe the same can be said about labs being bought out over the years. PE is a tough conversation. Some might differ on this comparison, here is what some ODs think about this question.

There are the pros and cons of private equity in optometry

Some Private Equity are investing in new technology in their practices, from EHR to diagnostic equipment. They are building a practice to help with increased costs with low reimbursements. The new investment in technology allows ODs to practice the highest scope allowed. It can be a good employment opportunity for many young ODs that are tied down because of high debt and can still have that private practice feeling with higher than average salaries.

With the pros come the cons. Some of the negatives that ODs expressed were that there would not be any practices for the next generation of ODs to purchase and move the position forward. Some concerns were that these private equity firms would purchase these large practices hold them for a short period of time and sell them to a larger entity in the industry. ODs were concerned that optometry was being lead the way that pharmacy was taken. Being employed might be something that young ODs would like at the beginning of their career, but after a few year many desire to have their own business.

We asked the industry what they thought about if private equity was good for the future of optometry.

Dr Joshua Woodland from Dyerville, Iowa

“History doesn’t repeat, My point isn’t about current status of VCPs but, it’s about allowing something to take hold that allows for short sighted gains but is bad for the profession in the long term.”

Think about how other factors have affect our industry over the years. Use that information to help guide you on new trends and disruptive technology for the future of optometry.

Survey taken in the corporate optometry FB group, many of the members feel that private equity is another form of Corporate Optometry.

From this survey many ODs feel that private equity is another form of Corporate Optometry

It is not Corporate Optometry

Not all corporate opticals are the same, why would private equity firms be the same? There are different models and strategies. Leadership styles can vary in the direction they want to take that company. It is hard to make direct comparisons.

Stan Peacock- Walmart sublease holder in Marianna Florida.

“Not really, it depends on ones definition of what corporate optometry is. And also now there are different types of PE. So different definitions of PE also, especially how the OD is treated-in different PE settings.”

Private Equity is an alternative form of Corporate Optometry.

There can be a blur in being able to differ ante between the two in optometry. When the owner is not an OD sometimes it can be classified as form of corporate optometry. Usually in private equity ODs are employed by the firm. Private equity firms make the decisions on OD schedules, hiring, products for the optical, equipment and other decisions that ODs are not involved with.

John Wiener Costco leasehold in Cincinnati, Ohio

“It is meta corporate optometry. Equity is buying up everything. OMDs included. If you are working under a private equity firm, you are clearly not private. Your livelihood is at the mercy of market forces and corporate decisions that might be far removed from optometry.”

Only time will tell on what specific companies will do and what their strategy is. What is your opinion? Join the conversation on Facebook Corporate Optometry group!

Red Flags in Your Corporate Optometry Employee Contract

You can always seek the opinion of professionals within the industry. They will tell you what is reasonable to expect and what isn’t.

Another thing to note is that you need to be patient and let your employers bring up the contract themselves. Don’t get ahead of yourself; wait for them to start the conversation.

You need to be honest and straightforward when you’re making an agreement. Remember, there is no reason to be hesitant or embarrassed because it applies directly to you.

Ask questions every step of the way if something is unclear to you. Ask about the frequency of reviews, compensation, bonus and factors that will influence promotion.

Similarly, when you’re becoming a corporate OD, there are some things you need to watch out for things like the number of patients you will see an hour, hours of operation, holidays, weekends, staff support etc.

No Transparency

You need to know that in a corporate setting, it is completely normal to talk about growth opportunities, raises and bonuses, among other things.

If the employers at your workplace of interest are not keen on going into details about their business procedures, chances are that it is not a good sign.

Some element of transparency should be there when you’re negotiating a contract, and withholding of relevant information on any end is a huge red flag.

Ambiguity

If the contract language and the context aren’t completely understandable, you should always ask for clarification. You can easily misinterpret ambiguous statements and the organization can hold you accountable. It is best to avoid signing something you’re not sure about.

Certain language as, “it depends on the store and region”. There are protocols from the corporate level. Make sure all your requests and agreements are in writing. Some other ambiguity could be that anything that you develop during that time that you are an employee is property of the company. As an employee, doing eye exams intellectual property is your own property not the company. If you have this clause it needs to to be removed.

Non disclosure agreements in an employee contract can be a red flag. If you are an employed OD at the store level many times sensitive information is not provided to you. If you are in this position you should not sign an agreement that is not specific to a certain situation or doesn’t have a time frame.

Verbal Agreements and Cues.

Anything that you and your employed have agreed upon needs to be clearly stated in your contract. If you’re denied this, then you should take this seriously because when something isn’t contractually binding, it is easier to get out of. What was verbally agreed upon needs to be in the contract. Many times if a contract is being “sold” as it is a great opportunity that you don’t want to miss because there are other ODs, don’t rush into it. Take your time to review, you don’t want to rush into something that might be hard to reverse.

Long Notice Periods and Restrictive Covenants.

Beware of notice periods that are extraordinarily long. There is something to take notice about any organization that requires you to have a notice period longer than 60 days or if they require to help find a replacement.

Restrictive Covenants are very common in Corporate optometry. A typical covenant is 1-3 miles over a year. Beware of vague covenants without an address to start with and longer than a year. If you are a traveling OD make sure that you are not required to not work 1-3 miles from all the locations because that can limit you to certain locations in your state.

Now that you know some of the warning signs in a contract, you will be able to negotiate in a way that benefits you in the long run. It is necessary to go over the best and worst-case scenarios that can happen during your term of employment and request for amendments accordingly.

When you’re signing a contract, you need to take your time and understand every clause. Consult a lawyer to help guide you. Very contract is negotiable.

Finding the Right Fit in Corporate Optometry.

Loving your job can make your professional life a whole lot easier. As aspiring optometrists, this should be at the top of your list of priorities.

It may be impossible to secure a job with the perfect paycheck, flexible timings and a work/life balance, but with some research and a can-do attitude, you too can find a job you love.

When you decided to look for a corporate optometry job, you must have realized that there were too many options out there and no way to know which suits you better. The internet can make you more confused with the influx of information on job openings and everyone telling you what to do and what not to do.

The answer lies with you. Be honest about what you need and what you can compromise on. Following are some tips and tricks that can help you land your dream job.

Know Yourself

You may think you want to work at some corporation, but your experience as an employee there could be the opposite. The grass is not always greener on the other side. Taking inspiration from other people’s lives and what works for them will only hold you back.

Self-awareness will take you a long way because knowing your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to make the right decision. If your workplace falls in line with your values, then you may end up having a great time there.

If you’re someone who loves going on vacations, then you should keep an eye out for places that offer great vacation plans. Some corporate opticals offer 4 weeks vacation at sign up.

Learn About the Organization

Before deciding on a place, make sure you know a little bit about the work culture and benefits they offer. Get in touch with alumni who are employed there and get a conversation going.

You can always ask to set up informational interviews to gauge more of an idea about what you’re getting yourself into. Ask on the Facebook group Corporate Optometry.

Stay Open-Minded but Don’t Settle

Keeping your options limited will only lead to misery. Finding a job is not easy. You need to set realistic expectations and take every rejection as a way to learn and improve.

Feeling like a failure after doing badly in one interview will not serve you well. Sometimes what you think you want isn’t necessarily what will make you happy.

Saying yes to the first job you’re offered is not going to help you either, unless it is all that you want. You may be settling for a lot less than you deserve. Depending on the state and the need for ODs many corporate opticals will pay above average salary and sign on bonuses. You can contact Corporate Optometry Consulting to get more info. Their info is corporateoptometry@gmail.com

Now that you know the basics, you can go looking for jobs that are fulfilling for you. Remember that haven’t failed until you stop trying.

Finding your dream job can take months, even years, but you need to realize that sometimes it takes a bad experience to help you find what you are looking for.

Understanding the Different Models of Corporate Optometry

Whether you’re a recent graduate with big plans or you’ve just left a job to start up your own corporate optometry sublease, it’s important to remember that the industry you’re trying to enter is well-established and competitive. There are some basic concepts you need to clear up before you go about setting up your own optometry practice.

Understanding the Market

Based on where you are in the country, you need to have a strong understanding of the number of optometry patients in the area, the projected number of patients down the line and the modern practices of optometry (including information of technological advancements in the industry). Get information on how many other corporate opticals there are in the area.

Select the Right Business Model

Based on your financial standing, potential employees and expertise, you can choose from a list of different business models:

Franchise

Franchising will help you cross the phase where you’re still trying to establish a brand name. Setting up a well-reputed franchise will help you bring in customers who trust the name. This is useful to have optical merchandising, marketing, frame lines set up for you. Some examples are Pearle Vision, MyEyeLab and Cohens Fashion Optical. Many franchise fees are minimal but include discounts on equipment and frames and the company provides marketing for your location.

Sublease

Subleasing will provide you with the same benefits and disadvantages as those of a franchise. The difference will be the startup cost you’ll need. For a franchise, you need a higher budget. Sublease is turn key with the equipment and office set up. The OD would go in set up their own business adjacent to the optical. Many companies will sublease space in Lenscrafters, Target Optical, LC Macy, Walmart and For Eyes.

Independent Contractor/ Fill in

Independent Contractor is a great way to do part time work or fill in work while you work full time as an employee or sublease owner. Independent contractors enjoy the flexibility to practice what hours they agree upon and able to write off expenses and travel for that day of work. Corporate optometry has many great fill in opportunities and the benefits of fill in are more than just income.

Employed

Employed model in corporate optometry has many benefits that many ODs enjoy. There are no administrative tasks or excessive paperwork. You would simply go in and see your patients and do what you do best and that is being an OD.

Employed ODs enjoy paid time off, a competitive salary, bonuses, benefits package and much more. Many companies will have this option as permitted by state law. Many times ODs will be employed by the sublease owner. Some companies in corporate optometry that employ ODs are Warby Parker, National Vision, Luxottica and Stanton Optical.

Why Being The Lowest Priced Eye Exam Won’t Bring In More Revenue for your Sublease

It is common for individuals to get attracted to things that are priced at lower rates. However, when it comes to spending on more important things like dental checkups, purchasing medicines, or getting eye exams done, individuals do not always get drawn to the cheapest priced options.

Cutting the prices down drastically can make your practice look less appealing. It could draw in more patients that are not as loyal to your practice. In the long run you need to understand how much your chair time costs. How much effort and time will that patient take on your practice and will that patient refer other patients to your practice.

Patients usually go to the higher priced eye exams because they are independent practices and they expect close personal attention and good customer service. Patients want a good value and the latest technology. Many patients have insurance and are not looking for the most affordable eye exam.

There are certain factors that can help make a practice more attractive for the patient even if there’s a high price tag attached to the services. The physical environment should be comfortable, the staff should be educated and friendly, the working hours should be convenient, and the brands you offer should be of top-notch class. With so many better things to look forward to, price always becomes a lesser important consideration.

Set low prices for the excess/old items

If you over-ordered certain products that did not get sold, place them on sale. If these items are about to go out of style, place discounts on them so they can get sold for lesser money instead of no money at all. Materials should be discounted but not services. Many corporate opticals have “burst events” that can attract a patient that wants value eyewear.

Make seasonal sales

Just by placing seasonal discounts on products, you will notice how there is a significant increase in the sales. It is important to sell out seasonal products during the season. Usually in corporate optometry, we will see an increase in patient value based on marketing trends. Styles change and new trends are always being introduced which is why it is important to make room for products that are aligned with the latest requirements.

If you sublease in corporate optometry, make sure that you are practicing at the highest standard of care that your license requires. When it comes to health, individuals do not look for the cheapest alternatives; rather, they look for the option that will provide them with the best results. Utilize the resources that you have in corporate optometry with technology to be able to present a quality eye exam to your patients and not have to be the cheapest eye exam to bring in patients, because many times it doesn’t bring in more volume.

Improving Your Contact Lens Capture Rate.

It’s time to start tracking the exam frequency of patients who wear contact lenses. You can use these numbers to improve your services and improve your contact lens capture rate in corporate optometry.

Industry Trends

If you want to be in the industry average, you need a contact-lens capture rate of more than 70%. You don’t want need patients to be walking out with a prescription ready to purchase online. And not just as a one-time purchase, tailor your services so well, they choose you every time! Doctor driven dispensing is a way to do so. Many corporate opticals will offer a discount on glasses if a patient buys a year supply of contacts.

Online Strategy

Online contact lens sales have increased over the years and will continue to rise. But with 40+ million contact lens users in America, practitioners still have a chance of capturing a significant share of the market. Think of opportunity that is out there. Patients are searching the web about contact lens information make it a strategy for them to land on your website. Consider taking the approach of scleral lenses or a medical model approach to contacts that is not presented by online retailers.

Offer Great Customer Service

As with all businesses, your customer is the livelihood of your business. Patient education is important to having the patient understand what services and quality you are offering. Provide discounts for yearly supplies with the rebates that the manufacturers offer. Break down the math to have to patient see what they are paying for when bought as a year supply what each box costs.

Make purchasing lenses easier for them. Offer a contact lens subscription for patients that want to have their expenses divided over months. Take care credit to have they pay their medical bills over longer periods of time. Providing more options with great customer service and convenience can help increase your contact lens capture rate.

Whichever strategy you choose, make sure it caters to the constantly changing customer purchase patterns. It should be your goal to not only have a high contact lens capture rate but also be the main provider for eye-glasses. In order to come out on top, you need to be number one in all categories of eye wear.

3 Ways to Ensure Patient Loyalty in Corporate Optometry.

Corporate optometry offices are successful in many ways on of them being by retaining customers. As a doctor, it is your job to ensure that patients return to your practice. You need to be their first choice every time they need a medical complaint addressed. Here are the 3 points in service where you can engage their attention and maintain patient loyalty:

1. Educate the Patient

Eye check-ups are not just a one-time thing. Regardless of whether your patients have serious eye injuries, wear glasses or have 20-20 vision, at some point in time, annual eye exams become essential. It’s up to you to explain to your patients, the necessity of this yearly exam. For the elderly, it is a way of combating early signs of eye diseases.

2. Stay in Touch

You don’t just need to educate your patients while they’re at your clinic. A phone call or a text message can alert your patients when they’re due for an eye test. They can instantly confirm their appointment. Use this communication throughout the year to promote your personal brand. Social media is a great tool to create brand awareness and present an authentic view of your practice to create patient loyalty.

Send monthly newsletters about your practice and valuable information about eye health. Personalizing emails to target a certain patient population can help create loyalty in corporate optometry. Using your ehr information to target dry eye patients and notify them of new technology in your office is a great way to impress patients and keep them loyal in your corporate setting.

3. Marketing is Key

It’s one thing to reach out to patients who you know will come back, but how do you reach out to those who never respond, or those who haven’t been to your clinic at all?

A great way is to spread the word about a promotional offer. Team up with your store manager to see what promotions can be created to help re activate patients to your practice and boost optical sales. Patients that purchase from the optical will continue to be loyal to your practice.

Newsletters, social media platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram), mass emails and automated phone calls can help spread the message about your new promotional offers.

A monthly newsletter can be circulated online with new information about research in the world of optometry. Articles by renowned doctors can also be shared. As long as you’re putting out consistent and relevant content, you’re on the right track. Personal branding is very important with patient loyalty, create a campaign that illustrates how you are different than other practitioners .

Stay Updated

Whatever your ways of keeping in touch with the patients, ensure that you keep up with your patients’ demands. Patient surveys and interviews can help you identify what sort of service patients seek and then you can provide it to ensure that your patients return to your office.