Two train tracks merging into one

3 steps for finding the right practice

By Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcelTM Business & Career Coach 

All optometry practices are for sale with the right equation.

All optometry practices are for sale with the right equation. And many optometric practices are looking to hire an associate—even if they don't know it yet.

There are two sides to this equation. Many job-seeking optometrists—including freshly graduating students—look to classified ads such as those on Optometry's Career Center® but find there are no practices hiring or for sale in their area.

On the other side, the optometrists in a practice may know an associate would be a great addition. An associate can relieve the stress of a solo doctor with an overbooked schedule or a senior doctor looking to scale back with retirement on the horizon. But practices may fear the initial investment of bringing in a new doctor, or even simply how to do it.

When the pathway is made clear, merging an associate with a solo-doctor practice is a win-win opportunity for both parties.

Here are the steps in the pathway to a successful merger:

1. Do your research

Finding the right optometry practice starts with online research. Learn as much as you can about every optometry practice in a 50-mile radius of where you would like to practice. Do not just look at the practices "for sale." Look for the best practices. Find out what patients are saying about the practices and check practice websites for the services offered. The right equation for a sale involves more than price. Rank the practices by preference. During this research process, meet with potential key advisers, including (in order of importance) a certified public accountant, attorney, financial planner and optometry practice consultant.

2. Form a relationship

This begins when you make contact with practice owners. Do not ask for a job in your first meeting on the phone or in person. First, compile a list of questions to find out more about the practice. This is the "considering" stage of research in which you make yourself known to potential employers and partners. This is the riskiest yet most rewarding step on the pathway to career success. Call the owner and request 10 to 15 minutes to ask questions.

3. Structuring a merger

Once you have identified a prospective practice, the next step is to discuss the needs and wants of both parties. This will require you to spend time with the owner to discover their expectations and needs for transitioning to the next step in their career. Next, you can begin structuring a letter of intent (LOI) that outlines why the merger is beneficial to the owner, why you are the right fit and what the completed deal will look like. For details about a letter of intent, email AOAExcelTM.

This process can help up-and-coming optometrists find a home and practiced optometrists plan a transition. Too many optometry practices close their doors or sell assets for pennies on the dollar because of a lack of planning.

November 13, 2013

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