Article Date: 4/1/2009

It's Time to Get Your House in Order

It's Time to Get Your House in Order

If you are a "Boomer" O.D., please carefully consider your next move.

Jim Thomas

Recently, I have been approached — and in some cases, cornered — by several folks who tell me that Optometric Management and the profession in general need to provide education to doctors who would like to sell their practices and retire. (The issue of bringing new optometrists into the practice is also covered this month in "Fix This Practice," and "Breaking the Bell".)

These concerned industry professionals have shared the following insights: If you were to sell your home, chances are, you would not put it on the market "as is." You would add a splash of new paint and a few patches where drywall/plaster had seen better days. You would remove clutter so the property would look clean, spacious and more appealing. You might place an arrangement of fresh-cut flowers in the foyer to make a solid first impression. Typically, these investments add thousands to the selling price of the house.

Poor sellers

Unfortunately, there are those optometrists who do very little to improve the selling price of their practices. Their argument against making improvements goes something like this: "Why would I invest in (fill in the blank) when I am going to retire in five years. I'll never realize a return on my investment, especially in this economy."

So the practice continues with its aging facility, 30-year-old equipment lanes, paper records, no specialization and few new patients. When it comes time to sell, the best the practice has to offer is the goodwill of its most loyal patients.

As a record number of Baby Boomers reach retirement age, it stands to reason that a record number of these optometrists will soon sell their practices. In other words, the problem of "unsellable" practices is one of sizeable proportions.

There's still time

If there is good news, it is that many optometrists do have a solid exit plan. And if you have yet to plan, but have a few years before retirement, all is not lost. You have time to make your practice more "sellable." It's a buyer's market now, with attractive prices for equipment, facilities, décor and other items that will increase the value of a practice.

Start the transitions process by learning from peers and industry professionals who understand the issues involved in exiting a practice. And if you've recently sold your practice or have begun planning to do so, we invite you to share your knowledge by e-mailing me at OM

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2009