Article Date: 4/1/2009

Passing The Torch to The New O.D.
fix this practice

Passing The Torch to The New O.D.

Understand how to transition your practice to the next generation.

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q I am a 59-year-old solo, independent optometrist. A second-year optometry student from my town is interested in joining and eventually purchasing my practice. How do I proceed?

Dr. T.R. Dolan
via e-mail

A: If this student joins and purchases your practice, you're very fortunate. As you know, we are — and in the forseeable future, will remain — in a buyer's market. Simply finding a buyer on your own is an ordeal. Many O.D.s have their practices on the market for a year or more with no success in selling. Because of this, I recommend hiring an experienced practice broker who understands how to attract sellers. The cost is 9% of the sale price, for which you should expect a fair price and a reduction in stress.

How to assure that this transaction occurs:

► Have the student work in your office at every opportunity.

► Insist that your staff addresses the student as "doctor." If the staff calls him/her by first name for several years, it will be difficult for them to make the switch.

► Many senior doctors have some senior staff who are very knowledgeable. These varsity staffers know a great deal in areas of optical, insurance and operation of equipment. So, have them pass this knowledge on to the student.

Give the student opportunities to lead. This creates a level of respect for which you cannot simply ask.

► The age difference between many of your staff and the student can be 20 years or more. The student has a mother, so he/she doesn't need multiple mothers. Demand that your staff give the student doctor the respect he/she deserves.

► Incorporate the student doctor into the examination process and the treatment of employees when possible.

► Inform the staff of the things the student doctor is teaching you, the owner. Examples could be new drugs or techniques that his/her optometry school has introduced.

► Keep in contact with the student via e-mail. Make him/her a part of your "work family" by keeping the student abreast of new employees, new purchases or changes in your physical plant.


ILLUSTRATION BY LAEL HENDERSON

Get your practice into the best sellable shape as follows:

► Consider hiring an optometric consultant to represent you and the practice as your agent. You're selling your practice, not your home. As a result, an optometric consultant is in the best position to communicate with perspective buyers, show the practice and negotiate price. After all, he/she can help you:

All these bullet points make the sale of your practice likely.

► Allow the consultant to handle all discussion about an associate agreement, purchase price, compensation package, payment methods, interest rates, etc. This approach saves you tens of thousands of dollars a broker costs. I could write volumes on O.D.s who did this on their own and either lost the buyer or agreed to conditions that they later regretted. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2009