Article Date: 2/1/2013

A Tale of Two Practices
practice profile

A Tale of Two Practices

I left retail optometry to open two very different practices at the same time.

ALAN HYMOWITZ, O.D., ATLANTA, GA.

After 24 years working with an optical chain, I decided to open my own practice in 2011. Having a large following at the chain, I responded to many of the patients’ needs and opened Optica Universal, a Spanish-speaking practice that sees a lot of medical patients (e.g. glaucoma management, comanagement of cataract surgery, etc.). The practice accepts Medicaid and offers low- to mid-priced eyewear. In addition, I opened Eye Haven, a second practice that operates as a high-end optical boutique, which has attracted young, healthy, fashion-conscious patients. Both practices are located in Atlanta, Ga.

Logistics

Each practice is five minutes apart, mainly so I could travel fast between them. That said, contact lens and frame inventory savings was also a consideration. I carry different product at each office, enabling patients to travel just five minutes to get exactly what they want/need. My associate and I enjoy swapping practices after lunch — a routine that keeps us energized.

Cost-cutting measures

Undergoing two build-outs, purchasing frame displays and inventory and marketing two practices at the same time was a costly endeavor. My SBA loan was $460,000, and I used $120,000 of my own money, making the total $580,000 ($250,000 for Optica Universal, and $330,000 for Eye Haven).

That said, I did find ways to cut costs:

Sharing staff. As both practices are just five minutes apart, many of the same staff members follow me to and from each location.

One high-tech lens edger. I bought just one lens edger, stored in Optica Universal, which we’ve used with great success in both practices.

Double practice EHR. The EHR system I purchased shows the patient data of both practices. So with just a click, the software can shuffle between both offices. This has been very helpful when I have Eye Haven patients who can only see me on a Sunday come to Optica Universal, which offers Sunday hours. Basically, we’re a practice with two locations.

The outcome

After my first full year (2012), I have earned $1.6 million in gross income — about $670,000 from Optica Universal and $930,000 from Eye Haven. Although Optica Universal grossed less than Eye Haven, it has much less overhead than Eye Haven.

images

Optica Universal (above) sees a lot of medical patients, while Eye Haven (right) is a high-end boutique. Both were opened in 2012.

Advice for others

If you’re considering opening two practices simultaneously, make sure you have a financially viable reason for doing it. In my case, I wanted to capture two different types of clientele. I think I succeeded. OM

DO YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PRACTICE? E-MAIL JENNIFER.KIRBY@SPRINGER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.



Optometric Management, Volume: , Issue: February 2013, page(s): 80