TOUGH DECISIONS: STARTING FROM SCRATCH OR BUYING AN OPTOMETRIC CLINIC?
October 17, 2023
As an optometrist, you have two options for owning a clinic: starting from scratch or acquiring an existing one in whole or in part. Some optometrists form partnerships with well-established owners and eventually acquire the entire clinic. Others proceed with an immediate buyout and a transfer of management responsibilities.
To help you decide, here's a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of starting a new clinic versus buying an existing one.
Deciding to start your own clinic offers a host of advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of. When you start from scratch, you have complete autonomy to design your clinic according to your values and goals. You have control over the hiring process and can choose the level of investment that suits you best.
However, be aware that there are challenges associated with this approach—namely, the absence of a patient base, which can make the return on investment longer and require more time to build your clientele. Young owners often face uncertain cash flow for one to three years, sometimes forcing them to work in other clinics to supplement their income.
Moreover, starting from scratch can lead to weaker bargaining power with some suppliers, a longer learning curve to master the role of manager, and the need to simultaneously set up and manage multiple processes to operate the clinic and attract patients. All these factors require careful preparation, expert guidance, and rigorous financial management. All this to say, consider your risk tolerance level to make an informed decision.
The benefits of buying a clinic are many and allow you to start on a solid footing. You'll have immediate access to revenues generated by the existing patient base, accelerating your ROI. In addition, the clinic's performance history will provide a solid basis for analysis and growth projections. Working with pre-established operating systems and processes—paired with the fact that the business has existing relationships with suppliers—eases the transition and reduces the time needed to effectively operate the clinic.
Finally, an experienced staff familiar with your patients and their evolving needs assures smoother sailing.
However, consider the potential challenges. You could inherit inefficient processes from the previous owner or management team, requiring significant adjustments. Sometimes, in these cases, existing staff resists change, necessitating the establishment of a new work culture. Moreover, the facilities, instruments, and technologies could also pose a problem by being outdated, requiring additional investments. And remember, even though there's an existing clientele, the transition period between owners poses a risk of losing patients.
Indeed, there's lots to consider—and that's exactly why we've developed our Vision Entrepreneur program!
Promoting the real-world benefits of business ownership, OSI's Vision Entrepreneur program (www.opto.com/visionentrepreneur) provides graduates with the best means to achieve and accelerate their success.
Our experienced team supports present and future clinic owners by offering them innovative technological solutions and a complete range of services and marketing approaches: strategic support, tools, guides, training, webinars, networking activities, and conferences are all part of this robust turnkey program.
Founded in 1982, OSI Group is a leader in developing value-added services for independent optometry clinics throughout Canada. In addition to these services, OSI Group has developed Optosys Solution, a comprehensive clinic management software dedicated to vision professionals.
Always innovating, we exist to simplify your operations, elevate the patient experience, and champion independent optometry across Canada.
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