Step-by-Step Guide

Start a New Optometry Practice

Starting a new optometry clinic has several advantages for an entrepreneur in the optical industry. Designing a new clinic will allow you to create an environment that best represents yourself, your brand, and gives you complete control over the products and services you wish to offer. You'll reap the rewards of your efforts. If you're thinking of going into business for yourself, take the first steps and start planning by reading these guidelines.

The following sequence of steps to open a cold-start optometry practice is provided by way of illustration only. Some of these steps must be completed concurrently.

1

CHOOSE YOUR EXPERTS AND IDENTIFY YOUR RESOURCES

Before starting a business, it is important to identify the right people and resources that will assist you in the development of your clinic. You first have to choose an accountant and lawyer. Professional associations and buying groups, such as OSI Group, can also provide you with valuable information and resources as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.

2

CHOOSE THE LOCATION OF YOUR FUTURE CLINIC

The next step is to select the city and the exact location of your future clinic. We strongly recommend that you conduct a market study of the region where you wish to set up your practice.

You should also identify potential commercial premises and include the rental price in your business plan. Brokers are often of great assistance at this point.

3

CREATE YOUR BUSINESS AND FINANCING PLAN

Now that you are well surrounded and have a clearer idea of where you want to open your clinic, you will need to develop a business plan to obtain financing. An existing business plan template can help you develop your own plan.

Your accountant will also walk you through the different sources of financing available to you.

4

CREATE YOUR COMPANY ON PAPER

You are about to see the birth of your clinic (on paper). It is at this stage that you will determine the legal and corporate structure of your business.

This is also the stage where you will be required to register your clinic with certain government institution . Your lawyer and your tax specialist will be of great assistance at this stage.

5

THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR CLINIC

Now that your clinic exists on paper, you will need to build the physical location. Choosing a designer with experience in optometry clinics will probably simplify your life, but this is not an absolute requirement.

Several factors will influence the design of your clinic: How many examination rooms will be in the space? Paper records or digital exams? What equipment will you use? The more detail you provide about how you want your clinic to work, the more satisfied you will be with the end result.

6

BUILD YOUR CLINIC’S ONLINE PRESENCE

Your clinic’s web presence will help you recruit your future patients and keep in touch with them.

Your website can be simple in the beginning and can be developed over time. Also, consider having a presence on your target audience's favourite social networks.

Finally, it would also be wise to set aside a budget for digital marketing.

7

CHOOSE YOUR SUPPLIERS

The list of suppliers to contact and negotiate with can be long and time- consuming. To save time, get the best prices, and simplify accounting, consider joining a buying group like the OSI Group. You will benefit from attractive economies of scale that will be beneficial for you and lead to your clinic’s profitability.

In addition to your equipment and inventory, you should also consider choosing management software that will keep up with your technological goals.

8

DRAFT THE SHAREHOLDERS’ AGREEMENT
(if more than one owner)

The shareholders’ agreement is a document that sets out the actions to be taken by the shareholders in specific situations. For instance, it could include clauses dealing with the acquisition of the clinic by a third party or the distribution of dividends among shareholders.

This document should be drafted by a lawyer. However, if possible, it is best to come to a mutual agreement, outline the terms and work with a lawyer once the shareholders have agreed on the details of the agreement.

9

CHOOSE YOUR EMPLOYEES

Part of your clinic’s success will rest on the employees you choose. It is therefore especially important to choose your team wisely. Your clinic’s budget will help you determine how many employees you will need to hire and what their salaries will be.

Note that there are provincial regulations and laws regarding human resources management. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with these before you begin the hiring phase.

OSI Group offers programs and trainings that can help you develop human resources management skills that could be quite helpful to you.

10

GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR CLINIC

Word of mouth remains an immensely powerful referral tool. However, you still need to think of other ways to let your future clients know about your new clinic. Direct mailings, digital marketing, contests, events, conferences, partnerships with other businesses, sponsorships, and more are all ways to increase visibility. The possibilities are endless.

Your marketing strategy will also need to evolve with your clinic and your patients. Marketing initiatives can be managed internally or outsourced to a third party. Remember, there are marketing specialists who can save you valuable time and avoid potentially costly mistakes.