This is a sponsored post by Luxottica, a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists 😎
Have you ever heard a business owner quip that they “wear many hats?” The many hat situation is usually a good one. It’s a sign of a growing and thriving business, and I can tell you first hand, the saying is true!
As a LensCrafters sublease holder, I’ve worn – and still wear – several different hats. I’m required to perform many different duties in order to be a successful doctor, business owner, and practice manager. While finding work-life balance can be a challenge in the early years of holding a LensCrafters sublease, I truly love what I do.
With increasing obstacles facing the optometry profession, or any healthcare profession for that matter, I find that I am better equipped and have a better foundation to face these challenges as time goes on.
My LensCrafters sublease has allowed me to create my ideal version of a private practice, while simultaneously making my own life goals a reality.
In this article, I am going to give you an in-depth description of how to start a LensCrafters sublease.
This will help to give you context to see if starting a corporate sublease is right for you and your life goals. For me, it made a lot of sense, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
Watch Dr. Laheqa Suljuki take us into her practice at LensCrafters in Mission Valley, San Diego to show us what an average day in the life of an independent practice owner is like. Read all about her story!
Here is a step-by-step guide to starting a LensCrafters Sublease in Infographic Format. Feel free to share it around!
How To Get in Touch With Luxottica to Start a LensCrafters Sublease
My first point of contact for my sublease was a Luxottica optometrist recruiter, who had arranged for me to meet with the designated LensCrafters Region General Manager (RGM) to get to know each other.
If you want to get in touch with a LensCrafters RGM just visit the LensCrafters Open Positions page on CovalentCareers. The CovalentCareers team will answer any questions you may have and then hand you off directly to the LensCrafters team. That’s the easiest way to get started.
Note: CovalentCareers also helps optometrists get started with Target Optical subleases, so you can check out that page too. They recently did a YouTube Live with 2 Target Optical sublease optometrists, and wrote a guide to starting a target optical sublease, incase you want more info!
My LensCrafters location had been established, so this meeting with the LensCrafters RGM provided me with details about the actual location, for example:
- Practice gross
- Patient demographic
- General idea of what the sublease contract looked like
After this meeting, I met with the senior eye care director. From what I hear, people holding this title are typically ODs. The goal of this meeting was for the senior eyecare director to get better acquainted with my experience and personality, and to understand if I would be a good fit for the location and brand.
Additionally, we both wanted to assess if I could achieve my personal and professional aspirations in the role.
Here’s my quick experience with the timing for entering an established LensCrafters sublease:
- Within 2 weeks’ time, my lease agreement was finalized with Luxottica’s legal department. Pretty quick!
- Within 3 weeks’ time, my practice was already furnished with 2 fully equipped exam lanes and a pretest room, so I could see patients immediately. I only had to bring in my own credit card terminal, front desk computer, printer, dilation drops, and a few other miscellaneous items.
This ebook will teach you about the different Luxottica brands, and what corporate optometry modality might be best for you: employment, sublease, or franchise.
What to Know Before Starting a LensCrafters Sublease
Prior to opening your doors to see your very first patient, it can be difficult to figure out what items are necessary to take care of right away, and what items can be taken care of along the way.
In matters of business, enlist the help of professionals, specifically a;
- Business lawyer
- Optometry CPA
I called and spoke with a few CPAs in my area before finding my right match since it was important to find someone with whom I could build a relationship.
My CPA was able to provide me with all of the following resources:
- Form a corporation
- Name the business
- Obtain a federal tax ID (EIN)
- Get a business license.
He was able to help me with most of the filing and let me know which items I could handle on my own.
Useful websites like legalzoom.com or nolo.com certainly gave me lots of good information to further differentiate the different types of corporations and various processes involved to make informed decisions with my CPA.
Having a business entity formed allowed me to set up my business checking account and merchant services account, which are both essentials for a LensCrafters sublease. With the right guidance, these items can be taken care of in the matter of a week or two, so don’t sweat it too much.
I then proceeded to sign my lease. In order to sign the lease, I had to attach a voided check from my business checking account; this enables Luxottica to automatically deduct rent from my bank account each month.
A LensCrafters sublease outlines a monthly payment which accounts for the following:
- Rent of the office space
- Exam equipment
- Facilities contribution – this includes utilities, phone, and internet
- Staff support
Insurance Credentialing at a LensCrafters Sublease
After starting my lease, I took the time to review additional vision and medical insurances to get credentialed with along the way. Also, it is important to understand certain nuances of additional plans. For example, you’ll want to know if you can file vision claims as an out-of-network provider with some of these insurances, such as VSP. Other insurances require patients to file on their own for reimbursements if they see you as an out-of-network provider.
You’ll, of course, want to get started with your optometric CAQH credentialing as soon as possible.
There are several third party companies that aid in credentialing services and are worthwhile to consider. NewGradOptometry.com recommends using Optometric Billing Services, as they support new optometrists every step of the way.
Setting Fees at a LensCrafters Sublease
With insurance credentialing in place, you must then set your professional fees.
This encompasses setting the following optometric fees:
- CPT codes for comprehensive eye exams
- Refraction fees
- Contact lens evaluation fees
- Diagnostic testing fees (i.e. fundus photography and visual field)
- Office visit fees
Setting fees can be tough because there’s no rule book for it, but the doctor who held my LensCrafters sublease before me gave me some good advice.
She would have someone periodically call about a dozen or so optometry offices in the immediate area and find out what they charged. Based on those offices’ fees, she could determine what she wanted her own professional fees to be.
Another approach is to request fee schedules from insurances. This can help you determine the reimbursement levels for specific services, which then helps you settle upon a reasonable fee structure for your services.
Here is the NewGradOptometry guide for setting fees in optometry.
The idea is that it’s really up to you, the optometrist, to determine your professional fees.
Your staff and retail staff simply need to know the appropriate verbiage so that they can be consistent with your goals. They’re there to help you schedule appointments, and to provide accurate information when patients inquire about fees.
I have a single page chart that I periodically update; I make sure that the entire staff has the updated chart on hand, so they can use it as a daily reference.
A Note on Professional & General Liability Insurance
Everyone knows that it’s essential to have professional liability insurance, but once you sign with LensCrafters, it is also required to also have general liability insurance.
You will also need to add Luxottica as additional insured. Having a business owner’s policy (BOP) encompasses the general liability required, and it also can contain property insurance to cover any equipment that you bring to the office.
The Key Business Metrics at a LensCrafters Sublease
One unique aspect of holding a LensCrafters sublease is the fact that you have two independent businesses running under the same roof, as required by Florida law:
- What goes on in your optometry office
- What goes on outside of your office in the optical
Patients may not necessarily perceive this to be the case, so it is important that our patients’ experiences are seamless on the retail end, as well as the optometry end. Both businesses are ultimately related, and a good working relationship between the doctor and store general manager is essential to ensure the success of both of the businesses.
The LensCrafters general store manager and I address everything together, including:
- Reviewing retail and exam goals
- Celebrating staff successes
- Addressing missed opportunities
It’s this type of goal setting and review process that teaches you some really core business owner lessons – ones that have really shaped me. A business can be dissected a million different ways, and number analysis can be applied to any given area.
For me, my 3 key optometry business metrics are:
- Patient retention
- Exam growth
- Doctor revenue
The LensCrafters Region General Manager (RGM) is another important relationship to maintain. The RGM is in charge of a fleet of stores in a given area. This also includes bringing on doctors to acquire subleases for their LensCrafters locations.
How to Staff a LensCrafters Sublease
Currently, my team consists of one to two optometric technicians per day.
Their goals are to assist with:
- Checking-in patients
- Pre-testing patients
- Checking-out patients
- Appointment reminder
- Other general day-to-day operations
On the weekend, I’ve got two optometric technicians to handle our increased patient load. Sometimes, during the occasional anticipated high-volume days in peak seasons, I’ll add on an additional technician on my own payroll.
Optometric staffing has always been one of the biggest challenges for my practice, and you’ll hear many other sublease holders and private practice optometrists say the same. I am accustomed to training and educating staff individually as frequently as I can, and it often takes place at any given time in the day.
Even though staffing is built into the lease, there’s not a training guide or competency metric for optometric technicians at LensCrafters. I’ve created my own training timeline that I use to orient any new staff members. It helps to give them guidance and expectations of where their level of competency should be for particular skills or tasks at particular milestones in their employment.
I have a lease, that makes my life easier by enabling LensCrafters to hire my optometric technician(s) for 7 days a week.
This model, at its best, provides 1 full-time employee, 1 or 2 part-time people, and/or retail staff who are cross-trained for working in both retail and as an optometric tech.
The store general manager is in charge of the following when it comes to HR:
- Finding candidates for this position
- Performing interviews
- Running background checks
- Completing hiring paperwork
The doctors are always welcomed to participate in the interviews and give input for the final decision. There are also leases where doctors hire their own staff without the help of the general store manager.
How to Grow Your LensCrafters Sublease
When I think back to when I started my Lenscrafters sublease in 2013, compared to today in 2017, so much has changed.
- We were still on paper charts and Quickbooks
- We used manual phoropters from 2013-2014
- We implemented scanning and EHR in 2015
- We started using Clarifye digital eye exams in 2016
- We added an OCT to our office in 2017
- By this summer, we plan implement a clearinghouse for claim submission
Scaling and delegating is key to business growth.
The nice thing about a small business is that you can be innovative and implement various ideas within a short period of time. LensCrafters leads the way in this innovation as well, but they have to do so at the level of a large corporation. This involves getting an entire nationwide fleet of stores onboard for any initiative; it takes time.
Each advancement in my practice has been incredibly exciting, and at the same time, we’ve learned an incredible amount, both from our wins and from our losses.
I’m far from being an IT or tech person, but I do assume responsibility for running software updates or troubleshooting when equipment does not function as anticipated, or at least being able to get on the phone with the right people who can assist.
Oh yeah – and this is all in between seeing patients throughout the day! This is the life of a business owner, whether you’re in private practice or hold a corporate optometry sublease!
The Patient Population at LensCrafters
Primary eyecare has always been the focus of my practice. This might mean something different to every doctor.
For me, it means that I:
- Conduct comprehensive eye exams
- Perform contact lens evaluations and fittings
- Perform emergency office visits (including, but not limited to, foreign body removal, treatment, and management of corneal ulcers and abrasion, etc.)
There were several occasions during my first and second year of practice I would regularly refer patients to ophthalmology. However, with time, I have been able to expand my focus to manage more challenging cases, add ancillary diagnostic equipment, and become more confident to practice full-scope optometry.
I now manage and treat ocular diseases like glaucoma and chronic dry eye, as well as take on complex RGP/scleral lens fittings for keratoconus and other corneal ectasias.
At my office, our goal is to increase patient retention and refer out only in very particular situations. I’m passionate about learning new talking points and utilizing technology to educate my patients.
Furthermore, Luxottica also has a large initiative they call the OneSight program. Aside from the many overseas mission trips that doctors and staff can join, Luxottica runs programs on a local level.
Our office partners with a local school to conduct exams for children whose families can prove financial hardship, and they are given a pair of glasses from LensCrafters at no charge. We also partner with The Homeless Coalition to do the same throughout the year.
The Hours You’ll Likely Work at a LensCrafters Sublease
When I first obtained my LensCrafters sublease, I saw patients roughly 6 days per week. Sometimes, it turned into 7!
In the early days, I won’t lie, I felt pretty busy, but it didn’t take long for me to grow and have the revenue to hire an associate optometrist at my LensCrafters. Once that was possible, we posted a job listing to find OD candidates for our LensCrafters.
We ended up adding an associate doctor who sees patients on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as every other Saturday. I see patients most weekends, and it’s fine for me because I have a shared day off with my husband, who is also an optometrist, during the week.
We are a relatively simple couple; we like to catch up on our favorite TV shows (in some cases, binge-watch), and follow the occasional NBA game in the evenings. During the day, we might run errands and take care of the usual household chores. Oftentimes, I set aside administrative time.
Administrative tasks at LensCrafters include:
- Reconciling EOBs
- Posting insurance payments
- Responding to ratings and reviews
- Management of social media and company website
- Completing quarterly tax forms
- Everything in between
My husband and I really enjoy traveling, like anyone else. Our travels have been reserved more for weddings or visiting family. It makes sense to combine business with pleasure where we can get our CEs, reunite with old friends, and peruse exhibit halls for the latest products and services available in eyecare.
Many of us know of the Vision Expo, AOA, and AAO meetings. However, there’s also the Association of Leaseholding LensCrafters Doctors (ALLDocs), an organization that provides custom tailored continuing education and programs exclusive for the doctors next to LensCrafters.
The annual meetings are held at some of the finest resorts, and I am excited to make it to my first one this year!
The Patient Volume at a LensCrafters Sublease
There’s certainly a seasonality to the volume of patients that I average throughout the year. A low volume day could be 8-9 patients, and a high volume day could be 18-22 patients.
At my office, I schedule patients every 20 minutes for comprehensive eye exams.
Contact lens checks and various other follow-ups are scheduled on the hour, in addition to the comprehensive exams. Some higher volume offices schedule every 15 minutes, but we find our pace to be a better for both patient experience and clinic flow. In this case, these offices generally have additional staff to ensure the patient experience is maintained.
I have an hour scheduled for lunch and for handling non-patient care related tasks. Like most optometrists, my lunch break lasts about 15 minutes for me quickly eat, and the remainder of lunch might be spent closing out charts from the AM, responding to emails and phone calls, etc.
Finding Fill-In Optometrists at a LensCrafters Sublease
Though finding fill-in coverage for days off can certainly be another pain point, networking and being more involved in the optometric community can be a tremendous help in this aspect. I attend local society meetings and local Women of Optometry meetings every other month. Occasionally, I will attend a dinner sponsored by a pharmaceutical or contact lens company, as well. They’re great places to network.
Local societies like the Central Florida Society of Optometric Physicians (CFSOP) are good resources for earning CE credits and meeting long-established doctors and new doctors alike.
These meetings also incorporate important updates of what is going on with our profession legislatively; it’s important for me to understand these issues, as they have an impact on my business’ health.
Having these networks of local doctors enables us to learn from each other’s successes and to reach out to each other to help out in times of need. The CE speakers are often local optometrists or optometry-friendly ophthalmologists who are great to learn from, and this also allows you to know more about to whom you’re referring your patients.
In addition to community networking, the LensCrafters RGM can also reach out to other lease-holding doctors in the area, help doctors fill-in coverage.
Depending upon the duration of need for coverage, or even the need for part-time doctors, Luxottica’s recruiting team can aid in prospective candidates to communicate with the RGM, as they receive many applications of interest in their database.
If you’re looking for an OD, try posting a free job listing on CovalentCareers.com. There are lots of optometrists looking for an extra day on that platform.
Access to New Contact Lenses at LensCrafters
Various contact lens reps, pharmaceutical reps, and even reps from various local ophthalmology practices stop in frequently throughout the week. They are often valuable assets; we can learn about the launch of new and innovative products their companies have to offer. There are pre-determined ways of how offices can get their hands on the latest contact lens fitting sets, and these visits make it pretty easy for us to get our hands on new contact lens technology.
Having a LensCrafters lease typically means that my office can be within the first few waves to receive the new products.There are 2 categories of LensCrafters leases in regards to contact lens sales.
There are 2 categories of LensCrafters leases in regards to contact lens sales.
A full LensCrafters lease allows the lease holding doctor to sell supplies of contact lenses to patients. The other sublease type does not allow for the doctor to sell contact lenses.
Each location is already predetermined so you will learn more about your potential location from the beginning of your conversations.
How to Manage your Weekends at a LensCrafters Sublease
Because most businesses operate Monday through Friday, there’s less of a likelihood that I worry about returning an email or phone call on the weekends.
Instead, I just concentrate on patient care, seeing a higher volume of patients than I would during my normal work week, and capitalizing on this time to build my practice’s revenue.
The reality of a corporate setting is that weekends are important to both the retail and the doctor side of the business. I am fortunate to have the occasional fill-in help when I have weekend events to attend, or when I need to be out of town. These days, with websites like CovalentCareers.com, which gives you a free optometrist, optician, or ophthalmic technician job listing, you can get time off when you need it.
On weekends, patients are often very grateful to have flexibility in scheduling this way, and it’s a big practice builder.
For me, the reward is in getting to know my patients on a personal level and getting to know the friends and family members whom they refer to my practice.
There will always be the handful of critical patients, but they are often overshadowed by the funny and friendly patients who are grateful for the compassion and care that my team and I provide to them. They share their happiness and celebrations along with any sadness and losses over the years when they return to see our team. That’s what being an optometrist is all about!
You never know where you will end up!
When I graduated in 2012, I was more keen on looking for a position to be an associate doctor at a private practice or an OD/MD practice to establish my comfort in primary care optometry.
When the opportunity came for me to acquire the LensCrafters lease, my initial thoughts were:
- I wanted more steady income to be able to manage my 200k+ student loan debt and plan for my wedding at the time
- I wanted more time to develop my skills as a doctor
- I wasn’t contemplating practice ownership for another 5 years or so because I felt that I would later be more stable and knowledgeable
I then realized there’s never a right time to plan for business risk while juggling life circumstances and events, but the risk can be minimal when an affiliation with a strong company allows for low start-up costs and overhead (therefore negating the need to take on additional large debt), along with access to support in various areas.
Instinctively, I knew I needed to be open to the opportunity with a low risk and large upside.
I have been a LensCrafters subleasing doctor for about four years. It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to immerse myself in a position that allows me to focus on implementing quality patient care by my own standards, as well as be able to rapidly develop my business acumen.
Having an affiliation with LensCrafters enables me to spend a lot less time and money in starting or marketing my practice, and instead invest that time and money into growing my practice.
It also helps that the fundamental vision for our business is in alignment to deliver quality and personalized eye care with advanced technology.
I have seen LensCrafters incorporate several initiatives over the years to provide doctors with various tools and opportunities to build their business, and more importantly, increase patient awareness of the importance of eye exams.
Entrepreneurship requires a great deal of discipline, patience, strategy, forward-thinking, and adequate time management. Being a good doctor transcends practice modality (private, OD/MD, VA medical center, hospital setting, corporate/retail) and remains my number one priority regardless of where I practice.
Starting a LensCrafters sublease was the right option for me and it can be right for any self-starter willing to put in the time and hard work to achieve their own personal and professional goals.
I am five years in practice, and my journey is just getting started! If you’d like to chat more about LensCrafters employment and sublease options, just visit our resource page to talk with the experts!
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