Dr. Chun AuYeung talks with Dr. Antonio Chirumbolo about his experience opening his own optometry practice cold and advice he has for other optometrists looking to do the same.
When starting out on this journey, it’s important to have a clear vision, but also to have a team in place that can help you execute that vision.
The first person you need to find is a good commercial real estate broker, someone who can help you find the right location, recommend good attorneys, and help you negotiate your lease. “Having a person like that behind your back makes the job less scary - but still scary,” Dr. AuYeung laughs.
When it comes to finding the right location, there are several things to consider. For example, you’ll probably want to find a location that is near where you live. Look at the neighborhood and who lives there, as these will likely be your patients, and ask yourself if this is the community you want to serve for the next twenty years. When picking a space, consider whether you’ll be able to make it what you want it to be.
Starting your own practice has risks, but also has advantages over buying an existing practice. Taking over someone else’s practice is not only expensive, but also entails “taking over someone else’s dream,” as Dr. AuYeung points out. Once you have a clear vision and a good team in place, starting out on your own requires commitment. However, “once you commit to it, it’s amazing how fast it goes from there,” Dr. AuYeung says.
Dr. AuYeung managed to save money by buying used equipment from a colleague who was looking to upgrade his practice. Purchasing equipment such as automated and manual phoropters and LED displays is an important investment for your practice, but on its own isn’t enough to succeed.
“At the end of the day, that equipment is just a compliment to your personal skills,” Dr. AuYeung explains. “You can have great equipment, but if you aren’t passionate and don’t care about your patients, it doesn’t mean anything.”
When it comes to preparing for opening day, Dr. AuYeung suggests hiring a good marketing team and utilizing search optimization and social media. He says you should look at marketing not as an expense, but as an investment. Getting credentialed with vision and medical insurance plans can be time consuming, so plan accordingly.
Dr. AuYeung cautions that opening your own practice isn’t the right path for everyone. “You can be a great doctor,” he says, “but you still need to understand it’s a business.” You should ask yourself whether you can handle “working sixty hours a week, non-stop grinding and hustling.” Dr. AuYeung says not to be deterred by debt, either - you can always make back your money, but you can’t put a price on executing your vision.