As the Phoropter Dial Turns: Navigating the Corporate Optometry Sublease

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So you still wanna go the corporate optometry sublease route?

Part 1 of “As the Phoropter Dial Turns” investigated corporate optometry and understanding the setting and finding opportunities. 

If you have made it that far, then it is time to continue reading.

Let’s take a detour and look closely at some corporate optometry sublease options.

Each type of corporate entity is very different! Before you decide to sign a contract and get rolling, once again, it is wise to visit or do some per diem work at several types of offices.

The offices that you gravitate towards and enjoy the most are probably the ones that define you best.

Consider researching and posting questions on ODwire.org, the “largest social and longest-running network for eyecare professionals.” The forum has a section called “Energyes” that you should consider checking out.
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Think about why you want to go into a corporate sublease.

  • Looking for a franchise? – Some corporate offices are for sale. Corporations can help you with the financing process and provide plenty of support. Both Pearle Vision and Sterling Optical have online forms to request more information. Under “Licensing Opportunities” on pearlevision.com, you can find the licensing process explained, step by step.
  • Do you want the volume and autopilot feeling of seeing four patients an hour? – Setups where the doctor’s office is closet-like and where the optical sells the contacts are great for you. Vision plans are the bread and butter of high volume practices, so if you can do some marketing to let people know you’re on their plans and keep your books full, you can have a steady income.
  • Do you like being amongst the rows of frames and sunglasses? – Try to find opportunities where the optical is very close to the doctor’s office so you can always keep up with the trends too.
  • Do you want to do more medical procedures and billing? Would you like to add an Optos or OCT down the road? – Better make sure the office space allows for a separate room to house the equipment or has the potential for expansion. Corporations will renovate or expand corporate optometry sublease offices from time to time. The more you produce and comply, the more likely you can receive a second exam room or prescreening room.
  • Do you want to add specialty services like vision therapy or low-vision? – Once again, ensure you have extra room to do so and that your manager is easy-going. Make sure that you have some plan to ensure that the optical next door will still be able to sell glasses as usual.
Some contracts specifically will prohibit the doctor from selling eyeglasses and accessories and/or contacts in the office.

If you are eyeing a new buildout, ask to see the building plans. Most corporations are inflexible about the office design. Take it or leave it.

Once you decide to proceed with a corporate optometry sublease, the Regional Manager and you have to agree on your hours.

Some managers require eight-hour days while some let you choose your hours. Most will tell you immediately what they prefer regarding hours per day and days per week. Some will allow you to open a few days per week with the expectation that you will grow the practice and eventually open full time.

Make very certain you can live with their preferences because it is a partnership, and the managers know from experience which hours are lucrative. Saturdays and some holidays are a given.

Be prepared to recruit per diem doctors or have an idea whom you can rely on for coverage if you are most likely unable or unwilling to work all Saturdays and holidays.

Keep in mind the hours you set must be very clear from the get-go for the patients and the Regional’s approval. You will be hard pressed to be open alternate weekends or a few hours per day with the possibility of adding more hours later.

The next step is to fill out a corporate optometry sublease interest form.

This form requires you to put the legal name you want on your contract.

Luxottica requires you to send in copies of your malpractice insurance with Luxottica listed as a policyholder. This will increase your malpractice fee by about $15/month.

Perhaps you can hold off on this until after you review and sign a contract. It is wise to set up a business entity and name different from just your legal name.

For example, you can form a Professional Corporation or Professional Limited Liability Corporation. This will prevent your personal assets from lawsuits against your practice. Please consult your tax advisor for further guidance.

Some state optometry boards need to approve your business name and see sketches of your office layout if you use a name other than your own name. All of this will slow the process down, so if need be, you can always change the legal name portion of the contract before you sign it. If your office is a new buildout, you will be waiting a while for a contract due to buildout delays anyways.

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Next, a Professional Development Manager, sometimes an optometrist, will contact you to answer questions about your office setup and insurance credentialing.

If all goes well, the corporation will have the Corporate Optometry Sublease Department write a contract for you.

Once you get a contract, most of the time it is take it or leave it. The contract will sometimes explicitly say so!

Read carefully what you can and cannot do.

If you have hopes of supplementing your startup income with a part time job or per diem work, read carefully what the corporation will allow. Contracts can even stipulate that you cannot consult on the side or that you must be available at all times to handle management issues!

If you decide you desire an attorney to help you out, the Energeyes Association on its website supports a contract law firm in Tennessee, MacKenzie Laird PLLC.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of “As the Phoropter Dial Turns,” in which we will discuss preparation, marketing, and branding your own corporate practice.

Please comment with any questions!

About Alice Tseng O.D.

Alice Tseng O.D.
Dr. Alice Tseng is a middle aged optometrist that graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1998. She feels like a New Grad because she is going through her midlife crisis (or call it new awakening) and is trying to decide where her career leads next in Northern Virginia. She has done it all in optometry, except follow her passion as a writer, and she is embracing this opportunity to write articles about optometry to New Grads! Her optometry experiences include owning her own optometry per diem agency, cold starting a private practice with a partner, opening a solo private practice within another practice, practicing in all types of settings as a per diem doc, and doing a three year stint in a vision therapy and orthokeratology practice. What will she do next? Find out in future articles of As The Phoropter Dial Turns...

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