Here’s What It Cost Me To Open My Optometry Practice Cold

Slider_Cost2open

How much is opening your optometry practice REALLY going to cost? 

This article will detail not only the major, but minor costs that oftentimes go forgotten in opening cold.

The true cost of opening an optometry practice varies tremendously. Some things to consider are:

  • size of your venture
  • number of exam lanes
  • equipment needed
  • inventory
  • number of employees
  • and much more

Let’s begin!

Lawyer:

This is the first person you need to contact once you decide you are going into business. The cost of setting up the corporation (our business is registered as a PLLC), and costs of dealing with our landlord setting up the terms of our lease cost $1500.

I am located on the Eastern End of Long Island, so this price may be more or less depending on your location.

Lawyer Cost = $1,500

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Slider_Cost2open

How much is opening your optometry practice REALLY going to cost? 

This article will detail not only the major, but minor costs that oftentimes go forgotten in opening cold.

The true cost of opening an optometry practice varies tremendously. Some things to consider are:

  • size of your venture
  • number of exam lanes
  • equipment needed
  • inventory
  • number of employees
  • and much more

Let’s begin!

Lawyer:

This is the first person you need to contact once you decide you are going into business. The cost of setting up the corporation (our business is registered as a PLLC), and costs of dealing with our landlord setting up the terms of our lease cost $1500.

I am located on the Eastern End of Long Island, so this price may be more or less depending on your location.

Lawyer Cost = $1,500

Rent/Building Expenses

For this you have to be realistic with whom/what your target is: are you looking to be a chic optical that needs retail space on a main street with a lot of foot traffic? Do you want your optometry practice to be located within a medical building with other medical professionals? Would you prefer to be in a free standing building?

All of these questions will help determine the type of space you need for your optometry practice and how large you need it to be.

Things to be aware of:

  • If any construction needs to be done, who is responsible for the cost? You? The Landlord? What is the estimated timeline?
  • Is anything you build considered property of the building owners (i.e. cabinets, sinks,etc..)?
  • What are the terms of the lease? 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
  • Watch for percentage rent increase from year to year. We negotiated this out of our contract!

For my partner and I, we decided early on that we were not going to have an optical so foot traffic was not a priority. With that decision our rent option went from $5000/month to about half that.

*** Keep in mind that you’ll most likely be paying rent before your doors open while you are setting up shop and building out the space. This could be a quick way to be deep in the “red” from the start if you aren’t attentive to how much your rent is! See if you can work out a deal with your landlord to allow you to do work and start paying rent only after you open the business!***

Rent Cost = $2,700/month

Equipment:

This is the BIGGEST expense. Hands Down.

There are a lot of ways to save money here; you can do your research and find each individual piece, look IMG_8919into leasing options, scour the internet for sales or purchase from an existing practice that may be closing their doors.

I will be honest here… I did NONE of those things.

With everything else going on, the last thing I wanted to do was spend hours searching for a deal on older/used equipment. I should also mention the way our bank loan was set up, it allowed us to actually buy each piece of equipment up front, so we used a reputable optometric company and purchased all of our equipment from them.

Our office is 1400 sq feet with a pretest room, one full-exam lane, a shared office, and a room dedicated just to vision therapy. We also have a full-sized, handicap accessible bathroom, a front desk area, and a kitchen/break room.Fundus photo

Here is the list of equipment that we purchased for our everyday use:

Exam Room Equipment:

  • 1 Full Exam Lane (Chair, Stand) & 1 Additional Chair
  • Topcon Slit Lamp
  • Goldmann Tonometer Attachment
  • PC Acuity System
  • Traditional Phoropter
  • Computerized Lensometer
  • Retinal Camera
  • Combination Autrorefractor/Topographer
  • Ocululus Easyfield C Perimeter
  • Handheld Pachymeter
  • Handheld iCare Tonometer
  • Handheld Autorefractor
  • Wheelchair Accessible Electric Table
  • 3 Stools
  • Exam room needs: drops, cotton tip applicators, tissues, alcohol pads, etc..

Equipment Total: ~$105,000*

*Between my partner and I, we had a BIO, lenses (78, 90, 20D, 3 & 4  mirror gonioscopy lenses), stereo and color vision books, occluders, foreign body removal kits, near cards and fixation sticks.

If you do not own these things, you are looking at an extra $10-15,000.

Add in an OCT or an Optos and you’re looking at over $200,000 alone in equipment costs. My advice is to figure out exactly what you NEED to get your office started, and not just buy everything you WANT.

Vision Therapy Diagnostic Equipment:

  • Development Eye Movement Test (DEM)
  • Beery Visual Motor Integration Test/Score Sheets
  • Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (TVPS)
  • Gardner Reversal Frequency Test
  • Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency (TSWRF)
  • Dyslexia Determination Kit (DDT)
  • Visagraph
  • WIAT II
  • Primary Mental Abilities (Perceptual Speed/Spatial Relations)

Vision Therapy Diagnostic Equipment Total: ~$2,500

Vision Therapy Equipment:

  • Eye patches
  • Stereo glasses
  • Red/green glasses
  • Brock strings
  • Eccentric circles
  • Vectograms
  • Aperture rule
  • Accommodative flippers
  • Vergence flippers
  • Rotational trainer + tees
  • Marsden balls
  • Red/Green Anti-suppression Charts
  • Red/Green Bar Readers
  • Sherman Cards
  • Parquetry Blocks
  • Geoboards
  • Slant Boards
  • Matrix Cubes
  • VTS 4* (our one splurge !)
  • HTS/PTS Program

Vision Therapy Equipment Total: ~$10,000

If you’re interested in just opening a vision therapy only practice, check out the full article on Creating a Business Plan for Vision Therapy!

Technology:

Hire a tech guy. He’ll be your best friend. SeriouslyIMG_8835

With that said here were some of the items that were required:

  • Server System
  • Computers (7)
  • 42″ TV (2) – waiting room/office for conferences
  • Printers (2)
  • Phones (3)
  • Security Camera System (4)
  • Service Contact for said Tech Guy
  • Electronic Medical Record (EMR) System
 Technology Cost = ~$30,000 

Marketing:

An essential part to making sure future patients learn about you and know where to find your optometry practice!

  • Logo Design
  • Website Designer/Developer (Check out my website here!)
  • Business Cards
  • Informational Pamphlets
  • Door decal
  • Road Sign
  • Envelopes
  • Letterhead
  • Advertising in local papers, radio stations
Marketing Cost = ~$15,000 

Furnishings & Miscellaneous:

This will vary depending on how large your space is, what work needs to be done, and how you want to decorate. I lucked out and did not have to do major construction except for building our cabinets.

Here are some other furnishings to think about:

  • Cabinets
  • Office Chairs (12)
  • Desk  (office)
  • Desk Chairs (2)
  • Filing Cabinet
  • Pictures
  • Organizers (Front Desk)
  • Paper, pens/pencils, post-its, stamps, paper-clips, etc…
  • Kitchen equipment: refrigerator, microwave, coffee machine, paper goods
  • Scrubs for employees
  • Phone/Internet Services
  • Garbage removal
  • Heating/Lights
Furnishings/Miscellaneous = ~$50,000 

And the grand total…..

Cost to Open Cold = ~$210,000

Have questions? Comment below!

Next month’s article will discuss HOW I got funded to open up my optometry practice.

My hope is that all of you new graduates see the potential of vision therapy, the vast amount of people it can help and how many lives you can change!

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About Miki Lyn DAngelo

Miki Lyn DAngelo
Miki Lyn D’Angelo, O.D. graduated with honors from the SUNY College of Optometry in New York, receiving the VSP Excellence in Primary Care and Excellence in Vision Therapy awards. She then continued her education by completing a residency in vision therapy and rehabilitation with Dr. Barry Tannen, OD. She has extensive experience in family eye care with a specialty and passion for pediatrics, vision training and neuro-rehabilitation with traumatic brain injury patients. She recently just opened a private practice cold with a partner on the Eastern End of Long Island. In her spare time she loves cooking and working on the farm with her fiancé.

7 comments

  1. AbsoluteVizon

    Thanks for posting up a very detailed itemized list of the cost for your office. However it looks like you underestimated the costs to open your practice cold…if you add up your numbers, it should definitely be MORE than $210,000 (Lawyer cost + Equipment cost + VT equipment cost + Technology cost + Marketing cost + Furnishing & Miscellaneous Cost = $1,500 + $105K + $12.5K + $30K + $15 K + $50K = $214K). So that’s about $214K without including the monthly rent of $2,700. You would definitely want to be able to pay at least 6 months of rent ($2700 x 6 = $16,200) or more. In addition, how about employee wages, student loan, and living expenses/costs? If you add up these additional costs, then it will cost you at least $230K (not including employee wages, student loan, and living expenses/costs).

    Like you mentioned in your article, you could’ve saved a lot of money on purchasing used exam room equipment from companies that refurbish them and sell them back at a much lower price. Also, these companies also allow you to test out their equipment before purchasing them. I also think you could’ve saved on the furnishings and miscellaneous stuff and the technology stuff. For example, which EMR system did you purchase? For instance, the in-office version of Crystal Practice Management software sells for $8000, which includes 1 year of support and software updates. This would still leave you with a lot of money left to purchase all of the rest of your technology stuff that would definitely cost you about half or $15,000. With that technology savings, you could’ve spent it on purchasing the vision therapy equipment. For office furnishings, you could’ve saved a lot from IKEA which sell very nice, but affordable office furniture and cabinets. Finally, for your technology costs, I strongly believe it’s way too costly…you could’ve definitely saved in that area too. Why would you initially need 7 computers for 3 rooms?

    Thanks again for sharing your experience for the costs of opening up your practice cold. I’m definitely looking forward to your next article on how you got funded.

  2. Miki Lyn DAngelo

    Hello!

    You are correct about it being 215,000; it has been updated. I left out the monthly rent because I had it negotiated to not start paying until I opened my doors (so I was not an expense for me; however I wanted to mention it in the article!). I kept all of my personal finances (student loans/living expenses) separate as I was working outside of setting up my business and paid for those things with personal income. As for employee interviews and wages I am going to tackle that in a separate article. We had only two weeks of training before we opened the cost of their wages was calculated in the miscellaneous since it only about $1,000 ( $13/hr x 2 employees at 40 total training hours).

    Our technology DID cost a lot, but for good reason. For one, we had to build out a whole server unit, install cameras (safety reasons), wire the building and install all of our computer, set up our EMR, phone systems and have a year-long contract with our IT guy to service us whenever we need (and I’ve called him a lot in these first 6 months!). We are actually using Crystal PM and we LOVE them!!. Seven computers were necessary: two at our front desk, one in our exam room, one in our pre-test room, one in mine and my partner’s office and two in our vision therapy room (one for vision therapy activities/one for inputting note taking during therapy sessions). It may seem excessive, but we wanted to install everything from the start. The way our loan was set up we had a ‘project phase’ that once we opened our doors our access to the loan money was cut off, so we purchased all that we could.

    I think furnishings are a case by case basis and personal preference; my partner and I wanted custom built cabinets so that we could design exactly how we wanted our exams rooms to be. Each person will vary on how they will design an office and where they would choose to spend their money.

    Believe me, this was a HUGE learning experience! We really didn’t have a guide and we definitely made mistakes along the way, but I am hoping that this articles can help people lay out some expenses, start the conversation and tweak things to what they need.

    Thank you again for reading and commenting! The article on funding should be out soon!

  3. Bruce Colton

    No buildout / tenant improvement cost? Was it already built out perfect? Or did the landlord agree not only to help pay, but to completely 100% cover your buildout? That could add another $100-$200K, right?

    • Miki Lyn DAngelo

      Our build out only cost $10,000! Our landlord is a cardiologist who built the building knowing exactly how to have the proper flow in the office, sink accessibility, etc… To answer your question, YES build out can cost upwards of $100,000- I just got lucky!

  4. Shahin Eghanian

    Thanks Mki; a very helpful article!

  5. Anthony Spina

    How do you like your Oculus Easyfield as compared to a Humphrey?

  6. Glee-Ann Llemit

    Great article! Which handheld autorefractor did you purchase? Thanks.

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