Who are iCare Advisors, LLC
iCare Advisors, LLC was created by Dr. Eric Baas and Dr. Bob Steinmetz – two optometrists who are passionate about helping colleagues follow their dreams to open their own practices.
Drs. Baas and Steinmetz have both cold-started practices from scratch utilizing a lean method approach that allowed them to be successful and profitable from the beginning, particularly in the age of staggering student loan debt.
The iCare Advisors team strives to help their clients from start to finish and every step along the way, from finding the perfect location, securing financing, selecting equipment and frame lines, marketing and staff management, to even figuring out the ever-changing world of insurance.
iCare Advisors is takes a hands-on approach and helps position clients for lasting profitability.
One of the first steps to open an optometry practice cold, is to select a practice location.
According to Dr. Baas, the most important piece of advice that he gives his clients when selecting a location is that more space isn’t always a good thing.
This concept is often the most difficult thing for doctors who are opening cold to grasp because many of them are coming from established practices that have grown into 3,000+ square foot offices. Dr. Baas typically recommends cold start practices start with 1,200 to 1,500 square feet to keep rent around $40,000-$50,000 per year which will help banks look more favorably on lending.
So how does the financing portion work when you have determined a location and are ready to open your optometry practice cold?
Dr. Baas recommends that clients start by checking their credit score. You also must understand that student loan debt is not necessarily considered bad debt and should not deter you from pursuing this venture.
Most banks understand that it takes a substantial investment to get the education needed to become an optometrist. As long as the rest of a client’s personal balance sheet is looking good (i.e.: low credit card debt, manageable expenses, income from associating at another practice) then there typically aren’t major roadblocks that cannot be overcome.
Next to rent, one of the most costly aspects of opening an optometry practice cold is purchasing equipment and frame lines.
This is when expertise in geospatial analysis is critical in surveying the community in which a practice is located to help form cost-benefit analysis for frame lines and specialty equipment to adhere with a practice’s mission statement and long-term goals.
According to Dr. Steinmetz, it is important to understand that there are money generating essential pieces of equipment to get from day 1, but there are others that do not produce cash flow positive income, and these should be avoiding in the beginning stages.
Should your cold start practice accept all insurances?
iCare Advisors advise that it is vital for a new practice to take as many insurances as possible to fill chair time in the opening stages.
This means applying for every possible third party insurance plan during the beginning stages of the practice. Even if the patient’s insurance has low profitability, it is better to have a patient who will recommend the practice to their family and friends than to have an empty chair.
Top advice for ODs looking to open an optometry practice cold
The biggest piece of advice that Dr. Baas has for optometrists who are thinking about opening their own practice is to do their due diligence by utilizing all available resources. This means networking as much as possible, utilizing newgradoptometry.com and joining private practice clubs if still in school. These are all great ways to help determine if cold starting is truly the best fit for the you.
It is also important to understand what you’re getting into when considering opening a cold-start practice – both the amount of work and the rewards associated with owning your own business.
It’s because of the end reward that iCare Advisors help aspiring practice owners to open more efficiently and effectively in order to follow their private practice dreams.