What’s Being a Luxottica Independent Optometrist Practice Owner Like?

This is a sponsored post by Luxottica, a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists! 😎 what's being a luxottica independent optometrist practice owner like

Have you ever wanted to open your own practice but thought the cost prohibitive? Have you worried that you might not have the experience, or business acumen to successfully manage a practice?

These can be concerns, particularly for young optometrists who might not have much experience under their belts. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a veteran optometrist to be a Luxottica independent optometrist practice owner.

There are so many different brands under the Luxottica umbrella, each with their own particular cache. We interviewed four optometrists about their independent practices, and what it means to work in the modality of independent practice ownership.

Read about all the different types of corporate practice modalities in this article and ebook.

Independent Optometrist Practice Owner – Pearle Vision

eric bellaERIC BELLA, OD

Dr. Eric Bella graduated from the State University of New York College of Optometry. He completed his ocular disease training at the Veterans Administration clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania, and at the Indian Health Service Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma. Dr. Bella worked with prominent ophthalmologists in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo New York, gaining experience in treating and managing eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, and allergic conjunctivitis.

How long have you held an independent optometrist practice with Luxottica?

I have been a Luxottica sublease doctor through Pearle Vision for almost 7 years.

What were the major reasons you decided to pursue this practice modality?

Being a sublease doctor has enabled me to provide the best possible care for my patients because I can draw from Luxottica’s extensive resources and support, as well as having the independence to treat patients in my own individual way.

There is definitely less overhead involved compared with starting a private office with an optical, so being able to not worry about long term overhead with a commercial landlord, and no bank debt was a big consideration.

I think this practice modality really suits my own personality, as someone who enjoys both the business and patient side of optometry.

Why did you choose this particular Luxottica brand over the others?

I grew up in Pennsylvania near a Pearle Vision, so I was very familiar with the brand. When I moved to Canada and saw there was an opportunity to work with Pearle, I jumped at the opportunity. Knowing what the Pearle brand stands for in terms of patient care made it an easy decision.

Read this article to understand more about the process of opening a Pearle Vision franchise.

How has your experience been as an independent optometrist practice owner?

My experience at Pearle has definitely been the highlight of my optometric career. I have been able to improve my skills both as a clinician, as well as the business skills required to be a practice owner.

What are the major benefits of working with Luxottica?

The first benefit for me has been the opportunity to serve patients in need through OneSight. I have been on 6 global clinics, and the patients and fellow volunteers that I met have immeasurably enriched my life.

Another great benefit has been the professional network that I have been exposed to. There is great support from many people in Luxottica, from the regional manager, to other independent practice owner ODs, as well as Pearle franchisees/sublease doctors in the states, who I am fortunate enough to meet with regularly, have taught me so much about what it means to be a good, successful optometrist.

What is a typical day like in your practice?

Each day is different, but usually I spend a half hour to one hour doing admin work in the morning, then see patients during the workday. As an independent practice owner, I am responsible for running the practice, so I will usually communicate with my office manager several times a week, to make sure things are running smoothly.

What kind of technology is available to you in this practice model and how has it helped the way you practice and manage your business?

We use retinal imaging in my practices, and am looking into adding an OCT. Having the ability to do imaging and visual field testing, has enabled me to practice a higher level of optometry, giving patients access to medical eye care. I think it is important for the image and perception of optometry to offer medical services such as glaucoma, AMD, dry eye care.

Do you feel like this experience has taught you valuable business lessons?

Definitely. There are the same challenges in running any business, and working with Pearle Vision has helped me to develop competency in my business practices. We regularly monitor our NPS scores, and constantly try to monitor and improve our best practices, and KPIs. I have also learned a lot in terms of hiring admin staff and associate ODs. As a sublease doctor, it is a great opportunity to learn about other aspects of running a business, especially from an accounting and human resource/management point of view.

Do you feel like you get to practice optometry the to the full scope that you were taught?

Most definitely. Pearle Vision in recent years has placed a great emphasis on its doctors. Everything from their marketing, to the design of their stores, has emphasized a neighborhood eye care perception. This attitude has carried over into how we treat our patients. We are definitely encouraged to practice to the full extent that we are comfortable. In my opinion, this attitude has become one of the defining values that makes it great to partner with Pearle.

Do you feel a sense of ownership with this practice model?

Yes, I feel that the balance of support and independence that Pearle Vision offers makes me feel as if I am in control of how well my practice does. There is encouragement from both management and the optical side to build my practice, with the knowledge that a win-win situation for both Pearle and the doctor will be the end result.

Most challenging thing about running an independent practice? How does Luxottica help you overcome that?

When I was a new sublease doctor, getting patients in the door was a challenge. Luxottica provides its doctors with many resources, from the managers, to promotions, to CORNEA events which enable community outreach and involvement. This support, as well as the recognized Pearle Vision brand and the values it represents, have been invaluable in building a patient base and allowing me to get patients in my door quickly!

Would you choose this pathway again? Would you recommend this modality to a new graduate just starting out and why?

Absolutely. I think the ability to start a practice with no external debt, being able to see patients in a thorough manner, and the support from Luxottica has made developing my optometric practice much easier as a new graduate.

luxottica resources page

Independent Optometrist Practice Owner – LensCrafters

REGINA TRAN, OD

Dr. Tran is owner and optometrist at Transcending Eye Care, an independent practice next to LensCrafters in Orlando, FL. She received her Bachelors of Science in Micro and Molecular Biology from the University of Central Florida. Upon completion, she continued her education at Nova Southeastern University to pursue her optometric education, where she obtained her Doctor in Optometry degree and Bachelor of Science in Vision Science.

How long have you held an independent optometrist practice with Luxottica?

I have held an independent practice with Luxottica for 5 years.

What were the major reasons you decided to pursue this practice modality?

I wanted to be able to learn and develop business and practice management skills.

Because I was a recent grad at the time, I had hefty student loans. So, I needed an option that wouldn’t force me take out additional loans, and would provide me with low overhead costs.

I had two LensCrafters doctors provide me with their personal experiences from owning their independent practices. They were encouraging, set realistic expectations, and provided overall positive accounts in their many years of practice.

Read the complete guide to starting a LensCrafters sublease.

Why did you choose this particular Luxottica brand over the others?

LensCrafters is known to be committed to providing advanced technology and elevating the patient experience.

How has your experience been as an independent optometrist practice owner?

My experience as an independent practice owner has been truly rewarding. In the personal sense, I’m immersed in a role that motivates me to be creative, persevering, goal-oriented, constantly learning, and consistently self-improving. In the entrepreneurial sense, I can look at key performance indicators or metrics to watch the business grow and continue to nurture it based upon results. In the altruistic sense, I can better serve my patients in aspects of service and care that I provide due to direct control of my practice.

What are the major benefits of working with Luxottica?

Marketing: As a new graduate or doctor in a community that doesn’t know your name yet, patients are still driven to your door because Luxottica invests heavily in marketing and customers are familiar with their brands.

Support: This area includes ophthalmic equipment repairs or replacement, investment in technology, individual marketing tools and materials,

Cost: Minimal start-up cost, no build out cost, necessary exam equipment provided, shared rent/utilities (and therefore low overhead expenses).

What is a typical day like in your practice?

In a typical day, my patients are scheduled every 20 minutes. I see on average 11-14 comprehensive eye exams a day. My day is primarily focused on patient care, but I allocate time for upkeep of insurance claims, educating staff, planning or implementation of new ways of doing things to improve practice flow.

What kind of technology is available to you in this practice model and how has it helped the way you practice and manage your business?

Available upon starting the practice is a patient scheduling service from Eppointments, or The Appointment Book (TAB). Patients have the ability to schedule their appointments online, and staff can easily perform normal scheduling tasks as well as pre-appointments.

Just a few years ago, Clarifye was launched as a means to upgrade traditional exam lane equipment to a more advanced platform — automated phoropter, autorefractor with wavefront aberrometer and corneal topographer, and autolensometer, all wireless technology that interfaces with the iPad. The iPad also contains wonderful applications to educate patients about their ocular health and lens options to better personalize their experience. Electronic health records systems and practice management tools, such as RevolutionEHR and Glimpse, are available at great negotiated rates.

Do you feel like this experience has taught you valuable business lessons?

This experience has taught me valuable business lessons that include: the business start-up process (type of business incorporation, taxes, payroll, etc.) staff management, time management, in depth planning/ implementation of projects, communication skills, leadership skills, analysis of business metrics and key performance indicators.

Do you feel like you get to practice optometry to the full scope that you were taught?

I do feel that I get to practice optometry to my full scope. I am performing comprehensive eye exams, contact lens evaluations, pre- and post-operative lasik and cataract surgery comanagement, medical emergency office visits (i.e. treating corneal ulcers, foreign body removals, etc.), and medical management of eye diseases (i.e. glaucoma, dry eyes, etc). The optometry profession also contains many wonderful specialty areas that would be challenging to implement all at once, and I have the flexibility of implementing these specialties one at time according to my preference and to what I find to be the highest need based upon my patient population and demographics.

Do you feel a sense of ownership with this practice model?

I do feel a sense of ownership with this practice model. I oversee and make decisions on day-to-day operations on the business side and on the clinical side. My patients have come to learn that this is my practice next to or inside LensCrafters. LensCrafters retail staff and store manager know and understand how I run things at my practice, and though independent or separate from their optical, we work on collaborating to create a smooth and cohesive experience for our mutual patient/customer.

Most challenging thing about running an independent optometrist practice? How does Luxottica help you overcome that?

The most challenging thing about running an independent practice is staffing. In the modified sublease model, there are retail staff who are cross-trained on the doctor’s side. This has been helpful to ensure that I have consistent staffing 7 days a week.

Would you choose this pathway again? Would you recommend this modality to a new graduate just starting out and why?

I believe it is important for every new graduate to assess their situation and develop their individual short-term and long-term goals. If practice ownership is a goal on their minds, they need to know that it is not out of reach. Each practice modality has its own subset of growing pains. I would recommend this modality to a new graduate just starting out because he or she can still learn the essentials of running a business and practice management while developing clinical and patient care skills without the financial burden of an additional business loan or working capital. What new graduates make of this opportunity can be something of a long-term career or even a stepping stone to reach their future goals. For these same reasons, I would choose this pathway again.

luxottica resources page

Independent Optometrist Practice Owner – Target Optical

Megan Fowles ODMEGAN FOWLES, OD

Dr. Megan Fowles is an Independent Doctor of Optometry affiliated with Target Optical in Sioux Falls, SD. Dr. Fowles earned her Doctorate of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, IL. She is a member of the South Dakota Optometric Society and the American Optometric Association. Upon graduating from Optometry school Dr. Fowles returned home to South Dakota and became affiliated with Target Optical as her first job out of school. She is currently in her second year of practice and enjoying the benefits this practice modality has to offer.

How long have you held an independent practice with Luxottica?

I started my independent practice in July 2017. I just celebrated my 1-year anniversary this summer. (Perk: Free pair of glasses from Luxottica every year on your anniversary!)

What were the major reasons you decided to pursue this practice modality?

I always wanted to have my own clinic someday. This opportunity with Target Optical gives me a chance to learn the business aspect of optometry, run my clinic the way I want to, and set my own hours while not having all the responsibility related to also running an optical. I don’t have to worry about inventory or lab work, I get to focus on Optometry and treating patients.

Secondly, I really wanted to be back in Sioux Falls, closer to home and my friends and family. The opportunity with Luxottica and Target Optical was the best option that allowed me to practice where I wanted to practice.

Right out of school I was approached by three different corporate optometry practices (including a Target Optical) who were looking for a doctor. Target Optical was by far my best option. They offered low rent and an abundance of assistance from the optical staff. I have a great professional relationship with that optical manager in my location and he’s a large part of the reason I decided to come work with Target Optical.

Why did you choose this particular Luxottica brand over the others?

To my knowledge being an independent doctor of optometry with Luxottica is pretty similar across all the brands. Target Optical attracts a younger, typically higher income clientele but it is also a newer Luxottica brand so it’s not as well-known as say LensCrafters or Pearle Vision. The optical I’m affiliated with has been in business for 2 years and is growing every month. I was the first doctor to work in this location and I liked the idea of getting in early and making it my own.

Note: CovalentCareers helps optometrists get started with Target Optical independent practices. Check out the article and YouTube Live for more information.

How has your experience been as an independent optometrist practice owner?

There’s a lot more work that goes into owning a business than I ever imagined, but I enjoy it. This was my first job right out of school, so getting started took a little time and a lot of patience. Now that we’re up and running, it’s been fantastic. My optical staff is great to work with, they help me with everything. I have really enjoyed growing this practice and attracting new patients every month.

What are the major benefits of working with Luxottica?

Support, definitely! I get a lot of help from my optical staff. My first year in business I did not have any of my own staff so the optical would help me with scheduling, pulling insurance and collecting exam fees. I have just recently started to get busy enough that I have hired my own staff but the optical is still great help when I need them.

Networking. Luxottica tries to connect you with a doctor mentor when you’re first starting, so you can get another doctor’s advice and perspective if you have any issues. There is also a website for Target Optical affiliated doctors called Basecamp where we can discuss anything and everything. There are doctors on there every day discussing different topics.

There are also some great perks to working with Luxottica. Luxottica has deals with other vendors to provide discounts to doctors for products and services we might be looking into. For example, I’m currently considering adding an Optos Dayton retinal camera to my office and am able to afford that in part thanks to a deal Luxottica has with Optos.

What is a typical day like in your practice?

My optical location has only been here for 2 years and I have been in practice for one year, so we are still growing. On slow days I see 5-6 patients, and on busier days I see 10-15. My day starts at 10 am and I typically work until 6 PM, except Saturdays on which I only work until about 3pm. Between patients I work on the business “stuff” including bookkeeping, insurance filing, taxes, etc. Back to school season has been very busy for us this year so my days are filling up.

What kind of technology is available to you in this practice model and how has it helped the way you practice and manage your business?

Luxottica offers an online scheduling tool (TAB) which is great for keeping the schedule. I can give the optical staff access to my schedule so they can make appointments and make reminder calls to patients. Patients can call in, book in person or online. I also received RevolutionEHR as part of my lease for no additional charge. It’s great having an EHR system and helps shorten exam times.

I have an automated phoropter that patients love and I have to admit I love it too. It has a lot of cool tricks that really improves the patient experience. As I mentioned, I’m also planning on adding a retinal camera for which I am eligible for a discount due to my association with Luxottica.

Do you feel like this experience has taught you valuable business lessons?

It definitely has. I really had no idea what it took to run a business prior to this. When I started I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I had some help in figuring it all out but it was definitely a learning curve. I am still learning better ways to run my business on a regular basis. I enjoy the business side of what I do almost as much as patient care.

Do you feel like you get to practice optometry the to the full scope that you were taught?

You can certainly practice full scope optometry so long as you are confident and comfortable doing so. No one tells you how to practice. It really depends on you! If you equip your office with an OCT, fundus camera etc. you can practice to the degree you desire.

Do you feel a sense of ownership with this practice model?

I do. I enjoy the freedom to do what I want to do with my practice. I make my own hours and make decisions about how I want to run my practice. My office space is separate from the optical and we operate independently from each other but mutually cooperating businesses.

Most challenging thing about running an independent optometrist practice? How does Luxottica help you overcome that?

I started this right out of school so the most difficult thing about getting started was getting credentialed with all the insurance companies. Other than that, the hardest thing for me has just been getting new patients in the door. Some months are better than others but we’re still growing. Luxottica helps tremendously with marketing and advertising. They promote heavily to businesses in town and attempt to drive traffic to my office.

Would you choose this pathway again? Would you recommend this modality to a new graduate just starting out and why?

If I had to do it again, I would choose the same pathway. I was so anxious to take this on by myself right out of school. It can be scary being totally on your own for the first time. I was so nervous I would do something wrong. In the end though, it has been so rewarding seeing this business grow and be successful. I made it through the first year and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Advice to new graduates that might be interested in this modality: If I can do it, so can you!

luxottica resources page

Independent Optometrist Practice Owner – LensCrafters at Macy’s

Andrew Paik ODANDREW PAIK, OD

Dr. Andrew Paik lives and practices in Chicago with his wife, Raechelle (who is also an optometrist), and his three energetic children.  He and his wife have 3 Target Optical subleases as well as a LensCrafters at Macy’s location that opened in 2016.  Dr. Paik is a proud supporter of OneSight and has traveled to 7 different countries to provide eye care for individuals in need.  

How long have you held an independent optometrist practice with Luxottica?

My wife and I started our independent practice with Luxottica in 2011 when we took on a Target Optical sublease in the suburbs of Chicago. Since then we have added 2 other Target Optical locations as well as a LensCrafters at Macy’s location in downtown Chicago.

What were the major reasons you decided to pursue this practice modality?

So here are the top 3 reasons why we decided to leave the comfort and safety of being employed and decided to take the leap into independent practice: LOW RISK (low rent, no overhead, “30 day out” clause), HIGH REWARD (100% exam fees, lots of store traffic, marketing tools), and LOCATION (inside busy Targets and Macy’s locations across the city). It really seemed like the perfect opportunity to use our experience and training as retail optometrists and combine them with our desire to be independent practice owners. As cliche as it may sound, it really felt like the best of both worlds.

Why did you choose this particular Luxottica brand over the others?

We decided to add a LensCrafters at Macy’s location because it was an opportunity that we couldn’t refuse. We were offered low rent and a fully equipped doctor’s office with great equipment and technology (Optos and RevolutionEHR included) in a beautiful brand new LensCrafters location on the first floor of the historic Macy’s building downtown. We had great dialogue with our regional manager at the time and a very strong partnership with our store manager from day one. Plus, it felt like we were coming first circle: from being employed with LensCrafters to being independent practice owners with LensCrafters.

How has your experience been as an independent optometrist practice owner?

In the beginning, there was definitely a steep learning curve, since my wife and I were several credits short of an MBA. All joking aside, we had no idea how to even start a business. So, with a little help from our friends and Google, we learned how to establish an S Corp, get on insurance panels, find an EHR we were comfortable with, and educate ourselves on medical billing. It’s taken some time and admittedly some mistakes, but eventually we figured out how to do things the right way.

What are the major benefits of working with Luxottica?

My top 3 benefits of working with Luxottica are: career growth, marketability, and opportunity for multiple leases. I have been very impressed with how much Luxottica has invested in US as their OD partners, even though we don’t technically work FOR them. Over the years, they have really increased their spending on OD marketing tools, OD equipment, OD training programs, etc. They’re making a significant investment of their time and resources in us because they realize their success and their survival really depend on the output of their doctor partners.

What is a typical day like in your practice?

A typical day in the office consists of seeing 10 to 20 patients (depending on the location), checking payments and reimbursements, submitting insurance claims for the associate doctors, having a cup of coffee with the store manager (maybe 2 cups), and replying to text messages and emails. My wife manages the OD schedule for all 4 locations and handles the payroll for all of our associate doctors (so she basically does all of the hard stuff).

What kind of technology is available to you in this practice model and how has it helped the way you practice and manage your business?

We use iPads for patient check-in and insurance verification, we use RevolutionEHR inside (and outside) of the exam lane, we have an Optos Daytona for digital retinal imaging, we have an automated phoropter that’s fully integrated with RevolutionEHR and our online appointment book (TAB), and we also use an iPad for collecting payments. In the future, we would like to add an OCT to at least one of our offices (space permitting).

Do you feel like this experience has taught you valuable business lessons?

Absolutely, yes. As a pessimistic old independent sublease OD who’s trying to grow and manage multiple locations, I am way more concerned about exam growth, marketing, net promoter scores, online reviews/surveys, patient retention, staffing and store visits than I was as an optimistic young employed doctor. Without a doubt I have a lot more responsibilities (and stress if I’m being honest with you) but I also have immeasurably more job satisfaction and maybe a little more money in my pocket as well!

Do you feel like you get to practice optometry the to the full scope that you were taught?

In many ways, yes. Since we don’t make money on glasses or contacts, we do what we feel is in the best interest of the patient — so we earn their trust and hopefully their business next year. Nobody tells us what to prescribe or how to prescribe, and nobody tells us what we can treat and what we need to refer.

Do you feel a sense of ownership with this practice model?

Yes, there is a strong sense of ownership with this practice model. What you put into your business is what you get out of it. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing the register totals after a very busy day in the office, making 2 to 3 times what you would have made as an employee. But there’s also nothing quite like the feeling of working a 10-hour shift and only seeing 1 or 2 patients that day. That’s when you have to roll up your sleeves and get back to the basics of growing a business (calling no shows, next day confirmation calls, outside attraction, patient retention, replying to online reviews, etc).

Most challenging thing about running an independent practice? How does Luxottica help you overcome that?

Easily the most challenging thing about running an independent multi-location optometric practice is finding (and retaining) reliable and trustworthy associates / fill-in doctors. Even in a very saturated OD market like Chicago (which has two optometry schools now), it’s difficult to compete with some of the full-time retail optometry jobs that are available, especially when they can offer benefits like insurance and paid time off. So when we find good doctors (and we’ve got a great team right now), we try to keep them happy.

Would you choose this pathway again? Would you recommend this modality to a new graduate just starting out and why?

This might sound cheesy but I believe I ended up exactly where I was meant to be. I didn’t know anything about being a sublease optometrist when I was in optometry school — we were really only exposed to private practice versus retail optometry. When I graduated from ICO in 2008, I easily found a job at LensCrafters as an employed doctor and started working full-time without a second thought. Then after 3 or 4 years of cutting my teeth as an OD and working for “the man” (AKA Mr. Del Vecchio), I met a few sublease doctors along the way that all seemed more satisfied (and more financially successful) than I was, and I decided to pursue a Luxottica affiliated independent practice opportunity in my area. The rest, as they say, is history. I think it’s especially important for a new grad optometrist to work in an established and consistently busier location to refine their clinical skills and gain their confidence as a doctor of optometry before they take on a full-time independent practice opportunity of their own. That being said, if there’s an opportunity to work part-time as an associate for someone else whilst taking on a lower volume or part-time independent practice, then you should go for it!

luxottica resources page

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About Antonio Chirumbolo

Antonio Chirumbolo
Antonio Chirumbolo, OD, is Associate Director of Marketing at CovalentCareers. Antonio's focus is in the world of digital publications and healthcare marketing, with special attention on content creation, management, and development.

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