By Gayle Karanges, OD
Nov. 4, 2020
When it came time to sell my practice, there were certain characteristics I was looking for in my ideal buyer. Here is how I found the buyer I needed to have the work life that had been my goal, and how being a part of a larger company is enabling me to continue delivering high-quality care to patients.
The Search for the Right Buyer
I sold my practice to MyEyeDr. in mid-January 2020. My decision to explore private equity came about as my affiliated group of private optometrists in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, First Eyecare, set out in 2018 to learn more about the opportunities available via acquisition with private equity companies. I was part of an exploratory committee and on the board of First Eyecare. Our goal was to determine if this would be a good exit strategy for those of us who had been in practice for 30-plus years, who also wished to see our practices move forward and thrive in the current competitive eyecare environment.
Private equity proved to be a good model to fulfill our goal, by aligning with a proven company and providing a financial win for myself and the other members of our group. I had been self-employed over my entire optometric career and had enjoyed significant success in owning an independent practice for over 35 years. However, I also understood the concept of being part of something bigger, which can protect the practice going forward. I felt strongly this was the right time to take that step.
MyEyeDr. is the largest private equity group in optometry and has the longest track record of success. They have been through all the growing pains and have adjusted their business model to succeed with each acquisition. I was impressed with their team throughout the negotiations, and felt they truly strove for a win-win scenario. They were also competitive in their practice valuations, which was impressive to our group, and ultimately, what contributed to my final decision to partner with them.
Finding a Work Life Best for You
I wished to continue practicing, as I really enjoy patient care, and believed this was highly important for a smooth transition and the long-term success of the practice. Our patients trust us and felt comfortable with the new ownership, which has my seal of approval, so to speak.
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As most practice owners know, you must wear many hats in running a multi-million-dollar practice. I was happy to hand over the back-office administration for the practice, as MyEyeDr. has efficiencies and processes that are much better than an individual owner may have.
Steadfast Partner in a Crisis
I think it is important to say, it is truly a partnership. My office has had much collaboration with the larger company throughout this challenging year to get all the parts working together. My transition was brand new when COVID happened. I have been impressed with the MyEyeDr. management team, which graciously accepted my input and designed solutions to get us to where we are today.
While It has been bumpy with COVID in the picture, MyEyeDr. made appropriate changes with safety protocols and integration variables to get us fully up-to-speed seeing a full schedule of patients with new “everything.” This situation was the perfect time to have this type of partner working with us into our new normal. Most of all, I appreciated having someone to “punt” to. Training modules were created for all staff to educate us on COVID friendly processes. They were quick to adapt and reopen our office, and we have had great success in providing safe and quality patient care.
There are so many advantages of having the home office support to handle issues related to human resources, personal protective equipment/COVID protocols and lab production and shipping. It is reassuring to have a specific support team to go to when needs arise.
Support for Both Me & My Staff
For my office, the biggest challenge was transitioning our staff. Like many other industries and health-care practices, we had a few resign due to the uncertainty COVID presented. Some team members had difficulty adapting to change with the new processes. New software and accountability were the most difficult parts for my team. As we have moved forward, they have come to appreciate the new company, which provides excellent back-end support and offers excellent benefits, compensation and the potential for upward mobility.
MyEyeDr. is committed to improving every step of the patient experience from better intake procedures to a smoother, more efficient eye exam and an enhanced eyewear shopping experience. Many of these exciting changes will occur in the coming year.
2020 has proven the future can be uncertain; however, I believe any practice owner should consider partnering with a company like MyEyeDr. as a way to continue the legacy of their practice and secure a solid financial foundation for their future or retirement. I am very excited about the future of MyEyeDr. and what it brings to our profession.