By Joseph Andersen, OD
Feb. 12, 2020
When you decide to sell your practice, you want a buyer that will provide a continuity of care for your patients, and also meet your need for profitability from the sale.
We found just such a buyer three years ago when we sold our practice to EyeCare Partners. Our patients have continued to receive a high standard of care, and my practice partner, Michael Barnett, OD, and I have realized great profitability from the sale. It has been a win-win for both patients and practice.
Dr. Barnett and I decided to sell our practice because Dr. Barnett wanted to cut back his hours seeing patients. We had been thinking about our exit strategy from practice ownership for a while. We originally had a four-OD group practice with two locations. Our other two partners had retired, and we decided that selling the practice would be better than leaving one person to run the whole company.
A Buyer Flexible Enough to Meet Challenges
We did not set out to sell to a particular buyer. EyeCare Partners just turned out to be a good fit. The company’s whole strategy is to enable the doctors to continue providing the same great care they have always provided and enhance and expand that great care with the addition of equipment representing the latest technology. EyeCare Partners’ goal is to improve management and streamline the marketing and insurance delivery, which is exactly what has happened since the sale.
Along with believing in the management approach taken by EyeCare Partners, we liked that the company was able to work around a major challenge. We had a big complicating factor during the sale of our practice in terms of our physical location. We had been leasing our location for the previous 20 years.
The group that owned our building sold it without telling us about the sale. The buyer of the building had no intention of keeping us as tenants because he wanted our space in the building. So, in the middle of our practice sale, we no longer had a physical location. Impressively, EyeCare Partners found another location and still made the sale work.
Opportunities for Greater Professional Development
I am able to continue seeing patients, and provide topnotch care, while being freed from the management responsibilities that had taken so much of my time before the sale.
Along with regular patient care, I have been appointed Regional Medical Director for EyeCare Partners for the state of Georgia. This position includes hiring new optometrists, coordinating and managing the relationship between optometrists and staff in our 10 locations, reviewing exam records, coordinating quarterly events with the doctors and generally ensuring our doctors are happy and have the tools they need to practice the way they want to practice.
Before our practice sale, I spent a lot of time managing the financial aspects of the practice. This included payroll twice a month and writing 60-70 checks for labs, frame reps, utilities, insurance, repairs and other services.
I also spent time hiring and firing staff, refereeing employee conflicts and other activities I did not want to be doing. Now, I’m focused on seeing patients. In fact, since I’m not doing all the other things required of managing a practice, I see more patients than ever.
The management activities I’m involved with are from a broader perspective. The Medical Director role gives me the chance to see practice management from a higher level and drive the patient centric model for our doctors.
Greater Staff Motivation & An Even Better Patient Experience
The sale to EyeCare Partners greatly improved our staff management. The enhanced management efficiencies implemented since the sale have made a huge difference. Our employees have more clearly defined objective requirements to measure their service to patients, and how well they are helping the practice to grow.
As a result, our staff is more incentivized than ever before to perform at the highest level. We had great staff before the transition and EyeCare Partners recognized that fact, with some even moving into higher-level positions within EyeCare Partners’ Georgia hub of practices.
We delivered great patient care before the sale, and it’s only gotten better. EyeCare Partners did not dictate how we would practice but helped enhance and expand our scope of practice. They asked how we wanted to practice and facilitated it. If I had a particular interest in a certain pathology, they would permit me to pursue that interest. That was particularly important to us. We were not interested in being told how to practice.
EyeCare Partners has allowed me to pursue the part of optometry I liked best, seeing patients, and took the parts that were less fun, like the day-to-day office management, off my plate. It’s a two-way street as they also expect that I will continue providing great patient care.
This is the buyer we were hoping for, and which our patients and staff deserve. It’s a story of satisfied buyer and seller, with our patients just as much winners as we are.