How to Start an Optometry Practice: Tips to Run the Business Side of a New Eye-Care Practice

March 18, 2024   |   Optometrist

The expensive equipment and inventory required to start an optometry practice mean the price of entry is high. But the reward of being your own boss and providing personalized care to your patients according to your approach makes it worthwhile.

Whether you’re buying an existing practice or starting from scratch, the following are some tips on what you’ll need to know to become the business owner of an optometry practice, including hiring, marketing and protecting your practice with the right insurance.

Conduct a competitive analysis to choose an unsaturated market or a small town

Conducting market research before you get started will help you identify areas with a high demand for optometry services and limited competition, increasing your chances of establishing a thriving practice. 

If you’re in a saturated metropolitan area, a competitive analysis can help you identify ways to stand out. Pay close attention to the services other practices offer, pricing strategies, hours and reputation. For example, if existing practices provide general eye care, consider specializing in a specific area of optometry, such as pediatric eye care or senior care.

Find support to fill gaps

Managing the business side of your optometry practice in addition to the clinical side means juggling two full-time positions. Even if you have expertise in business, you won’t have time to cover every area of your business. Hiring the right people from the start relieves stress and sets your optometry practice up to grow. An accountant, bookkeeper, and attorney are important vendors to hire from the start.

One option for helping run the day-to-day practice business is to outsource tasks to a company that manages the administrative side of private practices. Another more affordable option for helping with appointments and inventory is hiring a virtual assistant who can support you as needed. You’ll need to do more training and supervising with a virtual assistant than a practice management vendor.

Market your practice to other local business owners

Building a big social media following from scratch to advertise a new optometry practice is challenging. Instagram influencer Jen Wademan, O.D. has done just that –– proving that it’s still possible if you have the time and interest.

Referral networking can be an easier way to spread the word about your new optometry practice. Take the time to stop by other local private practices, such as physicians, specialists, dentists and therapists. Other private practice owners may be more open to networking.

Working with your local chamber of commerce or any small business associations in the area can help you network with other business owners

Another opportunity for growth is a referral program for existing patients. This can include incentives like discounts on glasses or contact lenses.

Protect your optometry practice

Malpractice insurance

Malpractice insurance, also known as professional liability insurance, protects your assets against negligence claims. If a medical malpractice claim is made against you due to an accident and you are not protected, you risk personal damages and financial losses. 

Malpractice insurance covers legal defense costs, settlements and judgments arising from alleged negligence or errors.

In many states, medical malpractice insurance is mandatory for private optometry practices.

Business Owner’s Policy

If you own or rent a space for a brick-and-mortar healthcare practice, a business owner’s policy (BOP) can help you save money by bundling multiple policies. A BOP includes general liability insurance and commercial property insurance. 

BOPs are flexible, so you can bundle them with other policies you need for your private practice. Some examples include the following: 

  • Property insurance: If you own your optometry office, property insurance protects your physical assets against damage or loss caused by covered events. This includes the building, equipment, furniture and supplies. This helps you recover financially and rebuild in the event of a covered incident.
  • General liability: Provides coverage for damage to the property, a patient who slips and falls, damage to a patient’s property and damage to the rented property. General liability insurance is always required if you rent a space.
  • Business interruption insurance: Protects your practice from financial losses resulting from a temporary suspension or interruption of operations caused by a natural disaster. 
  • Data breach insurance: Cybersecurity insurance protects you against financial losses and liabilities arising from cyber attacks, data breaches or other cybersecurity incidents. As a private practice, storing patient data, email addresses and credit card information puts you at risk for a cyber attack.
  • Business renter’s insurance: Covers your rented space from a fire, vandalism or severe damage. 

Most optometrists starting and running a private practice experience times of stress that are common for small business owners. An insurance incident doesn’t have to be one of them.

Click here to learn more about liability insurance tailored to your optometry practice needs. By protecting your assets, license and reputation, CM&F Group’s superior professional liability insurance brings peace of mind to optometrists.


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