By John Abbondanza, OD, FCOVD
July 17, 2019
With competition from online retailers and chain stores, us independent practice owners need all the help we can get. In the case of my practice, that meant partnering with the right optometric alliance. Here is how our membership in IDOC has helped spur 10-15 percent annual revenue growth.
We have been IDOC members for 12 years. We opened our practice 15 years ago, and joining this organization was one of the best things we did early on in our practice, and it continues to pay dividends today. Our practice has grown an average of 10-15 percent yearly since we were members of IDOC, and last year we grew 17 percent. This year we have more than doubled our profitability, thanks to hard work, a solid reinforcement of the fundamentals, and the savings and advice we receive through IDOC.
ROB Bottom Line: IDOC Membership
Every Dollar Spent = $6 in Rebates Back
Overall Impact on Practice: 10-15% Annual Growth; 17 percent growth in 2018
Our IDOC Select membership costs approximately $200 per month, but for every dollar we spend in dues, we get over $6 in rebates back. There is no investment in the stock market, real estate, or anywhere else, that has that kind of immediate payback.
The rebate checks are only the first part of the value of IDOC. We also get best-column pricing on a wide assortment of frames and lenses. For example, we have been a Hoya office since we first opened, and really love their product, and Hoya has a great program with IDOC.
One of the best things about IDOC is that as a practice owner you are completely free to use whatever products you would like. IDOC is there to make your relationships with those companies stronger by banding together with other independent doctors of optometry, so everyone wins.
Experts that Help Guide Consistent Growth
When we first opened our practice, we purchased 2,500 square feet of space in an office condo building. About two years ago, we were considering expanding. I was 55 at the time, while my practice partner was around 45, and I was concerned about taking on additional debt at my age.
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So, I spoke with IDOC’s Nathan Hayes about the possibility of purchasing more space, and we ran the numbers. The data showed that we would have additional positive cash flow of over $90,000 a year by adding the space if each of us could see one more patient per day with the additional exam lane, and if we could do one more vision therapy visit in the larger VT room, which was easy for us to do. Additionally, the real estate investment trust dividends are now triple what they were before we bought the space.
A Team of Helpers for Your Practice
As an IDOC Select member, I have free access to as much consulting as I want. They have a wide variety of consultants to help with practice management, personnel, optical retail, exam efficiency, buying and selling and other challenges. They have a team of specialists waiting to help you with any difficulty you are facing.
For instance, as an optometrist, I learned a lot about the visual system and optometry, but not much about how to fire an employee. How do you do that and stay out of trouble? When we had to fire an employee a few years ago, we called IDOC and got great advice. We also have gotten invaluable advice from IDOC’s Steve Vargo, OD, on practice efficiency.
Network With Other ODs, Gather Practice Pearls
The national, regional and local meetings are a key advantage of IDOC membership. We always come back from the meetings with 10-15 ideas for how to make our practice better. Especially valuable are the round-table discussions, in which doctors are paired with colleagues who have similar-sized practices, to sit down and discuss the nuts and bolts of the challenges we face. I always come back energized, and even if we only implement one or two of these ideas, our practice is still better off for it.
Joining Forces with Other Independents Creates Stronger Practices
The IDOC motto is “Independent Together,” but I would add “Stronger Together.” As private-practice owners, we face a myriad of challenges every day, and the marketplace keeps changing. IDOC helps us meet those challenges.
I believe in the mission of IDOC. I believe that a strong, thriving profession of optometry needs independent practitioners. I believe that IDOC is there to support those of us who choose to stay in private practice.
I love my profession and the way it allows me to change the lives of my patients every day. And I love the fact that IDOC helps me to be competitive in this complex eyecare environment. I know of no other business organization that supports independent optometry more than IDOC.