While private practice ownership remains a long-term objective of many graduating ODs, it is not the only, nor necessarily the best, practice modality option for you. “Corporate Optometry” is an increasingly viable and attractive optometric practice option.
You may have heard about “corporate optometry” and may not know exactly what the term means. In its basic form, Corporate Optometry consists of two elements: A practicing Optometrist and a commercial optical chain.
The relationship between the OD and the optical can take several forms including an independent contractor, franchisee, sublessor or employee when permitted. In Canada, as in the US, the nature of the relationship between the optometrist and the commercial optical company is framed by Provincial regulations. Examples of Corporate Optometry include optometric practices affiliated with optical chains such as Lenscrafters, Walmart and Costco and franchisors such as Pearle and Kanda.
Regardless of the relationship between the OD and the commercial optical partner, ODs can have an attractive income while focusing on the patient care aspects of optometry.
A common form of Corporate Optometry. Typically, a sublease OD is an independent business owner that leases space from the optical company and is a ‘turn-key’ business. The business arrangement often includes a standard optometry lane, practice management software and marketing support. Sometimes, additional equipment and staff support may also be included.
The sublessor OD will provide eye examination services whereas the optical chain sells eyewear, however, each optical company will provide a unique offer to their prospective OD partner.
Optometrists can work with opticals as an independent contractor, in which case business related expenses can be deducted from income. While opticals in USA can hire optometrists as employees with salary and benefits, provincial regulations do not allow optometrists to be employees in Canada.
Franchisee Option: Ownership with Support
A less common modality of corporate optometry is the Franchisee option. Examples include Pearle Vision and KANDA Vision.
In this model, the optometrists own their business yet benefit from the retailer’s brand recognition and marketing support to attract patients and get negotiated discounts on frames and other optical products.
The various forms of corporate optometry provide different career pathways for young optometrists. The opportunity to earn an attractive income while focusing on patient care without the complexities of private practice ownership may be right for you.
Maria Sampalis, OD
is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit www.corporateoptometry.com to learn more.