I sold my practice a week ago.

I can’t believe I’m typing that; it’s not easy to admit. I have to keep pinching myself. 25 years of blood, sweat, and tears and I am no longer in the Captain’s chair. No, I’m not retiring, I’ve sold most of my practice to a new organization that fills a significant unmet need; a truly Optometric medical vertical that grows through acquisition of high performing, medically oriented independent practices…and keeps them that way.

Total Eye Care Partners (TECP) is the company I chose to continue my career with. It’s weird but for the first time in my career I am able to focus on just patient care and participate on the ground floor of a business that is supportive of the full scope medical Optometry model while maintaining a high standard of patient care throughout the office; one that keeps my brand and mission intact – what I call a “legacy exit”.

I have been waiting for the “right” fit.

Over the past umpteen years I’ve been approached on several different occasions to sell some or all of my practice. None of them occurred at the right time, were the right fit or both. Fortunately, I’m relatively young, have time on my side and didn’t have to sell – I had the luxury of being able to wait for the right “fit”. For me “right fit” meant a continuation of the legacy of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; one that aligns with my personal and professional goals and one that is good for my profession which I love.

Last year I was approached by TECP. TECP was intentionally designed as a non-traditional exit for Optometrists with mature practices, what sounded like and what I coined as a “legacy exit” option for Optometrists. “Legacy exit” to me meant a commitment to keep practice branding and mission intact while increasing efficiencies but not at the expense of patient care or service. With a large medical model practice, I felt I wasn’t a good fit for some of the more retail-focused PE roll-ups. TECP differs in that the founders of this company are the true ambassadors of the medical model in Optometry combined with the best in optical retail – Ben Gaddie, Paul Karpecki, and Jay Binkowitz. The TECP model they envisioned and created addresses the concerns many people including myself have had relative to what type of fit their practice would be with the new owners and what would become of their legacy once new owners became involved.

Based on our differing personal and professional goals we seek different types of exits.

I’ve heard of community members who have had varied experiences selling their practices in the last 5 years and this concerned me. It was important to me to try and avoid regretting my decision, especially because I wasn’t in a situation where I had to make a move. Because TECP is a collaborative shareholder model focused on providing care, it’s inherent in the model to keep the practice branding, keep the team in place while helping to eliminate areas that bog down independent practices and reduce a practice’s ability to provide a high-level patient experience. They do not look to disrupt the business.

By “collaborative” I mean they give the doctor an option to maintain up to 49% ownership in their practice or sell more. They look to support the doctor, keep the local brand, reputation and community involvement intact. They keep the associate doctors, key people, the look, feel, name and mission of the company. They keep the practice management software. They add efficiencies like call-centers staffed by optical professionals so phones aren’t ringing in reception and optical allowing receptionists and salespeople to focus on the patients while giving them their full attention. They build the medical model while keeping the Optical high quality in terms of lens and frame brands.

How are they able to do this?

Ben and Paul recreate the model that made their practices premier medical optometry practices in all TECP practices. Jay Binkowitz applies his expertise gained from umpteen years of Optical management in practices across the country and EDGE technology to monitor and adjust optical strategy as necessary to maximize revenues.

As far as the medical goes, most of us don’t bill correctly and for those of us who do, we often leave money on the table because we’ll treat a medical condition during a vision plan exam and not get paid for it. We historically don’t optimize the number of allowed follow-ups for various conditions or have all the technology we need to treat all the conditions. We often don’t optimize billing, underbill, or resubmit rejected claims. By patching these “holes” (and others) in our medical procedure and billing system they increase profits, grow the medical optometric specialty and continue the practice mission of providing patient care over customer care. I realized there’s a new game in town and by adding my practice on the ground floor, I could help build the company and be proud of my decision to sell as my legacy would remain intact, the people I care about would be in good hands, and I could continue to practice Optometry at the highest level of training and even improve on what I had built.

Giving new grads and young ODs more opportunities.

Currently, new grads and young ODs have trouble finding jobs that enable them to fully utilize their medical eye care training, much less encourage it. By building TECP I am excited to be part of something that will provide full-scope optometry employment opportunities to young ODs. TECP growth ensures new and young ODs will have more opportunity to find employment in a setting that encourages practicing to the full scope of their training and licensure. I’m excited for this new phase of my career and ready to do my part to build something I can be proud of while achieving my lifetime goals instead of settling for what’s available. If you have any questions or would like to know more email me at aglazier@youreyesite.com or PM me on facebook with your email.