In the 2020 Corporate Optometry Report conducted by Eyes On Eyecare, 25.4% of optometry students who indicated that they were unlikely to choose corporate optometry as a preferred practice modality stated that the main deterrent was a perceived lack of independence that corporate settings offer.
In that same study, only 55% of optometrists thought they understood what the term “sublease” meant.
Subleases can provide an excellent blend of independence and support, and are offered by some of the largest companies in eye care. With a proper understanding of how subleases work and what options are available, these opportunities might be excellent career options for current and future optometrists.
What is a Sublease in Optometry?
Sublease agreements vary, but typically a subleasing doctor leases space and equipment from either a franchisee or a corporate entity itself.
The doctor will typically sign an agreement on how much coverage they will provide in regards to days and hours. Doctors are typically in charge of hiring and managing their own staff and setting their own fee schedule. Some agreements may provide for staffing support.
The financial investment in starting a corporate sublease can vary; however, the cost is typically far less than that involved in opening a practice cold.
These are some of the great benefits of corporate subleases. They offer an avenue for independence, but with more support and less financial risk and overhead expense than a typical private practice.
Since every sublease opportunity is unique, we want to take a deep dive into what it’s like with Eyeglass World, one of National Vision, Inc.’s retail brands, and share exactly what it’s like from a doctor with multiple sublease offices with the retailer.
Why Choose an Eyeglass World Sublease?
As a new optometrist, you have to decide which way of practicing will be the best fit for you, and having an Eyeglass World sublease should at the very least be one path to consider.
If you are dreaming of running a practice with minimal startup costs, low overhead costs, and fantastic operations support, Eyeglass World is a great option.
There is no better opportunity to learn about the business aspects of eye care and running a practice than in a system that provides you with the tools, resources, and support to be successful.
Having a sublease with a company like National Vision, which allows sublease holders to have multiple offices, allows you significant potential in terms of income and job duties. If you just prefer to have one lease and aren’t interested in having employees of your own, that’s fine too.
Out of all the sublease options available, I chose Eyeglass World because they were moving into the Detroit market in 2014 when I graduated and presented better opportunities than other corporate entities. I’ve always been passionate about business.
National Vision was a perfect match, as they were looking for doctors who were self-motivated and interested in growing their own businesses. They provided me with all the support I needed to get things up and running and have always assisted me whenever necessary since.
Learn more about flexibility, growth, and support when it comes to careers within the National Vision Doctor of Optometry network.
How to Get Started With An Eyeglass World Sublease
There isn’t really a wrong time to consider a sublease, just like any other style of practice.
Obviously if you think that a sublease may be the right fit for you, you’ll want to get things in motion a number of months in advance. Contacting corporate recruiters, searching job posting sites (like Eyes On Eyecare) and speaking with colleagues/classmates are all great ways to find opportunities.
Once you have found an opportunity you’re interested in, much like any other mode of practice, you apply and interview. I had the opportunity to visit another Eyeglass World location and talk with practicing ODs to see if it would be a fit for me. Once you've accepted and signed a sublease agreement, you will need to start setting up your day-to-day operations. I signed my first lease in June of 2014 and was practicing by August.
Typically, it will be somewhere between 30-90 days from accepting an offer until you’re practicing.
I recommend spending that time finding employees, arranging malpractice insurance/workers’ compensation policies and coordinating schedules. Other things you should begin to organize include finding a method for accepting credit card payments, getting added to insurance panels (National Vision helped take care of this) and finding a method for invoicing patients.
I’ve had a varying number of subleases throughout the past few years, so the number of employees have ranged from one to the low teens. I did all the hiring and found the employees through word of mouth, personal connections or via corporate resources.
Another action item you want to consider during this waiting period is how you are going to market your practice. I marketed the office by attending chamber of commerce meetings and community events. National Vision also assisted with advertising my office through print and TV ads for the new Eyeglass World retail locations—which was a welcome addition when it came time to open my doors.
Financial Obligations of Starting An Eyeglass World Sublease
National Vision provided all of the equipment needed to perform exams and all of the staffing needed to have patients pre-tested and checked out.
That is not true for all subleases, as details vary by state, but that’s how it works in my arrangement and was one of the big draws for me. I then acquired malpractice insurance and purchased a credit card processor, an iPad, Quickbooks and printer for invoicing patients. That was all that I needed to get started on day one. I didn’t have to worry about setting up or paying for utilities.
Total investment to start my office was well under $1,000! In regards to continuing costs, as a sublease holder, other fees include monthly rent which can vary by your agreement; mine is a set percentage of that month’s revenue.
In regards to equipment costs, National Vision provided the pre-testing equipment (auto-refractor, NCT, FDT) and examination equipment (phoropter, slit lamp, lensometer, acuity system and lenses). After practicing for a few years I chose to purchase retinal cameras for my offices. With an Eyeglass World lease, you have the ability to add any equipment you want in order to provide the level of patient care you wish, as long as it fits in the space.
I generate my income from examination fees and procedures. It is a big relief not having to worry about optical sales or running the optical side of the business.
Read more about the average day in the life of an Optometrist practicing in the National Vision Doctor of Optometry network.
Practicing as an Eyeglass World Sublease Holder
A great benefit of this modality and being an Eyeglass World sublease holder is that you can practice to the full scope you desire.
National Vision wants to create happy patients and customers so they leave the scope of practice up to the sublease holder. They let the doctor determine the pace of scheduling and how they practice.
In regards to office layout and design, National Vision leaves everything on the doctor side up to the sublease holder. You have a defined space in the building, but can have things flow in whatever way you see fit.
My first day as a National Vision sublease doctor was also the opening day of the store in which I was working, so naturally it was slow. Other leases of mine were established stores and were busy from the moment I arrived which is a great bonus of this modality. Having the ability to be busy from the moment you open your doors is a dream for any practice owner.
I’ve been very successful as an Eyeglass World sublease holder because of the flexibility National Vision has provided me. I can provide great patient care and continue to focus on the expansion of my business with little risk in comparison to opening a typical private practice.
I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to my practice situation. National Vision has been nothing but accommodating to anything I need. While we are two separate businesses operating in the same building, collaboration is high as we both strive to give the patients and customers quality care and service. They help expand my patient base through their marketing tactics. I couldn’t be happier with how they’ve treated me.
For those optometrists who are looking for new opportunities or maybe those new graduates looking for their first opportunity, I highly recommend considering an Eyeglass World sublease.
If you enjoy operating independently, don’t mind solo practice and want to learn the business aspects of running a practice, an EGW sublease could be an excellent career option.
eBook: The Guide to Understanding National Vision Career Options!
In this beautifully illustrated eBook, you'll find commentary and resources that will help you understand the career options, growth opportunities, and a typical workday for ODs practicing within the National Vision Doctor of Optometry network.
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