Published in Non-Clinical

The Ins and Outs of Corporate Optometry: Contracts, Legality, and Expectations

This is editorially independent content
3 min read

Dr. Dryer gives you the ins and outs of typical corporate optometry leases, how they vary by state, and variance by corporation. A sample lease included.

Upon graduation, if the statistics are correct, 1 of every 3 graduates will take a job in corporate optometry.

As a new graduate, one does not have a reference point for what is standard in corporate optometry in regards to lease, practice, and negotiations. Dr. Dryer provides you with standard corporate practices so you will be able to better assess your contract.

1. Lease Arrangements

  • Typical arrangements require a doctor to commit to 30 hours a week
  • The doctor collects all exam fees, contact lens fitting fees, but no materials (corporate’s optical handles materials)
  • If you are able to collect fees for contact lens materials, expect a higher lease rate
  • Doctor can either employ their own staff or pay the corporation to provide staff
  • Rent varies between corporations and regions of the country (see chart for more info)
  • Rent can be a flat rate per month vs. fixed percent of revenue
  • Doctor’s control of schedule varies per state and by hierarchy

For example, the hierarchy for America’s Best is one regional independent contractor who sets fees and determines the store’s schedule. You would be considered an associate under this model.

  • Leases will dictate to you what is considered by the corporation to be standard working holidays
  • Although exam fees are not set by leases, fees are set according to the “going rate” by other local corporate locations
  • Equipment provided is usually basic such as an auto-refractor and lensometer. Any additional equipment must be purchased by the doctor

If you do not sell enough ophthalmic goods from the chair, your lease can be terminated within 30-90 days notice depending on corporation

2. Legality By State

A. “1-Door State”: ODs share a door with the corporate store and are considered part; equipment and staff are provided by corporate
B. “2-Door State”: ODs have their own door and are legally separate from the corporation. You are responsible for your own license, own tax ID, collecting your own money, and filing your own insurance

Make sure you have set up your NPI, CAQH, Tax ID, and have enrolled on insurance panels prior to your first day of practice.

3. Differences By Corporation

The differences between corporations is more dependent on the legality of 1 vs 2 door state and not the corporation themselves. Your control or lack of control is dependent on:

A. If you hire/manage your own staff

B. How the hierarchy is arranged (independent contractor vs associate)

C. The corporation’s retail goals for your location

4. What will my Corporate Lease include?

  • Hours of Operation – may specify hours per day or days per week
  • Fees – Do you set the fees or do they?
  • Scheduling – How many patients will be scheduled for you to see? Do they have access to your schedule?
  • Non-Compete Clause – Fairness dependent on location/community
  • Sharing of Services – Varies per state. Will staff be shared with the corporation?
  • Patient Records – If you leave, do the records belong to you?
  • Separation from Retail Component – 1 vs. 2 door state
  • Termination of Lease – Typically 30-60 days, but can be terminated by both parties.

While leases can vary, please see the guide created by the AOA for Employed/Affiliated Optometrists to ensure your contract has common inclusions.

Courtney Dryer, OD
About Courtney Dryer, OD

Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. After 5 years, the practice name was changed to Autarchic Spec Shop to renew the practice's commitment to independent optometry. In addition to consulting with new graduate optometrists on start-up practices, she contributes regularly to New Grad Optometry and has guest blogged for Invision Magazine. The unique design of her boutique practice was featured in Women in Optometry. In 2015, Vision Monday named her a Rising Star, and one of the most influential women in optical.

Courtney Dryer, OD
How would you rate the quality of this content?
Eyes On Eyecare Site Sponsors
Astellas LogoOptilight by Lumenis Logo