Published in Non-Clinical

Ultimate Guide to Vision Source® for Private Practice Optometrists

This post is sponsored by Vision Source
21 min read

Learn how the Vision Source network supports private practice optometrists who want to own their own practices.

Ultimate Guide to Vision Source® for Private Practice Optometrists
Have you ever dreamed of owning your own practice? You aren’t alone. The ultimate satisfaction of knowing your practice reflects your highest standards and your patients are getting the best possible care during every visit is what many optometrists aspire to—to say nothing of selecting your staff and designing a schedule that fits your lifestyle.
On the other hand, there can be a fair bit of anxiety that accompanies this major career decision—where the thrill of setting your own hours and investing in yourself is offset by the responsibility of running a business and inherent financial burdens that come with that. Even if you are completely committed to private practice, it can be lonely without a network of support and colleagues you can turn to for case consultation and business strategies.
Enter Vision Source® which offers the best of both worlds for optometrists at all stages of their careers. As North America’s largest consortium of 100% member-owned private practices, Vision Source takes optometry to the next level by honoring the authentic bonds between doctors and patients while providing a complete umbrella of practice management support, including:
  • Access to a network of leading practitioners
  • Learning and development programs
  • Practice enhancement programs
  • Group buying power to provide lower cost of goods
  • Fresh marketing strategies
  • Proud tradition of mentorship

Who is Vision Source?

Independence. An entrepreneurial spirit. An unwavering commitment to doing what is right. These are the ideals threaded through the fabric of the Vision Source community and transformed into real-life benefits through the Vision Source commitment. As a result, optometrists in the Vision Source network are safeguarded from many of the traditional challenges of practice management, while receiving the resources, support, and education they need to thrive and provide outstanding patient care.
Founded by doctors and led by doctors, Vision Source is a collective of 3,100 privately owned optometric practices and 4,500 doctors collaborating to provide premier eyecare while sharing ideas, marketing together, and purchasing at the best prices possible, Vision Source members include some of the most influential eyecare professionals in the country, including 12 former American Optometric Association (AOA) presidents with practices featuring the latest in technology, products, and innovative diagnostic systems.
Vision Source encourages all optometrists in the network to collaborate as a team to elevate patient care for every practice in the network. Whether you’re helping another practice owner with a problem you just solved, receiving the support of your peers, or accessing Vision Source’s deep resources, financial advantages, marketing and practice management and expertise, innovative technology, and continuing education, you’ll know you’re part of a strong, independent team unified in purpose.

How Vision Source helps ODs succeed at private practice

Hands down, one of the biggest challenges of owning a private practice for most new optometrists is having to make so many decisions alone. From choosing a promising location to purchasing equipment and executing your marketing strategy, it can be overwhelming to have so much responsibility on your shoulders. While optometry school prepares you for a career as an eye care practitioner, many optometrists don’t feel they receive the training they need to run a successful business.
If you are seeking to remain 100% independent—but not alone—Vision Source is an ideal solution that will empower your entrepreneurship while also providing the support you need to make the best decisions for your new business. When you’re under the Vision Source umbrella, you’ll receive marketing guidance, mentorship opportunities, and the ability to talk to other independent optometrists who are willing to share what worked as well as what they wished they had done differently. Even more importantly, you’ll be welcomed into a local family of like-minded optometrists who voluntarily remove the walls of competition to help solve the difficult challenges of practice ownership.

3 reasons to join the Vision Source network

Vision Source differentiates itself from other local and national networks by enabling more personal connections between doctors and patients— as well as an abundance of resources to empower doctors and nurture the success of private practices. The optometrists who practice in the network are united in purpose towards the collaborative goal of providing exceptional patient care. The benefits of being part of the Vision Source network are too numerous to count. Below are 3 key reasons many optometrists join the Vision Source family of practices.

Reason 1: Vision Source lowers the barrier of entry for practice ownership

For optometrists with an entrepreneurial vision, Vision Source provides the start-up support young optometrists need to get their own practices up and running. Unlike “cold-starts,” when you open a practice in the Vision Source network, you’re never alone. With a Vision Source “warm-start,” you still retain 100% ownership of your new business—including the ability to choose, design, and customize your space and retail lines—and have full access to an arsenal of support to accelerate practice growth and eliminate much of the stress of launching a new business all by yourself. Some of the Vision Source warm-start benefits include:
  • Financial advantages: As a member, you can leverage Vision Source’s buying power, robust relationships with leading optical brands, and deep savings on lenses, frames, and equipment.
  • Geospatial exclusivity: Vision Source utilizes proprietary demographic analysis solutions to help new business select the most competitive locations so you have the best possible launch.
  • Practice management expertise: Level up your practice with support and solutions that increase efficiencies and educate your staff on the newest technology. Membership in Vision Source unlocks access to some of the nation’s most successful practice owners as well as advisors in the network who can help with decisions that impact marketing, staffing, and operations.
  • Merchandising and sales support: Through exclusive programs, Vision Source members can tap into merchandising systems that enhance optical retail displays and sales and allow you to manage inventory more efficiently.
As part of the Vision Source network, you can achieve all the benefits of private practice with much less stress, a huge armory of expertise, business training, and financial advantages from the very beginning. Using a proven strategy of providing resources, consultations, and community, Vision Source—together with in-house vendor iCare Advisors— helps launch about 50 new warm-starts to private practice each year, which is a huge win for the industry.

Leverage Vision Source group buying power

Vision Source has access to buying power that exceeds any other optometric alliance nationwide. Our exclusive relationships with leading brands mean you will begin your new operation as a warm-start with optimal pricing strategies and savings on top-of-the-line lenses, frames, and diagnostic equipment.
Vision Source is a collective of 100% privately owned practices aligned under a model that facilitates the sharing of ideas, the latest research, and new techniques that optimize both patient care and practice management.
As a result of this architecture, Vision Source doctors have unique benefits that enable them to offer high-end care and solutions, while experiencing much lower cost of goods than practices outside of the network. Vision Source optometrists can access top brands— Alcon, CooperVision, EssilorLuxottica, Optos, Marco, and ZEISS, along with more than 100 other vendors— at a much lower cost because of exclusive discounts and proprietary brands. For example, Vision Source® FRESH DAY® and Reveal® made by CooperVision is a family of comfortable, environmentally-friendly, top-shelf lenses made just for Vision Source. The result is that you can offer your patients lenses you trust at margins you will appreciate.
For practice owners, this level of support and savings means you can spend your first year nurturing organic growth because cost-savings are already in place.
Additional new member promotions and exclusive buying strategies can also give brand-new practices a leg up in the first months after opening by allowing you to ramp up your cash flow before making significant vendor payments.

Vision Source goes above and beyond a cold start

Vision Source also utilizes a proprietary demographic analysis database to help new practices select the most competitive and prime locations. Industry-specific statistics on prospective patients are key to ensuring a new practice's accelerated growth. Each Vision Source member is approved and protected under a specific territory so that every Vision Source practice can thrive and support each other without worrying about competition among members.
Other pillars of support for new practice owners include:
  • Practice management guidance for new optometrists through local, state, and national meetings
  • Support through appointed Vision Source Administrators, VS Directors of Member Development, and local colleagues
  • Business of Optometry - a practice management arm of VS that offers business management advice
  • Dedicated member support team
  • Online staff learning development and training tools
  • Clinical protocols tools and resources
  • Access to customized websites and marketing campaigns and digital and social media marketing tools

Who are the Vision Source Administrators?

In the early years, Vision Source leadership realized that for the network to be successful, it needed the respect and trust of local optometric leaders to champion each specific market and support local doctors. Many of these leaders—today’s Vision Source Administrators—are seasoned volunteers of the local, state, and national optometric associations, with years of experience. These administrators have successful practices on their own and serve their members on all levels to ensure their success.
Today, Vision Source Administrators remain a keystone of the organization and are always available for consultation, support, and to answer questions about all things related to your practice and it's lifecycle.
Acting as both a mentor and liaison between Vision Source headquarters and local member practices, Administrators lead on the local level by planning and hosting member meetings, facilitating business conversations about today’s most critical topics, introducing vendor program opportunities, and implementing Vision Source initiatives, all geared and designed to help members’ practices thrive.
You can expect consistent support from your Administrator through:
  • Reliable and trusted communication about practice management strategies and optimal patient-centric protocols
  • Assurance that your practice is utilizing all member benefits
  • Dedication to strengthening your member experience and your practice success
  • Education on vendor program opportunities

I joined Vision Source in 1991. At the time, there was no other organization where we could get a group of private practices working together as a team. I wanted to start my own practice, and I had the choice of doing everything on my own or use the power of the network to get where I wanted to go. With Vision Source I could use the power of a synergistic group of doctors who are willing to share information about the practices so that if I have a question, there’s somebody who is going to be able to help me with that problem. And the wonderful thing is that we view ourselves fully as colleagues who can help each other. — Mario Gutierrez, OD, FAAO, and Vision Source Administrator.

Administrators also help appoint facilitators who can support networking and education at the staff level with the Vision Source Representative (VSR) program. VSRs lead educational and idea exchange meetings locally every quarter and distribute information at the network level so your staff has access to the resources and training they need to run your practice at optimal efficiency.

Reason 2: Vision Source members outpace the industry in revenue

Vision Source member practices grow faster than non-Vision Source practices. On average, Vision Source clinicians treat an estimated 16 million patients every year—and more than 1,000 potential new patients search for a Vision Source doctor on every day. Because of the popularity of the network, access to group buying power, relationships with managed care groups, access to continuing education, and other benefits, Vision Source network practices exceed the industry’s aggregate growth rate by a wide margin.
When looking at year-over-year revenue growth, a $1 million practice typically generates $240K more per annum after five years with Vision Source versus $80K as a non-member office. This trend has been continuing with margins trending up steadily as Vision Source doctors outpace the growth of the industry as a whole.
Typically, Vision Source member practices earn revenue that exceeds the industry average. In Q1, 2022, Vision Source pulled ahead of the industry with 12.7% growth vs. 4.3% for the industry as a whole. This isn’t anything new, as in 2017, average member practice revenue exceeded the industry average by a multiple of 10. Growing an average of 5.7% in 2018, Vision Source member practices have continued to exceed the industry’s aggregate growth rate of which Vision Source practices are a part of by a wide margin.

Reason 3: Vision Source elevates every optometry practice in the network

At the heart of Vision Source is the commitment to excellent patient care. That’s why Vision Source offers lifelong learning that enhances the performance of the entire practice team. Through both continuing education (CE) courses and credits for doctors and staff, Vision Source practices operate according to the highest standards, in part, because of access to the latest research and optimal protocols. Accredited CE hours are available for COPE, ABO, NCLE, and ABO-CPC. You and your staff will have access to over 100+ courses on Vision Source Learning that reflect the latest research and most relevant topics in private practice.
Your staff will also be able to access on-demand learning from evolving educational resources that customize clusters of courses to match knowledge levels and give you the ability to follow your staff’s progress and assessments. With easy plug-and-play Learning Tracts for every profit center in the practice, you can be assured that your staff can access the latest knowledge and training, including how to track important performance metrics, utilize best practices for medical protocols, and learn more about business and marketing strategies. Simple checklists also make onboarding staff easy and efficient.

Special programs exclusively for Vision Source members

Vision Source has so many focused opportunities for practice owners, associates, and staff to learn and grow. Below are a few specific programs designed to help each optometrist meet their goals for personal and practice success:

The Optical Dream®

Over 1,400 Vision Source practices are participating in this program designed to improve the patient experience, optimize sales, and boost capture rates. Doctors and staff can use a combination of learning strategies including individual study, role play, group discussion topics, and an incentive rewards program that encourages full practice participation. Through online education, The Optical Dream delivers enhanced awareness and unique sales training to each member of the optical and office staff, improving patient experience and practice profitability. The Optical Dream solution, provided exclusively to Vision Source members, incentivizes staff to learn and execute strategies that have proven to be effective at many of the most successful practices in the country.

Frame Dream

A members-only transformative merchandising, complete job processing and delivery system, Frame Dream enables practices to produce glasses more efficiently, display best-selling frames, experience more accurate frame inventory management, and increase optical sales, improving the entire process for both the practice and its patients. This unique supply chain efficiency can only be experienced within the Vision Source network where you can also access quarterly vendor promotions, product discounts, and volume rebates for over 2,500 frames comprised of more than 30 brands, including:
  • Luxottica
  • Kering Eyewear
  • Tura
  • Marcolin
  • Safilo
  • Many more

Vision Source Foundation

Vision Source is incredibly proud of the foundation that represents the organization’s philosophy in action. For the past 15 years, this foundation comes to the aid and service of optometrists in need by providing financial assistance to optometrists and their families who have been impacted by catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, or health-related events such as death, cancer, and stroke.

Vision Source® NEXT

For new optometrists at the beginning of their journey, Vision Source provides a path to enter into private practice through online learning and mentorship.
Start a private practice: Vision Source Next provides a step-by-step program to ease their transition into starting and running a private practice.
Acquire a private practice: Opportunities exist to acquire a practice, join a practice as an equity partner, or join as an associate with a path to an equity partner position.
Sell a private practice: Vision Source Next offers an exclusive marketplace to help sell your practice while preserving your private practice legacy.
Work in private practice: Vision Source member practices offer a professional work environment with continuing education to help advance our career.
Learn in a private practice: Vision Source Next provides collegial mentoring opportunities to students and new grads as they transition to practice.
Exclusive practice management solutions for optometrists
Vision Source members benefit from an industry-exclusive geospatial analysis platform that identifies geographical areas of marketing opportunities for their practices along with consumer demographic profiles and their preferred marketing channels. Using this information the Vision Source team builds personalized marketing programs using both traditional and digital marketing assets.

Why the Vision Source Exchange® should be on your calendar

As part of the Vision Source network, you and your associates have complimentary tickets to the Vision Source Exchange held each spring. The four-day annual meeting delivers a rich experience that includes general sessions, exhibits, continuing education, peer-to-peer learning, networking, and impromptu meet-ups with more than thousands of future partners and collaborators.
Some of the Vision Source Exchange sessions optometrists can attend, address the most important topics practice owners face as well as the latest innovations elevating patient care, through educational courses.
Our vendors also realize the exclusivity of the event, as well as the engagement of our members, and often wait to launch their latest technology, products, and solutions at the Exchange. Any time you are thinking of a major purchase, the Exchange is where you’ll meet the people who can deliver the products you need at a price that makes sense for your practice.

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