Dr. Ben Chudner on Private Equity in Optometry, circa 2019

AdminWolf

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In this InSight Studio interview from Optometry's Meeting 2019 in St. Louis, Dr. Ben Chudner sits down with us to discuss private equity in optometry.
He hits on:

* What private equity is
* The differences between different private equity groups
* Where companies are looking to invest
* What makes a practice an attractive target for private equity
* Should your practice be acquired by private equity?

Ask ben any questions in this thread!
 
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Benjamin Chudner

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Thanks again to Ben for doing this!

One of the things I really appreciate about him is that he always shoots straight -- in the interview, he doesn't just talk about which practices should get involved with PE, he talks about which ones shouldn't.

I'll again link to his talk from CEwire2019 --

https://www.odwire.org/community/th...ight-for-your-practice-dr-ben-chudner.119130/

-- ad
Thanks for posting this Adam, although the screen grab above could be more flattering ;) I enjoyed participating and appreciate the kind words.
 

Benjamin Chudner

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Nice overview guys. Financial, personal and professional. The tree pillars. Ben, you did not sell yourself or your group. Where are you guys in the spectrum that you speak of in term of models?
Thanks Greg. My group is the last one I mentioned. We like to purchase a multi-location practice in a region first and use that as the brand in the area. We will then purchase additional practices in the area to build scale. If we purchase a practice with one or only a couple of locations, we will eventually rename those to match the larger brand in the area. Sometimes, we may keep the brand name of a smaller practice but add "Powered by [insert brand name here]".

We may also purchase multiple single locations to enter a region or state. In that case, we will create a new brand name and use that as we acquire additional locations in the area. Our ultimate goal is to keep the practice DNA intact and not change too much that is patient facing other than to increase efficiency and improve patient care. We believe that patients have chosen our practices for a reason and to change that to conform to national brand guidelines would be a mistake. Also, we are not solely a retail play and encourage our doctors to practice to the highest scope allowed in each state we operate within. If that means adding instruments such as OCTs, TVFs, retinal cameras, etc, we will.
 

Diane Robbins-Luce

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Thanks Greg. My group is the last one I mentioned. We like to purchase a multi-location practice in a region first and use that as the brand in the area. We will then purchase additional practices in the area to build scale. If we purchase a practice with one or only a couple of locations, we will eventually rename those to match the larger brand in the area. Sometimes, we may keep the brand name of a smaller practice but add "Powered by [insert brand name here]".

We may also purchase multiple single locations to enter a region or state. In that case, we will create a new brand name and use that as we acquire additional locations in the area. Our ultimate goal is to keep the practice DNA intact and not change too much that is patient facing other than to increase efficiency and improve patient care. We believe that patients have chosen our practices for a reason and to change that to conform to national brand guidelines would be a mistake. Also, we are not solely a retail play and encourage our doctors to practice to the highest scope allowed in each state we operate within. If that means adding instruments such as OCTs, TVFs, retinal cameras, etc, we will.
Thanks Ben, you seem to be in the right place and working a nice model. I wish you all the best. As I am thinking of a 10-15 year exit plan I will stay tuned in for now.
I agree with the screen grabbing skills of our Admin
 

Ken Elder

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I’m not really considering selling my practice right now but I’ve always said....there’s definitely a number that will make me walk away.

So if anyone wants to make an offer that knocks my socks off and three pairs out of my drawer, I’m all ears.
 

AdminWolf

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Thanks for posting this Adam, although the screen grab above could be more flattering ;) I enjoyed participating and appreciate the kind words.
Lol, sorry about that -- it was automated! I'll fix it when I land. Thanks again for doing this -- you are the straightest shooter I know when it comes to these issues, and we're lucky to have you around to answer questions about PE....
 

Benjamin Chudner

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I'd love to hear if PE is doing anything much with retail practice purchases and if so valuations.

Not that I know of. There really isn’t any value for PE in retail practices. There isn’t a lot of overhead that can be cut, they don’t purchase product other than CLs so it’s hard to increase margins, and the lease can be taken away and given to another practice.
 
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Tom Vaxmonsky OD

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Not that I know of. There really isn’t any value for PE in retail practices. There isn’t a lot of overhead that can be cut, they don’t purchase product other than CLs so it’s hard to increase margins, and the lease can be taken away and given to another practice.
What about taking the doctor from the situation if he/she owns the records, phone number and has in place a robust data and communication system with his patient base. Then setting up the practice strategically located with optical on the border of the non-compete?
 

Benjamin Chudner

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Not that I know of. There really isn’t any value for PE in retail practices. There isn’t a lot of overhead that can be cut, they don’t purchase product other than CLs so it’s hard to increase margins, and the lease can be taken away and given to another practice.
What about taking the doctor from the situation if he/she owns the records, phone number and has in place a robust data and communication system with his patient base. Then setting up the practice strategically located with optical on the border of the non-compete?

There’s really very little value in your records relative to an already established stand alone practice. I don’t believe any PE firm would want to invest in building up a private practice from records and a recall system, and if they did, they wouldn’t pay very much as they have to take on all the expenses of making such a transformation. You’d be better off taking your records outside the non-compete area and building up a business to sell. You’d get significantly more money as well as potential interest.
 

James D. Williams O.D.

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I'd love to hear if PE is doing anything much with retail practice purchases and if so valuations.
MyEyeDr bought a very successful commercial practice located next door to a VisionWorks in my area. They opened a brand new MED a few miles away and used the practice's SolutionReach (or the like) to drive the message that the practice had moved. Rumor has it they paid over 7 figures.
 
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