Whitney Territo, OD, grew up watching her optometrist-dad go through his own journey of private practice ownership. Now Dr. Territo has a private practice of her own with husband and business partner John Manard, OD, and they’re using both new- and old-school tactics to make the patient care transition as easy as possible.
Dr. Territo and Dr. Manard acquired their turnkey independent Vision Source® practice, Eyes on the Diamond in State College, Pennsylvania, from Harvey Hanlen, OD. Dr. Territo and Dr. Manard acquired the practice in 2021. Dr. Territo’s goal was “always” to be in private practice, she says, and she knew she could get there with community support from the Vision Source network and the detailed groundwork that the Vision Source NEXT program provided them.
While Dr. Territo and Dr. Manard had years of professional experience under their belts working in different practice settings, including Vision Source practices, they were still navigating a whole new world.
“With Vision Source comes help and guidance,” Dr. Territo says, which helped ensure she was not surprised by extra costs or details like insurance and term-life policies, finances and fees. Instead, she started saving up before even looking for a practice, making the entire process much more smooth.
More time for planning
Planning ahead for practice management and ownership helped Dr. Territo and Dr. Manard get ahead of the game. Plus, Dr. Territo says Dr. Hanlen’s practice was “turnkey,” noting his reputation as a savvy businessperson and clinician, and the upgraded technology and equipment already secured in the practice that allowed her to focus less on getting the practice up-to-par and more on growth.
When her ownership of the practice hit its one-year mark, Dr. Territo brought on an associate doctor, Scott Bauer, OD. Some of her classmates and optometrist friends were surprised when she brought on another doctor so soon, she says, but she credits Vision Source support and her regular goal-setting to helping her stay organized and successful.
Dr. Territo has been able to transition the practice seamlessly; patients may not have even noticed a change in ownership – and that’s how she wanted it. The changes she’s been making have been subtle but effective. For example, she switched about 35 percent of her frame board to Frame Dream, finding that this feature brings her consistency and efficiency in needing to work with fewer frame representatives. The practice started preappointing patients for their next annual exam, and she simplified her product choice offerings rather than having the confusion of multiple different kinds of lens and no-glare treatments for example. The practice also direct-ships almost every contact lens order through its online store, which gives staff more time to focus on patients and sales in the office.
Dr. Territo also credits Dr. Hanlen for his teaching that, as a business owner, she should be able to do every task that needs doing in the practice. After dabbling with payroll and tech, the practice now outsources various parts of the backend to create even more time to practice how Dr. Territo sees fit.
New year, new goals
As 2022 comes to an end, Dr. Territo is already looking at her goals for next year. She and Dr. Manard plan on purchasing their practice building, which Mick Kling, OD, explained could be a smart option, Dr. Territo says. She and her husband also plan on acquiring her dad’s practice as he phases towards retirement.
But for now, she’s happy where she is. “I’m able to have my practice, play with it and grow it,” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing, really.”