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New Opportunities Arise With Ownership Shift

Infrastructure and capital backing allow former family-owned practice to accelerate growth

When a long-held family business is sold, it’s natural to be sentimental about the way things were, says Elizabeth Roberts, OD. She had been an employee in Eye Express, a 12-location group in Florida that was owned by her brother,two uncles and a fourth partner.

Since the group became part of the MyEyeDr. network in January 2016, Dr. Roberts sees how much less preoccupied and stressed those former owners are. Since they are family, she has a greater appreciation for their peace of mind. “It was a great thing for them. My uncle was in his 70s, and he didn’t have a transition plan for his part of the practice,” she says. “It was great for my brother, too, since he worked so hard to make the practice what it was and was able to reap the benefits while he was still young.”

She has benefitted as well, she says. Her salary is higher, she achieves more bonuses, and she has been able to take advantage of training that wasn’t available to her in the family business. Recently, she took a leadership development course offered by MyEyeDr. that she says was tremendously valuable personally and professionally.

Some aspects of her life also are calmer now. When it was a family-owned business, she worked in any office where she was needed. “I had worked in at least half of the office locations regularly over the years. Since the practices became part of MyEyeDr., I have been able to work exclusively in the South Lakeland office, which is closest to my home,” she says.

Two familiar aspects of work have not changed. First,she still works for her older brother, as he is the clinical field director. And there remains a strong standard of care. In fact, access to technology and the repair or replacement of diagnostic equipment like cameras and OCTs helps to enhance our standard of care. “The retinal camera is a great tool to use with our patients, showing them their results when everything is healthy with their eyes or when something on the image raises a concern,” she says.

Investing in development and leadership

Through MyEyeDr. University, new staff members can get up to speed quickly and efficiently. Robust curricula including training videos are available for onboarding new staff. With the release of new technologies, products and protocols, a new lesson plan is made available to staff members so that they can remain current. “MyEyeDr. has great infrastructure to get information out to everyone,” she says. It results in a more consistent training platform rather than having the training be the responsibility of one or two people in the office when it fits into their schedule.

Dr. Roberts says that the leadership development course that she took has shown her opportunities to expand her leadership based on tools that are available to her now. “I am able to be a more effective manager because I receive metrics that allow me to spot opportunities for me and my staff. I enjoy that part; I’m very competitive,” she says. She’ll analyze where the office is doing well and how the staff can be more productive in other areas, all in the pursuit of helping each patient who comes in the door to see better than he or she did beforehand.

“We track office performance and patient interaction within the office. Knowing these numbers doesn’t change the way I practice, but it does make me more aware of how I communicate what I’m doing. I might refine my discussion on the benefits of some of the lens features, for example, which in turn makes it easier for the optical sales staff to reinforce that message,” she says. And patients benefit from those collaborative efforts.

Ultimately, it’s the personal touch in providing eye care that keeps patients coming back year after year, no matter what brand name is on the front of the building. “My uncle told me, ‘You have to make patients smile. If you can do that, you’ve made a connection, and they’ll remember that.’”

On its YouTube channel, MyEyeDr. offers a series called Not Just Carrots, in which MyEyeDr. doctors share their recipes and tips about making eye healthy foods. A recent episode features a sweet potato side dish.
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