Home Views Building a Bigger Team

Building a Bigger Team

By Stephanie Lyons, OD, of Chicago, Illinois

I opened my practice in 2011 with a goal of building a family-friendly practice in an urban environment. My husband, John Lyons, joined me on this venture as the office manager of Lyons Family Eye Care. Many practices in the city are high-end opticals geared for adult patients, but we wanted to cater to families and children. Having that niche, along with providing vision therapy (VT), has helped us become really successful.

About a year after opening Lyons Family Eye Care, I was approached by Dominick Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A, about joining our team. Dr. Maino had been one of my professors at Illinois College of Optometry, and I had first explored the avenue of VT in his private practice. He came to my office to schedule a meeting, where he handed me his resume and explained why he wanted me to hire him. He recognized the investment that we had made on technology, and he also appreciated our focus on family and VT. The shocking moment for me was that, after only a year, I wasn’t sure if we were ready to hire another doctor.

It didn’t take much consideration before we reached a decision. Dr. Maino is one of the greatest VT specialists in the world, so we
didn’t really have a choice: we hired him. Having Dr. Maino on board has helped us grow along the way, giving us exposure to other professionals in his network.

The other doctors on our team joined when I went on maternity leave, taking off a year per child for our two children, now ages 3 and 1. I’ve been out of the office quite a bit but John has kept me in the loop the whole time. Having children forced us into hiring even more help sooner than we thought we were ready for it, but ultimately, we really needed the people to handle our volume.

As a result, my schedule is very flexible. We have full-time doctor coverage with Kelsey Frederick, OD, on the team, and I come in as a secondary doctor seeing patients one day per week. I’m home three days with my kids, and I spend one day working on the business—the practice management and administrative side of ownership. It’s been a perfect set-up, and I’ve been so lucky to have a situation where I can take as much time as I want with the kids now and after they were born. Soon, I expect to increase my hours again.

Our practice’s reputation has earned us many referrals. School teachers, reading specialists and administrators as well as other medical professionals have been recommending our practice to others. Our vision therapy segment has taken off from its small start when I served as our only OD and vision therapist. We now have four vision therapists on staff, providing VT for a total of 50-60 patients per week. We’ve expanded into our basement to designate a special VT area, nearly doubling our square footage.

We’re looking at our next step: either purchasing our existing office space or moving to a new location. We have room here for additional expansion, which is rare in an urban setting, but, depending on how the next few months pan out, a move may be on the horizon to accommodate our special needs.

Dr. Lyons first spoke with WO five years ago in 2011 for a story as her practice had just opened. Click here to read that story.

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