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One of the most important aspects of our work at Vision One Credit Union
is to help transition optometrists in or out of private practice.

For new doctors, we strive to reduce risk and simplify ways to enter private practice as an owner or as an associate. For
retiring doctors, we offer multiple options for a graceful, lucrative exit strategy. 

Our goal is to help individual O.D.s realize the full financial benefits of private practice optometry. We began by obtaining industry information regarding the barriers to entry and exit. Information was obtained from our friends at the UCB School of Optometry, SCCO, the COA, Vision One’s Board of Directors (all private practice O.D.s) and key optometrists in the community. 

Our research indicated the top barriers to entry are: a need for immediate income to pay student debt, the inability to find a practice to work in or buy and the mystery of how to complete an acquisition (the “process”). The cost of not overcoming these obstacles is more O.D.s entering corporate optometry.

The barriers to a timely exit include unfamiliarity with the sale process, lack of knowledge of what buyers want from a practice, concerns about adequate retirement income coupled with a desire / need to slow down but not totally quit. Our experience indicates an unplanned exit often results in a deteriorated practice with diminished value.

To address these problems, we employed a staff of seasoned commercial bankers who understand the needs of the independent optometrist. We then setup the white board, listed problems and brainstormed solutions. The solutions took the form of a) loans with special features to maximize seller’s practice value yet minimize buyer’s risk, b) financial education to bridge the expectations gap between buyers and sellers, c) establishment of a team of experts to support each step of a sale/purchase, and d) hands-on live support from our staff for all banking services. Some of the needed loan features were outside the scope of banking, so our friends at VSP were glad to provide them.

Testimonials received from O.D.s benefited by these programs were very favorable. We have offered the programs to the
general optometric community since 2004. A summary is presented below.


Transaction Facilitators – To help alleviate the “process problem”, Vision One (in California) has assembled a team to help doctors locate, value, negotiate and document an acquisition transaction. This referral network consists of transaction facilitators (brokers, appraisers, accountants and attorneys). We also provide practice buyers the tools to help understand and determine expected cash flow. To alleviate buyer stress, our staff will help you setup your Vision One business checking account.

Acquisition Financing – Vision One acquisition loans are designed to increase the probability of success for new practice owners. This is accomplished through reduced loan payments to maximize cash flow in the initial years when the risk is highest for new owners. The results are many new buyers enjoying net income equal to or higher than corporate practitioners. We also build in a few safety nets to help reduce the fear factor of a new acquisition. We developed partnership loans for doctors to buy into a practice (partial ownership). The business risk is substantially reduced for the new owner as the senior doctor(s) remain in the practice and provide mentorship.

Associates – Through our Vision Loans program with VSP, loans that can help senior doctors pay for the cost to bring in an associate are available. This provides more opportunities for new doctors to enter and eventually buy a practice. Vision One Credit Union is there every step of the way to help practice buyers. As part of our loan application process, we take the time to educate doctors about the key points of a practice acquisition, including the results of our financial analysis.


Partnership Loan (partial ownership) – We pioneered this loan product with VSP to allow senior O.D.’s to start the transition process before the practice declines. The loan allows the senior doctor to take cash out now and phase into retirement over time. For example, you can sell 25% of your practice to your associate or new doctor in order to lock them in for eventual succession. This allows you flexibility in your work schedule yet you retain control of the practice. You can sell the remainder of the practice to your new partner at a later date (i.e. 3 years or more).

Acquisition Loans – For retiring doctors who want to sell 100% of the practice. We can facilitate your tax planning needs by accommodating partial seller notes.

Transaction Facilitators – The facilitators (described above) can help you prepare your practice for sale as well as locate and negotiate a buyer.

Associates – This Vision Loans product provides loans to help senior doctors pay for the cost to bring in an associate. This can lead to the start of an exit plan and eventual sale of the practice.


We provide written materials (such as this newsletter) in addition to presentations at industry events and optometric colleges about many practice transition topics. Some of our more popular presentations include practice valuation,
determining practice net cash flow and what buyers look for when purchasing a practice. All of our educational services are complimentary. 

In conjunction with one of our key O.D. friends, we are currently developing models to compare the economic differences between private and commercial optometric practices. We anticipate using the data to present to the optometric college students around the country. 

As a non-profit financial institution and an industry resource, we at Vision
One are proud to do our part to advance private practice optometry. Vision One always re-invests your deposits back into the independent optometric community. On behalf of Vision One, I want to thank you for your continued support. Your business keeps us strong and able to focus our time and resources to solve industry problems.

Written by: Bob Schultz, President & CEO of Vision One Credit Union