When Monica Ma, OD, and her husband Jonathan Reynon, OD, opened Parkside Eye Care in October 2016, Dr. Reynon kept his existing subleases as they built up their patient base. The cold-start practice, located in the western part of Cary, North Carolina, boomed quickly right among a number of new communities that were under construction.
They began to step away from the subleases, and when Dr. Reynon’s non-compete agreement expired, they considered what their next move might be. When they opened Parkside Eye Care in Cary, a few patients from the subleases followed but, understandably, they lost the patients who lived on the other side of town closer to the neighboring city of Durham. It’s a fun community where Dr. Ma and Dr. Reynon used to live and near where Dr. Ma went to college in Chapel Hill.
Their original search in 2018 started there, closer to Dr. Reynon’s former sublease location. There was an established optical shop nearby, and Dr. Ma and Dr. Reynon approached the owners, but that venture didn’t pan out. They continued to search at other retail locations near that area. “We wanted to be a part of a higher-end shopping center, so that eliminated a lot of places,” Dr. Ma says.
The search ended at Hope Valley Shopping Center, an upscale location next to a Harris Teeter grocery store in Durham, just 20 minutes away from Parkside Eye Care in Cary. The paperwork and early steps of obtaining the space took a while—the current tenant had to be notified and was given time to move out. In mid-January 2019, Dr. Ma and Dr. Reynon were finally able to occupy the space. They kept the HVAC system but knocked everything else down to the studs. Despite frustrating construction delays relating to the production delay on the optical displays, Dr. Ma and Dr. Reynon remained focused on growing the Cary location during the waiting time.
InView Eye Care in Durham opened its doors in early June 2019. The similarities between this new location and Parkside Eye Care in Cary can be found with the logo and branding but the differences become apparent the moment you walk through the door. Inside InView Eye Care, the exterior brick façade is replicated on the interior wall that extends behind the front desk with a sliding barn door accent. Dr. Ma chose shades of brown, tan and red accents to complete the inviting look; whereas at Parkside, the space is styled in mostly white with pops of bright green and royal blue. “I see the Durham location as more city-like and less suburban, so we wanted a look that was a little different,” Dr. Ma says.
They duplicated the setup of their exam lanes and pretesting equipment, but some instruments, such as an OCT, topographer and edger, are only in the Cary location due to the larger footprint for that office. Nevertheless, InView Eye Care maintains its technological edge by housing its own fundus camera and visual field perimetry testing equipment. As the new location grows, Dr. Ma says that there next instrumentation purchase will be an OCT.
Dr. Ma says that the growth has been a bit slower this time, which was anticipated since the town of Cary is much more invested in the construction of new homes. Durham is a bit more established, but she and Dr. Reynon are focused on obtaining new patients through quality care and great customer service. They’ve sent out mailers and are primarily focusing on social media and email marketing. Word-of-mouth referrals are still the best source of new patients. “I’m spending a lot of time with my patients and asking them to tell their family and friends.” She also encourages patients to post their feedback in a review, as building up a catalog of reviews will help improve their rankings in search engines, as well.
Lauren Yao, OD, has joined their team as an associate doctor, and the three ODs split their hours between both offices throughout the week to provide a thorough and convenient schedule for their patient base. They have two doctors in Cary every day except Saturday, and one doctor in Durham everyday Monday through Saturday since Dr. Yao has joined the practices.
“We feel really lucky about the fast growth in Cary, and we are excited to expand in my hometown and near vicinity,” Dr. Ma says. “This second time, we repeated some of our successes and knew what to expect in areas where we struggled.”