After her 2012 graduation from The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Bianca Kostranchuk, OD, joined a multi-doctor clinic as the sixth doctor. She had always envisioned herself in this type of setting, she says, but when she found herself expecting her first child six months later, her career plan changed. Dr. Kostranchuk started looking at the ability to be close to home and the flexibility that private practice and ownership could allow her to have.
She started emailing doctors in the area, and luck would have it that a doctor was selling her practice just three minutes from her house in Chardon, Ohio. “It was a scary step as a new grad and while I was pregnant, so I did some research to find out how I could make it work,” she recalls. “I bit the bullet, and I purchased her practice.” The established practice was 90 years old, and Dr. Kostranchuk became the fourth owner. The office was small and most of the existing patient base followed the retiring doctor’s demographic, but there was great potential.
About three months later, right after her daughter was born, Dr. Kostranchuk relocated Chardon Family Eye Care to a main road. She added some of her own fun and funky touches to make the practice her own with a clean and uncluttered style, and she brought in some new frame lines that would be attractive to moms and a younger demographic. “I grew so fast that I added an associate after my first year.”
Dr. Kostranchuk was deliberate in who she hired to join her team, as her mission behind practice ownership was focused on being a mom who could spend as much time with her children as possible. She hired a soon-to-be mom who was expecting twins, and they made their own hours to make up a full-time schedule without working weekends. “We did two 12 hours days, a different approach to my schedule, but it made it easier with babies.” Having evening hours during the week were a nice addition, and patients didn’t question that the office was closed on weekends, she says.
They tweaked the schedule as needed as the practice grew, and since most of her staff has children, they appreciated the flexibility. “I don’t have a single staff member that works five days a week,” she says. “We give up a little on the evenings, but we never work weekends.”
A SECOND ESTABLISHED PRACTICE OFFERS POTENTIAL
In 2019, she heard about another doctor—just 20 minutes away in Chesterland, Ohio—who was planning to retire. He had heard about Dr. Kostranchuk successfully taking over her first practice, and he offered her a chance to buy. Despite the doctor having dropped down to a part-time schedule of just about 2.5 days per week, Dr. Kostranchuk replicated her model from Chardon Family Eye Care in this new office, Chesterland Family Eye Care. She moved to a brand-new building on a major road just a few months later, greatly improving her visibility.
She made this office twice as big with six exam lanes. “I put faith in the fact that I did a lot of research on the market and geographic analysis, and I thought it could support that,” she recalls. Dr. Kostranchuk started that office with just 1.5 clinical days, and now, as she has been there for 4 years, she has six days of doctor coverage with two associates. She’s thankful for the patient referrals that have helped the offices grow, and she’s also had marketing success with local targeted magazine advertisement and participating in community events and sports.
Dr. Kostranchuk’s schedule has continued to evolve as her two daughters grow. Currently, she has two clinical days per week, two admin days while her daughters are in school and a fifth flexible day.
She’s developed quite a reputation in the area for purchasing from retiring doctors. In fact, she says that she frequently is contacted by doctors who don’t want a scenario where their practice becomes part of a private equity or hospital system. “I see these smaller practices that are like little gems; they can be made your own,” she says. It’s a great opportunity for newer grads, she adds.
In both instances, the retiring doctor stayed on board as an employee for about a year. “That hand-off and introduction to patients is super important,” Dr. Kostranchuk says. “I’m a huge advocate. Any time I meet one at Ohio State, I tell them, ‘Don’t feel like you have to get sucked into working for someone because you feel you can’ take the leap so soon out of school.’ If you work for someone else, it limits the idea of having work/life balance.”
Dr. Kostranchuk says that she hopes to expand to additional offices in the upcoming year.
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