By: Jerry Sude, OD

At What Point Do You Decide to Take On an Optometry Associate?

PECAA’s Business & Financial Advisors tell doctors that a part-time associate starts to make financial sense for a solo optometric practitioner when he/she reaches approximately $800k per year in revenue.

Deciding Who to Bring On:

You are making a partnership commitment – what should you be doing to ensure a successful relationship?

  • Spend a good amount of time together in the interview. Try a more informal interview process – go to lunch together and see how they behave outside of work.
  • Set up a 3 to 6 month trial period. This way, you can see if a working relationship would work out well.
  • Your new associate should practice for a minimum of one year before the potential for purchasing part of the practice is available.
  • Make sure your new associate has all their licenses completed before joining your practice.

Once You’ve Found Your Ideal Associate – Determine Pay Structure.

Ideally, the pay structure would be based on incentive based compensation against a percentage. The final structure of the compensation is negotiable and can take many different forms.

Starting salary is highly dependent on your area of the United States and dependent on benefits such as AOA dues, insurance, 401k, continuing education expenses, etc.). To review average starting salaries in your area, visit PECAA’s Salary Survey Database.

The base salary you offer should simply be a draw against 15% of collections. Figure 15% of total collections from an individual doctor on a quarterly basis and expect the percentage to be greater than the sum of their weekly draws. The office will then cut them a check for the difference in what they have already received on the weekly basis during that quarter and 15% of the collections for their efforts during that quarter. If 15% of their total collections is not greater than the base that they have already been paid for that quarter, such that they are not due a bonus check, then it is necessary to sit down and discuss the reasons. Naturally, if their base is greater than 15% of their collected revenues then they would be receiving more than 15% of their collected revenues and their volume would be at an unacceptable level. The 15% is on everything collected from the efforts of that particular doctor including professional fees, frames, lenses, contact lenses, etc.

The key is to pay on collected revenues and not charged revenues and to make sure the associate doctor is only being paid for revenues that they generated and that funds from more than one doctor are not co-mingled.

Questions about associate contracts? Contact us at

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