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Tuesday / June 25.
HomemibusinessFranchisee Celebrates Work/Life Balance

Franchisee Celebrates Work/Life Balance

Optometrist Raj Dhanjal

Coming out of lockdown, Raj Dhanjal took a punt on a new optometry franchise and hasn’t looked back.

Optometrist Raj Dhanjal is celebrating, having clocked up two years as a franchisee with Options Optometrists in Western Australia.

The latest optometrist to become a franchisee with the group that was established by Lance and Natalie Schaffer in 2010, he said one of the most rewarding aspects of investing in practice ownership has been to achieve a work/life balance.

Having previously managed a team of 20 staff in a large, high-volume practice, he said running a team of just three, with one consult room is “like a holiday everyday”.

“I’m glad I worked in corporate optometry – I gained skills, learned processes, and benefited from training – I wouldn’t have had that experience anywhere else. But now I’m learning that bigger is not always better. You don’t have to work harder for the same rewards; you just have to work smarter and be people focussed.”

Weighing Up The Risks

Mr Dhanjal said while investing in an Options Optometrists franchise was “an affordable risk”, it was a weighty decision for him and his wife.

“It was a smaller brand, and while there is now television advertising, at that stage there wasn’t. What interested me was that I could be a 100% franchise owner. I’d had two business partners previously and I wanted to be in full control of my own destiny.”

To get “inside the business”, Mr Dhanjal worked as a locum with an Options Optometrists store, met the other franchise partners, and spent time with Mr Schaffer.

“It was the riskiest time to get into a business, as we were just coming out of COVID, but I really wanted to own my own practice and I couldn’t poke any holes in what I was seeing. Lance said to me ‘when everyone is running the other way, that’s the time to get into business’. It was a good call.”

With “no skills in starting a business, rent negotiation, product sourcing etc.,” Mr Dhanjal said he relied on the advice of Mr Schaffer to build a successful practice with relationships at its core.

“I’m a people person and I enjoy relationships with the community. What I’ve realised is that by putting my life first, by doing the things I love, I’ve become a better person for my customers and my team.”

He added that the relationship he has with his wife has “completely turned around – 100%”.

Challenge Of Charging For Time

Of course, building a new practice is not all smooth sailing and Mr Dhanjal said one of his greatest challenges has been coming to terms with charging patients for services, such as a contact lens fit and teach, and optical coherence tomography (OCT).

“I was so nervous about it, but now that I am charging patients a fair amount for my expertise, I feel more valued as a professional clinician, and I’m inspired to go above and beyond.”

Expanding Scope

Having commenced his third year of ownership, Mr Dhanjal said he is excited at the prospect of being part of the Options group “for the next 10 years” and looking to explore his clinical interests.

“Like all optometrists, our bread and butter is glasses and contact lenses, but we’re looking at investing in equipment to manage dry eye and orthokeratology. It’s exciting to expand our scope into areas of genuine interest.

“If I had one regret, it would be that I didn’t do this sooner. I’m very happy with what we’ve achieved.”