How to make your first million in your refractive surgery practice

What’s the fastest route to get your refractive surgery practice to 1 million in revenue? By breaking down the math behind the process, I’ll reveal the key factors you need to consider. By understanding your pricing, metrics and availability, you can set precise targets and take strategic actions to maximise your income in the shortest possible time and least effort.

To make a million dollars (or pounds or euros, for that matter), you need to determine the number of eyes you need to treat.

The first choice is between making a million in revenue or take-home income.

If your business has a 40% net margin (which is good!), making a million in revenue would result in $400,000 in net profit, which is the take-home income.

As an aside, compare this to having a very high-paying consultant position. Typically, this is an underrated way to achieve a six-figure or multi-six-figure income quickly, as it often requires acquiring one super valuable skill (i.e. refractive surgery) compared to the challenges of starting and running a refractive surgery business. Having a job is 10X to 100X easier than starting a successful business that reaches $1,000,000. The chances of doing so in the UK are a mere four per cent.

But here’s the good news: While it’s hard, it’s not intellectually demanding. Once you are clear on what to focus on, implementing isn’t that difficult, but it does require some knowledge and skill. The challenge here is maintaining your focus and leveraging discipline to not chase the many shiny objects along the way.

Doing the math to get $1,000,000

The first step is to get crystal clear on the numbers. Focus begins with having ultra-specific goals. Let’s start by breaking down what $1,000,000 a year looks like. To make $1,000,000 a year, you will need:

  • $83,333/month in revenue, or
  • $20833/week in revenue (assuming 4 weeks holiday), or
  • $4166/day (assuming you operate 5 days a week)

Let’s say you’re selling LASIK for $2500/eye or roughly $5000 per patient.

This means you must treat

  • 400 eyes in 1 year, or
  • 34 per month
  • 8-9 per week, or
  • 1.7 per day.

Easy math so far.

Relative to acquiring the patients, performing the surgery will be in your comfort zone. You must have the discipline to devote sufficient time to perform the 400 eyes. If you can be available for 1 surgery day a week, you can complete a list of 8-9 eyes per day.

What do you need to do to get those eyes?

Let’s look at marketing and sales metrics to generate that $1 million result. At a conversion rate of 50%, that means you’ll need:.

  • 400 initial appointments in 1 year, or
  • 34 initials per month
  • 8-9 initials per week, or
  • 1.7 initials per day

That will take more of your time because qualifying and counselling people for surgery takes longer than performing it. And, you won’t be able to batch these appointments like you can with surgery. Instead, you’ll need to make yourself broadly available to see patients when they want to be seen (or, you’ll need to ask someone else to see them for you).

Unless you’re blessed with non-stop referrals, you’ll need to generate these by making cold audiences (people who don’t yet know you) aware that you exist.

If you convert 25% of your leads (or inquiries) into first appointments, you’ll need (someone) to process:

  • 1200 leads per year, or
  • 100 leads per month, or
  • 33-34 leads per week, or
  • 6-7 leads per day

Importantly, if you charge less than $2500/eye – everything will be harder. If you charge more, everything will be easier.

It’s easier to set a high price point at the start because you have time and margin to over-deliver. You’ll also get more high-quality referrals this way because people will be happier with your service, and they’ll likely have similarly affluent friends and family members.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

Sell one service on one channel to one avatar

In the 0-$1 million/year stage, I advise you to focus on selling one service on one channel to one avatar. Your goal in this range should be establishing a reliable patient acquisition system. The simpler the system, the more efficient it will run.

WARNING: From the moment you announce your practice, everyone will tempt you with shiny objects. Think of these shiny objects like the proverbial “woman in the red dress”.

In “The Matrix”, the protagonist walks with his mentor and is distracted by a woman in a red dress. His mentor notices his distraction, and asks: “Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?”

After a few denials, his mentor asks him to look again, and the woman is now an agent pointing a gun at his head.

That’s a distraction, my friend. And the opposite of distraction is the focus. Before you reach 1 million in revenue, you must focus on:

  • One service – For example, laser eye surgery. Or, lens surgery. Don’t offer anything else. Streamline your practice on delivering this one service line. You’ll be tempted to expand into more service lines (I know you!), but it’s too early for that.
  • One channel – This is an awareness channel. In my experience, paid advertising is necessary to hit your first million, but I’ve also seen it happen with referral partners. Google Ads are the most reliable channel if you can’t count on referrals. Think of it like a tap – turn the tap a little and you’ll get water. Turn it more and you’ll get more water. Once you consistently push past sales of $83K a month for 3-6 months straight, then you can expand to multiple channels because that means you’re on track to exceeding $1m per annum.
  • One avatar – This is one type of customer. If you’re offering laser eye surgery, it would be a millennial. If you offer lens-based procedures, it’ll likely be a Gen-Xer. If you offer lifestyle cataract surgery, it’ll be a Baby Boomer. You can further segment your avatar by their value – either go upmarket with premium (my most typical advice) or go sub-premium with the intention of going premium. Do not go budget (you’ll starve) or mid-market (that’s no man’s land).

When you’re up to 83.3K a month, you have a million-a-year flywheel. You need to keep it spinning consistently to maintain that top-line revenue, and if you like, expand upon it (the post on how to do that follows this one).

If you’ve done what I’ve advised and you’re not there yet, then you…

  1. Are in a flat market, so you need to be patient because your industry is not growing sufficiently to be a wind at your back
  2. Need to increase your advertising spend, because that will propel your growth
  3. Are going about this in a haphazard, one-hit-wonder shop way, running after shiny objects, getting customers from here and there, and not focusing your energy on one service, one channel, one avatar
  4. Are trying to do everything yourself and are stuck in the mud as a result
  5. Are not offering sufficient availability to achieve your goals
  6. Have personal problems that are blowing up your business (typically emotional issues that are causing you to sabotage your success).

Keep it simple because building a 7-figure practice is hard enough without making your life more complicated by attempting to do anything more than one service on one channel to one avatar.

Can you have a 7-figure practice?

Making $1,000,000 in revenue from a refractive surgery practice is a remarkable financial achievement (statistically, only 4% of entrepreneurs make it). As a refractive surgery practice owner, you can transform your practice into a million-dollar venture. By grasping the fundamental principles of pricing, metrics and patient acquisition, you can strategically plan your journey. Remember that offering high-value services, understanding your target audience, and aiming for a relatively high price point will propel your practice towards extraordinary success. Embrace the math, set precise goals, and let your determination and expertise guide you on this rewarding path.

About the author

Rod Solar
Founder & Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor for its customers. Rod mentors and coaches eye surgery business CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to triple their sales, double their profit, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Scalable Business Advisor

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO for our customers. Rod mentors and coaches CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to double their sales, triple their profits, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK