When Shannon Zingle, OD, saw an optometric practice for sale in the historic downtown of Franklin, Tennessee, south of Nashville, she felt it was the perfect place to launch her own private practice. That was two years ago, and Dr. Zingle, who had been working in a corporate location since her 2013 graduation from Indiana University School of Optometry, also felt like it was the perfect opportunity.
There was already a lot to love about the space itself: wood floors and trim with warm amber walls. In terms of the overall look and even the reputation as a boutique eyewear gallery, she didn’t need to make too many changes. But she wanted passersby, patients and website visitors to get a sense of this as a woman-owned business. So she set out to do more of a rebranding than a remodeling.
It starts with the practice name and logo. Shannon Eye Care uses her first name—a friendly touch. Her logo, a drawing of a woman with flowing red hair, carrying an oversized pair of eyeglasses, is based on a photograph of her. She made physical changes, bringing in new furniture and decorations to make the space feel homier. She added new signage, a new computer system and an optician. (The previous owner worked alone). “I changed the inventory. While it had been boutique style, I took it up a level and added new frame lines in the first year,” she says.
She’s also done a great deal to reach out to the community. She hangs artwork from local artists on the walls and the practice is part of the monthly “art crawl” event of open houses of galleries. She hosts trunk shows and wine tastings. The two large bay windows are redressed seasonally.
Her website includes an entire page of the local organizations the practice supports: downtown merchants, members of the military, high school athletes, breast cancer awareness organizations and the FETCH eyewear brand that helps support animal rescue organizations. The page also identifies her support of women’s issues, noting that the practice provides pro bono services and eyeglasses to families receiving assistance from a local center helping victims of domestic violence. Her community is right in line with the path of the solar eclipse in August, so she’s also been talking about the importance of solar filters—and not just sunglasses—to protect eyes and vision during this event.
Dr. Zingle says that her second year was better than her first, and she’s hopeful that she continues to see growth. As the sole doctor with one exam lane, she’s conducting the entire exam, from workup to finish. Optician and office manager Josh Boswell takes over for the eyewear selection process. That suits her. “My whole idea was to provide personalized care, so my patients and I get to know each other.”
“In a way, taking over a practice gives you a head start with patients, but you still need to prove yourself to these patients as well as attract new ones. The second year is still a roller coaster with ups and downs, so the challenges in months 13 to 24 are different from day 1 to the first anniversary.”
Dr. Zingle welcomes encouragement/ideas from other new practitioners. You can email her at ShannonEyeCarePLLC@gmail.com or respond to her blog about her experiences as a business owner at LadyAndHerLens.com.