Jackson Robison, OD, ’16, didn’t take the most traditional track to becoming an OD, but was inspired later in life when he realized he was, “chasing the wrong things.” He discovered that promotions and money were not going to provide professional satisfaction. He wanted to be productive and utilize his business background, but to also help people. On a flight from Tulsa to San Antonio, Dr. Robison met a fellow Aggie. Half-way through the flight, he discovered the gentleman was married to an OD. “We hit it off, had dinner a few weeks later, and I went on to shadow his wife before I began taking the necessary prerequisite classes. The rest was history…”
Ashley Olheiser recently had the pleasure of visiting Dr. Robison’s office where he shared his insights on making his dream a reality.
Q: What was the drive to try and open cold after graduation?
A: My age had me a few years ahead of my peers in school. I was looking at about 20 years left to practice instead of 30 years. Time was ticking, and felt I had the business acumen to move forward.
Q: What drew you into the location for your practice?
A: When on my 4th year extern rotations, I was picking up pizza for my family one evening and loved the shopping center where the pizza place was located. It was across the street from a new high school at a fairly busy intersection. They had an end-cap vacancy highly visible to the major thoroughfare which sold me on the location.
Q: How did you choose to proceed with the building aspects of the office?
A: My builder managed the process of finishing out the physical construction of the structure and I joined a buying group before I opened for in-office supplies. The buying group was very open and had many resources to lean on during the process. I highly recommend joining a group if going out on your own.
Q: What is the #1 lesson you learned during the process?
A: Patience. This one is tough, especially for type-A entrepreneurs. The amount of red-tape surprised me throughout the project and timeframes from builders were always “best case” scenarios. Best case almost never happens, or it didn’t in my case. There are so many potential bottlenecks in the process. We had a challenge with city permitting. This was supposed to have been 30 days. Our permitting took 65 days. There were many ups and downs which included many sleepless nights. I learned a great deal and I plan on opening another practice down the road.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in opening a practice?
A: Financing. I received 6 rejections before finding the bank I went with. In fact, they were one of the first “no” responses I received and later reconsidered with some persistence from me. Financing is extremely challenging coming straight out of school. The only reason my bank took a risk on me was that I had $0 student debt and a spouse making a handsome salary. I realized that I was in a unique situation. Student debt is not a show-stopper, but most new ODs will need to work for 1 year before banks will look at them. This really isn’t a bad thing, since the build process usually takes 6 months.
Owning your own business…that’s the dream for many optometry students. For Dr. Robison, his dream was to move back to San Antonio, TX, with his wife and two daughters and build his own practice. The dream became a reality when he opened Mission Vision in the Spring of ‘17, on the north side of San Antonio, TX. Dr. Robison has plans to grow to a second location, but for now he enjoys seeing patients, being with his family and living out his dream.