Although 2020 is trending as a financially static year for Jarvis Family Eye Center, the owners say business hit a milestone, recently surpassing its 10,000th patient since opening in 2005.
It was a highlight for the Willard practice – the lone optometry clinic in the city of roughly 5,600 residents. Dr. Devon Jarvis, a 1994 Willard High School graduate, says he opened the clinic to fill a need in his hometown. He came back to Willard after earning his doctor of optometry degree at Ohio State University.
“There wasn’t an eye doctor in Willard, so I kind of went into it hoping at some point I could come back and open up there,” Jarvis says. “The timing worked out where I was able to do it straight out of school.”
Jarvis, who owns the practice with wife Brooke, says it was roughly a $400,000 investment to open the clinic. Since the beginning, the clinic has operated at 302 E. Proctor Road in a 2,500-square-foot building that he says had numerous past uses, including a lawn mower and small engine repair shop, day care and flower shop.
“It felt like the right thing to do,” he says. “The goal was to provide this small-town setting and feel where we could do really personalized care at a quality level that people expect to get in Springfield or wherever.”
He says another $200,000 has been invested since 2005 in technology and equipment upgrades to provide the clinic’s menu of services. Aside from eye exams, Jarvis Family Eye Care offers treatment and management of eye disease, glasses, contact lenses and sports vision training. It also handles follow-up appointments for patient surgeries at CoxHealth and Mercy – a service Jarvis says is convenient for those not wishing to travel to Springfield the days and weeks after procedures.
“We do all those post-operative visits in Willard,” Jarvis says.
General eye exams represent roughly half of the business, followed by 40% for health-related eye care visits for diabetes, cataracts and glaucoma, for instance. Treatment of eye injuries is the remaining 10%, he says.
As a territory manager for Bausch & Lomb, Tiana Shaver has worked with Jarvis Family Eye Center for about two years. It’s among 180 accounts she has in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Shaver visits Willard about every two weeks and informs staff of new contact lens products, while keeping them apprised of rebates and other incentives for patients.
“He places orders every day through distributors, but I go in there to help them with any issues or concerns they may have,” she says, declining to disclose order sizes. “I’m like a consultant, if you will, for them.”
The clinic’s service area covers much of southwest Missouri, Jarvis says, noting he draws patients from in and around Springfield, and as far away as West Plains and Waynesville.
“We rely a lot on word of mouth and referrals by patients,” he says.
Part of that exposure comes from the Willard school district, as Jarvis says the clinic is active in sponsorships, spending $5,000-$10,000 annually.
“Our logo is usually on every T-shirt that goes out of that school,” he says.
Rhonda Bishop saw some of that sponsorship activity when she worked as principal at Willard North Elementary School. While she now works as a teacher at Missouri State University, she’s been a Jarvis Family Eye Clinic patient for 15 years.
She says six family members also are now patients and visit the clinic around four times annually.
“It’s always been important to our family to shop local in everything,” she says. “We just keep going. He’s genuine and he cares.”
While he’s surpassed the 10,000-patient mark, Jarvis says he’s intentional in limiting the number of daily appointments. No more than 25 patients are scheduled per day.
“We don’t want to rush people through. We can do more than that,” he says, referring to his staff of eight. “I’m able to schedule the way I want to.”
After a long run of revenue growth, including 40%-50% annually in the clinic’s first couple of years, Jarvis says this year will likely end that streak. The coronavirus pandemic is the primary contributor.
“We try to hit about 10% of revenue growth every year. We’ve stuck pretty close to that,” he says, noting 2019 reached that mark, but declined to disclose figures. “This year, we’re hoping to break even, because we were closed for six weeks during the shutdown.”
Looking to 2021, Jarvis plans to expand on his clinic’s longtime home, adding a pair of exam rooms and more space for a sports vision training area. He expects to add around 1,000 square feet to the building. The timeline for when that work will be tackled next year is not determined, he says, as the local and national economic impacts of the pandemic continue.
“We’ll see what happens with the economy,” he says. “That’s what I’m kind of holding onto.”
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