As you venture into your first practice, you’ll find you can shape your practice any way you choose. There are many different aspects of forming your practice that you have to consider. For example: the location and layout of your office, equipment and tables, techniques, and employees. These questions are part of the fun of starting your own practice from scratch.
Some of you will have the opportunity to take over an existing practice and some of these questions will already be answered for you. As you learn the ropes of an established practice you can evaluate where you may be able to make some changes.
The concept you must keep in mind is that we are in business to make money. This, of course, is not our sole purpose for being a chiropractor; we want to provide excellent patient care and help our patients to the best of our abilities. Yet at the end of the day you still need to eat and pay your rent.
I am going to broach a topic that can provide you with residual income in addition to your adjustments and examinations.
When patients come into your office, they are looking to you as an authority figure. Your advice and recommendations carry a lot of influence. I can’t tell you how many times a spouse has heard what I told their partner during the report of findings and later told me, “I have been telling my husband (or wife) the same thing for months now and he (or she) just doesn’t listen.” You are an authority figure and your patients will most likely follow your advice when you explain your recommendations. It is your responsibility to provide services and products that are appropriate and helpful for your patients.
Offering different types of healthcare products to your patients can be an excellent profit center for your practice. I will give you some examples of products you can have in your office so your patients can have easy access to them.
Before you decide what you want to offer, consider these questions:
1. How much money can I have tied up in inventory?
2. What types of ancillary products do I need or want?
3. What quantity of these products do I want in stock?
4. How much space do I have to store these items?
5. What happens if I pick a product that doesn’t sell well?
Custom-made orthotics is a big one for my office since my practice is based on checking the feet and the body’s foundation as the cause of many aches and pains. I work with a company that makes custom, flexible orthotics that support the three arches of the foot and offer a one to two year money-back guarantee. They provide me, and any other doctor, with access to sample orthotics, shoes, pamphlets, posters, and product displays. My patients notice these promotional items around my office and even if I don’t mention them, patients tend to ask me about them.
To get started, take a look through any chiropractic magazine and it will give you the contact information for multiple companies. Offering orthotics is a nice way of making residual income while providing your patients with services and products that benefit them.
Pillows and beds
It is important to offer pillows in your office because most department stores do and your patients have no idea what to buy. Consequently, you need to have a way of evaluating a patient’s pillow for them. Just because a pillow claims to be a “cervical pillow” does not mean that it will work well for the patient. A patient that sleeps on their back requires different support than someone who sleeps on their side or stomach. There are tons of pillows on the market and you must pick wisely to ensure your patients have the best support to help them get a good night’s sleep. You may have to get a few for yourself and sleep on them.
Talk to doctors you meet at seminars or chiropractors who work at your school to get some advice on pillows. In my office, I carry three different brands of pillows that cover sleeping styles for all patients. In an effort to decrease pillow returns, have a sample pillow available and let patients sleep on it for a night or two. That way they can be more certain about buying it. You want to avoid letting people return pillows they have already slept on.
Don’t forget about offering beds that your patients can order through your practice. You can distribute beds for a variety of companies by having the patient order through you at cost and you can mark the bed up to retail price. This is wonderfully easy for the patients.
Support braces for the spine & extremities
A wide array of braces and supports designed for the spine and the extremities are available for you to keep on hand. In my office, I regularly carry cervical collars, lumbosacral support braces, wrist braces, tennis elbow braces, knee braces, and ankle braces. Having these supplies readily available for your patients is helpful since most of them are in pain and don’t feel like going to look for them elsewhere.
Nutritional supplements and homeopathic supplies
Nutritional companies are numerous and they will all send you information touting the effectiveness of their products. You have to do your homework here and carry only the products you believe in. You can go overboard by having tons of supplements on display shelves in your office; just make sure you have the literature to back up why you chose a specific brand or product. This will help when your patients ask about the difference between your product and a cheaper one from the store.
Home physiotherapy & exercise equipment
If you are going to give patients exercises using exercise balls, foam rollers, foot rollers, or exercise tubing, why not stock these items in your office? I display the items in my office and bring them to patients when I need to demonstrate there use. I have a wall unit that displays the different thicknesses of exercise tubing so that the patients can see their application. Patients want and need these items to help with their exercise compliance, so why should they buy them from someone else?
All of these products you can offer in your office are considered products of convenience. You have made it easy for patients by having them readily available. You have the choice to mark these products up accordingly. I cannot give you advice on setting your prices but it will likely be on an individual basis, depending on the product and the shipping charges you incur. Usually the more expensive your cost, the higher the proportion you mark the item up.