Getting the best results out of an associateship requires having the right expectations regarding the relationship from the outset. If your objectives are unrealistic, you stand a good chance of being gravely disappointed. On the bright side, with the right attitude, this can be time profitably spent.
What you will learn
You’ll learn how to treat patients and how to communicate with them. You will learn how to do screenings and possibly get to practice public speaking.
You’ll also learn, one hopes, how to file insurance and how to solve insurance problems when they come up (they surely will). And, you will learn how to run an existing practice.
You’ll pick up a lot of great experience that is needed for running a practice – but no experience in starting one from scratch. This is one reason why the majority of new practices fail: because of mistakes made in starting the practice, not mistakes in running it.
What you won’t learn
It’s impossible to predict whether you won’t learn any of the following things during an associateship, but in most cases you’ll be seeing patients, not developing business plans. So, don’t expect to learn much about
- Analyzing demographics and psycho- graphics to determine an office location that will attract new patients to you. A professionally located office site will add $24,000 to $48,000 a year to your practice. A poorly located office will lose the same amount.
- How to design a patient-attracting sign. A professionally designed sign will attract four to six new patients a month. A poorly designed one won’t.
- How to design a cost-effective office floor-plan that is easy to practice in and requires fewer chiropractic assistants (CAs) to run – and therefore is more profitable than an inefficient one.
- Ways of negotiating with landlords. This is an area where you can save or lose thousands of dollars per year.
- How to negotiate with contractors. This, too, can be a big money-loser if you don’t know how to do it.
- How to borrow money from a bank. Lending institutions have become extremely conservative. Therefore, you need to develop an effective professional bank proposal and learn how to convince a lending officer to offer you financing. And, if a bank turns you down, you will need to explore alternate ways to raise money for your practice.
- Techniques for having your office professionally – and economically – decorated.
- How to develop cost-effective advertising and marketing that works for starting a new practice.
- Methods for networking with people in your community, especially when announcing the opening of your new practice. This includes learning about the organizations and people you need to meet and the civic and social clubs you should join.
- How to hire and train a great CA. A good CA can help you build your practice, and a bad CA can hurt it. This is why the average new DC usually hires three CAs in the first year of practice (because the first two don’t work out). Moreover, it can cost up to $12,000 to train a CA. This is one of the reasons new DCs tend to lose money in their first years of practice.
If you invest your time, effort, and money into being an associate and learning how to run an existing practice, be wise and learn how to start a successful new practice before launching that phase of your career.