There are many approaches to launching your first practice, and what works for one chiropractor may not work for you. But these classic do’s and don’ts can help you chart a successful path.
The best place to start seeking financing is with the institution you do business with now, such as your bank or credit union. When talking with these people, dress in your best attire, and present an overall well-groomed appearance. If you are turned down by a lending institution, find out why. Then correct your mistakes and re-apply elsewhere.
Don’t give up until you are successful. You may have to submit many loan proposals before you’re approved.
There are creative ways to obtain financing. Do you have a friend or family member who can assist you in securing capital? The addition of a partner may meet your immediate needs. This is a major decision and must be carefully thought out.
Seeking government assistance may be an alternative. You can check with the Small Business Administration field office in the city in which you plan to practice.
Selecting your location
You should practice where you will enjoy living, and have the feeling that “this is the place for me.” Evaluate everything including the climate, culture, type of people, potential growth, and economic stability of the area.
Choose a location where the chiropractic laws are in tune with your thinking. Find out what you can and cannot do as far as the laws go in your chosen region. When considering your prospective location, remember that people go where other people go.
Leasing, buying, and building
Should you lease, buy, or build your practice? The advantage to leasing a practice is that there is less tie-up of capital, and you don’t end up stuck with the property if the area becomes less desirable. The disadvantages to leasing may include a high initial investment, especially if the leasehold improvements are expensive. Also, at the end of the lease period, the owner could unreasonably raise the rent, forcing you to either pay the increase or vacate the premises.
Buying or building your practice can require large amounts of capital and should be considered only by those who have large amounts of capital to invest. It is not advisable to build until your financial strength is such that doing so won’t over-extend you.
Designing your practice
Your floor plan must be efficient. The location of the receptionist’s desk should be adjacent to the reception room to allow a view of all reception room activity. The adjusting rooms should be as close together as possible, and the therapy rooms should offer easy access to patients.
Determine the amount of space and the number of chairs for the reception room based on the maximum number of patients you will see in one hour. It is always better to have more storage space than you’ll need, rather than have just enough.
The placement of your sign should blend with your practice and be in harmony with other surrounding buildings. This is your outdoor calling card. It should look professional and say nice things about you.
Check your zoning requirements before you invest in the cost of designing your sign. Make sure it is weather resistant and the letters are big enough to be read clearly by those in moving traffic. The sign should describe the who, what, and where of your business.
Good lighting is essential to a pleasant work environment. Proper lighting creates a relaxing and soothing atmosphere for both patient and staff. In rooms where patients lie on their backs, such as adjusting, therapy, and exam rooms, the lighting should be indirect and face upward, not downward.
In addition, the business office needs to be large enough for staff to conduct business without getting in each other’s way.
Decorating your practice
You definitely want to get this right the first time, so find people with the right experience to assist you. Outside the office, first impressions last. Make sure the maintenance is kept to a high level regarding painting, landscaping, and the parking lot. Signage should have high visibility and be easily seen from the street. Your name and hours should be displayed on the door.
Inside, the reception room should have enough seats so no one has to stand. Use chairs with arms and firm back support. The reception area should be clean and neat – your patients form their first impression of you while sitting in the reception room.
The consultation and report room will need to have your certificates and diplomas attractively mounted and hung where patients can see them. Keep the adjusting and therapy tables clean and operating properly, and re-upholstered them when needed.
Your charts are impressive and helpful for patient education. Keep such items as headrest paper and orthopedic supplies at close hand.
Employment agencies can help you find qualified staff. Shop around, because fees can vary depending on the agency. Make sure the agency agrees to a probation period for new employees, because you want to be certain the new hire is going to work out before you pay a fee.
Classified ads can be a good source for applicants, especially because there is no employment agency fee to pay. Ads can be placed in the paper of your choice and generally receive a discount the longer the ad runs.
Also, don’t overlook the Internet during the search for employees. Sites like Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com are two of many to consider.