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eBook SERIES

STARTING OUT IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Collection of blog posts and resources from PracticePulse.com to help you start your own private practice journey.


Starting out in Private Practice

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This document was produced by PracticePulse Website:

practicepulse.com


Contact:

info@practicepulse.com

Disclaimer: While the author has used best efforts in preparing this document, no representations or warranties are made regarding accuracy or completeness or fitness for particular purpose or suitability for your situation. No liability will be accepted. Due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, certain links and website information contained in this publication may have changed. Copyright: © PracticePulse. All rights reserved. You are free to share, distribute and print this document in its entirety as long as you don’t modify it in any way. Version: 1.1 (August 2017)



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Message from PracticePulse founder Congratulations for taking the leap of faith. The transition from employee to practice owner takes courage. You will surely face many challenges, but that probably excites you. As a business owner, you will need to master new skills such as administration, marketing and sales. Much of it was probably not covered back at school. However these are crucial skills for a successful practice. You’ll be flying by the seat of your pants, learning things "just in time" for most of the time. Technology to run and market your business will continually change and you will need to adapt quicker than your competition. Partnering with trustworthy suppliers will make your job easier and leave you more time to do what you love. I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you from day one. Good luck and enjoy the ride! Yalçin Yilmaz
 PracticePulse.com


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Table of Contents Introduction

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Section 1: Taking the plunge

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Is now the right time to start your private practice?

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Five major advantages in private practice

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Major components of your private practice business plan

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Do your market research for better positioning

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What is your patient profile and what services will you offer?

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How competition in your area shape your business strategy

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What will make your practice stand out from the competition?

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Private practice business premises: Working from the home office

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Private practice business premises: Mobile physiotherapy services

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Private practice business premises: Your own clinic

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Finding the right business structure for your private practice

32

Moving from employment to responsible private practitioner

34

How to ensure success during your private practice start-up phase

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Tips for buying a physiotherapy business

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Section 2: Daily operations

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Three steps to building a successful private practice

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Common income sources for physiotherapists in private practice

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Increasing your private practice income may be easier than you think

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Common expenses for physiotherapists in private practice

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Developing a winning business attitude in private practice

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Creating an appropriate pricing strategy for your physiotherapy clinic

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3 things to consider when creating a brand for your practice

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Get professional help to build your practice website – don’t pull your own teeth! 57 If you are a local business, having a mobile-friendly website is not an option

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Managing your incoming calls at your practice

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5 ways to reduce appointment no-shows and stop losing revenue

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Section 3: Growth

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Developing the physiotherapy marketing mentality

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Physiotherapy private practice websites driving business growth

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3 essential marketing tips for first year in private practice

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A simple private practice social media marketing strategy

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How a clinic website can do wonders for your private practice

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How SEO strategies make a difference for physiotherapy websites

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So you have a website. Is it really helping your private practice?

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Get your local practice SEO up and running

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Your physiotherapy website communications and subscriptions

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Growing your private practice email marketing list

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Are you running your practice or is your practice running you?

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Expanding your practice with additional staff and more clinics

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Do you need a separate website for each clinic location?

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About PracticePulse

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Introduction Thank you for downloading our ebook "Starting out in Private Practice". This ebook is a collection of related posts and articles published in our blog at practicepulse.com. This is by no means a complete resource, but we thought there would be value for new therapists starting in private practice to be able to download them in one neat package, and read whenever and wherever convenient. Please note that some of these posts date back a few years. Many things have changed since then, but the general principles and ideas are still valid when it comes to starting out in private practice.


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Not just for physiotherapists… When we started PracticePulse, our main focus was physiotherapists (physical therapists) in private practice. We have since opened our services to cover many health businesses in private practice. When you read references to “physiotherapists”, look beyond that and consider your own context. After all, the practice-building and online marketing principles are the same.


Section 1: Taking the plunge Starting your private practice is both exciting and daunting. There are many things to consider and decisions to make before you open your business. Proper planning early on will improve your chances of success. It’s not just the money; you will need many skills and resources you never knew you would. However if you’re up to the challenge, this could be the best thing you’ve done.


Goals for this section: Determine who your customers are & how to reach them. Prepare for business. Glimpse of what to expect.


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IS NOW THE RIGHT TIME TO START YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE? Link to original article Therapists have always been among the most flexible health care professionals when it comes to adapting to local, national and even global economic conditions. Now as we embark on the century’s second decade, recent trends have made private practice even more attractive for recent graduates, as well as seasoned professionals who now work in the public sector or at another private practice. Now could well be right time to start your private practice. In Australia, the billion dollar physiotherapy services “industry” experienced a 5.5% growth rate between 2005 and 2009 and is projected to exceed the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate until at least 2015. Similar projections exist for the United States, Canada and Great Britain, among other industrialised nations. Several factors make private physiotherapy a viable business, including: An ageing population. Increased incidence of chronic diseases. Better acceptance of private health insurance by citizens. Recognition of physiotherapy’s growing role within national health care systems. Before leaping into private practice, however, ask yourself the following questions: Do I have the right personality for the rigours of owning a private clinic? Can I access referral and support networks that will help me get through those crucial early years? Do I have the desire to pick up the necessary business and administrative acumen to match my physical therapy skills?


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Certainly, the commitment and motivation required to get your physiotherapy business off the ground will present many challenges in your life. It’s a given that your long hours of toil (nights, weekends, holidays, etc.) will put a strain on your family and social life. Unlike your studies at university, there is no defined path to follow and often times it will appear as though you are flying by the seat of your pants.

In the end, though, you will succeed because of your energy, passion and commitment to the health and wellness of your community.

However, to get things off the ground you must face a number of important issues:

1. Writing a business plan A business plan is a key document that will outline your goals, how you intend to run your private practice and the structural (legal), marketing and financial framework jump starting your venture. Carefully consider the audience for this document, as it will prove your seriousness to bankers, investors, suppliers, etc.

2. Deciding where you want to practice Location, location, location! It will be the most critical element in determining your private clinic’s viability. Check out the business landscape where you are now — what is the demand for physiotherapy in your immediate area? Are established competitors already in place? Remember, a concentration of existing practices in place usually indicates high demand for physiotherapists. Remote areas certainly need your services too, but you may have to consider offering mobile services to grow your practice.


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3. Initial equipment needs The tools of your trade will depend on your specialisation, your patients’ profiles and the accessibility of your care facilities.

4. Finding patients Whether you set up shop in the countryside or a busy metropolitan district, you will need a dynamic marketing strategy that targets: Hospitals, GPs, colleagues in health care. Patients who independently seek out physiotherapy. Health insurance companies. Others who can spread your name through word of mouth.

5. Your fee structure In the beginning, it will be a tight balancing act to charge patients a fair price for your services. On the one hand, you may be forced to follow a “loss leader” strategy to get people into your clinic. Yet, offering prices that are too low will jeopardise your business viability and service quality perception. As you can see, setting up a private physiotherapy practice is a real business. It requires skills that are quite unrelated to your core university studies or public sector work experience. Still, the factors and considerations discussed here should give you ample food for thought when considering health care entrepreneurship.


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FIVE MAJOR ADVANTAGES IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article Even after plunging into the world of private practice, physiotherapy clinic owners may experience “buyer’s remorse” over their decision to leave the public sector. It only takes one or two poor experiences with a banker, supplier or patient to trigger such feelings. However, if we recall the original reasons for starting a private clinic, we may find reassurance in the decision:

1. Excitement and personal challenge There is nothing like the adrenaline rush of running your own business. Your private physiotherapy clinic holds out the promise of personal fulfilment that lifelong employment in a hospital can never bring. The all important start-up period involves discovering talents and creativity you never thought possible. By writing out your business plan, renting space and equipment and executing your marketing strategy, you add a personal touch to practices made successful by entrepreneurs in other fields. Whereas other situations restrict you to a standard physiotherapy routine with patients, private practice will give you greater satisfaction as you meet different challenges and hone your business skills. As a private practice owner, boredom is unlikely, since you will be constantly juggling your physiotherapy and entrepreneurial hats.

2. Declare your independence Many private practice owners cite autonomy; i.e. “being your own boss” as the most important reason for going into business. Factors like deciding when and how to work and the freedom to choose patients are great selling points for starting a practice. Talk to physiotherapists in the public sector today and they will claim lack of workplace


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control as the most stressful aspect of their jobs. Hours, patient selection, care delivery, etc. are all determined by hospital administrators and supervisors.

3. Stronger link between efforts and rewards In the short-term, you may miss the regular paycheque and benefits offered in employ. However, these tend to plateau quickly, since your achievements are diffused throughout your workplace, amongst co-workers, administration, etc. In your private practice, you benefit directly from your efforts. Your compensation is in accordance with the time put it and results of your work. You can use down time to ramp up your marketing for future growth. The harder you work to gain additional referrals, the more income you will earn, especially if you target a high demand specialisation that other clinics and hospitals cannot or chose not to handle.

4. Flex-time work schedules Once you establish your practice, you can choose to work outside the traditional “9 to 5� world if it means better management of your work-life balance. Now, you can arrange your business hours to better suit your personal, social and family needs. You will be in better position to schedule holidays that coincide with your partner and/or friends. Also, you may opt to structure your week to accommodate your children, ageing parents or activities like volunteer work.

5. Earning what you deserve Working in private practice means deciding your fee structure and ultimately how much you get paid. You set your rate and hours. In addition, you have the authority to budget any improvements to your clinic’s operation, in terms of marketing, equipment purchases, new hires, etc. If you can survive your growing pains, your earning potential exceeds that of employed physiotherapists. As the owner of a thriving private practice, you are not at the mercy of workplace politics or the hospital hierarchy.


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MAJOR COMPONENTS OF YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE BUSINESS PLAN Link to original article Getting serious about private practice necessarily involves producing a business plan that meets the demands of lenders, investors and most importantly, yourself. This document is a roadmap of your entrepreneurial future, thus it is necessary to thoroughly research your new venture before making the commitment.

What is the purpose of your business plan? Clinic owners need to address proper business concerns like any other person or group entering private practice. If you need outside sources of funding, be prepared to offer detailed information to prospects about: Normal business operations. Why you think that your private practice will succeed in the long-term. Realistic financial projections based on your market research. The business plan also serves as your main accountability document, especially in the crucial start-up phase of your practice. It allows you to evaluate performance against measurable short-term goals, so that you can make adjustments before things get out of control.

What to include in your business plan 1. Your vision of the private practice What part of physiotherapy will you specialise in? What will make your clinic unique / stand out over competitors?


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Why should patients choose your services and/or products?

2. Business management considerations Will you manage the practice on your own or will you seek professional help right from the start? Do you have management experience to draw from and can you reassure yourself, investors or lenders that you can grow the business?

3. Your primary market Further to your vision statement, identify your specialisation and determine if there is growing demand for what you will offer. Build a marketing strategy to gain market share and give patients a reason to call you in the future. This must include brand positioning, pricing, advertising and selling tactics suitable for physiotherapy clinics.

4. Cash flow projections A. Income considerations Main income (e.g. cash sales, sales on credit) Tax refunds. Loans and grants. Capital investments Other sources of income.

B. Expenses Cash purchases Payments via credit Employee wages, if any


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Tax considerations Equipment Rent, utilities Travel costs, especially for mobile services Insurance Financing and leasing charges

5. Long-term goals Your first business plan should exude the enthusiasm you must have as you contemplate such a monumental move. However, it should also provide a solid, market-based rationale for turning the plan into reality.


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DO YOUR MARKET RESEARCH FOR BETTER POSITIONING Link to original article Though related to marketing, proper market research is quite distinct, yet essential for physiotherapists aspiring to private practice. It should be conducted prior to implementing the nuts and bolts of a marketing plan, often in conjunction with your business plan. What are the core elements to investigate as part of market research? As a physiotherapist, it comes down to:

1. Estimating demand for your services National trends worldwide may point to increased demand for physiotherapy, but your business will be distinctly local in nature. Whether you want to operate in a bustling metropolis or in the countryside, an understanding of local trends is necessary before contemplating more intense research. Use all the resources at your disposal, especially general practitioners who are often the largest source of patient referrals for start-up clinics. Speaking to them will enable you to gauge the percentage of people they direct to private practices, in addition to keeping your name front and centre in their minds. While conducting research, you should also network and foster relations with: Local public and private hospitals Nursing and retirement homes Various sports clubs (e.g. football, tennis) Gyms and recreational centres


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Your specialisation will dictate the demand for your services. In a more general area like sports therapy, there may be huge demand accompanied by a tremendous amount of competition. Other areas like neurological therapy may have a smaller patient base, but allow billing at higher rates.

2. Evaluating the competition in your immediate surroundings Competition amongst private practices can be both fierce and deceptive at the same time, because it is not limited to physiotherapists. Other specialists have overlapping professional expertise; for example chiropractors, osteopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. Also, there are private hospitals, as well as GPs who work mostly with public hospital (in-house) physiotherapists. Don’t forget that public perception about physiotherapy itself may be “competition” — you may need to educate the public as to the benefits and contributions you can offer them in their pursuit of wellbeing. A well-prepared website can do a great job of this.

3. Identifying patient “types” and choosing the right ones to target for your business Going after the right patients requires accurate identification of their outstanding characteristics. Fortunately, they can be grouped into a few clear categories: Patients covered by health insurance companies, most of who will be referred to you by GPs. Patients referred by GPs after they have specifically requested private physiotherapy. Patients referred by a GP but whose services are covered by public health insurance schemes, where they exist. Self-referral patients, i.e., those who come to you via personal research, your


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marketing efforts, etc. without GP intervention. They may pay out of their own pockets or be covered by private insurance. As you can see, market research can be quite involved for physiotherapists in private practice. Take the time to understand what is at play for your future clinic by tapping into the advice of important players and thinking outside the box with your entrepreneur hat on.


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WHAT IS YOUR PATIENT PROFILE AND WHAT SERVICES WILL YOU OFFER? Link to original article No business can be all things to all people. Such is the case with physiotherapy clinics and the wide variety of specialties within it. Yet, even the largest and best funded hospitals — public and private — must often seek professionals from outside their walls. This is where your private practice can serve a vital and unique purpose and in turn lay the groundwork for a stable, profitable business. However, before reaching for the stars with your clinic, owner-operators must come to grips with the type of patients they want to attract and cater to. Evidently, your university studies and experience in the field to date will influence what you want to offer. Yet, some basic market research should offer insights into your “ideal” patient. Are you planning to keep your specialisation or perhaps enter into a partnership to extend your potential market? General physiotherapy and rehabilitation is an option, especially at start-up but demand, profitability and competition in the area may dictate a move towards a more specific area, such as: Cardiopulmonary Geriatrics Neurological Orthopaedic Paediatric Integumentary Sports medicine You may also choose to invest in equipment (e.g. muscle stimulators, hydro pools) for


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your clinic to better impress GPs and sell physiotherapy products at retail.

Teaming up with complementary private practices or those that offer alternative therapies may also prove beneficial from a both a professional and business standpoint.

For better or worse, patients may also be categorised by the type of health insurance they have or whether a GP referred them. As a private practice owner, you will need to negotiate a myriad of relationships within the private and public health care sectors to ensure steady work and cash flow. The sooner you define your ideal patient profile and the range of services to offer, the easier it will be to complete your market research and business plan.


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HOW COMPETITION IN YOUR AREA SHAPE YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY Link to original article It’s truly fantastic that you’ve decided to go into private practice, but have you thought about your competition? Granted, you know the physiotherapy clinic just down the road and feel that you can offer much better service, but that’s only scratching the surface. To truly understand what your private practice is up against, consider the multitude of institutions and professionals whose health expertise and business know-how rival your own: Hospitals, both public and private Other private practitioners Sports therapists Osteopaths Alternative therapy practitioners (e.g. aromatherapy, naturopathy, etc.) Occupational therapists and others.

It’s a crowded marketplace today, where exemplary professional credentials and solid marketing strategies may not be enough to guarantee patients coming through your doors.

Therefore, to gain insights into your local area, consult general directories (such as


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Yellow Pages, Google Local Search) and industry-specific directories to see what is already available. Tap into new and existing relationships with GPs to learn about wellserved and less well-served markets. Perhaps there is an untapped demand for the services you currently possess or plan to add soon.

Asking the right questions will help you assess and evaluate the competition as part of your research.

Here are some questions to ponder: What kind of facilities and equipment do other private practitioners possess? Are the more successful practices in my area general or highly specialised? Is there a demand for mobile physiotherapy services and is it being currently met by private practitioners? What is the typical fee structure for the “average” patient? Is my pricing above, below or equal to my direct competitors? What is the ratio of GP-referred to self-referred patients at local physiotherapy clinics? Strategic decision-making for private practices is dependent on your knowledge about the competition. Billing practices, treatments and other services, staffing requirements and your choice of business address must take the presence of other physiotherapy businesses into account. Established private clinics must also stay vigilant, seeking out growth opportunities while winding down services that are out of favour. Competition is not a bad thing. In fact, a concentration of private practices usually indicates strong demand for at least certain types of physiotherapy services. It may even offer you — as a new practitioner — several networking and complementary business opportunities. Keep your eyes open and your entrepreneur hat on.


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WHAT WILL MAKE YOUR PRACTICE STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION? Link to original article The excitement of opening up your own private practice is justified if and only if you translate that initial enthusiasm into a viable, profitable business. However, not every physiotherapist appears well-equipped to handle the rigours of running a clinic, even though they may have earned top honours at university and acquired tremendous practical experience upon graduation. So what are some of the keys for surviving the cutthroat world of private physiotherapy? Below, we discuss four important aspects for any practice that will determine if you can beat the competition in the long-term:

An accessible location with clean premises Every heard the expression, “Location, location, location”? It applies to your private practice location, regardless of whether you work from home, offer mobile services or rent commercial space. If your clientele is less affluent or you are located in the city centre, then easy access to public transit is a must. Make sure your treatment and reception areas are bright and spotless.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Superior patient service and follow-up Once you get patients to visit you for the first time, it’s time to demonstrate that you are worthy of their trust, time and business. Granted, the core of your efforts lie in your


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professional training and expertise, but it is the value-added care that will make you stand out. Are there things that you couldn’t do in the public sector that can make patients feel more special? Great, implement those practices now! Use ‘thank you’ cards, e-mail follow up and reminder calls to demonstrate your interest in your clients.

Marketing know-how It goes without saying that marketing strategy will determine your private practice success. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help physiotherapists make a smooth transition to the business world. While Internet marketing techniques and social networking (Facebook, Twitter) are all the rage, don’t ignore traditional networking with GPs, former colleagues and health professionals in other fields. Discover what works best for you and stick to it.

Community involvement Successful private practices do not exist in isolation. They integrate themselves in the community via volunteer work with children and seniors, press releases and openness to media exposure and other outreach opportunities. With the demand for physiotherapy services likely to increase in the future, motivated private practices are well-positioned to lead fulfilling business and professional lives. Competition should spur managers to embrace new technologies and implement enough discipline to thrive and prosper. Just a note regarding marketing: please beware of any rules and regulations imposed by governing bodies and or associations about various marketing practices that are relevant to you.


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PRIVATE PRACTICE BUSINESS PREMISES: WORKING FROM THE HOME OFFICE Link to original article For most physiotherapists contemplating private practice, commercial space seems to be the most logical work space choice. However, there are other options to consider that offer significant advantages for physiotherapists, especially for new business owners. Working from home is a popular choice for many physiotherapists, because it offers them a comfort level not immediately available with a separate premise. It allows you to start operating your business efficiently without significant start-up costs, especially if you are working alone and one treatment area is sufficient for the short-term . Consider some of the advantages of a home-based private practice: Preferential tax treatment and benefits (e.g. ability to deduct mortgage, rent and utilities based on percentage of space being used for business purposes). No transportation overhead (i.e. no commuting time or transportation costs; no commuter stress) Easier to maintain work-life balance, family interaction. Good location may prove convenient for majority of clientele. Better scheduling flexibility in the event of last-minute appointments, cancellations, use of evenings and weekends, etc. On the other hand, home practices may bring up other issues, such as: Perceived lack of professionalism by patients and fellow practitioners. Inability to separate work from your personal life (family, friends). More difficult to avoid overworking; longer hours.


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Lack of contact and interaction with colleagues in the profession. Lack of privacy. Although working from home offers considerable advantages, it may not be a viable option if your premises are not zoned for commercial use or if in-person visits are not allowed. Home owners may be able to get around such restrictions, but if you rent your property, beware of fine print in your lease that limits use for business purposes.

Check with your municipality’s bylaws before embarking on any home-based private practice venture.

Setting up a home-based physiotherapy practice can be a positive experience for you and your patients, provided you take the necessary steps to make it work. Ideally, the home office will be isolated from your normal living quarters and be properly secured. Consider having a clean, well-lit welcoming area, dedicated business telephone and appropriate furniture to creative a positive impression and a professional practice website to help you get started.


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PRIVATE PRACTICE BUSINESS PREMISES: MOBILE PHYSIOTHERAPY SERVICES Link to original article Mobile physiotherapy may not be what you have in mind for a triumphant move into private practice. However, with the unpredictability of commercial real estate and the negatives associated with working from home, going mobile may be a viable option for you. Is this the right way to break into physiotherapy services? A mobile service allows you to avoid operating a “bricks and mortar� clinic and taking on its related costs. There are other notable advantages: Set up costs are relatively minor and depending on your specialty may not require significant new equipment purchases. Patients often prefer to be treated at home instead of at a clinic or hospital. Convenience and comfort may speed up progress; people have a better attitude and more motivation to recover . As a mobile physiotherapist, you will be able to charge a premium to cover travel expenses, along with your regular session fees. So it seems that if you can handle regular travel, mobile physiotherapy might be a great way to get your business off the ground. Rural practitioners may not have much choice, but being able to visit clients at their premises can also work in bustling urban centres. Employees, contractors, commissioned salespeople etc. are all pressed for time, so if you can meet their needs, they are likely to stick with you.

Excessive time on the road can be stressful and fatigue can affect your professional performance.


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Of course, mobile physiotherapy services aren’t always perfect. Excessive time on the road can be stressful and fatigue can affect your professional performance. Your chosen niche may be more appropriate to a regular clinic setting and adjusting to different setups all the time can be downright infuriating. Still, for physiotherapists who lack the capital or connections to open a dedicated clinic, mobile services can give you great hands-on experience that can serve you well later on. Chances are your cash flow will stabilise sooner, thus giving you a chance to expand services or save for a permanent location sooner. Mobile physiotherapy requires compassion, flexibility and a high level of professionalism. Physiotherapists who are up to the challenge may be able to reap both financial and emotional benefits.


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PRIVATE PRACTICE BUSINESS PREMISES: YOUR OWN CLINIC Link to original article Physiotherapists often enter private practice by working from a home office, offering mobile services or renting a room in a health centre, gym or generic office building. However, within two or three years the dream of operating a self-sustaining physiotherapy clinic often takes hold. Owing your physiotherapy clinic premises allows you to completely dedicate yourself to the profession and the business. You have the freedom to implement your vision of the practice: the unique selling points of your clinic, positioning your services against the competition and properly delegating day-to-day management and administrative affairs.

Owing your physiotherapy clinic premises allows you to completely dedicate yourself to the profession and the business.

A major advantage of owning your own clinic is the ability to use location to anchor your branding and overall marketing efforts. Apart from you and your dedicated staff, no decision is more critical to your success than where you choose to operate. Home-based owners can never completely detach themselves from their private surroundings and renters cannot have complete control over important business decisions. Let’s face it, no matter how good your services are, not everyone will want to visit the back of a gym or a remodelled garage to receive treatment. Having a bright, welcoming clinic creates a positive ambiance and professional first impression for patients. Depending on your location, future expansion may involve expansion of your current


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clinic or opening up a second place to better serve a growing clientele. Of course, operating costs will have to be kept in check as you establish cash flow and nurture a new customer base. Your business plan should provide a solid blueprint in this regard, not to mention mentors and colleagues who have followed the path you are currently embarking on. Contrary to popular belief, being located in a bustling neighbourhood surrounded by other health professionals — including other physiotherapy clinic owners — is a good thing. Take advantage of the competition’s presence to learn more about the business and fine tune your own offering. Apart from direct competitors in your specialty, you may also be able to leverage your central location to gain extra clients and build a solid peer network. A far cry from the isolation of home offices or the frantic pace of mobile physiotherapy.


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FINDING THE RIGHT BUSINESS STRUCTURE FOR YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article One of the first things physiotherapists entering private practice must consider is the choice of business structure. While it should be obvious, this one decision has tremendous income, management control and taxation implications for you now and down the road. Three common business structures for clinic owners to consider include:

1. Sole proprietorship, sole trader This is a set-up where your private practice is not separated from yourself as a business owner. You can choose to use a distinct business name or your own name, but you are responsible for all your business’ liabilities. This business structure is the most popular choice for start-ups, e.g. part-timers who continue working at a hospital, individuals with a limited client base and income and home-based physiotherapists. Remember however, that this structure offers little protection for yourself.

2. Partnerships If you want to start and operate a clinic with one or more colleagues, a formal partnership arrangement is required. In this scenario, all the enlisted partners must legally share all the profits, risks and losses according to the partnership contract, which is established at the start of the practice’s operation. Dispute resolution is key when in business with others, so discuss your needs with experienced professionals before


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committing to a legally binding contract.

3. Limited liability corporation (LLC), company (Pty Ltd) This structure is the most common amongst small businesses. Unlike partnerships and the self-employed, it is a legal entity separate from the owner and is required to fulfil specific regulatory requirements. Other business structures exist and your situation may require a change as your private practice grows. Consult with a qualified tax accountant, lawyer or your government’s business registry for more details. They can help you meet basic regulatory requirements like: Company registration. Registering a business name. Acquiring a business number and/or tax file number. Registering for permission to withhold employee payroll taxes. Of course, when it comes time to build a website for your new clinic, chat with us.


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MOVING FROM EMPLOYMENT TO RESPONSIBLE PRIVATE PRACTITIONER Link to original article Whether contemplating a move from public to private practice or simply from employee to business owner, physiotherapists must re-evaluate both their mental approach to the profession and the actual tasks they must perform. As a public health worker, schedules and patient load are largely set for you by hospital administrators and your immediate supervisor. Your hours and duties are almost exclusively centred on patients, including the administrative tasks. In return for your services, you receive a regular salary and defined benefits. Private practitioners, on the other hand are completely responsible for their clinics, which includes patient care, office administration and business management. Once you have fully committed to private practice, there is no hiding from any aspect of entrepreneurship.

To survive as an owner/practitioner, you must consider the massive changes that will occur in your life and plan accordingly.

While business plans, cashflow analysis and breakeven strategies can be worked out with the help of others, only you can determine the pace of your practice’s growth. Some experienced physiotherapists — and even a few raw graduates — readily take the business plunge by starting a private practice from scratch or in some cases purchasing an existing practice with a healthy patient base.


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Many others, however, are less reluctant to let go of a regular paycheque and benefits and choose a more gradual path. These physiotherapists start private practice while remaining fully employed, enduring longer hours to build up their client base. As private income increases, they are in a better position to leave other employ outright. The sales and marketing aspects of private practice are what distinguish the winners from the rest. While the medical and patient care skills of private physiotherapists may not vary greatly from public sector colleagues, the ability to sell oneself and systematically gain referrals differentiates your business. Breaking through to an often sceptical and cynical general public requires all the tools at your disposal. Maintaining good relations with hospitals, general practitioners and others is critical for gaining referrals to sustain and grow your practice. Word of mouth tactics are best, as are personal testimonials. With the emergence of Internet technology and social networking, it’s increasingly important to position your business “brand” on the Web.

So, are you ready to attack the marketplace with both your professional and business abilities?

A responsible private practitioner must strike the right balance between patient needs and his clinic’s viability and will reap the rewards of successfully doing so.


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HOW TO ENSURE SUCCESS DURING YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE START-UP PHASE Link to original article The start-up phase of your physiotherapy practice, as with all start-ups, is fraught with uncertainty and excitement. While we shouldn’t deny ourselves some excitement, there are a number of issues where clarity is essential for future success. Here are five key issues for upcoming business owners to settle before taking the entrepreneurial plunge:

Personality profile for running a business Everything stops dead in its tracks if you are not cut out for physiotherapy clinic ownership. Personality tests are one tool you can use to evaluate your business strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, but knowing who you are can make all the difference. For example, are you a motivational leader or do you lead by example? Are you very analytical or more of a “big picture” person? Your profile can also influence your decision to seek suitable business partners who best complement your skill set.

Time commitment Are you ready to work long hours six or seven days a week to get your private practice off the ground? Smart, hard work has its rewards but the price to be paid necessarily involves sacrifices in your current routine (social and family life). Starting your practice from scratch or purchasing an existing clinic means go-go-go right from the start.

Location Chances are that you will live and work in an urban setting, so check out the business


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landscape of your area. Are there many established clinics in your prospective location and if so, do they specialise in the same areas as you? Contrary to conventional wisdom, a high concentration of private practices may be a good sign, since it could indicate high demand for your services.

Appropriate business structure Sometimes considered as an afterthought, new business owners should recognise the basics of business structures. Three of the most popular structures for private practice owners are: 1.

Sole proprietorship / sole trader

2.

Partnership

3.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or Company (Pty Ltd)

Other business structures exist and it is possible that you may need to move from one entity to another as your private practice grows. Check with a qualified accountant or lawyer for more details.

Financing Your successful private practice start-up hinges on solid financing, i.e. accurate cash flow analysis and a reasonably accurate account of start-up expenses. Once you know what your capital requirements are, you can seek out both internal (i.e. family, friends, personal savings, selling assets) and external (e.g. banks, other lending institutions) sources of funding. When applying for outside sources of financing, your business summary and plan will prove invaluable. Together with your cash flow, expenses and break-even analysis, they will allow your lender make an offer that suits your budget.


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TIPS FOR BUYING A PHYSIOTHERAPY BUSINESS Link to original article While it isn’t the most common way to enter private practice, some physiotherapists choose to buy existing clinics to avoid the hassles associated with most start-ups and home-based alternatives. Perhaps you’ve saved and invested wisely over the years or have pooled enough capital with colleagues to make a down payment for your dream partnership. Together with some “love” money, i.e. contributions from family, friends, etc. you are well on your way to a profitable and fulfilling business life, right? On the surface, this looks like a winning option with a lengthy upside, e.g.: The actual location of the clinic, equipment and fixtures already exist. You have a ready-made patient list, meaning that the practice is able to earn income immediately for you. As a new owner, you can draw on long-established relationships with hospitals, general practitioners, sports facilities, etc. to continue gaining return visits and patient referrals. Established clinics ideally have a good track record, which will help you finance improvements and future growth. Key physiotherapists and support staff are in place to ensure business and professional continuity However, it’s always buyer beware with such a major purchase, so enlist the advice of a trusted accountant, surveyor, evaluator and lawyer to help negotiate a fair price. Certainly, the cost of a preliminary investigation may seem prohibitive but it will be well worth it, regardless of your final decision. For example, maybe your research uncovers doubts about the practice’s long-term viability. Maybe demographic changes in the neighbourhood do not favour your


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specialisation or you find that most of the current staff is nearing retirement and are not willing to stay on long enough to make sure a smooth transition from the previous owner. On the other hand, perhaps you have found a “gold mine” with all the right conditions in place. In this case, the seller may demand a deserved premium and it will depend on your negotiating skills to hammer out a fair price. The same is true for a faltering clinic that you believe could be turned around. Having the necessary skills and confidence to make it work does not mean buying at any price. The period immediately after confirming intent to purchase is fraught with delicate issues: How much to invest on equipment, furniture, etc. in the beginning. Respecting the contracts/agreements of existing staffers and getting them onside. Retaining key staff — the departing owner, perhaps? — once you take command. Responsibility for outstanding private practice debts at the time of takeover. Form an advisory team to help you navigate these and other items that are surely to dominate the early part of your clinic ownership.



Section 2: Daily operations Running a business is no small feat. There are many day-to-day things to manage such as staffing. Then there are longer-term tasks such as marketing and managing cashflow. 

Goals for this section: Understand that you probably weren’t trained for this. Know what you will need to learn and be prepared for surprises. Get a feel for the several hats you will wear.


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THREE STEPS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article Thousands of physiotherapists worldwide have successfully entered private practice over the years, many without significant business experience. Did some people just get lucky and fall into the right set of circumstances or are there some strategies and tactics that can help physiotherapy clinic owners rise above the fray? Here, we propose some “big picture� suggestions that newcomers should keep in mind as they embark on their practices:

1. Develop a business mentality Write a business summary and eventually a detailed business plan that guides you through the turbulent early years of your practice. While many physiotherapists may share a similar professional skill set to your own, it is your business acumen that will set you apart. You must have a vision for what you want to accomplish, apply a disciplined sales approach to your daily activities (patients, staff, colleagues, etc.) and continuously market your brand for the entire world to see .

2. Select a profitable target market and satisfy their needs As part of your business plan, you must identify your specialisation and determine if there is demand for what you plan to offer patients. Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes brand positioning, pricing, advertising and selling tactics suitable for your type of clinic.


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3. Learn how to gain referrals and retain patients Working hard is great, but working smart is even better, especially as it relates to patient retention. Like all businesses, client retention and referrals are the lifeblood for a physiotherapy clinic. Networking online and keeping contact with general practitioners, hospital staffers and other specialists to stay on top of emerging trends and tendencies with people seeking treatment.

Having a good, interactive practice website will help you gain credibility and help encourage more patients through your door.

Building a successful physiotherapy private practice may take months if not years of disciplined business building. Transitioning away from the public sector (or employed) mentality of “service only� may be difficult in the beginning. However, the sooner you establish your business credentials, the easier it will be to welcome clients and regularise your cash flow.


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COMMON INCOME SOURCES FOR PHYSIOTHERAPISTS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article By deciding to enter into private practice, you have already demonstrated a level of entrepreneurship that goes beyond most physiotherapists today. However, good intentions alone won’t pay the bills and set you on the road to financial freedom. It is more than critical for you to determine how you will earn, collect and sustain business income through your clinic, mobile service or home-based practice. Turning your hard-earned education and public sector experience into consistent cash flow requires a thorough understanding of market demand, a firm grasp of your chosen specialisation (unless you choose to be a generalist) and consistent referral-based networking among peers, mentors and patients. So, what are some options? Consider the following:

1. Sales at source This is likely going to be your primary source of income, where patients pay you immediately after treatment, whether it is a single appointment or a series of visits. Some patients will pay ‘out of pocket’, while others are covered by a health insurance plan.

2. Accounts receivable When you invoice insurance companies to collect payment from patients, this is delayed cash flow where payment terms are normally set at thirty days or more. You may also have to deal with your public health insurance board to be compensated for GPreferred patients. Many physiotherapists also offer flexible payment terms to clients like rehabilitation centres, gyms and seniors’ residences.


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In the case of overdue payments, consider whether you will offer grace periods or charge a fixed interest rate.

3. Other income sources Apart from the main physiotherapy services you offer, there are many other options that can contribute to your regular income stream: Rental income from unused space on your premises. Small-scale equipment and product sales to the public (e.g. exercise equipment, back supports, pneumatic boots, etc.). Expert articles for professional/academic journals or the mainstream media. In the beginning, you may have to rely on loans, grants and your own investment capital to cover expenses. Eventually, as your practice becomes better known and able to attract more patients, your ability to pay the bills and eliminate debt with current income will improve.


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INCREASING YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE INCOME MAY BE EASIER THAN YOU THINK Link to original article There are always opportunities for increasing private practice income through expanded range of services. Are you missing out on opportunities to cross-sell? Whilst most businesses centre on a core offering, successful enterprises will see that as a basis from which to expand into other areas. The automotive industry, such as profits from providing accessories, financing, insurance and spare parts. What else can you do or offer to increase your practice income?

You’ve already done the hard work If your private practice has already built up a brand and a strong client base, you have already done the hard work. Once customers are engaged with your business and trust the brand and its services, they will be receptive to being offered more. Having an existing and loyal clientele provides a great opportunity to cross-sell other services, products or solutions.

What else do your clients need? It is important to plan carefully what extras to offer your customers. Be wary of offering services that stray too far from your core offering and that are unrelated to the brand. Identify what the core service of your practice is and think of similar services to supplement it. If you run a yoga studio, think about incorporating different styles or different classes like Pilates or mindfulness. This would be a natural progression in keeping with your clients’ interests. If you run a massage clinic with therapeutic massage as your core service, consider offering shiatsu or reflexology. Talk to your clients


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regularly and find out what they want and need. If you know there is demand for something, you can invest in a new service knowing that it could increase your private practice income right off the bat.

Product sales Sales of relevant products is a great way to add extra income. You’ve just treated a patient and they are happy. What can she use at home or at work to keep up her wellbeing? Chances are they will buy these products elsewhere anyway – so why not offer it to them? Just remember: you want to prolong their wellbeing and make them happy. If you are selling ineffective products just for the extra cash, you may end up losing their custom.

Vary your current services If you are a personal trainer, there might be profit potential in offering classes in pairs or groups instead of just one on one. If you’re a psychologist, consider offering couples sessions or marriage counselling. A physiotherapist can offer massage services at his clinic. Just have a think and see what else your existing clients may want or need. Remember, you don’t personally have to offer these services – you can hire someone for it.

Are you missing out on certain demographics? Perhaps you are a chiropractor or dentist and you notice that the majority of your clients are within a certain age range, or you attract more women than men. Consider what might be causing this and whether you could offer anything else to broaden your appeal. If young people cannot afford your services it may be a good idea to offer a targeted solution at reduced rates. If older people are not turning up to certain classes, could you create a program around them and their different needs? The important thing is to experiment and try new things when putting together a plan


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for increasing private practice income . It is possible to explore new opportunities with limited expenditure, allowing your practice to test the market. Be ready to try something new and if it doesn’t work, move on to something else. Crucially, make sure your clinic offers services that add to the brand and the core offering instead of detracting from them.


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COMMON EXPENSES FOR PHYSIOTHERAPISTS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article Expenses are a fact of business life, private physiotherapy clinics being no exception. Regardless of how well you market your business and attract patients through your doors, owners will never get ahead without controlling important expenses. Here are some of the more common expenses that private practices must deal with on an ongoing basis:

1. Creditor payments Buying supplies on account instead of paying cash is a fact of business life. Important suppliers are your creditors until you pay them, so make appropriate book entries in the months when your purchases are paid. Set up accounts with clear payment terms and negotiate early settlement, volume and “just in time� discounts to better serve your patients.

2. Cash payments Unlike creditor accounts, you will have to make cash payments for certain goods that you use on a daily basis to treat patients. Infrequent purchases from suppliers who insist on cash are common, so keep 2-3 days of expenses on hand.

3. Insurance Physiotherapists in private practice need at least a few of the following insurance products: Professional liability


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Risk insurance for equipment Public liability insurance Employer’s liability insurance Loss of earnings (e.g. due to injury) Insurance for your practice’s location Car insurance (for mobile physiotherapy)

4. Capital expenditures The excitement of opening a private practice may lead you to overspend. Carefully consider what you need to get started and then budget accordingly. Among the most important items to consider are: Work-related apparatus like ultrasound machines Office furniture Staff uniforms Security systems Computer equipment

5. Other expenses Every year, there are a series of regular expenses that are important for the proper administration of your clinic: Academic and professional trade journals . Annual fees to your professional agencies, boards or organisations. Computer supplies and support Items to improve the waiting room ambiance (e.g. flowers, magazines, special lighting, etc.)


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Repair and maintenance contracts Also remember that like all businesses, you will need to budget for some marketing fees. Speak with us about getting an interactive website to market your clinic — we can help you out by cutting your costs, freeing up your time and reducing your risks.


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DEVELOPING A WINNING BUSINESS ATTITUDE IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article Physiotherapists in both the private and public sectors are highly trained professionals with a passion for delivering first class health services to their patients. Having satisfied the required education, training and accreditation, people in need of specialised care should be encouraged to consult them. However, what differentiates physiotherapists who are private practice owners from their colleagues is the survival instinct, A.K.A. a winning, market-oriented business attitude. Without it, private practice owners would be awash in red ink, lacking patients and eventually out of business, headed back to being employed elsewhere. So, do you break free from the security and comfort of employment? Almost from the moment you take the plunge into entrepreneurship, you must ween yourselves off the “9 to 5� mentality. Satisfying current patient requirements is no longer enough; you must demonstrate your interest in maintaining a relationship beyond initial diagnosis and treatment. Maintain contact through personalised follow-up campaigns, perhaps with the help of an e-mail newsletter or content-rich website.

What differentiates physiotherapists who are private practice owners from their colleagues is the survival instinct.

Never fail to seize networking opportunities that present themselves or neglect the advice of and relationships with mentors and colleagues who can refer patients your way. Unlike other physiotherapists who are not responsible for finding clients, you will have to hustle and demonstrate why a patient should choose you over the clinic down the road or the nearby hospital.


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The most successful private practitioners never compromise the quality of their care. In fact, their clinics must be state of the art with the best physiotherapy equipment (e.g. hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, specific exercise equipment, etc,) to compete. Well-lit, spacious surroundings are expected by patients as well as a welcoming smile by all staff members they meet. You can’t overestimate the importance and attitudes of your reception person. These are important steps in patient retention and earning valuable testimonials in the future. Private clinic owners never take patients for granted. That’s why they keep a sales and marketing edge about them at all times. Keep a visible presence in the community and use local (and social) media to your advantage with health tips, strategic advertising, community work and press releases. Even if someone does not require your services now, your personal branding efforts will pay off later through recognition as a market leader.


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CREATING AN APPROPRIATE PRICING STRATEGY FOR YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPY CLINIC Link to original article Physiotherapy is an honourable profession with many social and intangible benefits attached. However, in addition to performing a vital service for people, your private practice must earn a profit to justify its existence. Therefore, regardless of your specialisation, business structure and location, you need to establish a strong price structure that meets your income goals . You may already have an idea about pricing from part-time private sessions while employed previously. Regardless, it is likely that you will have to charge a greater amount now. For example, if you are opening new premises, overhead like rent, utilities and new furniture and equipment must be covered. For business owners offering mobile services, they need to factor in transportation costs (e.g. vehicle depreciation, fuel, insurance, etc.) over and above the actual service rendered. You can locate private practices in your general area and telephone them to anonymously inquire about rates. You may also have colleagues who are willing to divulge what they charge for certain services. As a start-up, you may feel obliged to charge a lower price to attract patients. On the other hand, if you have many years of experience in a specialty like geriatrics, you may opt to charge a premium right away. Geography (rural versus metropolitan setting) may also influence your pricing plan. To improve cash flow, you should encourage immediate payment after single sessions. Undoubtedly, some patients will immediately pay out of pocket. However, others covered by private health insurance or government plans will likely present you with forms to allow you claim your fees. Beware of “red tape�, especially when dealing with long-term patients deemed expensive by insurance companies.


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A clear payment policy up front will help you maintain consistent cash flow and ideally avoid problems in collecting future payments.

As an early concession to patients, health insurers and GPs in your business, you may wish to consider discounts, especially if it means securing long-term work. Pricing strategy is part marketing, part art and a little bit of arithmetic. Strike the right balance between profitability and volume to better establish a reputation based on your abilities — not your concessions.


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3 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CREATING A BRAND FOR YOUR PRACTICE Link to original article In the past, business branding was the exclusive domain of large multinational corporations. Global companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Facebook have become iconic due in large part to the way they have cultivated their brand image. Today however, even small local businesses — physiotherapy practices included — must tap into the power of personal brand recognition to differentiate themselves from the competition and encourage long-term patient loyalty. What does it take for a physiotherapy practice to build a winning brand?

1. Define your core values as a physiotherapist and entrepreneur Reinforce personal values and solid business principles as stated in your original business plan. During the early stages of your private practice business, stick to what made you successful as an employed physiotherapist. Then add to your branding by incorporating your beliefs about ethical business practices, i.e.: Special skills like treatment of sports injuries or physiotherapy for seniors. Premium emphasis on customer service. Respecting your patients’ budget without compromising your fee structure. These branding values will serve as your clinic’s anchor moving forward.

2. Align your values with patients’ essential needs Answer the questions:


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1.

What do your patients want?

2.

How will your services and skill set can meet these requirements?

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Ideally, all your core values will match up perfectly with a healthy list of patients. However, after a few months or years, you may need to make adjustments. It’s all about meeting your patients’ goals and proving to them that you have indeed met these goals.

3. Reinforce your branding in all internal and external actions Consistently communicate your brand values to both patients and staff alike. Performance and price alone will not guarantee repeat business; positively positioning your practice as a reliable health centre can make a difference. Consider these elements of your physiotherapy toolkit: Your physiotherapy clinic’s name. Website presence. Your clinic layout. Employee dress code, professional conduct. Point of contact consistency (i.e. phone calls, letters, stationary, emails, faxes). Logo design. Advertising messages. Never forget that the branding concept keeps your business on people’s minds continually. Building and maintaining a private practice brand should be a lifelong passion and commitment for you. Not only will patients thank you for helping them recover from physical injury on site, but they will retain a positive image of the overall experience.


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GET PROFESSIONAL HELP TO BUILD YOUR PRACTICE WEBSITE – DON’T PULL YOUR OWN TEETH! Link to original article Why would you go to a dentist? Because of her ability, knowledge, skills, advice and ability to take away your pain. Would you pull your own teeth? So why would you build your own website? With so many tools and Do-It-Yourself options, one might think that creating a website and marketing it would be cheap and simple. Everything you need to know can be found on the web: just Google it. This is true if you just want a website. However, if you want a website that works and gets you more business, it’s far more complicated. If everything was that simple, why would there be any professionals at all? Just Google therapeutic massage methods and do them at home or watch a video on tooth extraction and just pull it out yourself! However, marketing doesn’t work like that, just like any other profession.

What you need to consider There are a ton of things you need to take into account when building and maintaining a website for your private practice. Here is a short list of problems that come forward when you try to do this on your own: No clear strategy – Creating a website without a defined strategy is like fishing without a lure. You just sit there waiting for visitors to come. No Proven Framework – You need to have a solid, proven framework for your marketing activities. You can’t just create everything based on intuition or perception: it will be mostly useless that way.


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You don’t have the right tools — Even with all the free tools available, you still get very few decent features and flexibility. You won’t be able to make something outstanding with those. There is no one to guide you  — You will be on your own and have a ton of questions. Without someone to show the way, you will spend hours trying to find solutions for each emerging issue and it may take forever to find the correct mix. Security  — Proper websites need to have security sings on them to ease the anxiety of the visitors. This is especially important if you are healthcare practice. You can’t verify the security yourself. Performance — You need to make sure your websites performs perfectly 24/7. It has to meet certain criteria like fast loading speed, availability on multiple devices (mobile, pc, tablet), no crashes, etc. Maintenance — updates and bug fixes will take too much of your time and even if you do it, there is a high chance you will miss small things. These add up and create a mess eventually. Tailored to your industry — You need a lot of experience and ability to be able to tailor your content and design to your specific niche. Something very general might seem great to the untrained eye, but if you want real results, you need professionals. Design  — Even if you have a talent for it, you can still end up having a badly designed website on your own. There are special tools and conventions which are used for web design and you can’t learn them overnight. It will take way too much time to come up with anything decent. Implementing new ideas — Each time you want to carry out a new idea, you will have to go through research, trial and error. Figuring out the correct way to do it, making it useful for your audience, taking care of design all take too much time. Even keeping up to date with what is new and possible is hard.


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These are just a few issues that you will meet. There are many more. As a result, you will end up wasting many days and still get a bad website that won’t help your business.

Focus on what you do best Your website should be the hub for all online marketing and social media interactions. It takes too much time and effort to plan, carry out, support and update everything by yourself. Focus on what you do best and leave your private practice marketing and support to professionals – it’s cheaper than ever these days.


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IF YOU ARE A LOCAL BUSINESS, HAVING A MOBILE-FRIENDLY WEBSITE IS NOT AN OPTION Link to original article At the beginning of 2015, a new era of internet web browsing was acknowledged by Google. Internet usage on smartphones and tablets surpassed desktop PCs in 2014. Now Google gives priority to websites that are “mobile-friendly” meaning they load faster and offer better user experience not only by the looks, but also functionality. If your website doesn’t follow the “mobile-friendly” rules, you are hurting yourself more than you think.

It’s not an option. It is absolutely mandatory. Not only does Google now give ranking priority to websites that are mobile friendly, but also downgrades (penalises) those that are not. Having a non-mobile-friendly website lowers your chances to get found on the web, especially if you are a local business. Local businesses are generally found via longer keywords such as “dentist in Seattle city centre” or “Best podiatrist in northern Sydney”. This means that the search is focussed to fewer results and if your website is not mobile friendly, competing practices will appear above yours. With 90% of mobile users using Google as their search engine, you need to pay attention to how Google works.

Mobile Internet users are different.

Mobile users mostly have a different intent when searching online. While a desktop user might take his time to explore your website, a mobile user most probably wants to see


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the pricing page or class schedules, books an appointment or get contact information. In other words, mobile users are looking for something specific and are ready to take action. Helping them to do what they want via their small screens will only help your business.

Mobile users are looking for something specific and are ready to take action

If you are a local health practice, mobile website optimisation can be the key for your business growth. It will increase your chances to you get found online and get more patients. The most basic test is simple: Take a look at your own website on a smartphone. Do you see the same thing as you do on your computer (only smaller)? OR has your website re-arranged its layout so that you can use the information easily? Are you able to get around your website, click on links, read the text and fill in forms without having to zoom in and out all the time? Does it load fast? There are several ways to make a website mobile-friendly, but only a few best-practices. If you have any concerns, get in touch with us and we’ll be able to tell you. If your local practice isn’t keeping up with technology, you really should reconsider or risk falling behind your competition.


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MANAGING YOUR INCOMING CALLS AT YOUR PRACTICE Link to original article With all that you must do as a physiotherapy private practice owner, it’s easy to lose sight of one of your most important duties…managing your patients’ calls. This issue, if not handled properly, will have serious repercussions on your business success, regardless of the size of your practice. A physiotherapist who is trying to get his practice off the ground must take special care not to ignore and alienate those precious early calls. Similarly, an established clinic cannot afford to brush off current patients or new inquires. In both these cases, neglecting your patients’ calls is unprofessional and can easily drive people in to your competitors’ clinics. Call management duties at your practice comes down to two distinct choices: 1.

An automated solution like voice mail to collect patient requests to be acted on later.

2.

A human solution, i.e. you or a dedicated receptionist handling first contact, appointment follow-ups, etc.

Let’s consider voice mail for your practice. The importance of frontline contact cannot be underestimated, so if you aren’t able to answer calls personally, the message heard by the patient must be welcoming enough for them to leave a message. Here are some basic messaging tips: Keep your welcome message short. Your patients are busy like you and will be annoyed with clichéd phrases like “I’m not available right now; please leave a message after the tone.” Avoid telephone tag; ask callers to specify the best time to return their calls. Plan out your message properly and practice saying it like a trained speaker. Consider hiring a professional to record the final product.


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Conversely, an administrative professional trained to handle patient calls may be a solid option for your practice. By speaking with a comforting human voice, patients will be reassured that there calls are important. The receptionist will also be able to pass on crucial information immediately (e.g. emergency phone numbers to immediately reach you or one of your colleagues). So what’s the best solution? Ideally, you would be able to answer all your calls. However, the nature of your physiotherapy work and management demands at least some type of automated service. If hiring a full-time receptionist is out of the question at the present time, consider outsourcing at least part of your call management to a dedicated voice mail service that offers call redirection, hotline and/or virtual personal assistant (VPA) solutions. These are cheap and effective.


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5 WAYS TO REDUCE APPOINTMENT NOSHOWS AND STOP LOSING REVENUE Link to original article A common question for private practice owners is “How do I reduce appointment noshows at my clinic?” Private practice no-shows can pose a real threat to a practice’s bottom line. Fortunately there are 5 main ways to reduce appointment no-shows. No-shows are an inevitable part of any business that depends on appointments to deliver its service. Common reasons could be as simple as forgetting, a scheduling clash or an emergency. There could be other reasons for appointment no shows related to the service you give. Here are some tips for minimising the number of patients who turn up to their appointments.

Use text message or call reminders This is a very simple way to encourage people to turn up. Have a secretary call all patients the day before or on the morning of their appointment to remind them. This will catch the forgetful ones and if a patient was thinking about not turning up, speaking to the clinic may encourage him or her to attend. This can be automated by sending out an SMS to patients. There are services available online that work with your scheduling calendar and send out messages automatically. These services are a sound investment.

Get honest feedback from clients After an initial appointment, patients will often make a follow up appointment with the front desk as a matter of routine. However, if they have doubts about the quality of service or the cost, they may not want (or be able to afford) to turn up for a second time. Finding out what your patients really think about the treatment may answer some questions about why appointments are not kept. You may need to better demonstrate


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results or value.

Are you in the right place? One big reason for no-shows is lack of access to the practice. If your clinic does not enjoy proximity to main highways and public transport, many patients simply may not be able to get to their appointments. Review your location and decide whether you would be better to move elsewhere.

Charge for no-shows You may want to make it a condition for the next booking that failure to attend without reasonable excuse will incur a charge. If you make it clear to the patient that their credit card will be debited in the event of a no-show, some people will avoid further appointments. Perhaps this is a good outcome, since your schedule slots are not wasted. Others will make the appointment and be encouraged to turn up to avoid the fee. In any case, this tip will probably need a change in your own mindset as the business owner.

Address fears Sometimes, it’s basic fear that holds your patients back and skip an appointment. This may be fear of the unknown or fear of pain. Educating your patients and assuring them will help. 


Section 3: Growth Growth often means you’re on the right path. However it can be downright painful, leaving you with no life outside of your business. This is where clever marketing, good tools and advice can help. 

Goals for this section: Understand the importance of marketing. Discover tools and services to help with marketing. Recognise when or whether to expand.


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DEVELOPING THE PHYSIOTHERAPY MARKETING MENTALITY Link to original article At one time, it all seemed so straightforward. You attended university to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in physiotherapy and then embarked on a lifelong career as a dedicated health professional in the public sector. As long as you demonstrated competence — even occasional brilliance — in your specialty and cooperated with fellow physiotherapists, you could count on the stability of regular work, regular hours and regular pay. However, the past generation has witnessed considerable upheaval, as governments throughout the Western world in particular grasped with soaring budget deficits and rising health costs. Now, many physiotherapists — young and old — are turning to the private sector, not only for employment but to became masters of their own destiny.

One of the greatest challenges for physiotherapists today is to develop a so-called marketing mentality that’s relevant for their private practice.

This implies that, in addition to providing the best care possible for their patients, owner-practitioners must: Constantly promote their services to GPs, hospitals and other traditional sources of referrals. Convey a sense of ownership to employees so they perform at their best. Look for innovative (and ethical!) ways to encourage business growth (patient volume) and profitability.


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Rooted in the physiotherapy marketing mentality is a belief in helping others. Unless you put the patient’s well-being first, your private practice is doomed to failure. Therefore, develop mutually beneficial relationships with doctors and mentors prior to and during business start-up. Learn what they look for in a physiotherapy clinic and tune your message(s) to their specific needs. Without question, if the first few referrals give you positive reviews, you can count on a steady stream flowing your way in no time. You will also need to seek out your own referrals and patients via marketing or advertising techniques. In the past, tactics like handing out business cards or Yellow Page ads would be used. Today with the explosion of Internet technology, physiotherapy clinic owners around the world are using sophisticated Internet marketing strategies to introduce themselves and their practice to their target markets. As your practice gains a foothold in the local community, staff employees will work harder to keep patients happy and their schedule busy. Why not tap into their networks by offering incentives to attract and keep patients? Now, instead of only one person marketing the practice, you can enlist all your physiotherapists to do likewise! Gaining patients through referrals, traditional and Internet marketing simultaneously will ensure a healthy and marketable physiotherapy business. In addition, don’t forget to seek business marketing assistance from your national association. Often, they will have dedicated staff, resources and solutions geared to making your venture the most successful possible. Also don’t forget to get in touch with us for assistance with your Internet marketing strategy — we’ll give you a state-of-the-art website with simple yet effective tools and all the support and guidance you will need.


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PHYSIOTHERAPY PRIVATE PRACTICE WEBSITES DRIVING BUSINESS GROWTH Link to original article With the growth of the Internet, physiotherapy websites are fast becoming an integral part of private practice businesses. While the general population does not always make the link, there has always been an intimate relationship between health care and technology. Clinic owners and managers can not only bring their practices closer to the people but reach out and touch them more personally than just a digital flyer. Whether you have an established clinic or are just starting out in private practice, physiotherapy websites can serve multiple purposes that allow you to concentrate on what you do best, i.e. provide top-notch care to your patients. Here are some examples of what a dynamic, high-quality website can accomplish:

Drive referrals through your clinic doors A content-rich physiotherapy website enhances your private practice’s credibility and encourages patient prospects to pick up the telephone or set up an appointment online. Regularly updated articles and features help raise your local search engine rankings, so vital if you want people in your area to learn about your services. You also brand your image positively to existing clients, hospitals and others doing preliminary research. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Better market positioning versus competitors It’s important to positively differentiate your business from competitors in any field, physiotherapy being no exception. Simply being the best from a medical/health perspective will mean nothing if nobody knows you. This is where your website can play a crucial role, especially if your neighbourhood is saturated with physiotherapy clinics.


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Use online technology to alleviate patient apprehension about visiting a clinic and forge ahead of other, more technophobic owners.

Streamline common relationship management and administrative tasks Earlier, we alluded to your physiotherapy website as a point of first contact, a method for booking appointments and improving communication. A website’s management suite can offer much more; for example: Content management Membership system Email newsletters and alerts Blogs Social media integration Patient testimonials and much, much, more‌ These website benefits and features have the impact of simplifying your office tasks, improving patient-physiotherapist relations and freeing up time for improved patient care and follow-up. Collectively, they constitute vital parts of any private practice’s growth plan.


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3 ESSENTIAL MARKETING TIPS FOR FIRST YEAR IN PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article You’ve begun an exciting business venture, owning and operating a private physiotherapy clinic. Congratulations! However, before assuming that everything will fall into place on its own, it’s important to consider some essential marketing tips that can give you a leg up on the competition.

Far too often, rookies in private practice give marketing considerations little thought in the belief that superior physiotherapy and social skills alone will ensure business viability. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, your physiotherapy knowledge and patient-centred approach to cases form the core of your activity. However, you are now in business and only owners who combine them with marketing acumen will survive the often cutthroat world of private health services. Ask yourself — why do some prosper while others struggle even though they are equally good at their services? To help guide you through the minefield of physiotherapy marketing, please consider the following three tips as you roll out your private practice:

1. Choose relationship-building over advertising to get off the ground As a new private practice, you are desperate for patients and referrals to prove your abilities and generate immediate cash flow. However, it makes no sense to spend large


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sums of money on advertising, because you are unlikely to target the right people in the first place. Stick to networking with GPs, colleagues from hospitals, retirement homes etc. to encourage business growth. Learn how to best tell, engage and interact with people who are best placed to help you meet your goals. Get yourself an interactive practice website through which you can educate and communicate with patients and prospects regularly with e-newsletters. By building enduring relationships, your credibility as a practice will grow.

2. Make sure you leverage word of mouth Now that your networking efforts are bringing patients through your doors, make sure that you keep them! Retaining patients is easier, less time-consuming and more profitable than having to constantly find new patients. So, after doing a fantastic job, don’t be shy about asking them to tell their friends who could benefit from your physiotherapy services. Otherwise, you are letting revenue out the door into the hands of your competitor down the road.

3. You can’t avoid marketing! As a private entrepreneur, you must hone your marketing skills every day. Private practice owners cannot be satisfied with only providing first class care for patients. They must present a favourable brand image to GPs and the public. They must know their patients, have a pulse on their evolving needs and be ready to use innovative techniques (e.g. private practice specific websites) and equipment to deliver the goods. While salesmanship may get patients through your door once, marketing is the key to getting the repeat business needed to accelerate your clinic’s growth.


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A SIMPLE PRIVATE PRACTICE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGY Link to original article A simple private practice social media marketing strategy will enhance your marketing overall. For the uninitiated however, it may take some time to understand the benefits and how best to use it. All businesses need a strategy to maximise their online presence and a set-and-forget website alone simply isn’t enough. In order to drive traffic and enhance awareness for your practice, you may need to embrace social media. As a local business, it is a fantastic avenue to be seen by prospects and patients, with a valuable opportunity to engage. Here are some tips to get started, and keep it simple…

Understand why you are doing it Firstly, a presence on social sites like Facebook provides an opportunity for people to see you. The more exposure they have to you, more likely they are to consider using your services. This provides the benefit of more traditional marketing but at no hard cost. Secondly, the ability to engage with patients and prospects is significant. They can find out more about you and see how you approach things. If they see that your practice deals with questions and concerns via social channels, your clinic looks personal, modern, helpful and friendly. This helps sales. Thirdly, a strong social media presence enhances your website’s SEO – i.e. you are more likely to appear higher in search engine results. This is valuable and should always be a priority. Also imagine that your local competition was to master social media; where would that


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leave you 12 months from now?

Understand what “social” means Social media is not a platform to spam people with your offers. With limited attention spans, no one cares about you or your offers. If you go to a pool party, you wouldn’t turn up in a suit and briefcase. First, you need to fit in and start conversations. Be sociable and earn the attention and right to introduce your business.

Add value Always make sure that what you share on social media offers value to your followers. This means sharing interesting news or insights into your treatment. Avoid dull, repetitive or irrelevant posts and content. Think of some businesses you enjoy following online – what are they doing right? Chances are they have a good mix of valuable information, news and humour in their posts and use a blend of mediums such as photos, videos and download links. Also I’d bet that they are regular contributors.

Use different sites There are a number of social media sites and it is important to use a variety to maximise the number of people you engage with. A solid starting point is Facebook and YouTube. With experience you will learn the different ways to maximise engagement according to each platform. YouTube is a fantastic way to upload quality video content on your speciality, giving viewers a visual insight into you and your expertise. Twitter on the other hand may not be best value, unless you’re already killing it in other social media channels. Give it a fair go and see what works for you.


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Be consistent Attention spans online are incredibly short. If you dabble in social media, your posts will be missed. You need commitment and regularity to get noticed. You can’t hope to build a large following if you post something once in a while. Aim to post something to your business Facebook Page a few times a day. There are lots of studies done about frequency and best times of the day to post. Just google for ideas. There are many tools available to help you schedule posts in advance, so you can make this a weekly activity.

Constantly engage and interact Besides posting useful stuff that visitors enjoy, make sure that you are also responding to messages and comments. Social media can only engage people if there is enough activity to catch peoples’ attention – so drive interaction and engagement. An abandoned or poorly maintained account looks unprofessional and will help your business.If you receive messages, always respond. If your clients complement your services, always thank them. Not replying can seem cold and impersonal. Reaching out to people and establishing a connection is what makes people return and gets referrals and social media is an effective way to do that outside of the clinic. Let your patients do the talking – if they are happy with your service many will tell you on Twitter or Facebook, available for thousands of others to see. This is a hugely valuable marketing tool that should be an important your private practice marketing strategy.


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HOW A CLINIC WEBSITE CAN DO WONDERS FOR YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE Link to original article When you made the decision to enter private practice, you ceased being solely a physiotherapist. Now that you are responsible for a full-fledged business, you are a physiotherapist-business person-administrator-marketer. Quite a load, to be sure, but reality is that the most successful physiotherapy clinics are those that know how to market their business. It’s no longer enough to have the best university grades, greatest staff and a superior skill set, although these core elements will always remain important. In today’s challenging health care environment where patients (clients) are more demanding than ever, you must use cutting-edge marketing tools and savvy to keep them coming and coming back. With the rise of the Internet as an educational and search tool, it behoves your private practice to maintain a unique presence on the Web. Having a private practice specific marketing website gives you an opportunity to differentiate your clinic from competitors, bring in motivated, “self-referred” patients and keep lines of communication open with current patients and prospects. Consider some specific advantages of having a good, interactive website for your practice: Get your practice found online when someone searches for physiotherapy in your area. Become a trusted source of targeted physiotherapy information for patients and interested web surfers. Fostering relationships and two-way communication with visitors, with little effort. Improve your credibility via reach, education and appropriate use of the


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medium (e.g. blogs). Affordability and effectiveness when compared to traditional advertising (a good website costs less and gets you more business than a Yellow Pages advert). Accountability, knowing your website’s effectiveness can be measured. Introduce yourself, your staff members and your facilities to the general public. Ability to easily stay current in response to emerging trends. Thanks to evolving technology, your website no longer needs to be a set of static pages and images. You can easily take advantage of videos that discuss issues important to your patient base and highlight presentations where you appear as the expert. You can start a blog and experiment with social media. A purpose-built physiotherapy clinic website should be easy to manage, requiring little (if any) of your time. It should be painless for you to try new technologies and ideas and keep your content up to date. It should be found easily via search engines like Google. It should also be backed by a professional support team, because chasing people for help when you need it is never fun. But most of all, your website should make you money, not cost you money. Last thing you want is to dish out a few thousand of your earnings for something that takes up too much of your time and doesn’t bring any added business or benefits. The Internet is like an ocean and new business owners are justifiably wary of getting their feet wet due to the unknowns or previous experience. Speak with us to take away the pain and risks. Let us help you open up a digital front to the world and reap the benefits of modern value-added, patient-centric marketing.


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HOW SEO STRATEGIES MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR PHYSIOTHERAPY WEBSITES Link to original article Simply having a website that represents your private practice is not enough; you need to have meaningful online visibility. Therefore, it is important to implement winning Internet marketing strategies that drive targeted traffic (i.e. potential patients) to your site and in turn raise your conversion rate, i.e. percentage of website visitors who end up walking through your clinic doors.

Search Engine Optimisation is the method of improving visibility in popular search engines via unpaid search results

One traffic strategy that your website designer may suggest is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a method of improving visibility in popular search engines via “natural” or “organic” (i.e. unpaid) search results. Your private practice website’s main goal is to dominate physiotherapy-related searches in the local area. Unlike global and even national corporations, which must necessarily appeal to a wide cross-section of interests, you have the luxury of focusing your pitch to a limited patient base without jeopardising your business’ viability. A permanent “Top Ten” placement in Google or Google Maps with the search phrase “Essendon physiotherapy” (that is, if you are located in or around Essendon) informs web surfers that you are in the vicinity and prepared to meet their treatment demands. It’s crucial to be precise about your business goals and offer any insights from market research regarding competition, demographics etc. to your website provider. Even a


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start-up clinic can draw solid attention and new patients with the right combination of style, strategy and SEO. It does not hurt to occasionally fine tune or freshen up your message, either. Winning search engine strategies will make your physiotherapy website a relevant part of your marketing mix. Be assured that while you are occupied with the frontline tasks of patient care and private practice administration, an optimised website is working for you at all time to enhance your reputation and bottom line. Speak with us to get a website optimised for best search engine marketing strategy to suit your business.


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SO YOU HAVE A WEBSITE. IS IT REALLY HELPING YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE? Link to original article Physiotherapy clinic owners need every edge they can get in their quest to secure a steady patient list, regular cash flow and respect from their peers. Many private practitioners readily turn to the Internet in the hope that a website will be the missing piece towards achieving their business goals. Unfortunately, your Internet presence can be a double-edged sword. Yes, a welldesigned website that is updated on a regularly with quality, relevant content can be a tremendous asset, provided that it is targeted at the right audience. However, a poorly designed, outdated website is a massive liability, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of potential patients looking for real help with various injuries.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression

Ask your administrator to track your website’s performance over a thirty or sixty day period. Are you getting appointments through the website? Anecdotally, ask patients and colleagues about their impressions of the site and what can be done to improve it. Once a consensus is reached, think about making changes, up to and including a complete rebuild if necessary. Why would you consider a website, especially if your practice seems relatively healthy? Here are some compelling reasons: Get good placement on Google and other leading search engines when prospects look for services in your area. Become a “go-to” source of physiotherapy and health related information for


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visitors. Maximise repeat visits by ensuring existing patients don’t forget about you. Use your website as your “salesperson”. Use your website as a public communications hub. Don’t be left behind in eyes of prospects, by your competitors who have websites. Help relieve various tasks such as offering patient intake forms and appointment requests online. Revamping your website yourself is akin to being pennywise and pound foolish. Your efforts are worthy, but you are a physiotherapist not a website designer, developer or marketer. Investigate the field and find specialists who have a background in physiotherapy websites. Thanks to proper due diligence and clear instructions for your designer from the start, you should expect the following: Your website will be successfully promoted and you will increase your search engine rankings. Website will have a more focused design and be highly usable by visitors. Visitors to your website will spend more time learning about your clinic and more self-referred patients will find you. Your appointments will increase. Improved communications. Ability to easily try new technologies and ideas with your website. You will spend less time chasing help or getting your site updated, and more time with your patients and business. Physiotherapy websites are an important marketing weapon for practices looking to position their business against established clinics and upstarts alike. Make sure that you invest the necessary time and effort insuring that the end result helps, not hurts, the bottom line. Contact us to get started.


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GET YOUR LOCAL PRACTICE SEO UP AND RUNNING Link to original article As a local healthcare practice, you need to take into account that you have a limited geographical reach and need to focus on local practice SEO  (search engine optimisation) when it comes to getting found in search results. SEO for local businesses is different to that of other types of businesses.

Local practice SEO Local practice SEO is more leaned towards an actual city, street, district or region. Typically, users looking for your health services search for a term that they want, plus a city or street name, making it more specific. For example, instead of searching for “best therapy clinic” they search for “best therapy clinic in Brisbane” and this makes a huge difference in terms of SEO. It also makes a huge difference for businesses that get listed with such keywords, since these users are more ready  to make an appointment or enquire. Consider the following ideas to push your website higher on search rankings.

Local-focussed keywords Since you have a limited geographic reach, it’s pretty difficult, time consuming and costly to rank for global keywords. Instead, focus on local keywords and local SEO strategies. Local keywords include city names, street addresses, etc. These keywords are typically more specific, since you won’t get so much competition when trying to rank up for those compared to global keywords. Also, this will help you generate more quality visitors for your websites, thus ensuring higher conversion rates, which is what you are looking for.


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Remember that a visitor looking for your services on the other side of the country is not likely to make an appointment with you. They will prefer a clinic more local to them.

Citations Citations are like online listings that include your contact information like address, phone number, email etc. For example, having your business listed in Google Maps is a citation. There are many industry specific directories for getting good citations. The important part is to keep up consistency when thinking about citations. Get your clinic contact information listed in different local directories with exact same details not to confuse the search engines. Local social media groups or channels are another good, consistent way to acquire citations. Finally, try to get listed in some local online newspapers and health websites.

Back-links Apart from citations that are your contact information, it’s important to get back-links from high quality local directories and websites. Back links are links that take the user to your website page when clicked. For local practice SEO purposes, look for local directory listings and high quality local websites. For example, if you operate in Brisbane, try to find websites that are focused in Brisbane, like news websites, health services, etc. and ask them for back-links. Also, consider getting back-links from other health businesses in your niche. Lastly, always focus on quality not quantity. Fewer links from great websites are more valuable than having many links from a mixed bag of irrelevant/average websites.

Reviews Clinic reviews are another important piece of your local SEO strategy. Having customer reviews of your patients on various websites is going to boost your search rankings a lot. Google’s algorithm focuses not only on the keywords that you provide, but also customer centric and valuable content. Reviews are one of the important things that


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people consider when choosing a clinic so Google pays attention to that. Just note that many health industries are regulated when it comes to marketing and testimonials. Check this first to make sure you can request and use reviews for your practice.

Social media Try to be on as many social media accounts as you can effectively manage. You don’t want to be on ALL the hundreds of social media networks just for the sake of it. Pick those that are relevant for your business and which you actually are going to be active on (this is actually a discussion in itself). If you can find some localised social media websites, it’s highly recommended to use them as well.


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YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPY WEBSITE COMMUNICATIONS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Link to original article As a private practice owner, you have a website to attract new patients, showcase your clinic’s offerings and specialties and establish your brand amongst your competitors. These goals are essentially “first impression” oriented, in that they invite people to know you and decide whether they want to visit your premises. However, all businesses — physiotherapy clinics included — thrive by retaining customers (patients). It’s well understood that finding new patients is a painstaking task; therefore practice owners should do everything possible to encourage people to keep them in mind for follow-up treatment and future physiotherapy needs. With respect to websites, this means placing a greater emphasis on value-added communication and special membership concepts. Memberships are often a core feature of a dynamic, interactive physiotherapy website. Offered to existing and potential patients as well as the general public for free, they allow clinic owners to provide specialised information about services, various medical issues and physiotherapy itself. Members can be given special access to particular areas of your website, receive special offers and regular newsletters. Membership sites encourage subscribers to contribute ideas, content suggestions and opinions about how you can do better. Just think about it, advice for free from paying customers! This type of online interaction will separate you from less proactive practices. Patients and others will appreciate your out-of-clinic interest in their recuperation and encourage ‘word of mouth’ referrals. Of course, website communication is not limited to memberships. As mentioned earlier, newsletters can be used to personalise your relationship with subscribers. Use them to supplement your in-clinic treatment with follow-up advice and appointment reminders. Other communications options include:


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E-mail broadcasting: Communicate information of common interest to all patients (e.g. offers, thank-you notes, new staff appointments, weekend and holiday schedules, etc.) Blogging: Simple way for using writing skills to gain followers and encourage business. Needs disciplined planning and commitment. On-page comments: visitors can voice their opinions about any content page that they feel strongly about. Other visitors (or you, as the website owner can contribute replies to develop a valuable online channel) Direct enquiries: Patients e-mail questions, treatment updates and concerns. Private practices need all the advantages they can get to grow their patient base and stay viable in a business climate chock full of medical options for citizens. By exploiting website communications to the maximum, your clinic can securely maintain a presence in patients’ lives.


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GROWING YOUR PRIVATE PRACTICE EMAIL MARKETING LIST Link to original article A private practice email marketing list consists of patients and prospects that have entrusted you with their email addresses and are willing to receive information from your practice. Email is still a great way to stay in touch with your patients and share relevant news and information with them from time to time. This will make sure they will not forget about you and if they find your email content valuable, will even make new appointments and recommend you to their friends. A proper email marketing strategy will add credibility and improve your reputation even further. Email marketing is a must for every business that wants to be perceived and treated as highly professional. The public shares a common perception of respect towards businesses that send regular and valuable emails vs those that don’t.

Building your private practice email marketing list At this point, we will assume that you already have an email list, but perhaps with not enough recipients. If not, speak with your website developer. In private practice, the best way to grow your list is simply to ask every new patient for his/her email. Put up a poster at your reception to tell them about your newsletter. Ask patients to sign up after each treatment. Include a field for email address on your patient intake form and a check box to confirm they want to receive news and updates via email. You can then add every new email address you collect into your newsletter software. Your website should have a means of newsletter subscription. Speak with your web developer for help. To convince patients to join your list, you have to offer a clear benefit. It may be health news or useful tips about their issue/treatment/future procedure. Also tell them about


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how often you will communicate, the type of topics you will cover and how simple it will be to unsubscribe. Tell your patients that they can sign up directly at your website. Have a clear call to action on your website in a visible spot, so that your visitors will know how to sign up. A subscription form by itself may not be enough though. To make visitors interested, offer them something valuable and free in return, like downloading an e-book or a guide when they subscribe.

Importing existing email addresses If you already have some email addresses in your database or practice management software, be careful about adding them directly to your private practice email marketing list. Make sure you have permission to send such emails to those patients. If you are unsure, it’s a good idea to call them and ask whether they would like to receive emails from your practice before adding them.

Consider what you send to your list Keep in mind that growing your email list is one thing, but keeping your subscribers is another. Only send highly valuable information. Don’t spam or share your email list at any cost. Avoid talking about yourself too much. The content should consist of 80% valuable topics and 20% should be about your practice and promotions. If you are not careful, patients will unsubscribe in a heartbeat. Subject lines you use in your emails are crucial to getting your messages actually opened and read. Consistency is also important. Being consistent adds a sense of timeliness and responsibility to your reputation. It will also show that you are a professional practice and take your job seriously.


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ARE YOU RUNNING YOUR PRACTICE OR IS YOUR PRACTICE RUNNING YOU? Link to original article You are currently managing a physiotherapy private practice and welcome its many challenges: Finding and keeping patients. Managing clinic expenses. Ensuring healthy monthly cash flow and marketing the business. However, after working one too many twelve hour days, you begin to wonder if private practice was the right decision. After all, was guaranteed hours, a steady flow of patients without effort and a regular paycheque all that bad? Whatever happened to that worklife balance you kept hearing about? Before feeling too sorry for yourself, take stock of your accomplishments as a business entrepreneur to date and take pride in being able to combine your physiotherapy skills with them. Yes, the process of building a viable clinic is stressful, full of twists and turns. Yet, this is what it takes to lay the foundation for long-term private practice success and ensure that hundreds (thousands, perhaps?) of patients get the health care they richly deserve. So, what are some steps to pursue in order to gain better control of your business affairs, without compromising the quality of your physiotherapy services? Here are some easy suggestions that, if implemented properly, can make a big difference:

1. Access the best information sources available Government departments for taxation, small business and labour information. Your physiotherapy association or order for professional development, quality


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practice and marketing advice. GPs, former public sector colleagues, university mentors and other PT owners who are willing to share experiences that may prove invaluable.

2. Why not get a partner and/or some employees? Being a solo act sounds adventurous and has some appeal. However, it usually takes a team of people to really make it against cutthroat competition. Perhaps you can find a physiotherapist with complementary skills — or similar ones if you are looking to specialise — willing to share an equity stake in your practice. Beyond partnerships, maybe you can hire some well-rounded physiotherapists to broaden your clinic’s appeal and reach.

3. Don’t do it all yourself! Delegate tasks to other people Physiotherapists in private practice will often assume even the most minute of tasks themselves, believing that only they can do things the right way. While admirable to some extent, the reality is that nobody succeeds by themselves. While people like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are entrepreneurial geniuses, the fact is it took millions of hours and brain power from thousands of people to grow their companies and others like them. Your private practice may be of smaller scale, but the same principle applies. Consider outsourcing basic tasks like telephone call management, janitorial services and some information technology to free up more time for your real passion — helping people. The key is managing expectations, especially your own. The goals you set at the start of your business odyssey will dictate how ambitious you should be once your “solopreneurship” stage plateaus. Reach out to people who have been where you want to go to achieve the next level. Private practice marketing on a budget: recruit existing staff


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Link to original article For most clinics, employing dedicated marketing staff is out of the question. How do you do private practice marketing on a budget to actively push growth? The reality is that marketing a private practice is difficult. But there are several techniques that can make it a lot easier. Instead of hiring new staff to drive sales, see if you could get existing staff to integrate marketing activities into their roles.

Private practice marketing on a budget can be easier With all the online tools available today, small businesses don’t need a sales team or marketing department. With a little time and effort, there is a whole world of opportunities to spread the word about your business. Identify an employee, who can manage your clinic’s Facebook Page, review and respond to enquiries and posts, write articles about recent events and so on. It should be standard practice that reception staff request contact details (especially email addresses) for new patients and enquirers for purpose of marketing. A mailing list is a great tool to keep existing clients engaged and to develop relationships with potential clients.

Be aware of employees’ skills and interests If your staff (whether they are hands-on service providers or not) show an interest in social media, blogging or community involvement, make the most of it. For example, if one of your therapists likes to write about her speciality, ask them to write a weekly blog. This can include thoughts on the developments in the industry or any interesting observations. This is a great way for them to build personal authority too. Let them really run with it and make it their own.


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Identify someone who can take the lead If you have somebody in your practice who is particularly dynamic and organised, ask them to move into a business development role. If they are a skilled communicator, ask them to push referrals from physicians and patients. If you can, pick an enthusiastic and outgoing person who can easily talk to patients and is not afraid to ask them to recommend your clinic to friends and relatives. With the right person, this will be second nature.

Not everything should be handled in-house Just remember that some professional services are best left to professionals. There is no point taking up your staff time that costs you $30 per hour for services that can be outsourced for much less. For example, website design and maintenance is not something you should do in-house. It’s not worth the effort. It is important to find your employees’ strengths and allow them to be used in a way that is both natural to them and beneficial for your business. As a rule of thumb, it is best to maximise your existing talent pool before hiring externally.


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EXPANDING YOUR PRACTICE WITH ADDITIONAL STAFF AND MORE CLINICS Link to original article After surviving the growing pains of your private practice start-up, you are now ready to add additional staffers to your current premises and perhaps consider opening a second clinic. However, before taking on these additional responsibilities, consider some basic regulatory and business requirements common to many countries like the United States, Australia and Great Britain. Growing your practice beyond the survival phase is exciting, but it still must be managed with care and diligence. Therefore, when taking on your first employees, it’s important to deal with the following issues beforehand:

1. Permission to pay employees and withhold taxes and benefit amounts on their behalf Initially, there may be some nervousness and scepticism prior to cutting your employees’ first paycheque. Therefore, make sure that you deal with the appropriate government department to fill out forms that allow you to pay them and withhold taxes. Similarly, new employees will probably have to help fill out a Tax Declaration form to make things official.

2. Pension and superannuation obligations Pension plans (superannuation) are a recognised method to guarantee citizens adequate income support upon retirement. In many countries, employers are required to contribute a fixed percentage of an employee’s annual earnings into a retirement savings plan (401K in U.S., RRSP in Canada, Superannuation in Australia).


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3. Satisfying minimum working condition requirements Unlike the time you were a physiotherapy freelancer working on your own, becoming an employer necessarily brings your private practice under various types of labour legislation. Nobody doubts that you will be anything else than a model employer, however certain minimal standards must be noted: Maximum hours of work: Usually 35-40 hours weekly with reasonable overtime expectations. Flexible work arrangements: Employees who are parents of children under school age or faced with other difficult life circumstances should expect reasonable accommodation. Parental leave: up to 12 months unpaid leave for every employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity or paternity-related leave. Annual leave: 3-4 weeks paid leave annually; an additional week for some shift workers. Public holidays: Paid days off for public holidays, unless duties demand work on any or all these specific days. Notice of termination, redundancy pay: 4-5 weeks’ notice of termination (based on experience) and up to 16 weeks redundancy pay. In many jurisdictions, employers are required to inform staffers of their rights by providing appropriate government documentation, even when your employment contract’s provisions exceed its requirements.

4. Taxes on fringe benefits Fringe benefits (e.g. travel or clothing allowance, gym membership, etc.) are used to improve an employee’s compensation package beyond salary and wages. Still, most


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countries impose taxation rules based on the value of these benefits.

5. Employee record-keeping Keep note of the following: Employee time-sheets and regular pay slips with details (dates, time worked and amounts paid). Record of pension (superannuation) payments made on behalf of employees; note special reporting requirements that apply to contributions made as fringe benefits, salary alternatives, etc. Employment contract stating the starting and termination dates. Unused leave available to employees. After getting through the bureaucratic maze to set up the above requirements, take a few weeks to work out any issues with new staffers to ensure that both sides understand what is expected of them. If things work out with your present clinic and revenue continues to grow, you may want to add another clinic, either on your own our by partnering with other clinic owners. Always consult your accountant or legal adviser.


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DO YOU NEED A SEPARATE WEBSITE FOR EACH CLINIC LOCATION? Link to original article Health businesses in private practice can often have more than one clinic or location. The question is: do you need a separate website for each clinic location  or can one website do the trick? The answer is complex. On one hand, having multiple websites will greatly increase your search engine rankings and help you get more visitors over all. On the other hand, it’s already hard to create and maintain one great website and you’d need to dedicate more time and resources for this endeavour. Ideally, you want to have a separate website for each clinic on the map. But it will come with added costs. However, there are cases when you can get away with a single website. Consider the following points when facing this issue:

Are your clinics geographically close to each other? You might have clinics in the same county/city/district that are relatively far from each other. However, if they are the same city, it can be a good idea to have a single website for all clinics and provide all the addresses, working hours, services, phone numbers and emails for those on your website contact page. This way you can still get away with just one good website, while also letting your visitors choose which of your clinics is closest to them and more convenient to attend.

Do your clinics cover an overlapping client base? Do you have the same patients visiting different clinics from time to time? If yes and their numbers are high enough, means one of two things: either your patients recently discovered a clinic that is closer to them and it’s more convenient to attend that one, or


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your clinics are located close enough to each other so patients don’t really care which one they attend. In both cases having a single website can be an ideal solution. Make sure to provide the different clinic addresses on your website.

Optimising for search engines In terms of local SEO, having a separate website for each clinic on the map will boost your search queries and website visits. Optimising each website for local SEO will help you reach the top of search results for different geographic locations.

Do all your clinics offer the same services? Consider the different services provided by each of you clinics. For example, one of those might be offering a high quality therapeutic massage, while another one offers severe injury treatment. In this case, it’s highly recommended to have a separate website for each clinic. This will boost your local SEO considerably and allow tailoring each website for different audiences based on their needs.

Do you use a regular newsletter with a subscription database tied to your website? Are your news or promotions focused on a single clinic or across the board? Would it make more sense to target your messages more tightly based on specific offerings of each clinic? Basically getting each clinic location on the online map is a matter of time and resources. Having a separate website with a unique domain name is your best option. But if you really can’t afford to have a separate website for each clinic, make sure to offer a list of all clinics on one of your site pages. This will not only help your users when they look for a convenient location, but also the search engines.



About PracticePulse We are experts in creating, marketing and managing private practice websites, helping generate more business for our customers and making them local heroes. Talk to the experts who only work with health businesses in private practice‌ Visit: practicepulse.com

Many other private practice business owners are asking the same questions as you. So we wrote a big book. Get it here: clinicsinthecloud.com

Starting out in Private Practice  

Collection of blog posts and resources from PracticePulse.com to help you start your own private practice journey. Visit practicepulse.com/...

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