At some point during school, you probably had an idea of what your practice would look like, especially the physical space, when you were ready to go out on your own. Without any thought to where things might come from, it is likely you aren't thinking about “new to you” furniture, but rather unscratched, sparkly new treatment tools and office furniture.
by Mike Whitmer in Financial Plan & Budgets on Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Unfortunately, those come at a high price. Tables can cost as much as $6,000 and that’s just the beginning. What about x-ray equipment, office furniture, treatment supplies, computers, software, and the actual office space? So, what can a new practice do to keep costs and debt down?
Plan and budget. It’s that simple. Planning and staying within budget can keep your costs and debt reasonable. It may look something like this:
- Plan. Decide what it is you really need to open your practice. Think about the size of office space you need to function. For example, how will the patients move through your office? What purpose does each treatment room serve? Can you combine rooms? How many office staff do you plan on having? How much room will they need? How many computers will you need? What kind of software will you use to track patients and billing? These types of questions help you determine what is necessary and what is “extra.”
- Budget. Work with your financial planner to determine your expenses before you even begin incurring costs associated with opening a new practice. Then work them to create a realistic budget of costs associated with opening your practice. This will help you determine what you need to borrow or raise for start-up funding. And, remember, many experienced D.C.s recommend keeping enough capital in reserve to operate for at least six months.
- Keep overhead low. While owning a building has its advantages, a D.C. starting out might want to consider leasing space. The advantages are numerous. Expenses around routine maintenance, repairs and upgrades fall on the landlord. Let’s be honest, do you really want to be a property manager on top of your chosen profession? Plus, you might find your ideal space isn’t really in the right place to serve your patients and want to move in the first couple of years.
- Quality pre-owned equipment is available. While you may be able to purchase some new equipment for your office, don’t rule out pre-owned. There is a surprising amount of chiropractic tools available at auction, through classified ads as well as on eBay. Some vendors also provide pre-owned options, or even better, new equipment at a discount for D.C.s starting out. By the way, office equipment like desks, reception desks, waiting room chairs, etc. are also available as pre-owned.
When you are starting out, it is easy to want to make everything perfect, but the reality is that you can put together a professional, wonderful looking practice on a budget. It will take some planning and time, but if you can keep your start-up costs and long-term debt payments under control, you’ll be able to better focus on what matters most – your patients.