I remember my first couple of months in practice. I was working for a relatively high volume doctor. In about two months, I went from adjusting a handful of patients every week in school, to upwards of 50-70 patients a week in my new job. At night, I would go home with a sore lower back, right hand pain, and think, “how in the world am I going to keep this up for the next 30 years?” Five years later, with more mindfulness of posture, adjusting technique, and more reliance on an instrument, my body feels better, but certainly not perfect. I know compared to many doctors in the field, I am just getting started. If you have been in the game for a while and you’re starting to think it’s time to add an associate, check out the three reasons why you should. The caveat? You have to know which scenario you are want before you start hiring.
You may now be at the point where you want to work less in your business. Maybe you want to focus more on how to improve it versus being the practioner. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family, maybe the aches and pains of adjusting are catching up with. Or maybe you are tired of seeing so many patients yourself, or it’s time to take that long awaited trip. For whatever the reason, you want another doctor to start doing the work. You want them to sit in the office all day, listen to John, Dick, and Harry’s ailments for the day, do the SOAP notes, and develop an ulcer over insurance claims. If this is the case, you want an employee. It’s not that you can’t mentor the new doctor, but you are not selling your practice and you do not want to give up equity. Perfect! Just make sure you are upfront with those details. You have a salary laid out and what that salary includes, if commission is possible, paid time off, sick time, any kind of insurance, and the amount of hours and days the prospective doctor is expected to work. Nothing is more frustrating for either party when a new employee does not know what is expected of them or when the new boss doesn’t know how to communicate to their new employee what they should be doing.
A lot of times the prospective doctors who have the ambition, drive, and charisma to be a good chiropractor are not going to just work for a salary and commission. A lot of great candidates might need a little more incentive, like a chance at some equity. It will make them feel like they are working towards something greater, like owning their business, possibly making a bigger impact in the community, and the ability to start working “in” and “on” the business right from the get-go with less risk then opening up their own practice. Plus, by doing this, it will keep one less competitor out of your area. Here is the flip side; this needs to be laid out in stone. How much equity are you willing to fork over and for how much? If it’s a broke student just getting out of school, are you willing to do a payment plan? Remember, an equity partner equals a business partner and are you ready to give up some of the title? Will your new business partner have a say in hiring/firing the front desk staff, marketing, financials, etc? If you have been flying solo for many years, this might be a bigger transition than you think.
You may be approaching the season of your life where you might want to get out of the chiropractic business for something new or retire within the next five years or less. It is time to look for a buyer. A great way might be to take the associate in the “#2 Scenario” and give them the option to buy after a certain period of time. I believe most doctors care about their patients. An associate who is an equity partner and has been working alongside you for a length of time would make for a relatively easy transition for the staff and the patients, but you have to be ready to let go. Just like when you sell your house- do buyers want to see your family pictures and your stuff when they are house hunting, or do they want to envision themselves living in it? There will come a time when your smiling face either needs to stay home or go golfing. You can’t hand the keys over to the kingdom if you can’t step away from the throne. If you think one day, somewhere in the distant future, like 20 years from now, you may want to sell your practice, do not offer this as option. Unless of course it’s your kid getting into chiropractic because otherwise no one else is going to wait around that long.
For advice on contracts and how to sell your business please contact your attorney for all the details.
Kassandra Schultz DC