Oh the joys of working for someone else! You walk into an office space, which has furniture, equipment, supplies and hopefully working phone lines. There are of course downsides to being an employee or else you’d not be considering or striving to build your own private practice. To some degree the question boils down to two options: DIY building of a practice or buying into a practice. We’ve discussed in previous posts some of the pieces to building, so let’s start today with buying an existing practice.
Buying an already built practice is much the same as buying a home; you’re getting what others thought would be great and perhaps may not be to your tastes. You’ll get the advantage of a base of clients who may or may not stay with the practice; there will be functional space and equipment already in place as well as potentially a trained staff. As the practitioner you’ll likely need to spend some time learning how to adapt your style to those of the existing practice in the beginning ~ change, when you make it, needs to happen slowly.
By far one of the most important features of buying a practice is finding one that is for sale, in the right location for you personally and has an active client base which works for you and your skills. A practice which specializes in pediatrics speech and language issues would not be ideal if you plan to specialize in geriatric SLP issues. Will the previous clinician leave the area all together or will they transition out over a period of months or years? While the practice may have a large stash of potential clients how many of them are active?
In this day and age of technology it is also critical to ask what kind of technology is used by the current practice, is there an electronic record system in place or would it need to be updated; updating translates to an upfront cost for you.
Speaking of costs this is definitely one area where you want to be sure to have the guidance of trained professionals; a CPA, an attorney and perhaps a professional valuation specialist who can tell you what the practice is really worth. The sooner you start relationships with these professionals the more of a relationship you’ll have with them when you find what you want. You will likely need to take out a loan from a bank to purchase a practice so a banker or a relationship with a bank would be useful as well.
Buying an established practice has the potential to immediately take on staff who is unknown to you; you might be getting some great support but you might also be purchasing long standing issues such as a problem with absences. Building new relationships with the staff will be a part of taking over the practice.
Owning a practice, however it came to be, is not an impossible task but does require a degree of risk taking, entrepreneurial spirit, ‘stick to it-ness’ and patience. As a Thriving practitioner I have every confidence you’ll make a decision that works best for you.
Want extra help and support? I can help you with many of the qualities listed above and your professional organization has entire specialized areas for private practices for more ‘how to’ guides! All the best for your building efforts!