New graduates, listen up! Some of the financial considerations you’ll need to make before purchasing technology and equipment for your practice
Tables, headrest paper, office computer software, and not to mention staff and a building to put it all in are just a few of the costs faced by chiropractic graduates. There seem to be an endless number of items chiropractors need in order to start up a practice. And, as many of you are aware, new graduates tend to have very little purchasing power after finishing chiropractic college.
The necessities aside, what about technology and other modalities such as surface EMG, orthotic scanning systems and other high-tech equipment to help attract and retain patients?
Should you buy all the equipment you think you’ll need at the onset of a new practice?
This question was posed to many chiropractors across Canada. The results? Sixty-six per cent of respondents said “no”, they wouldn’t, while the remaining 33 per cent said “yes”, they would.
There are, however, several aspects that need to be taken into consideration before making this kind of decision.
This article is intended to pass on the advice gleaned from chiropractors who have taken both paths. Hopefully it will guide you to make a decision that is right for you.
Two Schools Of Thought
The traditional school of thought is that being debt-free is nirvana. We all know that this is the ideal.
However, many people today will balk at the suggestion of making money before spending it. Younger generations, raised in a lifestyle of credit cards and lines of credit are trained into the “buy-now, pay later” mentality.
When deciding to buy something or not, sometimes their only consideration is whether there is any room left on their LOC or card.
As a result, they may tend to have higher stress levels. In addition, they may spend $100 to $1,000 per month on interest payments that they could otherwise be spending on their families or holidays or further equipment for the office.
Ask yourself some of these qualifying questions:
Did you graduate with student loans of $75,000 to $100,000?
If you have answered “yes”, consider whether or not you seriously want to go even further into debt than you absolutely need to. If you graduated debt-free, do you like that condition and want to keep it that way as much as possible?
If you are a new graduate, some chiropractors surveyed said it is a good idea to join an established practice first in order to save up some money and then to go out on your own.
Keep in mind that many new practices can take more than a year before the difference between income and expenses becomes significant enough to give the owner a paycheque. The higher the monthly overhead, the longer it will be before you can take home enough to live on.
Unless you are living at home or have another source of income than your practice, you may find that your monthly payments of rent, salaries, promotion, phones, etc. are burdensome enough, in addition to a huge debt or a substantial monthly loan or lease payment for equipment.
Another aspect of purchasing you must consider is whether or not you even have a big enough line of credit to draw on until you see a profit.
There are several unavoidable purchases chiropractors need to make in order to start seeing patients.
The basics include:
A location – monthly rent or a mortgage and other associated overhead
Salary for a receptionist
Association and licensing fees
Telephone and listings
A couple of adjustment tables
Some money for promotion
Letterhead, envelopes, business cards
Now you can consider some of the variables depending on your style of treatment:
Thumpers, IFC, ultrasound, electrotherapy machines, X-ray equipment, surface EMG’s, orthotic equipment, and other available technology.
There are certainly a lot of tools and technology available in the marketplace for chiropractors and much of it is really excellent. But, before buying at the onset of a new practice, consider whether these bells and whistles are absolutely necessary in the successful treatment of your patient.
If the answer is “yes”, then you should have it. For instance, an activator practitioner without the appropriate adjusting table and an activator instrument would have difficulty treating his or her patient.
If, however, you wish to invest in a lot of technology for the sake of impressing patients and adding to the perceived value of your service to help in keeping your patients or justifying your fees, then perhaps you should rethink this investment. Good sales skills are a result of proper training and need no expensive props. Care and attention to your patient are more valuable than any number of pieces of showy equipment.
Possession of some types of equipment can generate far more income than the expense that you carry in purchasing it. However, many doctors have found that their purchase’s ability to generate extra income did not always pan out.
It’s a good idea to check with other chiropractors who have bought the equipment before making the investment yourself.
Steel yourself with a strategic plan for the purchase of equipment so that no salesman in the world can coerce you into buying what your plan does not yet have in it.
Words Of Wisdom
Here are a few pieces of advice from chiropractors across Canada in regard to purchasing your equipment. They represent a true cross-section of approaches to purchasing power.
Buy the bare minimum to start.
Consider all that is needed before approaching the bank for a loan so that everything you need is covered. Don’t go for all the trimmings at the beginning. Make our environment comfortable and pleasant, but look for deals. For example, you can purchase refurbished tables or get second-hand computers, etc.
Get a minimum of 3 quotes before you purchase anything. And do not pay a cent to any salesman until they have completed their task. Wait until you have the money. Be patient. Don’t put yourself in the hole. Don’t pay attention to what others have and are doing. Pay attention to how you want to practice. Start up with the basics. Chiropractic is healing with the hands, so you have already graduated with all the equipment you need. In the end, it is your skill and mannerisms that sell your services. You should get all the equipment you need at the beginning and buckle down and produce. If you wait, chances are you will continue to procrastinate and end up not getting the equipment you want. This may become a financial burden, but one that is well worth it. But don’t go into too much debt. Try associating for a couple of years until your school debt is paid before you enter a new debt load for the practice. Buy good quality when making a purchase. Don’t buy cheap or cut any corners because you will only have to replace them in the future.
Be successful! The more chiropractors out there helping, the better!
Which school of thought will you choose? It is your life and happiness and of your patients that are the important concerns. Make your plan and stick to it as long as it is working.
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