18 Steps To Starting Your Own Physical Therapy Business
Posted by Dodd Caldwell · Jun 1, 2017
Starting and managing your own physical therapy practice may seem like something that is unattainable. After all, setting up shop and then maintaining a livable wage is no easy feat. However, with the right physical therapy private practice business plan, you can have your very own physical therapy start-up clinic.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to getting your PT clinic up and running, but with some meticulous planning and some hard work, you can be your own boss.
Here are the steps you need to follow.
1. Research the Market in Your Area
No business venture can begin without some precise market research. When conducting your research, you will need to answer the following questions.
- Who are your patients?
- What type of physical therapy do they need?
- Why do they need physical therapy?
- What will it take to make them choose your clinic?
After you’ve answered these questions, you want to canvas the competition.
- How big are the practices in your area?
- How are your competitor’s businesses structured? Are they, solo practitioners, partnerships, franchises?
- How long has the competition existed?
Answers to these questions will help you determine the potential for possible clients in the area you are considering starting your PT clinic.
2. Choose Your Physical Therapy Niche Based on Your Market
A clear idea of what exists in your market gives you the necessary insight into what niches are underserviced. Maybe it’s pediatrics or geriatric.
Choose one of those niches, and you will likely set yourself up for success. With a clear idea of the niche you hope to represent, begin reaching out and discussing your idea with therapists who are respected in that area.
After you’ve chosen a niche, you can also start searching for physical therapy practices for sale in your area.
3. Determine If You Will be Cash-Based or Insurance-Based
A good idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it will lead you to the question, “How am I going to run my practice?” The first major decision you need to make with regard to the “how” is, “How am I going to bill?”. Research the benefits of choosing to enter into contracts with insurance companies versus providing cash services.
Historically speaking, insurance contracts make things easier. You will only be responsible for collecting copayments. However, more and more insurance companies are decreasing reimbursement rates, which has led many physical therapy private practice salaries to decline. Thus, many physical therapy start-ups have opted to use a cash-based plan. Be sure to do your homework in this area as your company’s success is contingent upon income.
4. Research Legal Liabilities
When it comes to HIPPA, you can never be too sure. Take some time and learn the ins-and-outs of all of your legal liabilities. If you can afford a consultation with an attorney, it might be in your best interests.
Legal responsibilities are one of those “ounce of prevention, pound of cure” scenarios. Don’t skimp on learning the rules because there’s a good chance it will cost you a lot later down the road if you don’t.
5. Develop a Business Plan
You’ve explored the competition, you’ve determined a niche, you’ve made a financial decision, and you’ve looked into the rules for setting up and running your startup physical therapy clinic.
Now, all you need is a solid business plan to present to a funding source. Several online sources can guide you through writing a business plan. Just make sure you spend a good deal of time on this step so that your vision and mission is crystal clear. You need the guiding principles of your business to be explicitly understood so that everything from marketing to customer satisfaction can run smoothly.
6. Secure Financing
A solid business plan is the key to securing the necessary financing to begin building our your practice. There are a few places you can look for funding.
- Angel Investors
- Family members
If you opt to go the bank route, you should be aware that you will likely have to revise your business plan. Also, there will be endless amounts of paperwork to complete the lending process. So, be patient and prepared if you are seeking funds from a bank.
7. Find a Location
A solid understanding of how much money you have to bankroll your physical therapy clinic will give you a clear vision of how much you can afford for rent. Begin searching for a location within your budget. A few things to consider when looking for the right space for your practice are:
- Rent structure
- Square footage
8. Negotiate a Lease
Rent and lease contracts are another area that paying for an attorney will benefit you in the long run. You don’t want to get locked into a contract that you cannot pay because you do not know how much your physical therapy clinic is going to make.
But, you also don’t want to enter into a short-term lease agreement, get settled, and then have the rent raised just as you are starting to get ahead. Hire an attorney, let him/her look over your finances, and get some help negotiating a lease that fits your budget and your vision.
9. Fill out All the Necessary Paperwork
As long as you have that attorney working on the lease, you might want to consider hiring him/her to get the necessary business paperwork in order as well. You will need to do the following before you can become a legal business.
- Finalize a business name
- Have an up to date therapists’ license
- File your Articles of Incorporation with your state
- Secure an EIN from the IRS
- Purchase Insurance
It’s also a good idea to join as many professional networks as you can. It will help you stay current on philosophies, and it will help you tremendously when it comes to networking.
10. Begin Searching For and Hiring Staff
You planted the seed earlier in your endeavors when you were selecting your niche; now it’s time to actively recruit the best. Let college classmates know you are looking for quality therapists.
Spread the word to old colleagues who you know are quality physical therapists. You will also need an office manager, so you can stay focused on patients and not managerial tasks. Make sure you hire someone who you feel can be the face of your practice. Your office manager must be efficient, but also kind and friendly. He/she will be any client’s first impression of your practice.
11. Develop a Marketing Plan
You need a well-rounded marketing strategy. Plan on developing print and digital marketing materials. If you can afford radio or television ads, those are effective forms of advertising. Do not underestimate the power of visiting local doctors’ offices and sharing your specialty.
Be sure you have business cards and print materials available for them to pass out to the patients they refer. Most importantly make it easy for doctors’ offices to schedule patients directly from their office.
12. Build a Website
Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a website. But, make sure you get a page that can host a blog. You want to make sure it is branded with your logo, not a third party site, and you need to make sure that you use some SEO strategies so that it ranks above your competitors.
Eventually, you will need to create a blog so that you can show your patients that you are industry expert.
13. Design the Space
You’ve got the word out; now you should design a space that can house the patients you are marketing to. When designing your space, take into consideration that a professional designer will help you maximize your square footage while capturing your vision of your clinic.
It’s important to note; your physical space is a direct reflection of your clinic. Patients will judge you if things don’t look nice. So, if you can’t afford a designer, make sure you spend some time looking at how other clinics are set up and try to mimic some of the designs that you feel are efficient and effective.
14. Buy the Necessary Physical Therapy Equipment
Create physical therapy equipment list, and start shopping for the best deals. Order your equipment and then set it up according to your design. Don’t forget to look for physical therapy practices for sale. You can find some good deals on equipment that people are trying to get rid of.
15. Buy Your Office Supplies
You will also need to purchase office furniture and supplies. Comfortable waiting room furniture is also important—especially since you will have people who need rehabilitation sitting in the waiting room.
Purchasing the most up to date computers would also be wise. Slow computers can be frustrating and can impose unnecessary wait times on clients who are on the phone or who are in the office. People hate waiting, and forcing them to could cost you patients. Spend the extra few dollars and keep your technology up to date.
16. Decide How You Will Do Your Billing
Are you going to use a 3rd party billing services, or is your office manager going to handle billing? There are pros and cons to both options, so be sure you do your homework about the different approaches.
17. Find the Right Software
You will need to find the right software to keep everything organized. So, you will need to do some research about the following different types of software so that you can make an informed decision about what company’s solutions will work best for your practice.
- Payment platform
- Scheduling Software
18. Offer Incentives
Your space is ready, your computer systems are in place, and all the big managerial decisions have been made. Now you need to develop a plan to get patients in the door, and more importantly, you need a plan to keep them coming back.
Remember it costs five times more money to earn a new customer than it does to keep one. Consider a loyalty program or some other type of incentive like reduced rates for the first few months. Do something to show your new patients you value their business.