Finding Suitable Premises for Your Practice
Researching new premises for your practice can be very exciting. There are so many different and interesting options available to you. It can get a little overwhelming, so I thought I’d outline some of the areas that need to be considered when making a choice.
When you decide where you are going to work, you must ensure the location is fit for purpose. There are many different requirements for different disciplines, so just because somewhere is being used by other practitioners, it doesn’t mean it will be suitable for you. Your professional body will have guidelines for your discipline outlined in their code of conduct.
How easy is it to find your clinic, and get to it? Does it have different options for those travelling such as good transport links, or parking? Does the surrounding area meet your client’s expectations? This will reflect on you and your service, if the building or area aren’t well maintained.
If you are working with clients with mobility issues, are the premises and rooms suitable for their needs e.g. ground floor or wheelchair accessible?
Client confidentiality is crucial. Good sound proofed rooms, where clients feel safe to share their personal information is a must.
If there is a lot of noise pollution, it could sabotage your clients experience with you. This could stop them from achieving full benefit of working with you. This could also stop them for continuing to work with you.
An acupuncturist would not be able to use a carpeted room because of the needles. This would also not work for someone using lots of creams or oils, where there could be spillages and that need to be easy to clean and disinfect.
Working from home is a great option to save you money on room rent which can take up a large chunk of your income. It also saves you on travel time and costs.
Before you decide to work from home, you may need permission from your local authority, mortgage lender, or landlord, depending on your circumstances and where you live. You will also need to talk to your home insurance company as they may want to review your cover to take into consideration the visitors to your home.
Working from home could be subject to different charges such as business rates, rubbish collection and if you are selling, capital gains tax.
Many practitioners decide to ‘fly under the radar’ metaphorically speaking, but they are taking a chance.
Working from home you are inviting strangers into your home. You need to ensure the safety of both you and your family, for ideas on keeping yourself safe, check out my article on practitioner safety: http://www.helenharding.co.uk/practitioner-safety/
I recommend where possible, having a separate room to work with clients that is easily accessed from the entrance of your home. You can create the right feel for your clinic and ensure it is professionally presented. It also means that you can separate your home life from your work and maintain your own privacy.
Another thing to consider is, will there be any issues with parking for your neighbours, as well as your clients. Your business should not have a detrimental effect on your local community if you want to work harmoniously from home.
Single Discipline and Multi Discipline Clinics
These are a great option for new practitioners, or those moving to a new area. You’ll be able to establish yourself amongst a client base who is accustomed to complementary health care and be part of a small community of practitioners.
In a single discipline clinic, you may be able to provide cover for your colleagues if they are busy or on holiday.
Clinics that have different disciplines are a powerful way to grow your business from cross referrals. Find a clinic where practitioners work as a team and are encouraged to support each other’s businesses. The key to working in these environments is to be able to clearly communicate what you do, and who you help, with the other practitioners. Make sure you also know what the other practitioners do and who they work with too.
Payments to clinics can be an hourly, or daily rate, to rent the rooms. Usually in this situation you are responsible for marketing and administration of your service. You may need to commit to renting specific, regular time blocks in the clinic around the existing practitioners. The downside could be, you paying for rooms even if you don’t have any clients.
Other clinics are paid a set amount based on the clients you see, often figures around 40% of the fee. This generally covers your room rent, reception services, marketing and administration such as taking payments.
I found when starting out as a practitioner, working closely with other practitioners (in my case an osteopath) provided me with my first clients. I also rented a room in a hair and beauty salon, which was another good source of finding clients.
As well as renting rooms in clinics, you can also consider serviced offices, hotels and other complementary businesses such as health food stores and hairdressers. Be creative in where you find suitable rooms, but always keep your client at the heart of the decision.
Technology has provided us with the opportunity to grow our businesses and promote our services to a much larger audience, than our local area.
The advantage is cost savings, working from home and the potential for reaching large audiences. This disadvantage is isolation, security, and having the personal connection that you get when you with your client.
Your code of conduct will outline what is acceptable for your discipline. Check with your professional body before deciding this is an option for you.
In the US, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) dictates the standards required for therapeutic work online. Depending where you work and where your clients are, platforms like Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts not HIPAA compliant.
If you are selecting a platform, ensure your platform conforms to HIPAA to provide a secure video system for your clients. This is a useful article that reviews different platforms from Online Therapy Hub
The key is to find a place to help your clients that compliments your approach and reflects your service. You can inject your personality into any environment, selecting the right one will make it a whole lot easier.
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