Know When It’s Time to Expand Your Practice

Examine these factors before you decide.

If you’re considering expanding your practice, it means you’re doing a lot of things right. Maybe you’d like to ramp up your revenue or become a larger player in your market. Perhaps patients have increased to the point that existing staff can’t serve them as effectively or your facilities feel ready to burst.

These are great reasons to consider enlarging your current office or even launching a new branch. First, though, carefully consider these key factors.

Poll your partners
Growth, like any change, can be disruptive. It can mean vastly different things to different people. Have you spoken with your partners about what level of growth they aspire to? No matter how busy your practice is, build in time for big-picture discussions, including how (and how fast) you want your practice to grow. If your growth plans include taking on additional partners, be sure everyone agrees on the proper process for accepting or rejecting potential newcomers.

Mind your infrastructure
First thoughts center on adding new physicians and dentists, but don’t overlook the crucial support (both human and otherwise) that an expanded operation will require. Manufacturers refer to this phase of expansion as “scaling up”— making sure they have the necessary equipment, transportation and tech support to accommodate an influx of new orders. Your practice faces similar challenges. Will your digital records system work across several branches? How many support staff will you have to hire? Are waiting areas roomy enough for new customers?[1]

Think like a business
Though your primary purpose is treating patients, growth plans should be based on a clear review of your financials: your revenue, costs, profits and cash flow, and how each of these is likely to be affected by your expansion. As you think of growing, now may be the time to assess which parts of your practice are most and least successful, and to focus your attention on areas driving the greatest return.[2]

Assess the market
A busy waiting room or the desire to earn more isn’t by itself justification to expand. Any growth plan should include a detailed assessment of the market. How much of the local market do you currently control? What segment or segments will you go after? Is the local population shrinking or growing? Who is your competition? How will your expansion complement what you’re currently doing, rather than creating redundancies?[3]

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1. http://www.amednews.com/article/20130128/business/130129959/7/

2. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/the-next-level-understanding-the-costs-of-business-growth-mtmc/

3. ibid.

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