At-home, mobile, or a clinic?
By Brad Cote, RMT
How to choose the right business model for your practice
By Brad Cote, RMT
There have been a lot of practitioners venturing out and starting their businesses, especially during the past year as clinics have been closing and rolling lockdowns. Common questions I get from my colleagues are: “How do I know what business model is right for me? Should I have a home-based business? Should I go mobile? Should I work in a clinic, rent a room?” The answer is that it really depends on you. Here are few factors to consider:
- Your current patient base, are you starting from zero, or do you have a list?
- Your current employer or landlord, do you have certain non-compete obligations?
- Your personal preference of lifestyle, do you enjoy travelling or would you rather be in one spot?
- Your current life circumstances, tight finances or a newborn impacting your life?
- What are your long-term goals, would you like a team working with you or be a solo practitioner?
As you can see there are no right or wrong answers, the decision is based on specifically what you want for your lifestyle and career.
In my career I have worked as a solo practitioner renting space in a gym facility, to owning a seven-figure multidisciplinary clinic, as well as being a mobile therapist flying to treat NFL, NHL, and other professional athletes. At each point in my career, there were different focusses I had at the time that made me choose the specific business model at the time. This is also an important lesson in itself, your business model can change, nothing is saying you can’t start a mobile business and change to a clinic if the mobile wasn’t the right fit or your life circumstances changed.
In this article, I’m going to share some of my experiences, personally, as well as clients that I work with regularly on some of the advantages of each business model. (The cons have been left out as there are too many factors based on individual circumstances, and I want to stay positive.)
I had a home-based business while I was also working as a mobile therapist because I was travelling 2-3 weeks per month, and it didn’t make sense for me to have a clinic due to costs overhead, and the need for a team.
The advantages of a home-based business are:
- Lowest overhead expense
- Deduct a portion of your rent
- No commute, traffic or parking
- Higher potential for profit
- Never be late for an appointment
- The advantages of a mobile-based business are:
- Low overhead expense
- Can serve specific niche markets easier
- Can charge higher rates
- Can serve larger areas or segments such as corporate offices, or sports teams
- New environments and more social
With that being said, you do need to factor in your travel time and charge accordingly. Not charging enough for the convenience of coming to the patient (your gas or public transit travel costs) is a big mistake mobile therapists make. For me, I worked with NFL players and had weekly flights to treat these patients, which took a large majority of my time – sometimes five hours one way across the country.
Now, clinics vary because you could have a large multidisciplinary clinic with other modalities and practitioners, or you could simply have an office you rent. We’ll start with the rented office.
The advantages of a rented office clinic business are:
- Typically lower cost and more lenient leasing terms
- Can often share days or have another practitioner work with you
- Distance between your home life and business
- The advantages of a multidisciplinary clinic-based business are:
- High ability to increase income and revenue
- Can have multiple practitioners or other multiple disciplines
- Can offer more services and equipment
- Potential ability to expand and scale your business
When debating the best option, I think it’s important to underscore that there’s no right or wrong answer. Your personal life preferences, life circumstances, and career goals may evolve to where you might start such as myself, where you have a solo-based home practice maybe experiment with treating patients mobile and then you end up starting a clinic as you grow your network and patient lists to accommodate a very rapidly growing business.
There are a few tips that I generally recommend when you’re first starting. If you do not have a patient base, start now. If you’re not super strong at marketing of gaining new patients, a home-based business may be for you. Mobile is also another really good option if travel is something you enjoy and easy to do in your specific town, city or area serviced.
With a patient base, you’ve likely developed business skills and perhaps looking at growing a team. Setting yourself up for success of having a clinic with multiple rooms and an ability to expand is an important factor.
I have experimented throughout my career with home-based businesses, clinics, and mobile business, and found that I don’t have a specific preference – they all have advantages and disadvantages based on my goals.
I hope this helps provide you with more clarity on where to start or permit you to change something that isn’t working for you now!
BRAD COTE is the founder of Link Performance Therapy, a successful cash pay private practice with a focus on athletes. He has grown his clinic from zero to 7-figures revenue within 18 months of operation using a combination of proven structures, systems and strategies that he now shares with healthcare business owners across North America who are looking to gain new patients and grow their business.