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When Should You Get An Associate?

When Should You Get An Associate?

question-mark2Dr. Mike is 62 years old, works 62 hours a week and if he retired would go through his savings in 62 days. Not a pretty picture.

Dr. Mike has a practice, but more accurately, Mike’s practice has him and his wife is not too happy about it. “What’s our retirement going to be like, Mike?” Mike pretends he doesn’t hear her.

Mike’s over-due, over worked and over extended. Ouch.

The reason I mentioned Mike (not his real name) is there are lots of “Mikes” in chiropractic and they frequently end up on the phone with this question:

“When should I get an associate?”

Why do you want an associate?

Mike tells me he hopes getting an associate will provide some free time, extra revenue and a prospective buyer for his practice when he retires.

Not a bad set of wants, but he could barely afford to pay himself and when I asked him why anyone would buy his practice, his only answer was that he needed the money. True, but not a good reason to buy his practice.

Can Mike’s story have a happy ending? Is there any hope? That’s what I was wondering. Let me tell you what we did:

I asked lots of questions, among them were the following:

How many visits do you see a week?

How much do you collect a month?

What’s your overhead in dollars and percentage?

How many new patients do you get in a month?

Where do they come from?

I took notes on the answers. I was also assessing the type of person Mike was at his core. He isn’t his problems – he’s Mike and Mike’s a good guy. He wasn’t whining and blaming. He was just stuck and wanted to know if I could help. I thought I could help him.

This may be a Noel thing, but I have to like you and support what you want to do before I accept you as a client. Life’s too short to not have that boundary.

In a relatively short time, I gave Mike a rough outline of the direction and strategies we’d take and actions and changes he’d need to make. I asked him if he was up for the journey and waiting for his answer. Some doctors are so committed to (in love with?) their problems, when you ask them to change, they start giving excuses – not Mike. “I’ve done it my way for decades. I’ll try it your way.”

He’s a quick peek at what we did:

  1. Turned out that Mike really needed help with his practice – instead of being inefficient. We tallied up how much an associate could make for him in indirect income (allowing him to see more new and established new patients) and the numbers worked, so we made that happen.
  2. Mike was willing to take the good things about his practice and template them for training his associate including spending some of his new newly acquired free time to do external marketing.
  3. Mike did a bang up job searching for prospective associates and found a guy that met all key criteria.
  4. Mike used a template I gave him to explain to his prospective associate where both of them would be headed.
  5. Mike hired and started to train his new associate in producing new patients on the new guy’s first day! I told Mike that if they can’t build, they can’t buy and you have to be able to produce new patients to build.

Where are they now? Mike’s guy was profitable from the new patients he produced – not Mike’s new patients – in four months and they’re getting along.

Will Mike’s associate buy Mike’s practice? We don’t know, but Mike’s helping more people, having more fun and making more money. Additionally, with the extra time off his associates provides, he’s enjoying the practice more.

AND, even if his associate does not buy, the practice is worth a lot more than it was.

How’s the associate, you ask? Really good. At his first job, no one took any time to train him. And he found out the same thing that I did about Mike. He’s a good guy. We’ll see what the future brings, but Mike thinks it’s a lot brighter than it was.

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