Things I learned when adding another practice location
So, many of you know that when I have an idea, I can’t be talked out of it. I go full force, energy thrown in that direction. That’s what I did when I decided to add another location. I knew where I wanted to add my next location, which was one thing I didn’t have to think much about. Looking back, there were many things that I didn’t expect that happened and a handful of things that I expected that didn’t happen on my timeline.
It costs more than you expect. You’d think that doing it once already would prepare you for the initial cost set up. It doesn’t. I think one of the issues is that since you’ve done it once already, you want to one up yourself on your next location. Plus, with the first and last month’s rent, security deposit and literally starting from scratch, it does bring the costs up.
You will feel pressured to hire fast to fill the space. Nothing makes you feel more rushed than having an empty space to fill and rent due. Please, hear me out when I say, hire slow. The space will fill eventually. Don’t worry about your lone therapist working in solitude. Keep them company when you can. Let them know the space will have more therapists soon. But do not, I repeat, do not hire quickly to fill the space. It will only give you grief later on.
You will expect it to fill faster than it does. Even though I prepared myself that it would take about 3 months to fill each clinician’s schedule, I was not prepared for it to take 6 months for them to get paneled with the insurances we are on. Of course, insurances were behind and not able to follow their 120 days to contracting expectation.
You will feel like it is not successful at some point. After setting up the new office, hiring therapists, and finally being able to fill them up, small things had me second guessing my decision and the ability of that location to be successful. Because the locations were near each other, I expected most of the people who called to be willing to go to the second location. Many preferred to wait until a space opened at the main location. Also, with having a successful first location that had referrals streaming in, I half-heartedly expected the second location to just magically become like the first location. In many ways, I had forgotten how much work I put into my first location.
You will have to schedule a way to balance your time between two locations. Nothing challenges you more than your expectation to treat both locations the same and continue to have a family style practice. It means running back and forth between locations. It means setting time aside to just sit in the location you may not work out of, just to be there. It means making sure you check in on that office more than you think you should, since you will probably forget how easy it is in the first location since you are, well, already always there working! Your clinicians can just come up to you. But at your next location, they’ll likely have to email you questions.
There will be unique issues to one practice and not the other. One location is on the first floor. The other is on the second floor. You’d be surprised at the difference in needs. One practice has parking lot issues, the other has noise issues with neighboring buildings being fixed. The remote location has to scan and email everything to our biller since she works at the main location, so we had to make sure our printer allows for that.
You will need to delegate more things. You will soon realize you either have to see less clients or delegate more things (or just do both for sanity’s sake!). I have my assistant go to the second location to retrieve receipts and mail. She also has started helping me by finding local businesses near the second location and sending out intro packages to them. The more help you can get to be successful the better.
You will need to tighten your policies and procedures even more. I have been playing around with my policies and procedures for what feels like forever. I have noticed a need to tighten up some of my policies and procedures since opening a second location. I have added a trainings webpage with videos I made to help new clinicians know how to use things like our EHR. I add videos on important things they need to know. I noticed that since I am not at the location where new people are hired, I tend to spend less time training them than I do for new clinicians at my own practice location. So having this online training videos page has helped.
Despite the learning curve, I love having grown to another location. It is a doable feat, if you have the time to grow it and the resources to help you make it successful.
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here: LEARN MORE HERE