I Want to Grow My Practice … But How? Use a framework to identify expansion opportunities that solve customer problems and build your competitive advantage. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   May 01, 2018
I Want to Grow My Practice … But How?
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   May 01, 2018
I Want to Grow My Practice … But How?
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, 34-36. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.23052018.34
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, 34-36. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.23052018.34
As the owner of a private practice or clinic, you know that you—and your employees—are doing great things for people with speech-language or hearing disorders. And so you might wonder—how can I reach more people who need our skills and expertise?
Whether you’re looking to fill gaps in your client schedule or expand an already thriving business, you have several options for extending your reach. The most effective growth strategy for you depends on a number of factors: for example, your community, the financial health of your business, and whether or not you have a specialization.
Growth opportunities
Below are some strategies, or growth opportunities, to consider. A growth opportunity for your business can fall into four categories:
  • Greater market penetration.

  • New product in your current market.

  • Same product in a new market.

  • New product in a new market.

Are there additional services that you can add to your menu? If you offer only speech-language services, could you hire an occupational therapist and a physical therapist and offer additional types of therapy?

Greater market penetration. How can you keep doing what you are doing—but get more of the people in your area who need audiology or speech-language services to come to you? This strategy involves an intentional marketing strategy to let the people in your community know that your company exists and the value they will receive when they come to see you. Read more about marketing below.
New product in your current market. Are there additional services that you can add to your menu? For example, if you offer only speech-language services, could you hire an occupational therapist and a physical therapist and offer additional types of therapy? Could you sell products that support your treatment services, such as educational toys, oral-motor chews or weighted blankets? If you are a dispensing audiologist, could you add hearing conservation services to your menu? What are the needs in your community within your scope of practice that you can fill by adding a new service?
Same product in a new market. Can you add another location—that is, could you provide your same services in a different city? Could you add telepractice to your services, providing your expertise to patients who live too far away to drive to your clinic?
New product in a new market. Perhaps you have created some amazing materials for working on language development with your preschool-age clients. You could grow your practice by putting your creations on Teachers Pay Teachers, becoming the go-to person for great therapy material ideas. Or perhaps you could write an e-book detailing how you provide a particular treatment for patients in your area of expertise for other clinicians to purchase and download. You have expertise and a skillset that others can continue using after you retire!
So let’s get this brainstorming started. As you think about your company’s growth, ask yourself these questions:
  • Who do I want my next 25 patients to be?

  • What do they care about and need related to my current services?

  • Where do they go to get their information, help or answers?

  • What is their difficulty that I can address?

  • How do I want them to feel after they have been to our clinic?

As you develop the answers to these questions, you should be able to see which type of growth opportunity might be the best fit for your practice.

Make sure you have the financial resources to take the growth steps you choose.

It takes money to make money
Most of the time, the adage “It takes money to make money” is true. Make sure you have the financial resources to take the growth steps you choose. If you decide to open another clinic location in a different city, for example, it’s crucial to fill out a financial forecasting spreadsheet to estimate how much it will cost you to open the doors and how long it will take for that new location to pay back startup costs and become profitable. You can download a free template from SCORE.org, a nonprofit resource for free and confidential small business advice.
When you are working out your financial forecasting numbers, remember to include the costs of your market research and marketing activities by answering these questions and assigning an estimated dollar amount required to carry out that task:
  • Who is your target market that you need to reach for your growth opportunity—patients themselves, the physicians who make referrals, parents, schools? For example, if your area of expertise is working with children, your actual clients will not be your target market. Your primary target audience will likely be parents and referring physicians. Spend some time thinking about who you really need to reach—the people who will actually bring more people through your doors.

  • Where do these targeted populations spend their time?

  • How are you going to let them know who you are, where you are, and what you have to offer them? Will you meet with them face-to-face? Are you going to communicate with them by email? Will you give them print reference material, such as flyers or brochures, that they can have at their fingertips?

  • Are they mostly on social media—and if so, which platform? Can you best reach them through email blasts or social media posts?

No matter what growth opportunity you choose, you will likely need to use all available communication channels to get your word out.

No matter what growth opportunity you choose, you will likely need to use all available communication channels—face-to-face meetings, digital messages, printed materials and word-of-mouth—to get your word out. And all will cost you time or money or both.
By assigning time and financial needs to each marketing activity, and comparing those costs to your available resources, you can evaluate whether you can move forward with your growth opportunity—or if you need to put it on pause while you gather the resources you need to make it happen successfully.
Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”
Growing ourselves and our companies is hard work. It involves setting intentional goals and getting up every morning to make them happen. The best part of that process, though, is that it makes us better, more skillful and wiser—and we get to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
Learn More at ASHA Connect

Shelley Chesney will delve further into growth opportunities at ASHA Private Practice Connect, July 20–22 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

At this conference, you will learn more about growing your business, reimbursement and regulatory issues, service-delivery options and other business-related issues.

This conference offers tools private-practice owners need to manage and grow their businesses. Chesney, who is also presenting on key performance indicators and on hiring, firing and performance reviews, joins a lineup of experienced presenters who will share relevant, practical tools that attendees can take home and implement immediately.

Private Practice Connect is co-located with Schools Connect and Health Care Connect—registrants are free to attend sessions from any of the conferences.

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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2018
Volume 23, Issue 5