Top 5 Considerations for Opening a New Weight Loss Practice
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
Opening a new weight loss practice or expanding your services to include weight loss is a big decision. Including these five considerations as you create your action plan will increase your likelihood of success and enjoyment.
While the pitfalls and challenges of opening a new weight loss practice are similar, there is no one way to build a new weight loss practice or add weight loss services into your current practice. Although there are best practices, your practice is uniquely yours to create.
Yet, as intelligent, action oriented, busy health care professionals, it can be easy to simply implement a model of care similar to what you see being offered locally or online. For efficiency, no one wants to re-invent the wheel if you don’t have to. In your haste as a motivated practitioner ready to help your patients live healthier lives, these five important considerations can be overlooked. If that happens, you risk creating a practice that is not as profitable or enjoyable as you had hoped.
Top 5 Focus Areas
Beginning a new endeavor is exciting — a time filled with promise and potential. You are committed to success and ready to get going. As with anything new, there will be roadblocks, obstacles, and challenges along the way. Being crystal clear about these five areas will help you navigate with confidence.
1.Your Vision: No matter the size or type of practice you have or are creating, your vision is what guides every decision you make. Take the time to really think this through and write it down. Your vision is also intended to inspire your employees and your patients. It should be ambitious, strategic and feasible. It is comprised of the following:
- What you do. This includes the services, products and support you provide.
- How you do it. This includes your model of care (brick & mortar, telehealth/online, insurance based, cash based or combination). It also includes how you show up in your office and online — in your marketing, all communication, your office décor/flow, your day-to-day systematized operations, and much more. What is your care delivery system like? What clientele does it attract? And, what is the overall reputation you want to be known for?
- Why you do it. Why you are choosing to create your practice? Just like your patients seeking weight loss, your why is what will carry you through any setbacks. It is always better to follow your why and your vision than to chase other things such as revenue. While essential for success, if you follow your vision and your why, revenue and profitability will follow.
Embrace your unique vision and enthusiastically share it with your team so they understand exactly what they are working towards and how they contribute to bringing the practice vision to fruition.
2. Your Team: A high performing team wants to work for a high performing practice. Think through your organizational chart and what positions are critical to fill first. Craft your job postings to attract your ideal candidates. Once hired, set them up for success with your onboarding process. Understand what motivates them and take interest in their short- and long-term goals. Provide them with the necessary training, let them know how they contribute to the success of the practice, have them measure specific key performance indicators related to their position, help them excel, and make sure communication is as transparent as possible.
3. Your Ideal Customer/Market: Initially, many weight loss practitioners have a general view of those they want to serve that focuses on attributes such as age, type of insurance, how much weight they want to lose, and income level. Yet, over time, a niche market tends to develop as you work with your clientele. Knowing who you want to serve will guide every aspect of your marketing as well as how you may set up service delivery. Thus, the earlier you can define your ideal patient and what they desire most, the more focused your efforts will be.
4. Your Income & Service Delivery Model: As you defined your vision, you determined your preferred care delivery model. Now it is time to consider how large or small you want your practice to be and contributing factors to your profitability (revenue streams and related expenses). This will drive your decisions as you set up your EMR, billing system, budget and metrics for timely measurement of your progress and profitability.
5. Your Budget, Timeline, Plan, Execution & Tracking: This consideration is how you will take what you have decided and make it a reality — and by when? How do you plan to ensure these critical tasks are completed and who do you need to help you? It helps to have an overall action plan that outlines in chronological order everything that needs to be accomplished related to these areas. And, you don’t want to forget actions necessary for establishing systems related to your team, products and services, marketing, care delivery system, finances, and measurement of your key performance indicators. When you take time to consider everything that needs to be done ahead of time, it will help you set priorities and determine a timeline for completion that is realistic and trackable. This will make the entire process more enjoyable and focused on creating the type of weight loss practice that you want and creates the transformation your patients desire most.
Bottom line, opening a new weight loss practice or adding weight loss services into your practice is an exciting endeavor. There are many resources available to you. It is important to address these five considerations prior to identifying necessary resources so that your unique practice is designed with your goals and the goals of your ideal patients in mind.