I have a new office and there is nothing in it!
As I have mentioned previously, I am striking out on my own into totally new territory: A new approach to medical practice, brand new office space, and a new community. At least I now have the office space. 'And right now, it's totally empty: no furniture nor supplies; and nothing except some coffee mugs I brought from home.
For years, I have loathed "paying for money." In other words, I would rather do anything than borrow money from a lending institution. So, I am trying to be frugal in getting the furniture, equipment and supplies that I need to start seeing patients. It's really easy to drop a small fortune on these items, especially when purchasing all new things. But there are other ways to furnish your practice:
1: Start checking thrift stores and used furniture shops. With a little cleaning, maybe some paint or new fabric, you can easily rehab a piece of furniture. For instance, I went to Habitat for Humanity to look for waiting room chairs. You do have to go frequently as their inventory changes regularly. I didn't find any chairs, however I did find a medical exam table in great shape (and it was exactly the kind that I wanted). When I went back the next day to buy it, the price had reduced from $99 to $75. This table costs almost $300 if you buy it new. Once I clean the wooden legs and staple some new vinyl on the top, it will be just like new. Savings: $200.
2: Remember to check eBay, and Craigslist (and there are more apps available for used items) for furniture that would be suitable to an office. And depending on the time of year, many stores will hold big sales.
3: You never know unless you ask! My husband taught me this phrase and it is a very good to remember, both in medicine as well as business! The landlord's manager for the new office had mentioned they have quite a collection of furniture that has been left in offices over the years. When I asked, he said they have a 135,000-square-foot warehouse full of various items of office furniture. He told me that I am welcome to anything in there and they will even bring it to the office for me! Eight waiting room chairs will cost: $0. I'll probably be able to get a desk or two as well as file cabinets too.
4: Manage your inventory of supplies carefully and don't over-order! My new office has a small supply closet so the manager and I will carefully monitor the amount of backup supplies we have in stock. Most companies can get replacements to the office in a matter of days, so it's senseless to have money sitting on the shelf with excess supplies. Remember some supplies have expirations dates so you want to use up those items steadily.
5: Spend your money on what's important. New computers, telephones, software and medical equipment are very important. These are being purchased new for my office.
6: Shop around for pricing on services and don't be afraid to bargain. Have you had the same web developer and host for a long time? When was the last time your website was redesigned? Have you looked around to see if another company can do the same or a better job for you at a better price? This kind of thing is a bargaining opportunity with your current company or maybe it's time to switch.
7: Stay lean in the most expensive part of a new office: staffing. I plan to hire people only as I start to get busy. Initially I will have one staff member who will fill multiple non-medical support roles: reception, office management, scribe, and janitorial services. She is a recent college graduate so is willing to take on all these roles for my new practice especially since it won't be busy at the beginning. Once things get busier, I will hire more people as needed.
I hope to start seeing patients in my new facility next month. With luck, there will be chairs!
Do you have good ideas for a new practice to keep costs down until revenue is generated? I'm open to your thoughts so please leave a comment.