The CONS of Starting An OT Private Pay Practice

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What you should know before starting your Occupational Therapy Private Pay Practice.


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Starting an Occupational Therapy Private Pay Practice is absolutely exciting but also nerve-wracking.  Before jumping feet first, know what some of the cons are to running your own OT private pay practice.

In this video, Doug Vestal, Ph.D., shares with you some of the cons he found in co-owning an OT private pay practice since 2014.  Some of these surprised us and are ones that still provide challenges to this day.

This video is not intended as professional or legal advice. Be sure to seek the services of a professional and understand the risks you are undertaking.

Transcript of Video:

If you want to start your own occupational therapy private pay practice it's worth knowing about some of the cons before you ever get started so you're not as surprised as we were.  Let's get into it.

If you don't know me, my name is Doug Vestal and I help occupational therapists start and grow thriving, private pay practices. My wife and I founded our private pay practice in 2014. And these tips and trainings are from lessons that we've learned, mistakes that we've made, stuff that has really worked for us to shorten your learning curve, accelerate you getting clients, and so that you can make more of an impact faster.

So let's jump into today's topic. Today's topic is all about the cons of starting your own private pay practice. Now, when you first started private pay practice, you're of course extremely excited, but as the months go by and as the year goes years go by, we've started to see that there are some cons.

So this is by no means an exhaustive list, but this is our top three cons for operating our own occupational therapy private pay practice. So let's jump into it.

So con number one is you have to wear a lot of different hats. So if you are the type of OT who really just loves showing up at the clinic or the hospital, seeing your client for, you know, X amount of time and then leaving at the end of the day and not having to worry about where that client came from, booking that client, following up with the insurance companies, following up with marketing, if you just like to go in and provide service and not do anything else, which there's nothing the matter with that, then private pay practice, may not be for you. The reason for it is because once you're operating your own business, there are so many different things that you have to do.

So you have to be in charge of billing, which means that you are having that one to one conversation with the client about your price and that freaks out a lot of OTs. You know, there's always been a third party in between you and the discussion with the client around how much is being charged to the client.

Also, you have to generate the interest in your private pay, which means putting on community workshops. It means marketing. It means growing your email list. So it's not just the time that you've spent in the session with your client and you have to wear all these different hats. Now, personally, we've found that very professionally fulfilling, because it's allowed us to grow different skill sets. But you have to be aware of that and have to be willing to put in that time and effort to grow those additional skills.

Con number two is boundaries. So it's related to the first one, but boundaries is something that's really important when you own your own private pay practice, probably for any business that you do. Because you own your own business, there is not a definitive start and end time to your day. It's not a nine to five job. And so you have to put in place these boundaries so that you feel like you're getting that mental break, that your life isn't just all work and no play.

And the closest analogy that I have is when you own your own business, when you own your own private pay practice, it's like you have a baby. So you are in love with this thing. You become so passionate about it, that you could just work all the time.

You want to give it all the love, all of the attention you want to go out and reach more clients. You want to streamline your processes. You want to grow, but you can't do that at the cost of your personal health and your mental health and the health of the relationships around you.

So one of the things that we've had to do is be really, really intentional around our working times.

So when are we working on things? When are we spending time with the kids? When are we spending time with the friends? Otherwise, it's really possible to have your workday bleed into your personal time, bleed into the weekends. And that is a sure-fire path for burnout.

So putting it in place, those boundaries pretty early on is absolutely essential to ensure you're still growing, but you're not doing it at the expense of your health.

So con number three, the last con that I'm going to talk about is the roller coaster.

And it's an emotional rollercoaster and it's a financial rollercoaster and you have to be mentally prepared for this. So it's really easy when you have five new evals a week or 10 calls into your private pay practice that you feel like you're on cloud nine, you feel like you're rocking and rolling. There's no stopping you.

And then the next week, there's zero calls and you have nothing coming in and you really start to doubt yourself. You start to doubt your skills as a clinician, you start to doubt the impact that you're having.

And so you can go from these really high emotional peaks to these valleys. And the same thing can happen from a financial perspective, because if you're seeing a lot of clients and you're keeping track of your expenses and keeping your expenses low, you may make a lot of money in your clinic over a week or two weeks or a month period.

 And then if new evals aren't coming in, or if clients aren't re rebooking, you face that lull from a financial perspective. And because you own the practice that directly impacts you as the business owner. So planning for those emotional roller coasters and those financial roller coasters is absolutely essential.

And on the financial front, that's where really rocking your personal finance habits becomes essential. So keeping track of your expenses, planning carefully, not taking undue risks so that you can  weather these slow periods is absolutely essential to keeping your stress levels as low as possible when it comes to a money perspective. And you definitely want to keep your money stress at a minimum.

The last thing I would say is this is why it's really important that you have a robust marketing system in place that is automated, that is scheduled, that you're going back to so that if you're looking at your schedule for the next three weeks or month, you may be full. But if you're not getting new clients coming in, you know, in a month's time you're going to have that lull, you're going to have that financial valley, you're going to have that emotional valley. And so it's important that you start working your automated marketing system to start getting those inquiries in now so that you can fill your client schedule a month from now when you're expecting it to be low.

So that's it for the cons. I told you it wasn't an exhaustive list, but I think these are three of the most important.

So the fact that you have to wear many different hats, you have to set the boundaries in place early and you need to be prepared to weather those emotional and financial roller coasters.