It’s truly fantastic that you’ve decided to go into private practice, but have you thought about your competition? Granted, you know the physiotherapy clinic just down the road and feel that you can offer much better service, but that’s only scratching the surface.
To truly understand what your private practice is up against, consider the multitude of institutions and professionals whose health expertise and business know-how rival your own:
- Hospitals, both public and private.
- Other private practitioners.
- Sports therapists.
- Alternative therapy practitioners (e.g. aromatherapy, naturopathy, etc.)
- Occupational therapists.
It’s a crowded marketplace today, where exemplary professional credentials and solid marketing strategies may not be enough to guarantee patients coming through your doors. Therefore, to gain insights into your local area, consult general directories (such as Yellow Pages, Google Local Search) and industry-specific directories to see what is already available. Tap into new and existing relationships with GPs to learn about well-served and less well-served markets. Perhaps there is an untapped demand for the services you currently possess or plan to add soon.
Asking the right questions will help you assess and evaluate the competition as part of your research. Here are some questions to ponder:
- What kind of facilities and equipment do other private practitioners possess?
- Are the more successful practices in my area general or highly specialised?
- Is there a demand for mobile physiotherapy services and is it being currently met by private practitioners?
- What is the typical fee structure for the “average” patient? Is my pricing above, below or equal to my direct competitors?
- What is the ratio of GP-referred to self-referred patients at local physiotherapy clinics?
Strategic decision-making for private practices is dependent on your knowledge about the competition. Billing practices, treatments and other services, staffing requirements and your choice of business address must take the presence of other physiotherapy businesses into account. Established private clinics must also stay vigilant, seeking out growth opportunities while winding down services that are out of favour.
Competition does not have to be a bad thing. In fact, a concentration of private practices usually indicates strong demand for at least certain types of physiotherapy services. It may even offer you – as a new practitioner – several networking and complementary business opportunities. Keep your eyes open and your entrepreneur hat on.