When I started out it was amateur hour.
Scratch that, it wasn’t even amateur hour. It was “pretend.” Like the games you used to play with your friends as a child. For boys it was cops and robbers or airplane, for girls, maybe “house” or barbies or whatever.
I was pretending to have a business when really I had a disorganized horrific mess.
I knew I wanted to have a cash practice, and my coach at the time emphasized low prices.
Horrible way to practice, even worse way to run a business.
Yeah, I had people coming in and paying me cash, but my prices were all over the place.
More on this in another article, but charging people different fees is horribly unethical and it’s unfair to your patients and to yourself.
The way you prevent something like this from happening?
Make yourself a Terms of Service / Company Policy.
Make it and stick to it.
You need one. In this document you outline exactly how your office works. You describe the “rules of the road,” and also limit liability by determining what is and isn’t your responsibility.
You can write in your days off, your fee schedule (your fee IS your fee, otherwise you aren’t running a business, you’re running a charity), any rules you want your clients to follow. This is your “company policy.”
When you are starting out on your own, it might be tempting to be flexible with your rules and what you want. When you have a “company policy” and you are self employed, you have to stand up for your company and follow the rules established in your terms. Just like someone working at McDonalds adheres to McDonald’s pricing structure and rules, it’s CRITICAL you make yours and follow them to the letter.
Some things you may want to include:
What exactly it is you do in your office
Any guarantees or lack thereof (you can’t guarantee results in healthcare)
Specifics about what happens when you or your client wants to end the relationship
Prices and payment, fee schedule
Limitations of liability due to damage or injury
Your days of service and any vacation schedule you have
The idea is to think of the worst, most obnoxious customer and cover every possible complaint they might have. Imagine the worst case scenario of what could possibly go wrong in your office and outline what you’d do or how you’d handle it.
Another key point to throw in there is that your terms are subject to change at any time, and that your most current terms may be found on your website or requested.
If you are in doubt, ask a friend who’s a lawyer to help. Remember, don’t just copy someone else’s terms or some other businesses terms, everybody has unique angles to their policies and they might not apply to yours.
Once you write down the vision and policies of your office, NEVER break them.
For more info on getting your way in business and life, check out Winning Through Intimidation (slightly misleading title – it’s not about intimidating people) by Robert Ringer, and Thick Face Black Heart by Chin-Ning Chu. Both are required reading.