Watch Recorded Webinar Here
This post is based on the Webinar above, “5 Reasons to Reassess Your Multi-Location Growth Strategy” by Weave.
This month, we launched Weave Unify, a communication platform designed specifically for multi-location businesses. As part of the launch, our own Jon-Mark Sabel hosted a webinar featuring Eric Roman, the founder of JoyFULL People. Their conversation focused on approaches and strategies for expanding your multi-location or group practice, along with some of the technological tools that can facilitate that growth.
Besides being the founder of JoyFULL People, a training and coaching service for healthcare owners, Eric Roman is an executive, operator, and consultant within the organization. His aim is to support healthcare entrepreneurs in their quests to establish a “people plus business” brand. Eric says 90% of healthcare entrepreneurs rate people as their greatest challenge, and Eric works as a visionary to help business owners realize the potential in their employees and patients.
Eric has previously taken a dental practice, CarolinasDentist, from $0 to $30 million in revenue over the course of a five-year period. He’s built multiple practices and made plenty of mistakes along the way, and his objective is to share the wisdom he’s gleaned through his experiences. For Eric, the complexity of running a multi-location practice grows with each additional office.
The webinar is guided by five questions for reassessing your growth strategy as a current or aspiring multi-location practice.
This article contains a summary of Jon-Mark and Eric’s main points for each question. We hope their perspectives give you a better idea of how to best develop your practice’s growth strategy.
1. What are three ways multi-locations businesses go wrong in their growth strategy?
TMI: Too Much Information
Eric Roman thinks healthcare entrepreneurs suffer from getting too much information about how to run their practices. We have a tendency to stick to what everyone else does instead of considering the infinite other possibilities. Don’t overlook what makes your practice special; recognize your own authenticity.
Forgetting about cash flow
In his experience running a dental practice, Eric built a number of new locations from the ground up. These expansions took his organization right to the edge of cash flow negativity. He advises businesses to be cautious and to realize the expenses involved with opening new locations: new trainings, new employees, new equipment, etc. His new locations took him to the brink on three separate occasions.
Losing focus on fundamentals
In all the hubbub surrounding opening a new office, the fundamentals of your original success can get lost. Implementing a simple re-care strategy and making sure patients don’t miss appointments are two such fundamentals. Eric also says converting new patient calls into appointments is the single greatest variable for success in multi-location practices.
Additionally, Eric recommends taking a look in the mirror and asking yourself if you’re really ready to become a multi-location practice. There are plenty of reasons not to make the jump, and as an entrepreneur you need to be certain that you’re ready for the inherent complexities of owning multiple locations.
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Let us help you as you acquire more offices for your multi-location practice.
2. What do you wish you knew when you started out running a multi-location practice?
It’s okay to have your own strategy
Eric says he wasted too much time early in his career wishing he was someone else. Healthcare entrepreneurs come back from conferences wanting to apply dozens of new methods for running their practice, and it often ends up diluting their established formula for success. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and find a methodology that works for your specific circumstances.
Fundamentals make money
Again, focus on the basics that have led to your success as a practice. There aren’t any magical skills involved with maintaining a healthy practice. Rather, it’s perfecting the fundamentals of patient care, the customer experience, and efficient processes that make or break growing practices.
Invest in management systems
Succeeding a single location doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll flourish as a multi-location practice. As soon as you add an additional location, everything gets more complicated. You’ll want to develop the people in your organization and create a bilateral relationship with them.
By establishing good management systems early, you’re ensuring that new offices start off on the right foot. Eric had to learn this lesson the hard way. He never had more than 250 employees at a time, but went through over 2000 employees during his five years running a multi-location practice. He thinks implementing better management could have helped him avoid this high turnover rate.
3. What should a growing practice look for when acquiring or selling a location?
Remember, every practice has issues
Although Eric doesn’t encourage businesses to seek out acquisitions with weak providers, he recommends preparing yourself to deal with a lot of problems upon acquiring a new location. Take into account what you’re great at doing, and find locations that might fit your personal style and mold. Even with great teams already in place, you can run into significant turnover rates.
Understand your true value
If you’re looking to sell, be reasonable about your practice’s value. There’s no need to constantly attempt to set records or push for a staggering sale price. Eric suggests that practices stop acting like they’re perfect and be realistic about both their strengths and weaknesses.
4. What’s the difference between going from 1 to 2 and 2 to many?
Roman’s Rule of Practice Growth
Eric has developed his own rule for practice growth. He says each additional location demands exponential effort, energy, and complexity. So, even by going from one to two locations, your work as a business owner is not just doubling. Your time doesn’t multiply along with your locations; instead, you’re forced to do much more in a work day.
Don’t abdicate responsibility
In the past, Eric has gone the route of handing over the reins to outside parties, and paid the price for it. Yes, you can’t do everything as the owner of a multi-location practice, but you also can’t detach completely. Expanding to two or more locations means creating new administrative roles (management systems) to guide your growing organization. Someone has to pick up the slack at a high level, because what got you here won’t get you there.
5. How does technology fit into a multi-location practice’s growth?
Tech is the answer
Eric views technological solutions as the basis for optimizing a practice’s growth. We’re seeing tech developments unlike anything in human history, and it’s essential that practices leverage these tools. Tech solutions don’t have to be at the forefront of what you do as a practice. Eric recommends letting technology work its magic imperceptibly.
Make life easier for your employees
The people running your business on a day-to-day level have one of the toughest jobs on the market. They bounce between patients, trying to help them navigate the complicated world of treatment and insurance plans. Technology can relieve the pressure felt by your employees and allow them to focus on their most important tasks.
Provide better healthcare outcomes
For Eric, technology makes our society healthier by ensuring that patients get the best possible care. If your team members are scared to use new technological solutions, help them understand that with a little training they’re jobs get easier. Eric shares that he’s previously had employees with 30 different passwords for their various accounts and tools. A unified approach to tech outcomes is what multi-location practices deserve.
Using tech to rethink multi-location growth
To close the webinar, Jon-Mark gives some examples of how technology can subvert conventional wisdom regarding multi-location growth. Here are two of his examples:
1. Conventional wisdom: You have to sacrifice your identity and local connection for effective growth
Some healthcare entrepreneurs might believe they will inevitably lose the personal touch they’ve developed as a small practice upon expansion. It’s difficult to handle calls in the same way and to be acquainted with everyone in your growing patient base. Scheduling becomes a bit robotic because you’re trying to manage a broader range of clients.
Weave wisdom: Continue to personalize the patient experience by applying the tools within Weave Unify
Thanks to Weave Unify, you’re now able to connect patient data to phone calls. This information includes the patient’s preferred location, communication and payment options, upcoming appointments, and additional opportunities for engagement. Unify also lets your offices support each other by sharing calls and scheduling, which means more revenue opportunities and less missed calls.
2. Conventional wisdom: New locations require one or two weeks of downtime, leading to revenue losses
Without the right tech solutions, multi-location practices have no visibility, little ability to collaborate, a lack of centralized administration, and no coordinated automation. Onboarding a new office requires extensive training, and therefore a loss of productivity. In addition, it takes a lot of time and effort to migrate the new office to your practice management system.
Weave wisdom: Incorporate new offices into your communication strategy and start scheduling within 15 minutes
Weave Unify allows new offices to keep their old practice management system while giving your practice access to their patient data. Your administrators can give locations access to whichever tools they choose within the Unify toolbox. As soon as a new office is on board with Unify, you can start scheduling appointments and reaching out to reactivate patients.
To learn more about how Weave Unify can fill your schedule and boost your multi-location practice’s revenue, contact us for a demo today.