It's where we sign up to tell the world "I'm here for you". It also signifies our own commitment to ourselves and our path. But how do we negotiate between finding a space we love and one that suits our needs as business owners and practitioners? We might love the space, the idea of working in the clinic, but what are the possible future implications if there are clauses that don't suit who we are and the direction we feel is right for us.
Generally there are 2 different ways to join a clinic:
A Part of The Team: Joining as part of the team is a great option if you're starting from a place of no prior experience or are overwhelmed by the business side of things. The obvious benefit is joining into a space which has a reputation already in the community - essentially you can be trusted because the other trusted practitioners have welcomed you into their team. The opportunities such as being able to ask more experienced practitioners advice and talk through cases are invaluable when you're first starting out.
There are generally more people milling about..when you're not seeing clients you may be able to mill around reception and introduce yourself to people waiting for a class or a friend.
There are a few things that make this type of clinic rental more expensive:
Marketing is often absorbed into the clinic as a whole, so business cards and websites are the clinics branding. This may also include wearing a uniform with the clinics branding as you practice. Depending on the clinic, opportunities such as collaborative talks or community events may also be a semi/regular occurrence.
Reception is also often included as part of your rent- this often includes confirmation of clients, taking payments and rebooking.
Supplements are often purchased by the clinic and may be available to your clients for sale (as long as your qualification covers this). Most clinics will offer a commission for your sales.
Cleaning of space and laundering of towels may be provided or there may be an extra fee for these services.
Contract clauses to be aware of before you sign:
Length of contract - you may be signing to stay with the team for a set time frame (1-2 years). If this contract is broken, there may be an extra fee.
In some cases the clinic assumes that clients are the responsibility of the clinic and not the individual practitioners. This means that if you were to leave, you may not be entitled to take your individual database with you. You may be able to either build your own database in conjunction with the clinic, or keep your files (with your own personal branding) seperate. This is something you may have to negotiate with the clinic.
Some clinics will also put a legal clause into the contract which affects your "practice zone" if you were to leave the clinic - i.e. you may not be able to re-establish yourself within 5km of the clinic for a period of 12-24 months after leaving.
The Independent Therapist: This type of rental agreement usually occurs in a smaller clinic without a receptionist or for clinics with 1-3 rooms with other independent therapists. The main difference with this type of agreement is that you are solely responsible for your marketing, reception (bookings etc) and upkeep of space. It's a great option if you are comfortable with running your own business, marketing and managing the administration of clients. The contract may start with a 3 month term, but more often than not will be a month-month agreement after that. There is still often a connection made between the therapists. I personally have always chosen this path (even when I was with team based clinics), and I have still made friendships with other therapists from these clinics which have spanned a decade.
------------------------------------ These are the typical questions you should have when reviewing & negotiating any contract:
Is it pay-by-day/hour or commission based? Usual prices are between $100-150 per day for "Team Based Rental" or $60-140 (based on reception, location and setting) for "Independent Rental". Commission is where you pay per client you see ( The ratio may start at 50% and after you build up a regular practice you may be able to negotiate a better commission for yourself.) I recommend this only if the clinic is promoting your clinic with/for you or if the clinic owners don't work within the business.
Are the clients under your name or the clinic name?
"I'll get referrals".. I have known new practitioners to join a clinic and establish a great referral base between themselves and the other practitioners. It's really wonderful to see more experienced practitioners sharing knowledge and support. Others will join a clinic and it just won't be the same transition. It is one of those things that can't be assumed.
I have seen a pattern emerge though, where if the clinic is run by a prosperous practitioner who has a completely different skill set to the new practitioner, referrals and clinic support are generous. The whole clinic energy flows from the clinic owner. It's something to be aware of, because if the referrals are not there it can be quite disheartening to the new practitioner - and it may not be your fault, just the way the clinic flows.
Sometimes it just takes time to build a relationship with the other practitioners before the referrals start to flow.
To help build the referral network within your new clinic consider:
Giving/swapping as many sessions as possible with the other practitioners.
Talking to the other practitioner about cases - it's always interesting to hear of other practitioners views!
Being open to referring your own clients on when appropriate.