What considerations to give to competitors when starting out

In this episode of PodMD, owner and director of ⁠⁠Rooms With Style⁠⁠ (RWS) Caroline Chaplin will be discussing the considerations to give to competitors when starting out, including why considering what type of practice you are is important, how it differs for doctors who started with an associateship, why relationships matter for doctors and more.

This podcast is brought to you by Rooms With Style (RWS). RWS provides an extensive range of services for doctors in private practice. Their services are specifically designed to make your private practice more profitable, compliant and efficient. We are the experienced and trusted industry professionals.

  • Transcript
    Please note this is a machine generated transcription and may contain some errors.
    *As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.

    Today I’d like to welcome to the PodMD studio Caroline Chaplin.

    Caroline is the owner and director of RWS (Rooms with Style).

    RWS has assisted surgeons to set-up private practices across Australia for the last 20 years, providing a turnkey solution for busy doctors.

    Today, we’ll be discussing what considerations you should give to your competitors when starting out.

    **We do hope you enjoy this podcast but please remember that the advice here is of a general nature and is not intended as specific advice about private practices.

    Caroline, thanks for talking with us on PodMD today.

    Caroline: Thank you for having me.

    Question 1
    So Caroline, when new doctors are starting out, they often worry about competition in their consulting area, what advice would you give to doctors when they are concerned about this?

    Caroline: I can certainly understand that people need to be aware of competitors in a particular location. Let’s start by defining what a new Doctor means. So when I’m giving the answer here, I’m talking about someone who’s just starting out and they haven’t been at a joint practice or anything like that. This is their first soiree if you like, into private practise land. So what advice I would give you is firstly. Most of my doctors consider their subspecialty and you know obviously the operations or services that they provide. And pair that with who does the same or performs the same surgeries and procedures in that location.

    What I would say to you is make the comparison wider than that. Start to think about the type of doctor you are and the type of practice you want to run. So for example, is the practise something where you will be, you know, known for your bedside manner? And really great TLC and the patients get a cup of tea. And that might contrast to a practise who wants to run? You know, very cutting edge and streamlined and efficient and justice have a different nature and feel and energy about the practise. So I guess the first piece of advice that I would give is it’s not just about the clinical services you that you perform. It’s also about who you are.

    Question 2
    You talked about start up doctors in relation to their sub-specialty, how does it differ for doctors who started within an associateship and are moving our on their own?

    Caroline: That’s a good question. I see a great deal of difference in the attitude of a brand new Doctor starting in private compared to an established Doctor Who just might have been working with an associateship group as you say, or something of that nature for a month, a couple of years, it’s etcetera. The difference is that the established Doctor Who’s been part of an associateship has now been around the block somewhat, possibly has been with a few other doctors and can see that there’s room for everyone. Those doctors tend to know, by now, how they want to run their practice, and I’m not talking just about the clinical services, yes, that’s a great part of it. A big part of it. But also these doctors know who they are and the type of practice that they want to run. So I do see that doctors who are more established are less anxious about competitors. And rightly so.

    Question 3
    You’ve talked about the importance of knowing who you are in private practice and not just what you do. What other factors do people need to consider in relation to competitors?

    Caroline: I’d say the other, the other component of considering competition is to consider politics in the area. So before you set up in a certain area. Politics does matter to doctors. I hear this over and over again. It is a an environment or a vocation where you need to get on with others, but you don’t need to dance. And by that what I mean is it’s very reasonable to consider people who’ve been in the area for a long time. That might get upset with you that you’re moving into a particular locale, however. You give that. Use your mouse and give that as much consideration as you perhaps need to. But don’t overdo it because I also have the other experience where doctors just don’t move forward and they’re very clearly pigeonholed into performing the surgeries that more senior doctors want them to perform or procedures and so forth. And I find that they tend to drag their heels income wise. And enjoyment wise in private practise as a result of this.

    Question 4
    We’ve mentioned about being respectful and talking about the type of practice you are, are there any other tips you would consider about your competitors?

    Caroline: Yeah. And again, a good question. I I would certainly consider the number of competitors in, in the area that share the same procedural and surgical work that that you do you perform. That’s definitely got to be considered. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker though. If you really wanted a particular area then then you can make it work. However, opportunity when you first start and cash flow is really low is very important. So to be able to get referrals coming in quickly from GP.

    Depending on your budget at the start and in my experience, most doctors that are starting out are coming back from fellowship and they’re broke. They don’t have a lot of money. They’re trying to get established in, in the area they might be putting kids in schools and so forth. So cash flow is something that’s a a struggle at the start, so. The the comment I hear a lot is I’ll see everything at the start and that and that’s fine for cash flow, but you still need to be teaching and educating the market on your subspecialty areas and what like what you like to see for your, your future happiness in your practice. So yes, considering who’s already there. How many, and also the demographic of the area. Are the patients that you’re likely to see in the area, the type of patients that you want to want to see and you will enjoy seeing and that need your specialty services.

    Question 5
    What are some practical strategies for implementing this advice you’ve given?

    Caroline: OK. Well, in relation to the geography of the location that you choose, it’s easy to look up the demographics of the area and know who’s who’s there. You’ll also be able to obviously see services that are in the area and you’ll be able to Google and find out what other doctors are there. Most doctors already know this, so this is an area that you don’t find difficult to, you know, it’s concrete and you know, you know, I can tick the box and work out who’s here and politics wise you can read between the lines and you know that better than I do within the hospital setting.

    Where I find doctors perhaps don’t prepare enough is when starting their private practice, I’ll think about the nuts and bolts of it, you know. Let’s get a phone number. Let’s get someone answering the phone and e-mail and some software set up, but they don’t give time sometimes to think about their brand and who they actually are in the market. This can be difficult because at the start you don’t exactly know who you are. But give thought and spend some time. I would encourage you to go out to dinner with your partner if you have one and toss over the idea of, well, what’s the business going to be about? What impression do we want to give? What are the patients going to to feel about us? What are the GP’s going to sense about us? Because at the end of the day the GP’s choose on perception, not reality. They’ll often not know all the nuances of your specialty to know exactly what makes you more proficient clinically than someone else.

    And that’s very important to understand and accept, I suppose if you think about patients, it’s the same thing too. They’ll get a view of you from the website. They’ll get a sense of you. That’s how they’re choosing as well. So it’s often perception, not reality. So what perception are you trying to create, whether it be on your website when you’re going out and having meetings with GP? And so forth. What perception about your practice do you want to convey ? This is something that will greatly differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

    When you think about companies that we, we all know. So you might think think about accounting services and you might look at H&R Block and you might say well, there are certain demographic that they’re servicing and then you might. Look at Price Waterhouse and say they’re certainly servicing and providing accounting services for a different sector of the market, yet they’re both accounting services. Think about it like that in relation to your practice.

    Concluding question
    Thank you for your time here today in the PodMD studio. To sum up for us, could you please identify the three key take home messages from today’s podcast on the considerations to give to your competitors when starting out?

    Caroline: Yes, the three things to say to you. There are #1 in summary, know who you are and how the market is going to perceive you, not just what you do but who you are. #2 look at the locale and consider politics. Who are you going to annoy? How much is that going to affect you? Is there anyone you’re going to annoy? I don’t dance. And #3 location in relation to what demographics will be at the location and how many other sub specialty doctors are in your area that share the same sub specialty as you do?

    Thank you for your time and the insights you have provided

    Caroline: Thank you

*As always, all in this PODMD podcast is intended for health professionals and the comments are of a general nature. Information given is not intended as specific medical advice pertaining to any given patient. If you have a clinical issue with one of your patients please seek appropriate advice from a colleague with expertise in the area.