I like to connect with other acupuncturists on a regular basis. It’s a great way to share ideas, solve problems, and energize each other. Today I was in the office of a woman who is a wonderful healer. She just moved into new space, and had finished painting and was putting the finishing touches on her décor.
During the course of our conversation, she shared that she is in the process of hiring someone to set up and run all of her accounting and office systems. Apparently up until now (she has been in business for many years) she had no real systems in place.
I was surprised that she could be in business for as long as she had and not have a way to track her income, expenses, cash flow, taxes, and how many patients she sees each week or month. Keeping track of these things can make or break a small business and are important for a number of reasons:
-Tracking income and expenses is a basic necessity if you want any idea of how your practice is doing. It will tell you if you’re making any money, if you’re growing, and where you’re spending your money.
-Without any kind of business reports, there is no way to tell whether or not you’re reaching your goals. You have goals for your practice, right?
-Your business reports can also alert you to trends in your practice that you may want to remedy or take advantage of. Several years ago, I realized from my monthly income report that I was losing a large percentage of my income in discounts that I was giving my patients. While I still offer a discount to patients who are struggling financially, I was able to be more conscious about when I discounted my services and for how much.
-Tracking the number of new patient visits and how they heard about you enables you to be more targeted with your marketing efforts. For example, if you never get new patients from the Yellow Pages, you can safely stop advertising there.
-Tracking expenses and your cash flow allows you to plan and budget for any large expenses that you know will be coming up. For example, your annual insurance bill or quarterly payroll taxes can be a big hit if you haven’t planned for them.
Your office systems can be as simple as Excel spreadsheets or a more sophisticated program, such as QuickBooks. Whatever you do, make sure you’re getting the information you need to manage your practice from your business reports.
Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist practicing in St. Louis Park, MN. She is also the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health. For more practice building information, check out her blog http://www.buildyouracupuncturepractice.com