You made it through school. Now the real fun begins...negotiating your first chiropractic contract.
Most of us have heard the adage that chiropractors "eat their young." Well, I hope that by reading this article you can avoid some pain and negotiate a fair chiropractic associate contract.
I wanted to give you three crucial pieces of information that I wish I knew when I "negotiated" (aka- took the first offer thrown at me) my first contract.
I know for many people of us the thought of going through a contract negotiation or a salary negotiation is about as comfortable as a root canal. But having a few key things clarified before you go into that conversation can make a world of difference in making sure you strike a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The 3 Keys to Negotiating a Fair Chiropractic Contract:
know your role- understanding what you are going to do within that clinic is crucial
new patient acquisition- who is responsible how are they going to do it and who is paying for it
identifying your long term goals
1) Know Your Role
First, let's dive into knowing your role in the clinic/practice. Are you merely performing exams? Or are you responsible for exams and treatment? What about modalities? That is very important to understand. Get clarity around your split or percentage on all revenue generating responsibilities. But, don't stop only with the revenue generating pieces of the clinic. If you are responsible for taking care of some administrative items that don't produce revenue then get a feel for how much time that will take each week. Your great asset is time, and time spent away from revenue producing activities has the potential to reduce your income.
Let's use an example of how your role may also be dependent on the organizational structure of the business. Perhaps this clinic has six locations with ten positions and is growing quickly by spending a lot on advertising. That's a lot different than a single doc with a single front desk person that's been in practice for 25 years. Keep in mind that knowing not only your role but the context of that role within the organization can help you tremendously when negotiating your salary. It will also help you be a lot more realistic.
Just because one clinic is in the ideal location doesn't necessarily mean it's the best place for you- so keep that in mind. Location, Location, Location- isn't always accurate for working for another chiropractor.
2) Who’s Getting the Patients?
Number two is all about new patient acquisition. Are you driving new patients into that practice or are you taking care of existing patients? Who is responsible for that lead generation? Patient acquisition is the number one area where I see new docs get tripped up with that initial contract negotiation. If you are expected to go out there and get patients, then you should be compensated for it and make sure that you have that built into your contract.
If you don't address it up front and after your first week or your first month your boss starts asking you to get out there and generated patients you are going to be unhappy. That type of friction can be a very uncomfortable position to be in.
3) Long-Term Goals
And finally, number three is knowing your long term goals. Is this an area where you're hoping to get experience? Is this a clinic that you eventually may want to take over and become a partner or owner?. And most importantly understanding your goals will help drive your contract negotiations. For instance, if you don't intend on being their long term, maybe you can take a slightly less salary for the opportunity to practice there. Otherwise, if you want to be there long term, you may add various reviews and share "buy-ins" that allow you access to more ownership in that company.
Understanding what you want to do, and what you want to achieve being a doctor in that clinic, is crucial to identify the steps to get the most out of your experience.
Keep in mind the organizational structure with all contract negotiations. If you're talking to a hospital or a large multidisciplinary group you might have salary on the table, plus paid vacation time, continuing education credits, and additional perks such as food and much more. However, if you are in a local clinic owned by a single individual, it might be a lot more difficult to get any of those perks or those guarantees.
Neither of these organizational structures is necessarily wrong or right, better or worse.
The key is to understand your goals, getting a clear view of new patient acquisition, and your day-to-day role in the practice. By doing so, you will be on the right path to negotiating a fair contract for both the clinic and yourself!