Using Your Practice Weaknesses to Strengthen Your Business

In this blog post, I’m going to explain how to identify the weaknesses in your practice so you can make your practice stronger, more resilient and more successful. 

Does this sound a bit counter-intuitive? Wouldn’t it be discouraging and perhaps upsetting to itemize all your weaknesses? Yes—if that’s all you did. Each weak area limits your practice, blocks your expansion and costs you money. If you can improve these areas while maintaining others that are strong, your practice becomes capable of greater expansion and service to your patients. That’s what makes this process worthwhile. 

So you need to identify both: the weak and the strong areas of your practice. Then we’ll talk about what to do next. 

Sit Down, Get Prepared, Make Two Lists

Identifying your practice’s weakness and strengths is best done as a deliberate exercise—by that I mean get out a pad of paper and pen and write each item down as you spot it. 

Why write them down? Once they’re on paper, you can look at these points at any time during the week when you’re planning the next tasks you’re going to take up. 

Now, back to making your lists. Try to get yourself a little uninterrupted time. On your pad of paper, make two columns. On one side, you’ll list the weaknesses. Or, if you prefer, call them “Needs Improvement.” On the other side, you’ll list the strengths of your practice. 

A Virtual Walkthrough of Your Practice

It might help you to isolate one area of your practice at a time and jot down the strengths and weaknesses of that area before you proceed to the next one. Like this:

  1. Start at one end of your organization, however you’ve got it set up. 
  2. Note down each weakness or function that needs improvement in just that area. Write them down on the “weaknesses” side of your pad of paper. 
  3. On the other side of the sheet, note functions within that area that run well, make lots of money or result in very happy patients. 
  4. You might also note whether staff in this area take responsibility for their own operations or they come to you with constant requests for solutions; put those notes in the appropriate column. 

Once you have completed this area or function, go on to the next area and so on until you have reviewed your entire operation. 

Examples of Weaknesses You Might Find

These examples are just to get you thinking of what to look for. You can take the same approach with strengths:

HR: Are the staff you’re hiring qualified and compatible with your practice philosophy?
HR: Do you have enough staff to treat your patients at the best time for them and with the therapist they prefer?
HR: Do you have enough staff well-trained in specialty areas that your patients need?
Marketing: Is someone helping you with marketing or is it just you?
Marketing: Do your marketing efforts get a visible return on investment or does the budget just seem to disappear?
Marketing: Do you have enough patients to keep your staff busy?
Marketing: Do you know how to publicize your company?
Marketing:  Have you Googled yourself to see what page you’re on?
Billing: Is there someone in your practice who’s effective at handling insurance companies and claims?
Billing: Are you able to keep family balances low or at zero?
Billing: Are your fees where they should be? If not, are you comfortable adjusting them?
Billing: Do you have a system that gets your money in better, quicker, faster?
Billing: Are you constantly losing sleep over fear of insurance audits?
Billing: Are you worried about insurance documentation?
Administration: Are calls being missed or callers waiting on hold too long?
Administration: Are patients being properly scheduled and directed to their therapists promptly when they arrive?
Treatment: Are your patients routinely growing in ability? Are they happy?
Treatment: Do you receive complaints from parents and are they focused on the same one or two staff?
Premises: Are your premises excellently maintained?
Premises: Do your premises present the image you desire?
Premises: Is your location easily found from the street or is better signage needed?
Staff: Is staff morale where it should be?
Staff: Do staff take responsibility for their areas instead of bringing problems and questions to you?
Staff: Are you maximizing staff productivity in all areas? If not, what is in the way?

Then What Should You Do? 

Well, you won’t be able to tackle the whole list all at once! That really would be overwhelming! Review your list and make some prudent choices. There are two different ways you can go and your best choice depends on the list you made. 

  1. Are there some weaknesses that are easily handled, that you could knock out in a day or two? That might be a good place to start.
  2. Or are there areas where you’re hemorrhaging money that need to be addressed right away? 

As a result of this examination, make your decision on the best approach. 

Whichever path you choose, make a short list of priorities to address these weaknesses and focus on these. As you start your week, decide what action you can take in each area. Make a to-do list just of these actions, if that will help you. Then you have the satisfaction of crossing each one off as they are done! Yay! 

Every weakness you fully address means more profitability and viability for your business and more free time for you. It also means a better work-life balance for you and, I bet, for your staff as well. 

If you are not sure how to address some of these points, we can help. We have practice management tips and tools for pediatric private practice owners in our free webinar library. Check it out.