Murphy’s Law (3) When Starting a Practice

Doing your own remodeling… will cost you more.

:dropcap_open:M:dropcap_close:urphy’s Law” is an old adage that is typically stated as: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. When you start a new practice you’ll experience many examples of Murphy laws.  I’ve opened over 3,000 new practices. Just when I think I’ve heard them all, a new twist on Murphy’s Law comes along. Here are a few of my favorites. I offer them with the hope that they just might help you avoid getting “Murphied”. 

newpracticeThere is no way you can do your own construction and save money. Imagine painting your own office. You’ll have to purchase ladders, drop cloths, rollers, paint brushes, paint, paint thinner, etc… then you’ll have to spend hours doing the work… and then cleaning up. Can you paint your space cheaper than a professional painter? Heck no! Remember, the professional painter already owns his ladders, rollers, paint brushes, drop cloths, etc… he won’t have to purchase them and he’ll know how to cover twice as much wall space with less paint. And he’ll finish your paint job in 2 days vs. you doing so in one week.  
I’ll tell you about an experience of mine.  I was going to hire a subcontractor to pour the front steps of my new house. His bid was $1,500. When I told my contractor about the bid he said, “The H with the $1,500 – I’ll get it done for $150”… and he did. You can’t beat a pro at his own game. When you do something that is outside your expertise (chiropractic), it will cost you twice as much. Hire someone that has the expertise.
Don’t listen to your friends or relatives… they’re wrong.
Beware. When you rely on your friends’ or relatives’ advice … it will cost you more. Nothing is impossible for people who don’t have to do the work. Every one of your friends and relatives will have ideas on how you should become successful that don’t work.
There is an exception to this rule. If your friends and relatives are entrepreneurs (e.g.: started and are running a business) their advice can possibly help you. However, if they work for a salary, and have never started a business, they won’t have the foggiest idea on what you are going through. Their advice will usually be totally wrong.
To illustrate the point, I’ll relate a personal experience. A few months after I opened my practice, my mother visited. She immediately expressed her concern that I was spending too much money on my work attire. I was wearing dress pants, white shirts and ties, and dress shoes. Nothing special. My mother said, “Your brother and brother-in-law are both professionals and they go to work in khaki pants, tee shirt and tennis shoes.” Every time she visited me, I heard the same story… over and over again.
Well, at the next family reunion I cornered my brother and brother-in-law.  I said, “Which one of you goes to work in khaki pants, tee shirt and tennis shoes?” They looked at me with disbelief and said, “Mom told us you did!”
As it turned out mom was wrong. Both of these professionals dressed for work like the professionals they were. They wore “professional attire” – dress pants, white shirts, ties, and dress shoes.  
Don’t depend upon friends and relatives to do your remodeling. 
Friends are friends. Relatives are relatives. Some are dependable… most aren’t. Some are knowledgeable about construction… most aren’t. Usually, when a doctor has friends and relatives help with office remodeling, it will take twice as long to complete because the doctor can’t get them to show up to do the construction. And every month delay in completing your remodeling costs you $15,000 to $20,000. You can’t afford this loss when opening a practice. Also, when friends and relatives do your remodeling for you, they usually do so without city permits. This will backfire on you. The city will require you to tear out your remodeling and redo it according to city code, greatly increasing your delay. Remodeling without city permits will also increase your liability, because when something goes wrong – because you intentionally didn’t follow city building codes or have them inspected by the city – and a patient gets hurt… you are guilty of neglect of patient welfare.
The day your equipment is supposed to arrive… it won’t.
We’ve all heard the old saying “When something goes wrong… blame someone else.” It’s an old saying because people do it all the time. I consulted in the opening of a new practice in California. My client doctor received a view box that was broken. He called me to complain that his view box arrived broken. I called his equipment company, raised “H” with them, and they sent him a new view box. When the new view box arrived, it too was broken. Now the doctor was really furious. He called me to complain, saying he felt I was to blame. I pointed out that the equipment company was not to blame. I wasn’t to blame. I asked him if he “really thought that I found out when his view box was due to arrive, got on a plane and traveled 1,500 miles to his practice door, and then jumped on his view box until it was broken?” I also asked him if he thought the equipment company broke their own view box before they had it delivered. It was, in fact, the delivery company that was to blame. Two lessons can be drawn from this example. First, find out where the problem really is – and then fix it. Misplacing blame doesn’t really solve anything. Second, sometimes your new equipment will arrive as scheduled… but won’t work. Murphy’s Law!
If everything seems to be going well, you obviously don’t know what the hell is going on.
If everything seems to be going well, obviously you have overlooked something. Watch out, Murphy is coming!  
Did you encounter a different Murphy’s Law when starting your practice? If so, I’d like to hear about it. Send it my way at [email protected] . I’ll see that it gets published along with your name.
Dr. Peter G. Fernandez is the world’s leading authority on starting a practice.  He has 30 years’ experience in starting new practices, has written four books and numerous articles on the subject, and has consulted in the opening of over 3,000 new practices.  Please contact Dr. Fernandez at 10733 57th Avenue North, Seminole, Florida, 33772; 1-800-882-4476; [email protected], or visit

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