Thinking of Opening a Medical Weight Loss Program as Part of your Practice?

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Doctor and patient measuring weight

It’s no secret that obesity is on the rise, and everywhere you look, people are looking for new and effective ways to lose those pounds. Fad diets saturate the internet, weight loss books line the shelves of the local libraries and book stores, and nutritional supplements offer supposed fast and “easy” solutions to your woes.

Providing advice and coaching people on how to lose weight has now become a multi-billion dollar industry. You may be interested in starting up your own medical weight loss program so you can capitalize on a portion of this lucrative industry. There are weight loss clinic/program franchises out there and available for purchase, as well as strategies on how to go the small business route instead of purchasing a franchise. However, before you chose which business option is right for you, there are some key factors that you should consider.

First of all, you will need to decide whether an independent weight loss clinic or a franchise option is the right fit for you. The independent choice is usually the one selected by those people who are currently practicing medicine in some capacity, and want to extend their practice with a weight loss option for their patients; whereas the franchise option is often the choice for those who are not medical doctors, but instead maybe professionals, nurses or other healthcare professionals.

Whether you choose to add medically supervised weight loss to your existing practice, or the purchase of a weight loss franchise, there are pros and cons involved in each. Overall, with both options, you need to be familiar with selling your idea and or/ regime to potential customers and give customer satisfaction in order to see a return on your investment.

PROS OF EXTENDING ONTO YOUR CURRENT PRACTICE:

  • No relocation to a franchise-operating facility
  • Already existing relationships with your patients that would facilitate the new treatments
  • No franchise start-up fees
  • Freedom to run your business as you see fit, as opposed to following strict franchise parameters

CONS ON EXTENDING ONTO YOUR CURRENT PRACTICE

  • Marketing support not as comprehensive as with a franchise
  • Branding not as comprehensive or integrated as with a franchise
  • Weaker support system

PROS OF PURCHASING A FRANCHISE

  • Franchises offer support systems and teams that are available to support you and your business on a daily basis
  • Franchises offer comprehensive training and operations guidelines
  • Full advertising and marketing support
  • Brand recognition

CONS OF PURCHASING A FRANCHISE

  • Can be costly with start-up fees and there can be royalty fees payable to the franchisee
  • You’ll have less decision making freedom, as most franchises have to operate under certain parameters of the overall business
  • Possibility of poor franchise choice, meaning ultimate failure of the business
  • Be aware of failure! New franchises have a high failure rate, just like new businesses. Many weight loss franchises have gone out of business, including Thinique, which left 100’s of franchise owners with nothing!

Overall, it is important to observe all factors in order to carefully determine which type of business are the best match for you and your skills. Once you have decided which option is the right fit, you can get started and begin helping your patients make their weight loss dreams a reality! Whether you decided to go independently by adding weight loss to an existing practice, starting a stand-alone medically supervised weight loss clinic, or to purchase a franchise, you’re probably wondering what’s next.

One thing that is critical, is to ensure you have a solid program to offer your patients. The IAPAM’s Clean Start Weight Loss program has treated over 65,000 patients with a safe, reliable weight loss program. The creator of the program, IAPAM Executive-Director Jeff Russell, says “for the most part physicians don’t need a franchise model, all they need is an easy to follow medically supervised weight loss program to offer their patients. Which is the reason we created the Clean Start Weight Loss program, with physicians and healthcare prescribers in mind!”

Many of you are likely already in the health care profession, maybe as a physician, PA, NP, RN or as a fitness and nutrition specialist.  Either way, you are now in the business of selling a product and/or service to a customer, and in order to be successful, you need to provide the best quality and experience to your patients as possible so that they continue to come back to your practice!

It is important to first identify how you will advertise your new weight loss program so you can get those prospective patients in the door. This may be new for physicians and healthcare providers, but market research is key. If you are a franchisee, these parameters are likely already laid out for you. In either case, consider the following marketing materials:

If you are a current physician (or healthcare provider) that is extending onto your practice:

  • Signage or posters throughout your office/neighborhood to advertise your new services
  • Mail and email to current customers
  • Verbal discussion with current patients
  • An online marketing plan

If you are a franchisee:

  • All marketing materials are usually provided to you through the franchise start-up fees
  • Existing franchise brand recognition should help you reach prospective clients

Next, it is important to examine what weight loss programs you will offer to your patients, and how that will set you apart from the competition. It is important to be able to determine the proper diet program for your clientele to ensure customer satisfaction and a return on your investment. You want to only offer a program that has successfully treated 1,000’s of patients. Some ideas of what to offer may include:

  • Several differing weight loss programs, such as low carb, medically supervised hormone injections, low fat, etc.
  • A medical evaluation to give you the ability to steer your patients into the appropriate weight loss program. Such evaluations may include a comprehensive medical screening, evaluating the client’s medical history, a blood chemistry analysis, and body fat analysis, to determine the proper diet program
  • One on one support with a medical or healthcare professional during the duration of the program
  • Behavioral guidance to help the client make the lifestyle changes necessary to adhere to the program
  • A maintenance plan for after the client has reached their weight loss goal
  • Food and dietary supplement products, such as nutrition bars, meal replacement shakes, vitamin and mineral supplements, and even thermogenic supplements

All of these criteria, as well as a solid understanding of your clientele, and a realistic business plan, should set you up for success in this profitable industry. Once your systems are in place, it’s up to you to create the most successful business possible! Whether you are supported through a franchise or independently going at it on your own, people are always looking to be healthier and thinner, so you can’t lose!

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