How to Avoid 3 Common Pitfalls of Being a Bad Contractor
Aug 03, 2022
With so many practitioners in private practice, it can be hard to want to set up shop for yourself. If you've decided that becoming a contractor is a good fit for you, you may now be asking yourself, "What next?" For as many private practices out there with a shocking culture, there are some really bad contractors who help make that mould. So how can you set yourself apart from the rest of the "bad contractors"?
Avoid being too demanding.
Honestly, everyone is in this together. This is a generalised statement, but in all fairness, a fairly large number of people feel entitled. Whether it's the owner forcing the practitioners to do aspects of private practice or the practitioner having expectations, it's important to remember that both the contractor and the practice work together toward a common goal. If either side is having a hard time receiving and applying feedback, it will be very difficult to establish the long-term relationship needed to be successful.
This article is geared specifically to the contractor, so I won't get into too many details about the practice's responsibilities. As a contractor, it is vital to understand where you can roll your sleeves up and lend a helping hand. This may require you to request regular meetings with the principal. It may require you to document who you're comfortable working with. It also requires communication. If the practice is showing you that they cannot provide bookings, perhaps ask questions instead of resigning. How can my schedule accommodate clients? What might work better?
Understand how much you want to be earning.
So often, when I'm interviewing contractors, they want to understand how much they're being paid. Is it a split? Is it a flat rate? No matter the answer, the contractor seems unhappy.
I suggest you go in knowing exactly what you want.
1. How much do you want to be earning? Be specific.
2. How many days and what days are you offering? Be flexible, but have an idea.
3. Don't promise things you can't deliver. Understand that if you're not willing to work with a specific presenting issue, you don't just say you will for the sake of the interview process.
4. How can you negotiate the salary you seek by offering a service others aren't providing? Why you? Understand what your own key selling points are. If you want a 70/30 split, you'd better be selling something pretty amazing.
It is key to remember that while you are paying the practice for their service, the practice is also paying you for service! If you go in with expectations that are unrealistic for the practice, then being able to have a conversation that is productive for both of you is the key. It shouldn't be an interview where either person has the upper hand. When speaking to practice, it should be with the mindset that you are partners. What needs to be done so that you and the practice can succeed?
Not knowing the right questions to ask.
Be aware that as a contractor, you should be treated like one. If your practice offers to pay for your laptop, insurance, CPD, or any other aspects of your role, you are at risk of being an employee.
While these things may seem like a great idea, they may be trouble in the long run. You are an employee if your practice sets the days and times you work. If they treat you like an employee, in every way, but what counts, who's favour does that work in?
Important questions to ask to fully understand if you're being treated like a contractor or an employee:
1. Who pays back a Medicare audit?
2. What are the exact services (and are they capped) that my fees are going to?
3. At what point can my contract be renegotiated, and what information should I be prepared to bring to the table?
4. What happens with my clients at the end of my contract?
5. What happens if I disagree with how a client is handled by reception?
6. What is the purpose of the marketing tasks you're asking of me? Is this what I'm paying for with my service fees? (Are you willing to pay more to the practice to not attend GP visits or write blogs? Remember, someone has to pay for these services.)
Remember: There are difficulties in being a principal. No, it's not your fault, but we all play a role in the practice. Regardless, no one is being taken advantage of if you agree to the terms. Understand what exactly you agree to before you agree to it.