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Clinical Solutions Blog

How to Build a Physiotherapy Equipment List on a Tight Budget

Posted by Rick Lau on Dec 9, 2014 2:55:00 PM

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Congratulations on starting a physiotherapy business - it's an amazing accomplishment!

But getting started is just the first step, then you need to consider what kind of physiotherapy quipment you might need to provide extraordinary care for your patients.

How to build a physiotherapy clinic on a tight budget and keeping your monthly financial statements on track is a tricky balance between needs and wants. You need to save money for physiotherapy marketing but you also need to have good physiotherapy equipment, and you want to have a selection of things available to assist patients with the recovery and help boost up revenues, too.

It's much easier than you think. And today you'll discover exactly how to go about it so you can hit the ground running on opening day.

We'll cover:

  • Typical physiotherapy equipment stats
  • The major product categories you need to purchase
  • 10 tips to choosing equipment on a tight budget
  • 5 ways to determine and prioritize you specific equipment needs

Physiotherapy Equipment Stats

CSC help over 200 physiotherapy startups each year, so we know a thing or two about how to setup a great clinic.

I’ve also had ample experience myself. Having cofounded a network of 100+ clinics in Canada, I understand that you need to have a professional presentation, but at the same time be careful about your budget, which is why you'll find this info incredibly valuable.

How much do clinics spend on average to setup their clinics?

Statistics we’ve gathered indicate that around 50% spend $15,000 or under, 40% spend $15,000 to $32,000 and only 10% spend more.

Two of the most popular pieces of physiotherapy equipment are tables and electrotherapy equipment.

Around 65% of physiotherapists choose 3-Section Hi-Lo tables, 30% prefer the Fixed Height Tables and 5% use the 5-Section Hi-Lo tables.

As for electrotherapy, roughly 50% purchase ultrasound devices, 27% purchase low level lasers, and the remaining 23% purchase IFC & Stim or a combination of US & IFC.

The Major Product Categories You Need To Purchase

Clinic Supplies

Items such as:

  • Tables
  • Machines
  • Pillows
  • Table sheets
  • Etc

All the major equipment that enables you to provide your treatments.

Physiotherapy Supplies

Items such as:

  • Ultrasound gels
  • Scissors
  • Athletic tape
  • Gloves
  • Etc

The things that help you carry out your patient treatments.

If you have a multidisciplinary clinic, you may also need chiropractic and massage supplies.

Exercise Equipment

Items such as

  • Hand weights
  • Medicine balls
  • Ankle weights
  • Exercise mats
  • Foam rollers
  • Etc

The things you’ll need to conduct patient rehab and provide exercise demonstrations to patients.

And, if your clinic has the space you may want to have larger pieces of exercise equipment such as a stationary bike, shoulder pulleys and so forth.

Product sales

Adding a line of products to your clinic will help to increase revenue, even if it’s just simple things you position at reception. You don’t have to hold a large inventory to sell products. When ordering through CSC you can order on demand, which makes product sales easier.

Easy items to consider including:

  • Pain relief creams
  • Hot/ cold packs
  • Tens machines

Waiting Area Supplies

First impressions are very important.

Items for your waiting room include:

  • Chairs
  • Brochure displays
  • Magazine racks
  • Water cooler
  • Etc

General supplies

You will also need:

  • Office supplies
  • Bathroom supplies
  • Kitchen supplies
  • Cleaning products

Don't start your physiotherapy clinic from scratch.

We want you to hit the ground running on opening day, so we collaborated with successful clinic owners to build you the ultimate equipment checklist.

CLICK HERE to Grab Your Ultimate Equipment Checklist


10 Tips to Choose Equipment on Tight Budget

#1. Buy used physiotherapy equipment

To find used equipment, you can go to the provincial physiotherapy association websites and look in their marketplace or classifieds section. For instance, the Physiotherapy Association of BC marketplace or the Ontario Physiotherapy Association classifieds. Alternatively, check out Craigslist or Kijiji.

#2. Buy portable equipment

Instead of spending $3,500 on a high-end combination machine, you can save thousands by spending $200 on separate portable ultrasound and electrical stimulation units.

#3. Get orders in early

Placing your clinic setup order sooner can save you money on shipping costs. For instance, many physiotherapy tables are custom made and usually take at least 2 weeks. If you’re waiting for financing from the bank before you place an order, you may be cutting it short on the possession date of your clinic and this will hike up fast delivery prices.    

If you need help with getting financing, we can help you. We work with a lot of lenders who will easily get you a loan if you need it. Our lenders like working with physiotherapy clinics because its healthcare and the equipment is absolutely necessary.

#4. Budget your equipment purchases in 2 or 3 phases

Decide what you must have to get started and what could wait a month or so. Once you’ve got patients coming in, go to phase 2 and purchase the next things in line.

And once you get started, you will notice you’re missing things in your gym or your rooms so write a list and try to keep a budget for subsequent purchases that you can place in the 2nd or 3rd month you make an order.  

Basically, you’re just splitting up your big order into 2 or 3 smaller orders so you can get only the basic needs at first and find out exactly what you need in your first few months of practice.

#5. Lease physiotherapy equipment

Many clinics find that early cash flow is a problem. One easy way to help your cash flow is to lease your long term equipment. In start up practices, “cash is king,” so don’t tie up all of your start up capital in equipment.

#6. Consider multi-use tables for multidisciplinary practices

If you’re building a multidisciplinary clinic that has physiotherapists, chiropractors and massage therapists, consider having flexible beds that can be used by anybody, especially when you are starting off.  

#7. Buy economical stationary tables

Instead of going way out on an electric table in the beginning, spend $500-$800 on an economical stationary table with an adjustable backrest and step stool. This will save you a ton of money.

For instance, the Cardon Fixed Height Treatment Table is $765 compared to the Cardon 3-Section Treatment Table at $2,650.

There are many options for stationary physiotherapy tables. They are still very good quality and as you can see, they will leave you with a substantial amount of money to purchase other equipment you need.

One word of caution though. Don’t go purchasing a really cheap bed. The liability of a patient falling or hurting themselves would cost you way more in the long run.

#8. Order everything from one supplier

Purchasing from a supplier like CSC, which stocks absolutely everything you need will save you a lot of money and headaches!

It’s pretty common that with equipment startups, something usually goes wrong - items may be missing or there might be delivery issues. If you’re dealing with multiple suppliers, you have to keep track of it, chase down multiple people, write multiple checks - it can all get VERY stressful.

It’s much easier to just deal with one supplier who is your one point of contact. Opening a new business is already stressful enough without placing more stress and burden on your shoulders.

Also one supplier means you have greater price negotiations. Most buyers usually compare product by product and buy from multiple places. The problem with that is, when you add up all the suppliers, it costs more. It makes more sense to look at the total bill, and negotiate with a supplier to have a discount on the overall grand total. This will also save you lots of time, too.

Something else that commonly happens is you can get trapped with common issues like restocking fees, double shipping fees on back orders, bait and switching - the malpractice that many suppliers get into. With multiple suppliers it really is hard to make it work in your favor.

#9. Save with non branded products

Clinics have varying budgets from $10K to $50K. If you’re on a tighter budget, here are some recommendations to save money by buying non branded products especially for clinic supplies and for product retail.

For clinic supplies:

Purchase Rep Band starting from $76.95 compared to Theraband starting at $98.95.

For product sales:  

Purchase a Tens Machine 3000 for $75.95 compared to a Twin Stim Tens Machine for $128.

For a knee brace demonstration:

Purchase a Gripper Hinged Knee Brace (Neoprene) for $96.95 over a Bauerfeind Genutrain Knee Brace for $150.

In the early stages, every small saving can be distributed to other equipment you need.

#10. Check your suppliers Google reviews

Before you decide who to purchase from, check out their Google reviews.  

It's very common for suppliers to provide rock bottom prices to win the quote but the problem is, they provide crappy service. For instance, they don't deliver the product on time, which affects your ability to start your business on time - and this costs you way more. Or they give you an alternative piece of equipment or add extra charges to your orders. Even worse, after all the product arrives, they won't guarantee any of the product is damage free.

CSC has the highest number of Google reviews in the clinic supplies industry. We pride ourselves on great customer service and our perfect 5.0 Google review score proves it!

CSC google reviews Dec 2016.png


Don't start your clinic from scratch.

We want you to hit the ground running on opening day, so we collaborated with successful clinic owners to build you the ultimate equipment checklist.

CLICK HERE to Grab Your Ultimate Equipment Checklist



5 Ways To Determine and Prioritize Your Specific Equipment Needs

1) Identify the core services you offer

What are the services you intend to provide to your patients? Will it be a multidisciplinary clinic with physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage therapy services? Or is it going to be a solo show where you focus on specific injuries only?

Be realistic about what services you will be offering in the next 12 months because it will help you map out what products you're going to need based on your best performing call tracking campaigns. 

2) List the specific injuries you want to treat

Look at your health care team and review what injuries you commonly treat. Things like back and neck pain are always going to be high on the agenda, they're always common injuries. These are the types of things you need to consider.

Don't forget to compare your list with the demographics of your community and identify what the demand is. Perhaps there is ample demand for sports injuries, hand therapy, or work conditioning? Or maybe your clinic is in an area where most of the focus is on aged care.

If you want to be on target with your tight budget, it pays to do the research up front.

3) Identify the physiotherapy equipment list you need for #1 and #2

This step will be the most time consuming.

Download our Free Equipment Checklist, then use a spreadsheet to make it easy for you to sort and move things around. Go online and do your research with different suppliers and identify the supplies and equipment you'll likely need.

When it comes to operational equipment every clinic needs good treatment beds, a collection of tapes, gels, gloves, wedges, straps, foam rollers, and various diagnostic tools.

For both therapists and patients alike, heat pads, therabands, and tens machines are items that can be used for multiple complaints and injuries.

On your spreadsheet you want to list the types of injuries and what items suit what, and also highlight items that can be used for multiple purposes. These will be the kinds of items that are ideal to have on hand.

4) Rate the importance of each piece of equipment in generating revenue

By the time you're done, your list may be quite lengthy, so you will need to prioritize the equipment to be on target with your budget. Focus on revenue and the ability of that equipment to generate revenue.

Rate each item on a scale of 1 to 3 for the revenue potential that the equipment will generate (the higher the number, the higher the revenue it generates). Ranking each item based on revenue will help your clinic achieve profitability as soon as possible. Just remember to keep that multi purpose use in mind as well.

5) Rate the versatility of each piece of equipment

If you're building a multidisciplinary practice, many of your clinicians can share equipment and supplies.

For example, an ultrasound machine can be used between both the physiotherapist and chiropractor.

Rate on a scale of 1 to 3 the versatility of each item. The more core services the equipment satisfies, the higher the rating.

6) Add up the scores and rank your equipment list

Add up the revenue and the versatility scores (#4 and #5) on your spreadsheet. Sort the highest scores at the top and work down to choose the equipment you need to meet your budget.

Setting up a physiotherapy clinic is a big job but with the right preparation you can get everything you need to build a successful clinic on a tight budget. So let’s talk about some more practical strategies that can help you save.

We've made it easy for you, and have designed a checklist of equipment and supplies you will likely need. Over the years, I have used this checklist many times to build over a dozen multidisciplinary clinics.


How to build a physiotherapy clinic from scratch. 

We want you to hit the ground running on opening day, so we collaborated with successful clinic owners to build you the ultimate equipment checklist.

CLICK HERE to Grab Your Ultimate Equipment Checklist


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Physiotherapy Equipment Checklist

Topics: Clinic Startup

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