Continuing from yesterdays Marketing Tip, I want to dive deeper into the legal and operational aspects of operating under a single or multiple DBA (doing business as) name under one roof. Remember, a DBA means Doing Business As. You have a legal entity such as an LLC (limited liability company) doing business as (DBA) a different name. This is a great strategy to use for marketing various niche services for your practice or even if you have another LLC that you don’t want to get rid of but operate a separate business name out of. I have done that before. I had an old LLC that I did not want to get rid of but had a new business idea. So, I just operated as a DBA under that old LLC name! Anyways…
To sum this marketing strategy up from yesterday:
You will operate under one LLC (most of the time).
You will market under various practice names depending on the service you are providing.
You will have different landing pages for each DBA on your website and ads will direct patients to those pages.
You will determine what works and what doesn’t.
Read yesterdays article for the example as I am going to keep building off it.
Let’s say that Jane Doe FNP markets her LLC “Endure Wellness and Aesthetics” under various DBA names. She finds that marketing under the DBA names “Endure Men’s Health and Testosterone Center” and “Endure Aesthetics and Skin Care Clinic” is absolutely killing it when it comes to lead/patient conversion. Therefore, she begins to dump all of her energies into those DBA names and marketing material. This results in more men’s health and aesthetics clients while the other services she offers develop into more “accessory” ones for the men’s health and aesthetics clients.
Keep in mind, the public perception is that there are 2 clinics named “Endure Men’s Health and Testosterone Center” and “Endure Aesthetics and Skin Care Clinic” but in reality, it is still just one business: “Endure Wellness and Aesthetics LLC.”
This is important. The legal entity is the LLC, not the DBA. Therefore, you MUST have the LLC name on all of your practice forms and on your website. For example, on your consent/intake/privacy forms in your practice, you will want to ensure that the LLC is named within those documents, not the DBA. The same applies for your website, ensure the LLC is named at the bottom of your website. If you were ever sued, a patient could argue that they never even knew the LLC existed and are now suing a DBA, which holds no legal protections for the business owner. This is critically important. Ensure your LLC is still named in your documentation as transparency is required for this to be legal. You do not need to put the LLC on the marketing material, but ensure the LLC is on the landing pages, your website, and in your practice forms that the patient SIGNS such as your informed consent.
Now, some states require a DBA to be registered under an LLC and other states do not. I cannot tell you if your state requires that or not. This is something you need to check with the Secretary of State. My state does not require a DBA to be registered, so I can freely just start operating under DBA names. If your state requires it, then you should register the DBA. If you do not, it is nothing more than a regulatory violation. You aren’t going to jail or anything, but it could be argued your liability protections through your LLC are at stake if you don’t follow my advice from above.
This brings up another interesting point though: should you waste money registering DBA names that you have not tried marketing yet? Remember, you will not know what works and what doesn’t until you begin marketing them. This is my OPINION: I see no harm in marketing a few DBA names for a couple weeks to see what works and what does not. Once you find what works, THEN register the DBA. This will save you the money and time of registering the DBA names. Again, that is my opinion. Consult with a lawyer if it really concerns you even though I personally wouldn’t lose sleep over it.
When you operate under a DBA, you are still operating under the parent LLC. Therefore, you will still operate under the same bank account, EIN, NPI, DEA, etc… I would also utilize the same EMR as well. You will order all of your supplies and medications through accounts registered under your LLC name, not your DBA! Do not complicate this. Remember, it is just a different name for the same LEGAL LLC.
From an operational standpoint, running your business from the public perception of different practice names could get confusing for both the patients and you/your staff. Here are a few strategies to help keep things more streamlined:
- Let us use the examples above with the LLC and DBA names of “Endure Wellness and Aesthetics LLC”, “Endure Men’s Health and Testosterone Center”, and “Endure Aesthetics and Skin Care Clinic.” How can you possibly know when to use the appropriate name when patients call and present themselves at your practice? It could get confusing, but it doesn’t need to. What you do is just use the predominant noun in your LLC/DBA name. For example, when patients call just answer the phone and say “Thank you for calling Endure, how can I help you?” Or when patients come into the office, just state “Welcome to Endure, how can we help?” This is very simple. Do not complicate it.
- Ensure that the same predominant noun in your LLC/DBA name are on the marketing/decorative materials within your practice. Things like brochures, signs in your lobby, logos on uniforms, etc… Just go with the “Endure” part of the name. Do not go with the LLC or the DBA name. It could confuse patients.
- Ensure the sign out on the road or the sign in your door stays with your LLC name or a close variation to it. Do not stick with one DBA for that. Use something a little more on the generic side.
- Have a master website for your clinic that sticks with your LLC name or a close variation of it. Have each service page within the website stick with your niche DBA name but also ensure you have separate landing pages with the DBA name for marketing purposes. Yes, this might sound complicated, but it really isn’t. Any qualified and knowledgeable web designer should easily be able to build this out for you affordably. If you need one, email my developer Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I operate my men’s health clinic under a DBA. My LLC name does not include testosterone or men’s health in it. But publicly on my signs and in my marketing material, men’s health and testosterone are included in the name.
I operate my medical cannabis clinic under a DBA. Having cannabis in the name of an LLC is a big NO NO. You will never be able to get a bank account, credit card, or anything for it as it still holds a lot of stigma around it.
I operate The Elite Nurse Practitioner as a DBA under an LLC with a different name. The LLC owns the trademark, but I still operate under that LLC.
Therefore, utilizing a DBA is very important when you want to offer multiple different services in your practice and market them as such. Creating this public perception can truly enhance your marketing efforts for each niche service your practice provides.
Additionally, operating under a DBA for another LLC you have is a great strategy to use to save yourself money on forming new LLCs. I see this often: a nurse practitioner forms an LLC name for something generic but then discovers they want to provide a specific niche service like men’s health or weight loss. There is no need to get rid of the LLC, just operate under it legally but market and operate out of a DBA following the advice in this article!
Now, sit down and begin thinking of various DBA names you could use in your practice to market each niche service line under. Do this and watch your patient volume increase!