• Getting into the Drug & Alcohol Testing Business Debunked

    Drug and alcohol testing is done in a variety of situations for a very specific purpose: to detect the presence of drugs in the person’s body. In the United States, the workplace is a popular setting where drug testing is commonplace. Employers perform drug testing in applicants selected to be hired for a job, and among existing employees. Other individuals who are at risk of undergoing drug and alcohol tests include athletes, probationers, parolees, students, and parents in child abuse cases.

    If you are planning to open a dug testing business, the first thing you’d be asking yourself is whether or not there’s a market for it. A recent survey reveals that about 54 million full-time civilian workers said their employer has tested workers for drug use.  Similarly, an industry veteran concluded that despite the country’s slow-moving economy the drug testing sales in 2011 managed to maintain a significantly impressive record. This is a clear manifestation that more and more employees are seeing the benefits of employment drug and alcohol testing for the success of their business.

    If you’re serious in getting into the drug and alcohol testing business it’s only logical to familiarize yourself with how the industry works and know the major players in the business. Generally, you’ll come across terms, such as Specimen Collectors, Third-Party Administrators (TPAs), Medical Review Officers, Collection Sites, Employee Assistance Program Providers, and so forth. These are only some of the frequently-used terminologies in the business and it’s important to know who they are, what they do, and how they work so that you’ll get a better idea on where you’ll fit in.

    So, is it possible to start as a collector and then venture into being a TPA (Third-Party Administrator)? Certainly you can. Some people do that once they have acquired sufficient knowledge and gained trust from their growing clients. But before you jump right in, you’ll also need to know the strategy you’re willing to take to begin your business. This is where you’ll need to ask yourself if you’d want to go for the franchise opportunity or business opportunity.

    Franchise Opportunity vs. Business Opportunity

    Like other industries there are also franchise opportunities and business opportunities in the drug and alcohol testing business. The advantage of the franchise concept is that there’s already an established formula. Product/services are already recognized and the operating system is standardized. But it can get quite expensive and limiting. Meanwhile, the business opportunity model is less restricting in the sense that you are provided with the things you need to get started, while at the same time having the leeway to implement your own quality control and business operating standards.

    Consulting with a business broker that specializes in the drug testing industry is a good start to get a better understanding of which strategy might best fit your entrepreneurial skills and the risks you’re willing to take. Some of the businesses that offer franchise opportunities and business opportunities in the drug and alcohol testing industry are A & D Tests, Inc., Onsite Drug Testing Network, Inc. (ODTN), ArcPoint Labs, and USA Mobile Drug Testing, LLC.

    Importance of the Business Plan

    Whether you want to become a collector or TPA you must have a well-structured business plan. It should provide clear description of what you are selling, who the prospective customers are, how you plan to promote, how much money is needed for start-up costs and what are your projections for revenue and expenses.

    If you need assistance with your business plan, the legal format of your business, and other related aspects check available resources in your local community. You can visit the website of U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) or Entrepreneur Magazine Small Business Resource Center (www.entrepreneur.com) for additional information.

    Learn, Learn and Keep Learning

    Nothing beats a well-informed entrepreneur. Unless you have specialized training in the field, you will need to attend workshops, conferences and training programs specific to your business. You’ll are also required to read a lot to know more about what you’re getting into. For instance, the collector’s duties are not the same as that of the TPA’s; therefore, once you know the direction you’re heading you must equip yourself with the roles, responsibilities, and the expectations needed to become a collector or a TPA. Similarly, you’ll have to keep up with the trends of the business so that you’ll also know the other things you can do to get ahead with your competition.

    In addition, you should also keep in mind that in a business as important as drug testing you’ll need to invest on good-quality equipment and technology. They’ll help simplify your process and handle your transactions efficiently.

    Another way to further your knowledge about the drug and alcohol testing business is to read materials from the industry experts. Joe Reilly’s Getting into the Business – Drug & Alcohol Testing white paper is a valuable reference material that talks about the basics of drug and alcohol testing business. It’s filled of informative details that can help you solidify your intentions for entering the business.

    Joe Reilly is an expert on workplace drug testing issues.  He served for nine years on the DATIA Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Board from 2004–2008. He was the Founder and the former President and CEO of Florida Drug Screening, Inc – a nationwide provider of drug & alcohol testing and drug free workplace programs – until he sold the business to CBC Companies in 2007. After retiring from the firm in 2009, Joe Reilly continues to actively assist buyers and sellers in the drug testing industry as private consultant. He regularly provides training and consulting services for people entering the drug and alcohol testing industry.

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