What should a PT owner do to become successful? In this episode, host Nathan Shields sits as a guest for Edric Zheng’s new podcast. Nathan talks with Edric about what he’s learned as an owner and business coach over the past 20 years. PT owners need to step out of patient care and take the time to run their businesses. As the owner, you need to train your physical therapist to succeed in your business and hold them accountable to be productive. Do you want more tips on how to become a successful PT owner? You’d enjoy listening to this episode. Tune in!
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What I’ve Learned As A PT Owner And Business Coach: Nathan Interviewed By Edric Zheng Of Medical Patient Referrals
In this episode, I’m the guest. I’m sharing an interview that I did with Edric Zheng of Medical Patient Referrals. He was starting his podcast and asked if I would be the guest. I’m the first guest of his podcast. Look for that coming out in the future. I asked him to share the audio so that I could present it on the show as well.
In it, we talk a little bit about what I have learned both as a PT owner and a PT business coach about PT ownership and some of the difficulties that we’ve had, some of the successes that I’ve had, some of my story, as well as some success stories that I’ve had in coaching. We cover a few things but mostly things basic to PT clinic ownership. I thought I’d share it with you this time. I hope you enjoy it.
I am here with Nathan Shields, the Founder of PTOClub.com, CEO of Rise Diagnostics, and Cofounder of Rise Rehabilitation Specialists in Arizona. Nathan grew that clinic to four locations in four years and eventually sold it. Is that correct, Nathan?
That’s a very truncated version of it. I have been a PT clinic owner since 2002. With the help of my business partner Will Humphreys, he and I grew it to a point where we sold it back in 2018.
You have been owning PT clinics and managing them for many years.
I graduated from PT school in 1999 and I started that clinic in 2002. We were at the end of 2021. I’ve got a couple of decades in the industry as a PT owner.
Thank you for taking the time to jump on the show and to be with me to share your knowledge and wisdom of owning a PT clinic for many years. I appreciate that.
I’m flattered that you would reach out.
The one thing I wanted to start with is in your years of managing a physical therapy clinic, what would you say is the hardest part of owning a PT clinic business-wise?
It can come down to a couple of things. The first being sometimes you can feel like you’re alone on an island as a business owner. In your clinic, you feel like you’re the answer man. You’d probably feel the same way about owning a business. It’s not necessarily PT-specific, but small business owner-specific in that you feel like you’re the answer man. You’re responsible for everything, especially if you’re in a smaller and newer clinic or business. It’s all dependent upon you.
The E-Myth Revisited book by Michael Gerber illustrates it perfectly. It’s all dependent upon you. You are all the systems and the jobs. You are everything. That can be one thing that becomes difficult. The second thing is being a business owner of a PT clinic specifically is we didn’t get any training. I would say it’s 99.8% of us maybe. I’ll leave a little room there for somebody who did have an MBA before opening up their PT clinic or had some business ownership prior to that.
Our PT training was PT-specific and not business-specific. That can be hard for some PT owners to tolerate because we are high-achieving individuals. We have Master’s and Doctorate degrees and have done very well to get into PT programs and pass our PT exams simply. We have to recognize that we didn’t get business-specific training to simply hang our shingles out and say, “I have a clinic now. I provide great physical therapy care,” simply isn’t enough. It doesn’t typically equate to having a successfully run business.
What you’re saying is it’s the lack of training from being a physical therapist, getting that Master’s and Doctorates, and then jumping into owning a business, which I’m guessing you have a lot of overhead if you’re going to open up a physical therapy clinic and going through all the struggles. That is a difficult part not just for PT clinics but also for almost every business out there.
Something that rang true to me and I know I’ve learned it in my past but Eric Miller of Econologics said at a conference that I was at regarding the three hats of a business owner. A hat is simply your responsibility, job and duty. Those three hats that we wear as business owners are the owner hat when we are on the business, the administrator hat when we’re managing people and systems. There is also the technician hat or that job that produces the product. In our case, the technician hat would be the physical therapist hat.
All of us as business owners wear all of these three hats, yet our responsibility is to eventually start shedding at least one of the hats and eventually two of the hats so that you only sit in the owner hat. That’s a hat that you can never get rid of. When I say shedding one of the hats, you can be either be an owner-technician or owner-administrator. Your job is to figure out what you want to do, hire, delegate, and train someone else to take over that other hat. Most PT clinics that I have been a part of in terms of coaching them, those PT owners are stuck.
The PT owners that I have seen become successful are the ones that shed the technician hat and step out of providing the patient care directly one-on-one full-time at least. They spend more time in their owner-administrator hat training individuals to produce better physical therapists but also making sure the systems are running well so that they have patients, which is good. That they’re maximally productive, they’re getting maximum reimbursement on the care they provide and managing marketing systems, which you know all about. They are managing the recruiting, hiring systems, programs and training of the people.
The most successful PT owners are those that shed that technician hat and live successfully in the owner-administrator hat. The most successful ones or the top 5% of PT owners are the ones that eventually shed the administrator hat as well. They delegate and train a leadership team and sit comfortably in their owner hat running from above.
How long would you say it took you to get rid of that technician hat when you first started your clinic?
That took a long time. That’s why I get so excited when I talked to PT owners and coach them when they’re only 1 year or 2 into their PT clinic ownership and looking to grow their business to achieve and do more. I wish I had done what I’m coaching owners to do now earlier on in my ownership journey because I would have saved so much money and accelerated my progress so much faster. It took me at least a good 10 to 12 years to get out of patient care because I didn’t know.
There are so many more resources now for owners than there were when I started in 2002, whether it’s coaches, consultants and the APTA’s support for private practice owners. All that is so much better and there’s so much more available to us. Back then, I was a physical therapist that happened to own a business. If you had asked me back in the day, people would say, “How is your business? How are you doing?” I would say, “I love treating patients. I hate running the business.”Physical therapy owners need to step out of patient care and take the time to run their businesses. Click To Tweet
It showed. I was relatively successful and financially, I was doing okay. I had 1 or 2 other providers but we were pretty stagnant. We weren’t going far. I was a poor leader at that time until I figured out how important was to step out of patient care and take the time to run my business. One of the most successful actions that a PT owner can take is stepping out of patient care at a minimum of two and a half days a week to work on their business. It took me a decade or more to get out of that. It was a hard transition.
Was it because you like treating so much or you didn’t like the running the business aspect that led you to stay in that technician role?
There are a couple of things that go into it. This is typical of most physical therapists, especially physical therapy owners. Our identity is wrapped up in the care that we provide. If you consider the whole length of my education to get to a Master’s degree, which I have in Physical Therapy, it’s all about being a physical therapist and practicing physical therapy. This is what I am. I’m a physical therapist. What makes it difficult is that you’re telling me to not do what I have been trained to do.
The second part of that is what am I going to do with that time? It goes back to the business training. I don’t know how to run a business. I’m just a good physical therapist that gets results for patients. What am I going to do with that time that would make it productive and worth it for me to step away from treating patients? Our mindset is not only am I a physical therapist but how do I generate money for a business if I’m not seeing a patient one-on-one?
We can easily equate our treatment time. That hour that I do with patient care returns back to me at $90 per visit. I know that my value is tied up with that patient care, not knowing that your business needs more from you. Your employees could do more if you spent time in the administrative part but we don’t know what that looks like. It’s very nebulous. You need to spend admin time.
It’s easy for me to say that and tell you that is what is needed but you don’t have any training on what you would do at that time. Is it worth it? What am I going to do? Pay bills, catch up on my documentation or look at emails? These are unproductive things. That’s where it’s vital and imperative that PT owners get some business training.
By hiring a coach, that’s what we teach you to do. I do that. There are others in the space that does that as well. I read books and listen to podcasts. I have my podcast where I interview PT owners as well, Physical Therapy Owners Club Podcast. There are so many more resources for you now. It’s getting that training and paying the tuition of what it takes to run a business and what you would do with that admin time.
Was there a certain trigger where one day you were like, “I can’t do this anymore? I have to figure out the business side of this.”
My business partner at the time was Will Humphreys. The story is long and drawn out, so I won’t get into it. We were semi-business partners at the time. He said, “I signed up for this course and I can bring someone else for free. Why don’t you come with me? It’s about how to improve your business.” It was marketing-based and how to increase your referrals or something like that. We went up to Seattle and went to that conference or training. It was just him and I and Steve Rodriguez. He was a stud. They took us through this training for 2 or 3 days. At the end of the training, they were like, “We can show you so much more but you’ve got to pay tens of thousands of dollars for it.”
Somewhere along the course of the weekend, I turned to Will and I’m like, “We’ve got to do things differently. I have been doing this for over a decade. There’s so much more that we can do. I don’t know what else to do but I know that something has to change.” I could see the burnout coming if I wasn’t already there at the time. I knew that employees would rip me off. I knew that our production wasn’t where it could be. It wasn’t maximized.
That’s the option that’s presented in front of me. This was over $50,000. I’m like, “Let’s do it. Let’s get trained.” At the time, I didn’t think it this way but now I look back on it, that was my tuition to get some business training. I paid for it and it paid off in spades on the backend. The ROI on that was great and super valuable. It was that point where I said, “I need to make an investment and a sacrifice in order for this to change for the better.” When we did that, things changed dramatically.
Was that with the clinic that you eventually sold with Will?
Yes. The real short summary is I had a clinic. He had a clinic or might have had two. We also shared another clinic. It was his and ours type of situation. We eventually merged all those four, honed in our procedures and developed a leadership team. The profit margins were amazing. The productivity was through the roof to the point where we came to the market with twenty-something other clinics.
Of those other twenty clinics from different areas of Phoenix and the different states, we had the highest profit margins pretty easily. We had a culture and a leadership team that was better than anyone else had. It was a very proud moment of ours to see how well we did and also to grow to the point where we could sell it for what was at the time, 3 to 4 times what most clinics were getting on the market.
That’s impressive to know. I might even sign up for your business coaching, even though I’m not a physical therapist.
Not to sell to you but a lot of what I’m doing in the coaching is typically small business stuff. I have that experience from the PT side of things that needs to be implemented. Many times I have to go back to very fundamental things. What are your purpose, values and mission? Let’s get clear on those things. If you’re going to grow and expand outside of yourself, you need to be very clear on it so you can find other people that are aligned with you.
Some of that doesn’t feel like you’re getting a lot of traction initially when I’m doing coaching sessions but I promise you, it pays off down the road as you start hiring aligned people and more importantly, getting rid of people who aren’t aligned because they’re holding you back from growth. It then gets into, “What are your key statistics?”
A large number of PT owners don’t track the key statistics on a routine basis. It goes beyond what are the key statistics and how are they trending? Are they going up or down? Why? What do we need to do next? It’s some of that stuff, HR-related issues, how to handle people and how to put in programs to make your clinics more productive. Some of them are fundamental business types of things.
It goes back to the saying where “Things aren’t easy but it’s simple to achieve or accomplish.” There are a number or lists of things that if you are aware of it, first of all, and then do and execute it properly, you’re going to have X result.
There’s a reason why so many small business books are popular across all genres or industries is that we all have that same small business entrepreneur dilemma. Some of the books that were important to us and that I recommend my coach and clients to read are The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, the first four chapters of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Traction by Gino Wickman and many of the books by Mike Michalowicz. They’re not industry-specific but can very easily be applied to our clinics.If you'll grow and expand outside of yourself, you need to be very clear. Click To Tweet
Did you have to learn how to be a coach as well when you started PTO Club and started coaching other clinic owners?
I did. I took a course on coaching. I spent the money to hire a coach to be a coach. You might be surprised that I even have a coach now. It’s more business-related but a little bit on the coaching side. I’ve read books. I have a couple of books. The Coaching Habit is a good one about how to be a coach. That’s a very important book for leaders to read when they start doing one-on-one meetings and want to coach their teams.
Essentially, what the leader becomes is coaching other people to be more successful within their business and holding them accountable. I’m reading a couple of books and I took the course. I had some great mentors. I have coaches myself. I got coached myself, so I do some of the same things they did.
What does the format of your programs look like with your clients?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily unique. A lot of other coaches might follow the same format. For most PT owners, if they haven’t had any coaching before with me or anyone else, then I recommend a seven-month accelerator program where we spend seven months meeting twice a month. It’s usually for about 1.5 hours to focus on the fundamentals that I shared with you, track those statistics and see which way they’re going, and talk about, “It looks like you need to start recruiting. Let’s talk about your recruiting plan. What are you doing about it? Let’s talk about your marketing efforts. What are you doing for marketing? What are you doing to capture past patients or get current referrals? How are you holding your team accountable? Are you doing regular meetings?”
We start establishing some pretty fundamental things and at the same time dealing with any issues that they’re dealing with. I want to say there is a plan for the seven-month program but I don’t neglect the fact that they might get on the phone and say, “My PT quit. What am I going to do?” I’m not going to say, “Let’s get through this stuff first and we will talk.” We will talk about how to handle that and put my stuff in place.
I like to think that I’m rather reactive in that regard. After that seventh-month period, we have a discussion and a lot of my clients tend to then fall into what I call the CEO mentoring program. That’s where I meet with you once a month, instead of twice a month. We’re tracking the statistics but I feel like I’m taking on the responsibility of a CEO per se of their company. I’m trying to mentor them on what a CEO would do in their company and what they should be doing in the future.
A CEO would say, “Bring me your statistics, problems and issues. Tell me what your recommended solutions are, we’ll work it out and I’ll give you some guidance. By the way, down the road, you need to consider this if you’re not thinking about it right now. What are your goals for 2022, at the end of the year? Let’s make sure we’re heading in that direction. Are we still staying true to our purpose and values?”
I know that some of the top performers in the world all have coaches, trainers and consultants like Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant had Tim Grover.
Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, even at the top of their game, had coaches.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
When you’re in the picture, you can’t see it. There are a couple of success stories, if you don’t mind, I can share of coaching clients that I have had. I got off the phone with a couple of coaching clients. They were PT owners in New Mexico. These women are awesome. They have niched down to treat scoliosis patients and have as many patients as they want, essentially. They’ve got a 2 to a 3-month waiting list of new patients trying to get in.
When I came on with them, they were still treating each of them 20 to 30 hours a week. They weren’t tracking any statistics and didn’t have any policy and procedures in place. They knew they wanted to expand to multiple clinics in the future and needed more space themselves. In that six-month period, they had hired 1, 2 or 3 more physical therapists running close to full-time, if not full-time.
It was over the 6 to 7-month period that I was working with them. There were three new physical therapists. They have moved into a new space in which they could now offer yoga classes, parent nights and all kinds of training and in-services for the community. This is the most important. They had increased their gross revenues by 33% over a six-month period. They had also decreased their treating times to where one owner was no longer treating.
The other owner was down to 4 or 5 hours a week. Importantly, she’s pregnant and due in a couple of months, so this was vital to her. After the baby comes in the spring of 2022, they’re looking at their second location. They’ve got policies in place on how to train physical therapists. They’re adding more to their front desk staff. They’ve got a marketing strategy that is amazing that their marketer is working on. They have an organizational chart of people and responsibilities. They are well on their way to doing amazing things. They made such amazing growth. It’s exciting to share that success story.
It sounds like they have a roadmap for success that they can follow now where they’re not stuck in their business, in that technician operator role.
That’s what one of them, who’s the designated Clinic Director, said, “I didn’t know what to do as a Clinic Director, what stats you were talking about and how to train somebody. Now, I know what stats are specific to being a Clinic Director and why they’re important. I also know exactly how to train a physical therapist to be successful in my business and hold them accountable to be productive.” For her to have that control over that position in that company makes it easy for her to train the next Clinic Director in their company and expand that second location. They did that all in 6 to 7 months. I was super impressed.
That sounds like a recipe for continued success. You were talking about holding staff accountable. That’s something that I have issues with myself. Could you maybe share some tips on how to do that for other clinic owners?
One of the biggest things to get down to is number one, determine what position they have in your company. Maybe it comes with a title and recognizing what they produce. What is their main product? If you make Twinkies, your product is making Twinkies. If you’re a shoemaker, you should be making lots of good shoes. In the physical therapy space, if you’re a physical therapist, you should know that you’re providing quality physical therapy.The main responsibility of the therapist is to see as many patients as possible ethically and quality-wise, then bill and document appropriately for it. Click To Tweet
There are three parts to it. You’re providing great therapy, doing great documentation and billing accordingly. Those are your main three things. If you’re at the front desk, your job is to fill the schedules. There’s a lot of work to be done behind that but you could get distracted, is what I’m trying to say. If you’re not clear and you as the leader need to make sure that the people who are there are clear about what their product is.
Where I fell off as a leader initially is, I would hire somebody as a technician and I would default. I thought it was cool. I would say, “Your job is to do whatever I tell you to do.” That gives you no clarity. That’s what I fell into because I wasn’t clear as a leader what my product was. My product was to get the people who I work with on my team as productive as possible to produce that product that we produce. If I did that and my profits were good, then I made my product.
If the front desk person is good at filling the schedule, then they’re a real good front desk person. What I mean by distractions is sometimes that front desk person could be thinking that their job is to verify insurances and be on the phone with insurance companies to get the benefits for the sake of scheduling the patient who’s leaving for their next appointment or collecting that copay.
There are products and also subproducts that can be important like collecting all the copays that are due that day from patients that come in. The main product is to get everybody in, fill that schedule, and don’t let those patients drop off, cancel them, or stop therapy. The front desk’s main responsibility is to fill the schedules. The main responsibility of the therapist is to see as many patients as possible ethically and quality-wise, bill and document appropriately for it.
For the technician, what I would tell them is their job is to support the physical therapist. It’s not to treat patients for the physical therapist but support the physical therapist so that they can get home at a reasonable time without any notes to be done at the end of the day. That’s an example in a PT setting. Where you start is getting clear about what is your main responsibility. You, as a leader, need to be clear as to what everyone’s posts and responsibilities are. What is their one key product? What is the step that tracks that?
If you have a product and a stat, then you can tell if that person is performing their job well by the staff. If, in your case, someone is supposed to create social media content and that’s their one job, “How much social media content did you produce this week?” If you want to take a step further, “How much captivating and quality social media content did you create this week that we can use?” That would be their job. That’s their product. If they do that well and do a lot of it, they’re even more powerful.
I can see how someone who is managing a bunch of locations that are not profitable, being clear on what’s going on, everybody’s roles, their products and KPIs and getting on a call with you to figure all that out, I can see how valuable that would be as a CEO/owner.
For a small business owner, it helps to be clear on those things and sketch out the organization. You hear about org boards or organizational charts. Sketch out what the different positions are in your company so you know where everybody lands, what their responsibilities are and how they’re connected to each other.
How often would you have somebody update those organizational charts? Do you update it often? Is it something that you do and don’t look at for the next six months?
It’s going to change, especially as you hire and fire people. That organizational chart, although it has a position like a physical therapist, there’s going to be a number of physical therapy names underneath the physical therapists themselves. You, as the owner or CEO, are going to have your name in multiple positions across that org chart. For a PT owner, you’re going to be at the top as an owner and underneath that as a CEO. That’s going to be your name.
If you’re like these two women in New Mexico, one of you is going to be the Head of the Clinical Operations or the Clinical Director and her name is going to go there as well as the CEO or Co-Owner in her case. The other one is going to have her name over the financial division. One of them is going to be responsible for the marketing division. Your name, if you’re a sole owner, is going to be littered across that organizational chart doing all the things. You want to keep that updated and find people to delegate and take those spots so then you would update the organizational chart at that time.
Let’s say you map out the organizational chart and your employees aren’t doing their jobs. What do you do in that scenario? How would you address it? How would you teach your clients to address it?
In that situation, maybe we would role-play a little bit. It would probably start with, “John, I want to make sure that we’re on the same page. I would like to talk to you a little bit about your position and what my expectations are and go from there. Let’s talk about that and in doing so, tell me in your own words, what is your main product? What do you produce? What’s your main responsibility?” They could go on, use a lot of words, be very affluent and talk about this, that and the other thing.
I would say, “I want to make sure we’re on the same page. To be clear, your responsibility in blank and blank physical therapy is to be a physical therapist. Your main product is to provide quality care and document and bill appropriately for that care. Can we agree to that?” Essentially, we’re talking about main products. This is your main responsibility. It’s that one thing, “If you’re doing that one thing well, you’re doing well in my company. Can we agree to that?”
There’s one statistic that tracks that. Do you know what that statistic is that I’m tracking? It’s the number of visits. That’s your one key stat. This is what we had back in the day. Our key expectation was that you’re going to see 60 visits a week and document and bill appropriately for those 60 visits a week. That’s your minimum baseline expectation to get the salary that we agreed upon.
I might not share all that information with him. It’s just as a point of reference. Coming back to the conversation, I would say, “That one key statistic is the total visits. Do you remember our minimum expectation?” You would say, “Yes. It’s 60 visits.” “Do you know where you’ve been the past few weeks?” “I haven’t quite hit that.” “That’s why we’re having this conversation. For this to be a win-win relationship, we need to talk about what you can do to increase the visits that you’re seeing.”
That conversation could go a lot of different ways. What I’m trying to show there is that I want to put the problem out on the table without any finger-pointing or blaming and make it clear that the focus is understanding that we both understand each other well and we are both going to talk about this issue. It’s ultimately their responsibility to come forward and produce what they’re supposed to produce and try to invite them into that conversation.
In the past, after the business training, have you ever had to let go of any employees that weren’t performing?
All the time. Please understand this is where I am now. I would have handled that conversation significantly differently years ago. That’s another hiccup for most small business owners. Some are very much better at holding people accountable. Most PT owners have a commonality in their personalities and that they like to be liked. They are the nice guys and the heroes that come in with a cape. They’re very nice and compassionate towards everything about the patient, their pain, financial issues or family issues. They’re very compassionate people.
To hold someone accountable on their team, who they love and respect, can be very difficult for them. They don’t know how to do that without creating some offense, getting defensive, and making it a me-versus-you type of relationship. They have to get some coaching, walkthrough and role-play some of those scenarios so that they feel comfortable recognizing how they can invite the person without being able to control how they’re going to respond. You could fly off the handle but know that what you’re doing is the right thing and be okay with it.
Would you say that a lot of PT clinic owners, the reason why they’re not succeeding is because it’s a mental thing? Is it something that’s holding them back? Is it a lack of knowledge or belief in themselves? Tony Robbins talks about that a lot. Success, a lot of it is mental.Establish your purpose, values, vision, and goals. Click To Tweet
Do you have an option there for D, all of the above? It’s all that stuff. We don’t have the business training. We don’t know what we don’t know. What we need to do is nebulous to us because I treat patients. I don’t know what there is more beyond that. Why can’t I just hire somebody to do it? You could hire somebody to do it but now you don’t know how to manage somebody. You don’t know how to manage statistics and how to approach them and hold them accountable to those statistics because you’re not clear.
You don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t have the knowledge and training. Maybe a lot of people don’t see themselves as leaders. That was my issue. I was looking for somebody to take the ownership hat off of me without recognizing that I could never let go of that. I always have the ownership hat and can’t give that to someone else.
What does that mean, not giving that ownership?
I wanted someone to run the business and just be a PT. If it didn’t do well, I’ll blame them for it instead of being responsible for the business and its growth, looking in the mirror and saying, “If you want this to change, it’s up to you to change and get the knowledge that you need to get.” Unfortunately, your expertise is in the marketing space. Some owners want to give the marketing over to you and let you do it all without taking any responsibility for it. I don’t know if you had that experience but I’m trying to make something that’s relatable to your situation.
There were times where we generated a lot of leads and opportunities but no one was calling them from their clinic.
They haven’t delegated some marketing responsibilities to you. They have abdicated their role as the marketing manager to use you as a party to help them in their marketing strategy. If they haven’t taken on the responsibility of being in charge of the marketing for their clinic, they look at you as taking over the marketing and they’re no longer responsible for it or, “You are supposed to do all the work and get me a bunch of patients,” and abdicate that responsibility instead of working together with you.
What would you say would be the correct or responsible thing for the owner to do instead of abdicating it?
This goes back to they have to have the time to do this. If they’re treating patients, they don’t have this time. Even two half days a week isn’t sufficient but it’s a place to start. Recognize that you have to have a marketing strategy that covers the four key areas of marketing for a physical therapy clinic. There are four buckets. I stole this from Steve Line. He’s a very successful physical therapist in Nebraska.
He did this article in Impact Magazine. I did an episode with him about it. I loved it so much because it was clear and clean and I can then easily share it with people like you and my coaching clients. There are four buckets. There is a physician referral. There is marketing to past patients, which should be a large list of people. There’s marketing to current patients to get family and friend referrals. There’s marketing directly to the consumer, which covers a lot of stuff of which you are a part of. That’s what you do at Medical Patient Referrals. Am I right?
Yes, specifically on Facebook.
You would be in that fourth bucket. If you came to me, this would then become my marketing strategy. I will keep my relationships with my physicians and then I’m going to give out this direct-to-consumer stuff to you. I’m not going to even focus on that fourth bucket that I talked about. I’m going to focus on physicians. That is not going to be successful because I’ve abdicated it and I’d let you do all that marketing but if I’m in charge of marketing and you don’t have a marketing director, then you are in charge of marketing.
What you should be saying is, “I’m going to keep marketing to the physicians and keep those relationships to keep those referrals coming. I’m going to use Edric and his team to help my direct-to-consumer outreach program. I need to set aside time to monitor that program, manage it, and communicate with Edric and his team. I need to set up this plan going forward that Edric and his team are going to meet.”
I’m going to pick something and maybe it goes differently than this. “I’m going to meet with him Wednesdays at 3:00 PM every week to monitor what the referrals were like that we received, what we could do differently, what we need to do better, and map out our plan for the next week. We’re going to look at statistics when we meet on a weekly basis and encapsulate those on a monthly basis, which is a little bit bigger or a longer meeting.”
Make it a little bit more detailed about what we want to do for the upcoming month and what our expectations are going forward. Do you see the difference? I’m going to be intentional about bringing on Edric and his team. Intention means I’m going to follow up. We’re going to brainstorm together and look at statistics together. That’s delegation versus abdication. It’s intention. There’s a big difference there. There’s intention in planning.
I have a lot of clients that fit into that bucket of abdicating the marketing role and not wanting to take any responsibility at all. When we do review the numbers, here are all the leads generated. We go into the CRM and look at how many calls were made. There are no calls and then it goes downhill from there.
That’s where it would be important. If you’re starting to see that as a trend among some of your PT owners, you see that and say, “This is how our relationship is going to be most successful. You’re hiring me on as essentially a marketing assistant. In order for my services to be most successful for you, we’re going to need to following things. We’re going to track these statistics, meet weekly and review these statistics and what your team and my team are doing to improve them. If you cannot meet with me weekly, I would strongly recommend that we do so.”
“If you can’t recognize that maybe this is a good word for you and it’s not wasted. A lot of our efforts might be wasted because we need to work together on this. We’re not working alone in a silo to support you. This is a teamwork effort and I’m going to share with you what you need to look for and see and also what your team needs to do in order for me and you to work well together and be most successful.” That’s where you on the frontend can prep what a successful relationship looks like.
Thank you for that. I’m going to use that on all of my onboarding calls from now on.
It’s even better if you have it written out for them as part of the contract or agreement and say, “These are some of the things that we expect out of you and you can expect from us. In order for these things to be most successful, it’s going to also require you to do the following things.” I don’t know if that’s part of a contract necessarily but a written understanding between both people.
I would recommend you go through it bullet point by bullet point. They’re going to say, “I don’t have the time to do this.” You need to consider going forward with this relationship because you’re going to spend a lot of money and get a ton of referrals that are going to die on the vine if you don’t have the time. You need to decide if this is going to be important enough for you to put in this commitment.
When you give them that ahead of time and say, “I know you can do it. I’ve got multiple PT owners that have significantly improved their businesses. It’s because they followed this formula. I know it can be hard. I know you’re busy but if you’re looking to get significant results by working with us, this is the formula that we’ve seen can happen. I know you can do it. I’m willing to work with you side by side on this but this is what it’s going to take.”Focus on opportunities like selling your business. Click To Tweet
Is there anything that you want to say about any misconceptions about coaching that you want to put out there?
When we say coaching, the biggest misconception is people don’t know what it is. You could say consultant, a coach or you could call it a number of different things. If you could make the analogy to sports, let’s do that. What are a coach and a consultant? A coach is someone who’s going to see where you’re at. Imagine a basketball player. A coach is going to see how well are you dribbling? What does your shooting form look like? What are some of the practice routines that you’re doing? Where are your weak spots? Figure out what your strengths are. What are your weak spots? How are you doing well generally?
This can be seen through statistics. You want to share that with your coaches. They will ask you about different parts of your game. Where do you think your weakest is? Where do you think you need help? They might have some ideas on their own but they will ask you as well and start stretching you and asking you questions. If it’s a basketball player, “I’m going to have you shoot right here underneath the basket 100 times until you hit it 100 out of 100.” The person who’s getting coached will be like, “Why are we doing this?” It’s because he’s laying a foundation for that basketball player.
A coach, in a business sense, will do the same thing. We should establish purpose, values, vision, goals, and all these things. Why are we doing this? They will make you do things and stretch you to force you to do things you wouldn’t do on your own. They will establish goals with you to make sure you hit the targets that you’re looking for. If I want to improve my free-throw shooting percentage, I hire a coach to help me out. That’s the stat and the goal. We’re going to be an 85% free throw shooter. I’m going to work with you and do all the drills with you to get to that point. I might even make you do some stuff you don’t want to do in order to get there, knowing that it’s going to achieve the goal that you’re looking for.
I made the analogy and maybe it’s still not very clear but most coaches are going to work with you on a routine basis, some weekly, biweekly and monthly. They’re going to expect things out of you and give you action items to perform in between calls, Zooms or whatever that is. Their main focus is to help you achieve your goals for your company. They will do that by giving you some organization and structure to push you to be a better leader and focus on key statistics.
The holding people accountable part, plus the knowledge and awareness that you have in your experience, is super valuable for anyone that needs coaching. Are you still taking new clients?
Yes. I’m always taking clients. I set aside time every week to do free consults with people. They can reach out to me at Nathan@PTOClub.com. They can even text me at (480) 695-3343 and we can set up a time. Before the call, I’ll send you a short little questionnaire to get some of the details about your business, so we don’t have to hash all that out on the phone call. Also, it helps me go into the call with a little bit of a mindset as to where you’re at in your business.
I’m taking coaching clients. I’ve got a mastermind, the podcast, one-on-one coaching, and different levels of engagement for people who are simply looking for a resource. You can either be totally passive and simply listen to the podcast or we can have a very close one-on-one relationship where we get together a couple of times a month and other engagement levels in between.
There’s one last thing before we end the show. What’s life like now for you? I know you have a family of nine. Before the business training and during the old days when you weren’t running the business properly and what life is like now for you?
A lot of owners might be able to relate to this. Imagine I had a newborn. The baby might wake up late and go to bed early. I would work until 7:00 to 8:00 at night, see patients, finish up notes and do some extra business stuff afterwards. I get up early, sometimes at 4:00 in the morning if I was busy, to finish documentation so I can be at the clinic at 6:30 or 7:00. Doing that a couple of days in a row would mean that I would not see my baby awake for 3 to 4 days at a stretch. That was where I started as an owner. I was like, “This sucks. I need to do something different.”
It even extended further. I go on a one-week vacation and I would be getting calls every other day from my team down in Arizona, “So-and-so doctor called. They want this. This patient is upset. So-and-so put in their two-week notice.” The fire always caught when I was gone. By the time that Will and I sold, we could go on vacation and we were fine. We didn’t have those calls. I had a regular schedule where I focused on the business. I wasn’t treating patients at the time. I had a leadership team that was amazing. They would take care of all that stuff for us. I was focused on opportunities like selling my business.
I have seven children, so that is a family of nine. I’m focused on whatever opportunities I get excited about. I’m getting back into diagnostics, EMGs and musculoskeletal ultrasound, specifically up here in Alaska, where we live. I’m looking at other PT opportunities, doing more coaching and honestly doing some real estate stuff. It makes a lot of fun. That’s the cool thing about when you’re wearing that owner hat well that I was talking about.
When you have admin teams, leadership teams, and teams that are producing and are in line with your purpose and values, you can sit in that ownership seat and look at opportunities that could be further growth and expansion of your current clinics. It could be real estate, stocks, other ventures, in the physical therapy space or without it. That’s fortunately for me where I’m at now.
I appreciate you taking the time to talk about your experiences and give some drops of knowledge and advice. Especially, I learned a lot on this as well. You definitely have to come back.
I was flattered that you would invite me. I wish you the best. People that are reading know that when it comes to social media marketing, physical therapy owners haven’t done a lot of that. They don’t know how to do it and what it entails. Edric is an expert in that. If you’re reading and thinking about working with Edric, talk to him about what makes a successful social media campaign and he will guide you. I won’t say hold your hand but he will work with you as long as you give time to him to make it successful.
I know personally some of the owners that have made it successful with Edric. Their clinics have been vastly changed by the work that they had done with him. It has been super helpful and they have seen more new patients than they have ever had in the past. It has grown and expanded because of their work with him. I would highly recommend people to reach out to you.
Thank you for that, Nathan. I appreciate it. There it is for episode one. Hopefully, we will have you back here on the show again to ask you some more questions. You’re free to choose yourself.
Anytime, I’m open to it.
It was great talking to you and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
- Medical Patient Referrals
- Rise Diagnostics
- Will Humphreys – LinkedIn
- The E-Myth Revisited
- Think and Grow Rich
- Mike Michalowicz
- The Coaching Habit
- The Basics Of Marketing – Previous episode
About Edric Zheng
Current CEO at MedicalPatientReferrals.com
Featured on Forbes
Featured on Entrepreneur
Shout out from – “Mr. Wonderful – Kevin O’Leary”