Since my teen years, I have known that I wanted to be a physical therapist.
Being an athlete, my desire to be a PT developed after realizing that I was always curious about the rehab process when I became injured.
So, as I was going through my 7 years of schooling to become a DPT, I always thought that I would want to work with athletes.
Once I graduated and was working with that population, I did not feel passionate about what I was doing. I was looking for something else … and that was when I heard about canine rehabilitation.
Right away I knew that was what I was meant to do: combine my skills and knowledge as a PT with my passion for dogs.
I started my certification as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist in January 2014, completed all of the coursework by March 2015, and in June 2015 my wife and I moved to Chicago where I started working as an animal therapist at a veterinary clinic.
I was able to hone my skills and make a successful transition from humans to canines, but it came at a cost. There is a big issue in the veterinary field as a whole: it does not pay as much as the human medicine counterpart.
This is especially the case with ancillary services like rehabilitation that tend not to generate as much revenue compared to other specialties.
Therefore, I was paid significantly less than as a human PT. To be exact, I was getting paid $19.50 an hour as a PT.
Needless to say, I was doing so for the love of what I did, and not for the money.
During that time, I was able to supplement my income by working as a contractor in-home health on the human side, which tends to pay well.
That was fine in the first year or so until I did my taxes for the year and realized that between both jobs, I was working 60+ hours a week but still made only about $50,000.
When I took that job at the veterinary clinic, I thought that if I worked there for a year, and showed them my value as a PT, that I could get a raise that would make up for the lower salary. It didn’t happen. I thought I deserved a raise and asked for one, but I got none.
Around that time I also started noticing a shift in their business model: the clinic was built with the premise of veterinarians and physical therapists working together, yet they were hiring veterinary assistants to carry out the majority of the treatments as the business grew.
It was a gradual change in their business model, but it got to the point where, around 6 to 9 months after my annual review, I confronted them and was told that they saw no difference between a veterinary assistant and a physical therapist.
That really hurt me, not physically but psychologically and emotionally.
As you can imagine, my confidence sank and my self-esteem hit an all-time low.
Coupled with the fact that I was not getting paid what I was worth, given the knowledge and skills I worked tirelessly to gain and living from paycheck to paycheck, I hit rock bottom.
A drink or two a week turned into a drink a day after work. I had no time to take care of myself, eat well, to work out.
I gained at least 20 pounds. My lack of confidence and low self-esteem started affecting my personal relationships. I was working within my passion in canine rehab, yet I still dreaded every single day.
I knew I wanted to continue working with canines, but the situation was not feasible. I could not find a new job in this field because they are not easily available.
Going back to treating humans full-time was not what I wanted, but I also did not want to stay at that job any longer than I had to and risk losing everything else in my life.
Out of frustration, fear, and passion TheK9PT opened for business in September 2017, only 8 days after I gave them my resignation letter.
The first few months were about getting things going. We finished Q4 of 2017 with 5 total patients totaling 21 sessions.
Needless to say, we were just starting to establish ourselves. As 2018 started, things started to pick up and March and April got busy.
Around that same time, I also secured a consultant work that gave me some nice extra inflow of cash every month, allowing me to quit my PRN gig in home health to focus 100% on my business.
The “hustle marketing” worked, but I paid the price during the summer of 2018 as I went a full 10-week period without a new patient.
Luckily, it was at that time that I was taking the Accelerator Program with Paul and soon afterward joined the 4% Club.
My major focus for the second half of 2018 was to start putting some of the systems in place that would allow me to consistently generate leads, even when I would be too busy treating patients, and it worked.
We saw consistent and gradual growth in terms of new patients and visits that remained steady throughout 2019 as well.
Going into 2019 my goals were to start and grow my own mentoring business for animal PTs (TheK9PT Academy), create consistency in the business so I could hire a Client Manager and then a PT, and find a clinic space so we could open our location by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
Through many ups and downs that year I was able to accomplish all those goals. Going into 2020 we had a consistent lead generation system that was scalable for growth with Google Ads, a nurturing system that was efficiently converting those leads, and a PT who had just started with us in December 2019.
I joined the CEO program in November 2019 and went into 2020 with a clear strategy to achieve the goals we had set to successfully open a bricks-and-mortar location in January/February 2020 and grow a team to include another PT and administrative staff to allow me to be treating about 5-10 hours a week by the end of the year so I could focus more on my mentoring program and, most importantly, on something my wife and I had been trying for a while – to start our family (beyond our 2 pups of course).
That was the plan, and then 2020 happened.
We got hit just like anyone else reading this report, but although we never planned for what happened we did plan in detail what we wanted to accomplish in 2020 which allowed us to stay focused even when things were unknown.
I cut my salary 100% for 2 pay periods in April and told my team I was doing so because I could not afford to not have them helping me with the business.
It was a short-term hit on our personal finances at home, but we always carried emergency savings and my wife’s job has allowed her to work from home.
That allowed me to focus on our growth and mindset (thanks so much for the calls with Anil) instead of getting caught up with patient care and emotional decisions.
Because of that, we were able to quickly adapt, pivot, and bounce back.
We didn’t have as many sessions for a few weeks, but by the 2nd half of April, things were already picking back up.
As a matter of fact, at that point in time April had been our busiest month ever and from that point on each month was busier than the other.
In June we hired a second administrative staff and in September our second PT.
By December we had achieved our goal of growing our team, successfully opening a brick-and-mortar location, and reducing my treatment hours to 10 a week which will allow me to focus more on my coaching business in 2021.
Despite everything 2020 threw at us we worked together to overcome those issues and move forward, and from a business perspective, we achieved everything we set out to achieve.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned from a personal level. My wife and I started to plan on starting our family a few years ago, but just like many couples we have had to deal with infertility challenges.
The plan was to go through our first round of IVF around April, but that had to be postponed due to COVID restrictions early on.
We were able to resume that process a couple of months later and on August 21st (the exact day of our 10-year anniversary) we found out that she was pregnant.
However, about 6 weeks later we found out that we had a miscarriage. It hasn’t been easy, but we have worked through it together and have started 2021 getting ready to go through it again.
Five Marketing Campaigns’ That Boosted Our Profit
1: Google Ads – Leads from Google are our “bread and butter”, and with growth, we were able to successfully scale by spending more money on ads.
2: SEO Ranking – A lot of leads also find us organically as shown at the top of local Google searches and have a profile that stands out with significantly more 5-star reviews than any other clinic.
3: Nurturing campaigns with Infusionsoft – We used our time early on during Covid to revamp some of the email campaigns and it was time well spent.
4: Building relationships with veterinary clinics through “Lunch & Learns” – Now we are known in the area it has become easier to establish those relationships, and we had a few very successful networking events with local clinics that have turned into great partnerships.
5: Updated website – We also used our time during Covid to update our website and landing pages, getting a clearer message for people searching for different issues with their dogs and in return increasing the number of people finding us organically on Google.
We Used the Benefits of Paul’s Mastermind Program to Boost Our Confidence in Our Business
1: Facebook Group – Not as engaged as I used to be since I cut down on my time using social media, but the group was extremely helpful for the first 12-18 months with so many resources and people to learn from.
2: Planet Paul Newsletter – I always enjoy listening to the CD that comes along with it and using some of the content in the newsletter to spark some ideas for different business strategies.
3: Weekly Q/A Calls with Paul – Probably my favourite part of the program, especially early on with Covid as we also had the mindset calls with Anil to help us out. I am usually live on most calls but sometimes catch the replay.
4: Monthly Strategy Calls with Barry/Simon – I probably need to take advantage of those calls more often as they are always so helpful.
Barry helped me train my Client Manager in 2019 with the sales calls and nurturing process, and Simon has kept me on track with Cockpit and helped with a variety of issues as we grew the business.
5: 2-Day Meetings – I did miss leaving town and hanging with other like-minded individuals for a weekend since the mastermind event in New Orleans.
I haven’t missed a live event since Columbus in the summer of 2018, and I would always fly home with much more clarity on what I needed to do for the following 4 months along with some long-term strategic ideas.
6: Accountability Groups – I missed a lot of calls, but I look forward to being more consistent with my attendance now that I am not treating as many patients.
7: Networking with other members of the Program – This part is priceless! I avoided so many mistakes by hearing from other people about how they dealt with certain issues during their own growth phase.
Three of Our Biggest Challenges This Year and How We Overcame Them
1: Transitioning To A Brick & Mortar Location – TheK9PT started and grew as a mobile business, but I realized that for me to achieve what we want to accomplish in the long run we would need to move into a brick and mortar location.
I always wondered how we would have been able to do so since we were known for our ability to see patients in their home, but we have been able to successfully transition into the clinic while just keeping about 10% of our caseload as mobile by December with some of the patients we have been seen for a while.
We changed some of our marketing and the nurturing message, but most importantly by providing a “Disney” like experience for everyone at the clinic.
In the field of animal rehabilitation, the majority of clinics moved to a patient drop-off model with Covid, and have maintained that model, but we have been able to pivot and develop a model that still allows our clients, the pet parents, to be present in the clinic with their dogs while keeping themselves and our team safe.
That has made a huge difference for some of our clients as they did not want to take their dogs somewhere that they couldn’t be there in person with them.
2: Hiring And Growing Our Team – One of the major challenges with growth is finding the right people while maintaining the culture that we have worked hard to develop, and I am immensely proud that we have been able to achieve so in 2020.
To be honest, I knew nothing about hiring and training a staff member, but I used Paul’s Hiring Book step-by-step to develop the process to hire them, and little by little we keep improving upon our training and onboarding.
We have developed a terrific team and it showed during our annual planning for 2021. Now, we are all onboard knowing what our goals and priorities are for this year and I am 100% confident that they will have my back no matter what.
3: Starting A Family – We have not overcome this challenge and, as mentioned before, are getting ready to go through it again.
But handling that whole process over the last couple of years has been harder than managing any issues with the business and has led to many lessons learned.
We learned that more people go through this issue than we knew, but for obvious reasons, it is not something that people like to talk about.
We have learned a lot by leaning on and getting support from those who have gone through it, leading to me getting more comfortable and open about this topic because now I know that I will be able to give support to others who will go through these same challenges.
The Top 3 Things We Did This Year That Helped Grow Our Clinic
1: Double down on marketing, especially Google – As mentioned, it is our “bread and butter”, and we doubled down on it earlier this year it has paid off.
More and more pet parents are looking for solutions on their own on how to help their dogs, especially now that veterinary clinics are not allowing people inside the clinic and some communication is lost without the face-to-face interaction with their veterinarian.
Going into 2021 we will continue to double down on it while working on other marketing strategies to mitigate any risks.
2: Growing A Team – I could not have grown in 2020 without a team. PERIOD.
For the longest time, I was afraid of growing because I knew it would require me growing a team, leading them, and learning how to be a good manager.
That was scary but without them, I would not have been able to keep focusing on the big picture earlier in 2020 and would not have been able to get myself down to treating for 10 hours a week.
3: Focusing On Myself – During our CEO meeting in February 2020, I mentioned that I was getting burnt out and that I was having difficulty managing my time.
Afterward, I started to put myself first and started to focus on task management rather than time management.
I realized that for me to be at my best, and lead my team to their best, then I would need to learn to put myself first.
It was hard in the beginning because ‘working hard’ was what got me to that point, but I had to realize that ‘working harder’ was not going to be what was going to take us to next level.
Three Pivotal Mindset Shifts That Led To More Profitability And Our Best Year Yet
1: Putting Myself First – As mentioned, I had to learn and get comfortable with putting myself first.
Without that shift I would have just kept working harder and harder, likely leading into a downward spiral that would have had negative consequences.
2: Growth In Business Is Painful, But Nothing Is As Painful As Staying Stuck Where You Are At – There were a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and have learned to look for the solution rather than keep worrying about the problem.
Afterward, that’s what running a business is about – creating the problems that we want to solve.
3: The Value Is Not In The Plan, But In The Planning – No-one could have planned for 2020 expecting what happened, but those who took the time to plan were able to pivot and adapt much quicker than anyone else.
When Covid restrictions started to roll out we never changed our metrics and overall goals for 2020.
Why? Because I knew they could stay the same even though we would need to pivot and adapt, leading us to bounce back quickly within a few weeks and exceed what we had set for the business in terms of KPIs and revenue for 2020.
Two Specific Achievements We Made With Our Staff
1: Recruitment – As mentioned before, I knew nothing about hiring and recruiting so working with Paul’s team and reading his book were pivotal to be successful in this area.
I am no expert on this, but I very proud of the team we have put together and the fact that I have been a business owner for over 3 years now and have never had to let someone off the bus.
I am sure one day that will happen, but not having to consistently recruit for the same roles allowed us to focus our energy and time somewhere else.
2: Buy-In – Our ‘buy-in’ and retention have been phenomenal and allowed us to stay focused on other areas instead of needing to focus on recruitment over and over again.
3 Ways that Paul’s CEO Mastermind Program Contributed to Our Success:
1: Strategic Thinking – Being able to look at things from a higher level and focusing on the bigger picture has been vital for success.
That has allowed me to make decisions thinking about 6-12 months down the road rather than focusing on just the short-term effects and consequences.
2: Support – As our business grows, we deal with different problems, and having the support from a group of individuals who are either going through or have gone through, those issues before is super helpful.
3: Accountability – Knowing that we are meeting every few months, along with a progress call in between, guarantees that I will have to give my peers a “report” on what I have accomplished every 6-8 weeks.
That makes me more accountable as I need to show them that I have put in the work and implement the strategies and decisions that I decided on doing after the previous meeting.
Join Paul Gough's Exclusive Business Success Mastermind Program for Physical Therapy Owners
This Program is all about YOU - and showing you what it takes to be able to grow and build a REAL business. One that can make you more profit and give you more freedom so that you'll be able to do "simple" things that many business owners can't - like leave town for a few days and still have a business to come back to.
Have access to closed door meetings, Q & A calls, and VIP events with Paul and his team to focus on marketing strategy and implementation for your clinic. Get individualized help with Facebook Ads, Google and Remarketing set up, and everything else you need to be trained and confident that you have the skills and network to build your business and generate more leads and revenue than ever before.
This Program is only for people who are serious about adding a minimum $100,000 to their income.