I graduated PT school in 2001. I knew I wanted to start my own business when I graduated. I thought I would do it in 5 years, but it happened in 2.
I had someone I knew pretty well who was in the soccer community who owned his own PT clinic for 10+years reach out to me and wanting to partner with me and a few others.
I had worked for him in college and he was a well-known athletic trainer working with some of the top athletic teams. I said yes. It was a nightmare, but also a great experience.
I left them after 2 years. I learned that I did not want to have partners in business and learned that I could build relationships with clients and doctors. I left that venture and became a partner with a franchise model (USPT).
I knew I could grow a clinic but wanted help with the insurance side of things so that is why I partnered with this company.
I grew the clinic to 3.5 PTs and the clinic was doing well.
As insurance continued to make more cutbacks and add more paperwork as well as spending more time fighting to get paid, I was getting exhausted trying to keep up.
I was also getting frustrated as this company started to micromanage me and my office, instead of supporting us.
Out of fear of more cutbacks with insurance companies they wanted us to see more patients, and they made cut back the front office by only allowing me to hire a 13$ an hour person to manage the front, answer the phone, verify insurance, welcome clients, and all the other details of running an office. Plus they moved billing out of office trying to save money.
An office that had a great experience now was getting complaints (go figure – and someone how I was to blame).
I went through 8 front office staff in 1 year because they would not let me spend more than 13$ per hour and would not let me hire any type of manager. (I had 2 managers in 9 years).
I was so stressed out that my body was starting to fall apart because now not only did they want me to treat almost full time, manage a PT team and market, but now I had to completely manage the front office by making sure the insurance paperwork was all done correctly and manage the billing company (let’s just say with all that, in 1 month we lost 55K in charges because the paperwork was not filled out with insurance companies- that alone would have paid for a front office manager!!)
I told them I was exhausted, and I was only working 4 days a week because of this. I backed my hours down and they told me they would take away part of my bonuses, and in the same sentence, they said we understand that you get more done than most people!
I said OK great, I will do less and you can pay me more… That sounds like a fantastic plan. I said if they take away any bonuses, that they may find me gone!
I literally would have stepped away that month. I was that exhausted. I could see the writing on the wall as I had no control over my destiny.
I tried to get them to drop insurance plans of our weaker payers and they would not do that. People won’t pay.
I tried to come up with other ideas such as having a travel fee to see patients at their house and use their insurance to bring in more money – that got knocked down.
They told me cash PT would not work. Needless to say in November of 2016 I was walked out the door as all the problems they were having was because of me. Good riddance.
It was the best thing they could have done for me. I did not want to leave because of my PT’s, even though I was miserable.
So, I took about 8 months off (I needed it to give my body a break) and started my cash PT practice in June 2017.
I literally started it as retirement work. I did not want to grow a business. I did not want to have staff, but as I was doing everything myself, I soon knew I needed help.
I wanted staff to help. I wanted to be able to get away to go on vacations (I love to travel) and it is hard to do that with a 1-man show.
I got back from a vacation overseas and knew I needed to make this work because my husband had lost his job (hence why we took a long vacation, we both had time).
I signed up for Paul’s Sales Bootcamp 1 week after getting back from vacation and flew out the next week. That was Dec 2017.
I wanted to do things differently and was looking for help but did not know what that looked like. I heard about the Mastermind Group at the Bootcamp, signed up immediately, and have not looked back.
All the holes I was missing and not understanding came from the Mastermind Group and now CEO.
From marketing (direct to consumer), to how to talk to patients, to structuring your business, to leadership and coaching to understanding the numbers and how to coach around them, scorecards, holding meetings weekly, and much, much more all came from Planet Paul.
I am so grateful for this community. If you want to move faster in building a business and not lose money with so many mistakes you will make or money you will be fearful of spending (on anything including staff) which will hold you back. You need a coach and community like this!
Five Marketing Campaigns That Boosted Our Profit
1. Google – I learned how to do Google myself by understanding the concepts of getting on calls for Thursday.
I did well, understood the keywords, changed my website, linked extension ads to blogs, etc. I was getting 11-14 leads a month with a low click rate – less than 1 dollar.
But with less time and wanting to see if I got better leads with Paul’s group, I moved that piece to them.
Now I get better quality leads, better reporting and they can tell me what they need me to create for those keywords – and the leads are not all opt-ins, but a good mix with calls too.
I am top 3 of all my searches and competing with hospitals only with a much lower budget. I soon will be adding Facebook.
2. Infusionsoft – I have been using Infusionsoft with automated emails, but when Covid hit, I started doing 2-3 emails a week to my list.
This alone saved my business during Covid. I was able to stay connected with clients and it brought people back in when leads from networking and doctors went away!
You know it is one of those things that Paul does that we do not implement that is so simple. Just share stories and have a way for your clients to opt into something.
3.Virtual Events – I could not do in-person events, but we quickly moved to doing them virtually.
The best thing about that was I now have recordings of different events that we could use for education with cold leads, marketing, etc.
We also partnered with businesses that were shut down to connect with their clients (a win-win for both).
We are looking to do more cross-promotions with events and education with other businesses.
4. Podcast – I started with stories of clients (literally sealing the deal on leads with their stories) and education and promoting other like-minded businesses (which has helped to develop relationships faster and now working on bigger events next year with these businesses).
It has been a great way to connect with other businesses. Again, we can re-use this education with marketing on FB, Infusionsoft, Instagram, etc.
5. Local Magazine ad – We stopped newspaper ads because they went to businesses and restaurants and nothing was open.
I met a lady through networking and loved her and decided to try their magazine, which is local to specific neighbourhoods (I have 2 areas around my office).
They have people in the neighbourhood who highlight each magazine (the nosy neighbours would read that) and I loved how they partnered and connected me with other businesses.
They do community events. I have to adjust how I do the ad because it is different than a newspaper (literally figuring this out over the last 6 months).
So, I write the ad like I would for the newspaper with a problem and then send them to my podcast, or YouTube channel to learn more, which helps create that curiosity.
They also have FB and Instagram ads they do for you and they push all my virtual events to their community FB and Instagram neighbourhood pages.
We Used the Benefits of Paul’s Mastermind Program to Boost Our Confidence in Our Business
1. Facebook Group – I scan the group and will comment, and highlight posts I want to use later.
You can always find great tips from people. I love that you can ask questions and get answers quickly.
2. Planet Paul Newsletter – I listen to all the CDs and scan the newsletters with topics I want to read.
3. Weekly Q/A Calls with Paul – I do not like missing these calls. And it was even more important during Covid.
Paul’s confidence with Covid gave me confidence that I brought back to my team, which was huge.
We had belief in our direction and knew that if we kept doing everything in our power and worked as a team, that we would come out ahead and stronger as a team and we did.
Our team is very tight and for the most part, have had zero pushback with Covid issues and not wanting to come into work.
4. Monthly Strategy Calls with Barry/Simon – Not as much since being in CEO.
I can hold myself accountable for things I need to be done and I knew my tasks I needed to get done between CEO meetings.
My team does get on calls with Barry and now is jumping on the front desk calls.
I have had fewer calls with Simon, but when I do have calls, it is super helpful in having me look at a problem differently or brainstorming better ways of implementing ideas.
Cameron also has helped me. We have a scheduled call with my operations manager to just go over our monthly marketing ideas to make them better.
This is another resource there to help you move forward and solve problems in your business.
5. 2-Day Meetings – I went to all the Mastermind meetings and took staff this year (to the live event) and all staff showed up for the virtual MM events.
I miss going to these events and seeing everyone. Getting away just gets me pumped up to keep moving forward.
My staff really get a lot out of these events which is key. I love hearing their takeaways.
The one thing I learned about going virtual vs live is that you get so much more out of the events from being there, getting away from your office, and feeling the excitement and talking with PEOPLE.
6. Progress Groups – I do the groups. I have had to miss a few due to vacations and CEO meetings. But I am mostly there.
It is a great way to get questions answered in a timely manner and the collaboration from the group is helpful.
7. Networking with other members of the Program – I love the relationships I have made from this group.
Just being able to jump on the phone when you are frustrated and need to vent or just wanting to catch up, with a group of people who are going through the same thing or have gone through the same issues and frustrations is priceless. It is a great community.
Three of Our Biggest Challenges This Year and How We Overcame Them
Struggle #1. – The Friday before Christmas last year, my office manager Robert, who loved his position at our company, told me that he had a family member offer him a job that would allow him to live closer to home.
Unfortunately, his family member did not care about his job here and Robert left in less than 2 weeks with me being out of town for 1 week to be with Mike’s (my husband) family for Christmas.
When I returned, I found I had 2 more days and Robert would leave to start his new position. We already had interviews from the first round ready to go and set up for me.
Here is where my head was….. We literally had planned out the marketing next year based on more activities that Robert wanted to move into.
The plan that we spent time on was to be thrown out the window.
Being in that desperation of finding someone for the front and finding someone who can fit the plan was not a good idea (and the outcome was horrible: lesson learned).
So I hired fast and did NOT follow the process and spend time to find the right person.
The person we hired, I struggled with. She interviewed with a lot of personality and came from a call center making 100 calls per day to convert clients.
On the outside, she seemed great, but without following my process, I did not dive into her job history and ask better questions.
She could not connect with clients and could not remember any conversations. She was so fearful of calling clients and answering the phone (it was kind of crazy).
She was so fearful of making mistakes even though we had numerous conversations that the only way you can get better at this position is to make mistakes so we can learn from them.
There is no perfection only progress.
Long story short… when Covid hit she was crying and leaving the office during the day every day because people were dying.
She was looking up articles on Covid and even had all Covid articles published to be sent to her inbox (I found that out after she was gone).
So, we fired her. It was horrible timing, but she would suck the team down and potentially not allow us to thrive and lead us to letting others go.
Struggle #2. – Before I fired my office manager when Covid hit, I spoke with my Pilates instructor about helping out with calls in the front office.
We had shut down the Pilates because of Covid and did not have enough clients to make it work virtually.
We tried but knew if we stay connected that all of them would come back. It was good timing. She said yes.
So she came in 3 days a week to help out with the front office and the other days, me and my PT in the office took the other calls.
Together we split up all the tasks. This helped us get over the hump of being able to spend time to hire an operations manager.
I knew there were good people out there looking for a solid home and I wanted a higher-level person so they could take over some of the coachings as we brought on the team.
I knew I was going to need a second person this year. We put out the ads and had some amazing candidates.
We took out time and spent time doing the 3 interviews. I brought all my staff for the top candidates.
I was not sure who exactly I was looking for because this was a new position for me. I was not sure even what I needed the operations manager to do.
We had 5 good candidates, with 3 that I would hire today. Two of them had skills of selling and managing and were hungry to grow.
One of the candidates did not have the managing skills but had the skills I was looking for in my second position.
I offered the position to my top candidate, he accepted and started in 1 week. I was so excited to have someone as we were getting busy again in early May.
Then 3 days later he came in to tell me he took another job.
It was a hit, but we did not spend much time training and were glad that he was not a part of my company as looking back he was not a culture fit.
I went to my number 2 guy. He accepted the position.
The next day I got an email from him telling me he would rather take the money from the Government and wait for a better job to make “unlimited money.”
I called my third person and never got a hold of her. Back to the drawing board.
We were getting busy and I could tell I was doing a lot as I could feel the stress of trying to hold it all together.
I was managing tasks, doing as much marketing as I could virtually, working my weekends to get as much done to keep my office moving forward.
I did not want to cut corners with my interview process. I sucked it up and started the process over again. It took 4 weeks. We had 3 top candidates again.
Being in CEO we had a meeting during this time. It was then, that I got clarity around what I was truly looking for.
I was looking for someone who could do everything and manage people.
So I wanted 3 things that I was in desperate need of and if I got those 2 things right, then anything else would be a bonus. I needed someone who had a background in sales (customer relationships).
We always needed training in that area for a cash business and they needed to work on my list of follow-ups.
I needed someone who could train, coach, and manage staff as this would take a huge load off my schedule as we grow.
I needed someone who culturally would fit well with my team. The clarity was huge in hiring. A big lesson learned.
The more specific you can be with your top 3 things that you need this position to do, the better you are able to ask questions to truly find what you are looking for.
We offered the position to my 3rd person. I was terrified that they would say yes and then no, just what the last 2 people did.
This person was coming from an abusive work environment and I knew that an environment like that would offer people the world of what they want as they are master manipulators. He said yes and stayed.
Struggle #3. Staff and getting the best out of them – The other lessons I learned is to pay more for staff. You will not be disappointed. This is especially true for the front office staff.
It is so hard for business owners to spend money: we work so hard to get it. It is a leap of faith and scary until you do it (just like anything else in life).
But if you are not clear on the person you are looking for and you are not willing to pay them (which is not the only thing people are looking for, but you need to pay what the position is worth), you will not move forward.
We always are trying to save 5-10K or more. In reality, the quality of candidate you will get is far greater than the money you saved.
You will lose money by not growing or you will take a toll on your body trying to do it all.
Once you get to the point of hiring staff, the next struggle is getting the best out of your team. It is a new skill you can and have to learn.
We have to stop telling people what to do and give them their top 3-5 things and put a number based on your KPI’s to that skill so you know how to coach them.
When I got frustrated, I had to re-think my scorecards and have adjusted it many times this year alone to truly tie it to my numbers for the business to grow.
Each person can see how they fit into the overall success of the business.
It is a team approach and allows them to take ownership of their position and they know exactly what it takes to do their position well.
Also taking my frustrations and instead of telling them, asking more questions.
Do you know why we are doing x? What are your top activities that need to get done today?
What activities are going to bring us the biggest impact to hitting our goals? What is your current understanding of x?
What did you learn? How can we do it better next time?
It truly helps to get their understanding and turns the problem into a conversation and collaboration. Always look at yourself and what you are doing wrong.
Observe how your staff responds to you and make adjustments based on that. Constantly learn and grow as a leader.
If you get the hires right, your staff want to do their best and it is our job to make them better and thrive in their position.
When you start to get this right, you can see the excitement in their eyes when they do something well.
Getting text messages about successes from my team and how happy they are when I am not there makes me so proud and keeps me excited to do more and want more for them.
It also becomes about why I do this business to not only help clients with getting back to living their life but helping staff do the same.
After all, how you do business is how you do life and this is true for your staff too!
The Top 3 Things We Did This Year That Helped Grow Our Clinic
1. As soon as Covid hit, I looked at how we could up our marketing efforts. Who could we partner with to do virtual events together?
I added Facebook back with Google Ads (now Paul has taken this over).
My newspaper no longer could go to businesses and restaurants, so we moved to a local neighbourhood magazine and started trying to figure this out with marketing.
This magazine also does local events and they have connected me to so many businesses in the area and are planning bigger events in the future together as a community.
We were building relationships anywhere during Covid.
We moved our in-office events to virtual and then were able to record events on different body parts that we now use for follow-up and education with leads.
We started a podcast and not only interviewing patients with their success stories but also partnering with businesses to share their story.
This has been a huge help in building relationships and having better conversations on how we can support one another.
We consistently stuck with everything as I knew if I did not, I would not be where I am today. I never stopped pushing forward.
I watched the group closely for 3 months and took their successes and applied it to what made sense with my business.
Not running after a shiny object, but strategically thinking what made sense for my business and would give me the biggest bang for my time and money.
2. I brought the team together to come up with a game plan on how to get to the other side of Covid.
We fired my front office 2 weeks after Covid hit – and that was the only person sitting there. Everyone stepped up.
We split up the follow-up and call list between me, my Pilates instructor, and my in-office PT.
My Pilates instructor took over the details of the front office with the evaluation process, scheduling, faxing, etc.
My PT did first-round interviews for my operations manager. We started working on our processes to make them better.
We organized our processes better in Google Drive. I did not get any pushback whatsoever from any staff.
It helped everyone see the big picture and how everything came together with all positions in the office.
3. I hired an Operations Manager – Looking back, I am so glad I made this hire.
We got him up and running and then hired my Customer Care Specialist, who then did 80% of the training.
If I hired 2 people for the front and had to manage both people while treating and managing a PT and doing part of the marketing, I would have crashed and burned and we would not be where we are today.
My operations manager has taken so much stuff off my plate. He also has helped me with the PT – in prepping him for the DV’s (and since he came on board our DV’s % has increased).
The training of our next hire has also gone better, and she has picked things up faster (probably a combo of hiring the right person and having my operations manager do the training).
We can now look at everything and just make all of our processes 5-10% better, now that I have 2 people in the front.
I am getting more and more off my plate and excited to see how we grow again next year.
Three Pivotal Mindset Shifts That Led To More Profitability And Our Best Year Yet
1. After the last Mastermind, I made the decision to no longer have any new patients on my schedule.
I have been working on this aspect of the business this year, but I have put my foot down now.
If I just did that one thing, my PT would have a full schedule. It is only the patients that demand my services even after doing a DV with Ben.
It does not happen often but does 2-3 times a month. My biggest fear is losing the patient and visits. I gave in.
Now I must let go of the outcome and let them know I hired Ben for a reason.
He is the expert in this area and I no longer have spots on my schedule.
I will keep my wellness clients as they are consistently on my schedule weekly (1x, 2x, 3x a week).
That will keep my schedule at 12-17 a week, depending on the week and who is in town and out of town. If the new patients go somewhere else, then they go somewhere else…
Then we follow up like we always do. But I cannot move this business forward and keep my sanity by adding more patients to my schedule.
2. Managing my staff – I can see a shift in how I manage people and get the best out of them.
I am nowhere perfect, but seeing how my staff respond and their reactions help me be a better leader. I am getting out of the habit of telling and starting asking more questions.
Instead of telling them this needs to get done, I’m asking what are the top priorities today based on our goals for this month?
Do you know why we do that? How else could you handle that objection? What would be a better question to ask? What did you do well? What could you do better?
These help the conversation become more of a collaboration versus a telling.
You see their thought process which may be right, or maybe you can fill in the gaps or ask more questions to help them fill in the gaps.
When I get frustrated, I think of a question I can ask. I know my staff wants to be great at their jobs.
We did a great job of hiring, so it is my job to make them even better. Also asking how staff are doing personally.
Ben had his baby 6 weeks early unexpectedly and it was a little crazy. He was stressed out. His confidence started to go down and his PVA started to go down.
We talked about it and had to build him back up, telling him he is a great PT.
We could have been doing good enough on the PVA, but this will allow us to be even better with more training.
It’s about asking more questions on why this is happening.
What can he do to keep the connections with each visit? What can he do better?
I went back to hanging around his treatments to see what I could hear and came up with a game plan. Now he is back on track.
3. Having a clear idea on what each person’s job duties truly were to hire the right person and putting a scorecard to it – We have 2 people in the front now, an operations manager and now a retention, customer care specialist/admin.
When you have clear objectives on the top 3-4 things this person needs to do well, you will not only hire well but you will also be able to hold each person accountable to their job duties especially if you tie it to KPIs in the spreadsheet.
We have added more columns to track since hiring our retention person. This is the only way to make sure you can stay lean as you grow, so you do not hire to just hire.
I did a lot of filling in the holes with the small stuff we were missing (I’m not really sure how we did everything we did without this second person).
Now we can take all of our processes we have in place and make them 10% better with consistency alone because we have the staff (wowing the first customer to follow up, to the golden ticket/platinum pass, to keeping in touch with past clients, making sure all the details are getting done, getting consistent Google reviews, etc).
If you are not clear on what they do, they will not be clear on their job and you will get frustrated and so will they.
Anytime you can track progress, you will be able to provide education to make them better or praise them for doing a great job.
They are easier conversations to have because it is a collaboration. You will build more trust within your team.
If you think your staff may take it the wrong way, then you need to get into the why. “Hey, this is why we are doing this” and make it about them and how it will help them (just like your clients).
Two Specific Achievements We Made With Our Staff
1. Recruitment – I feel like we have done a great job of recruiting. Part of it is being very clear on what you are looking for.
If you got your top 2-3 wants in the job description and 2-3 top values you want in the person, everything else is just a bonus.
The interview should really be like a conversation and you are checking off boxes as they talk.
If you have to ask a lot of questions to dig deep to try to get answers and the conversation does not flow. They are not good candidates.
You still need to ask good questions and having them give examples of what they have done in the past based on the job description, but the candidates that must make you feel like you are at a dinner party having a good conversation if they are going to be anywhere around clients (PT, front office, sales, massage therapist, etc).
Do not be afraid to get your hire wrong. I can remember my first hire for the front office. I was terrified of making the wrong decision.
How would I train them? Will they be able to help me get new clients on my schedule with follow up? Will I be able to afford her? Can I really make a full-time hire?
The answer is yes. My first was not the greatest candidate, but by just having a person there I made more money.
I also learned a lot from that hire to make my next hire better. You will always learn with your hires, so go for it and learn in the process.
2. Coaching – I did not track many numbers when I started. But as I hired I needed to track the past numbers to get a baseline so I could see if any changes were made either positive or negative.
Each year my numbers got better and better. And now my coaching is better because it is all based on the numbers.
I tell my team the numbers are there to help you get better and help me coaching and find the true problem is and not to make you feel bad for not hitting them.
My team has made me a better leader. I have had to get better with training which has made me better in those activities.
For example, training on phone calls or DV’s in order for me to train, I have had to set the example and get better at those activities.
When I see problems or areas that we can improve upon, I have an Audio group (voxer) where 1 x a week I post a podcast that we have to listen to and each team member will give their takeaways from that podcast.
This has been helping with small bit size training that goes on weekly to help me and my team get better.
I know I said this before earlier, but I am getting better at asking questions. Learning more about how they are thinking (good or bad) so I know where I can fill in the gaps.
Instead of going in telling my staff, I am going in asking more questions.
Always asking how could we do better? What would be a better question you could ask?
Connecting them with the why I am asking them to do something and making the why about them, and how it will help them.
Remember when you were just learning something new and sharing with them how you felt (for example doing your first DV).
Since my second hire, after about 3 weeks of training and splitting the roles, I started a weekly email based on their scorecard.
Doing this correctly means we see the few missing pieces that fell through the cracks that we need to do a better job of.
It is a lot of little stuff that I catch, but they will not learn unless I stop doing the small fill-in work and they start to see and learn how I think.
My staff seems to like this as they can process it when it is written.
I always say they are doing such a great job in so many areas, but in order for us to get better, the small things will make the difference.
3 Ways that Paul’s CEO Mastermind Program Contributed to Our Success
1. Organizing my staff within the business – Truly getting an understanding of who you need to hire, what skills they need, what their job duties are, how are you going to tie that into your KPI’s to track their progress with coaching so they have an understanding of their role and how they can be successful.
Everything comes with hiring the right person when you have that clarity of who you are looking for.
2. Making yourself take the time to sit down and truly look at your business quarterly – This helps you make progress in your business and slows you down even in the chaos to make sure you are moving in the right direction.
Doing things like tracking your numbers better and thinking about what went well are important.
Did you finish what you said you were going to get done, and if not why not? What is the one problem you need solving? And so much more…
3. Brainstorming with other businesses – It is cool to see other businesses and recognize their progress, problems, and how they overcame them all.
When you are not attached to the business emotionally, you can see the problems easier and that helps you learn.
It is fun to see the growth in the other CEO members and celebrate with them. Learning from CEO members also been great.
Spending time with Paul, to get those one or two nuggets of action steps or clarity since he knows your business so well is a positive.
Plus, it really helped being in CEO during the pandemic.
I know I would have come out of it OK because I am a fighter, but I am not sure I would have come out of it as I did.
And one last bonus comment — Know yourself. You are the one that will hold you back. I can tell when I am starting to do too much, so I pull back to keep my health in check.
One thing I learned this year with Covid is that I know I love vacations because it helps my brain reset. I need to get away.
So we made vacations work by driving to places (when you live in Texas that is a long drive!).
Do not be afraid to leave your office as you will learn so much about how much you really do to fill in the gaps.
Your staff learns how much you are doing and where they need to be better or how well they are doing.
My staff tells me they cannot wait for me to leave again to see how they will do.
Even if they are a little scared of me leaving, I tell them it is a learning process.
Let your staff fail, you have to in order for them to learn and to get your freedom from your office.
Learn From the Success of These Ultimate PT CEOs
Want to get advice from Physical Therapy clinic owners who are hugely successful as CEOs of their own private practices?
These clinic owners were able to increase their profit by over $160,000 while reducing their time treating patients by 15 hours a week!
Read these essays to discover what marketing campaigns these private practice owners implemented to help reach their success. Discover how they made use of their involvement in Paul's Mastermind Program to grow their clinics. And read about the top 3 things each business leader did that helped their growth the most.