A Reality Check with Chad Novasic: Starting a Clinic Isn't for Everyone
Today we are pleased to present an interview with Chad Novasic, PT. Chad received his B.S. in Physical Therapy from Marquette University in 1988, and has served the Racine and Kenosha areas for the last 13 years in private practice. He has practiced several years in both a long term care setting and an acute care outpatient clinic setting. Chad is the owner of Alliant Physical Therapy Group. Alliant serves Southeastern Wisconsin with several clinics and is currently planning aggressive growth in the coming year.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
I graduated from Marquette in 1988 and started in private practice in 1989. I started out in Racine,Wisconsin. Later, in 2000, I restructured and started expanding my practice. My mission has always been about helping PTs have autonomy. I looked at the model as helping independent PTs go into business on their own. I now have 15 locations with plans to add 2 more locations in the near future. I’m very proud to say that we have some of the best therapists around working for us.
What is a little known fact about you?
I’m a third generation, male, physical therapist in private practice. It’s in my blood. Something interesting?
I get asked for advice on starting clinics all the time. Recently, I’ve been working with a young physical therapist from Cairo, Egypt. She was trying to start a practice at the same time Mubarak was getting overthrown. In order to get the proper licensing, she had to work 6 months at Cairo hospital. During that time, she was literally patching up bullet wounds. And she still wanted to open a clinic! Think of what she went through! We also had to work on how to even get equipment in Cairo. How does one get a license? During all this, she had a one year old baby. Her husband has to stay at home making sure no one is raiding their house. It’s fascinating! Her drive is incredible.
What is the number one thing you think PT’s need to know before starting their own clinic?
PTs often ask about nuts and bolts of starting a clinic. They ask about finances, etc. The number onething you need to ask yourself is, “Why are you doing this?” There’s no boss. What makes you get out ofbed in the morning? Your purpose has to be internalized. Mission statements aren’t something you hangon the wall, they are something you believe in. Know your purpose.
I think that many more PTs think they can go into private practice, than actually can. I have observed that this has more to do with personality and attitude, than with intelligence.
I have been asked how I’ve been successful. One of my favorite stories that relates to starting a businessis about the bumble bee. “Aerodynamically and physically a bumble bee cannot fly. But, the bee keepsflapping it’s wings and flies anyway”. Sometimes you can’t use logic or reason to explain how things work. It’s just what you do. You either make it or you don’t. There’s no looking back.
What is something that you wish someone had told you before starting your clinic?
I had started the practice and later brought on a partner to grow it. Simply put, we had different ways of doing things. We parted ways and we each grew apart. With any partnership, there is a good chance that you will grow apart. It would have been nice to know how to take on a partner before doing it.
In addition to that advice, I wish someone would have told me how to negotiate with insurance companies. I had no clue. It took me way longer than I thought. I thought all you had to do is give them a call. It’s not that easy. For us, approx. 80% of the insurance contracts were closed. You couldn’t get in to them without banging your head against a wall.
As with starting any business, there’s bound to be the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell us what you learned from those experiences.
Breaking up with my business partner was bad and ugly. It was horrible. It’s one of the cautions of bringing on a partner. As I mentioned, we just had different visions. Parting ways was expensive, ugly, horrible. From that experience, however, you learn. Don’t bring on a partner unless you go into it with your eyes wide open. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s bad, it’s really bad. A good partner helps make1 + 1 equal 3.
Stay tuned! Later this week we will post Part II of our interview with Chad with more considerations for those interested in starting their own clinic.