Jan 27, 2012| Lindsay Bayuk
I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard. -Estée Lauder
Let’s talk about your business. If you’re a private practice owner, you know how important is to get paid by the insurance companies in order to keep the lights on. You didn’t start this practice just to make money, though. If you’re like most private practice owners, you started your clinic to treat patients and control your own destiny.
You may not want to consider yourself a sales professional. Sales can sometimes be considered a dirty word. The good news? True sales is all about building valuable relationships. You started this business to build relationships with your patients and help them get healthy again. So are you in sales? The answer is yes, whether you’ve realized it or not.
Sales is all about making connections and sharing your passion. While the word “sales” may not be your cup of tea, generating revenue and delivering excellent services are the driving forces of any business.
Jan 17, 2012| Ann Wendel
As with starting any business, there’s bound to be the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tell us about a time that was “bad/ugly” and what you learned from it.
You have to really believe in yourself and you can’t give up. This felt like the most reckless thing my husband and I have ever done! I left a job making a comfortable salary and went right out on my own – there was no easing into it this time. So, I started and the schedule was completely blank. With two kids, it’s really difficult to save up the recommended 6 months of expenses. We had to just keep going past the initial “What are we going to do?” The good news is that as a P.T., you’re always going to find a job. Always having options is good. The huge demand for PTs is not true of all industries, especially in today’s job market.
If you could go back and do one thing differently what would it be?
There were a lot of things I could have changed. I learned from all of it though; so, in the end I wouldn’t change anything. I try to make the best decision I can at the time and run with it. Each thing, good or bad, added to my knowledge base. At the time, each thing seemed like the right thing. Over time, I’ve become a little more sure of myself. There’s no way to not be naive when you’re young. You just need to have a sense of humor.
Jan 17, 2012| Lindsay Bayuk
Haven’t made the switch from paper to an EMR (electronic medical record) yet? It’s natural to have hesitations and concerns. When you’re making a big decision, it’s sometimes helpful to hear from those who have gone before you.
Our friend, Katie Matlack, over at Software Advice recently conducted interviews with several companies currently using EMRs. As a result, she was able to compile a list of the top 8 pieces of advice from real users.
One of the three interviews was from current WebPT member, Ian Kornbluth of Neurac Institute. Ian owns two physical therapy clinics in New Jersey. Ian’s advice to those looking to move to EMR is to get software that is specific to your specialty. In Ian’s case, WebPT was actually created by licensed physical therapist Heidi Jannenga, PT, MPT, ATC/L and her husband, Brad Jannenga. In the article, Ian says the transition from paper “pretty easy and painless.”
Jan 17, 2012| Ann Wendel
Tell us a little bit about you and your practice.
I graduated from University of Delaware in 1992 with a BS in P.E. Studies, concentration in Athletic Training. My goal was to work in sports medicine. I worked as an ATC in a sports medicine clinic for 3 years while taking more pre-requisites, then applied and was accepted to University of Maryland’s Physical Therapy Program. I graduated with with my Masters in 1998. I started working in a hospital right after graduation. They rarely hired new graduates to work PRN; but, I had more experience because of my years as an Athletic Trainer, so I got the job. I worked in acute care, neuro, and outpatient ortho. From 2003 to 2006 I went out on my own and ran my private practice in space I sublet from a Pilates studio. My next step was to work for a larger Orthopedic practice. I worked there for 4 years until October 2011, when I went back to my own business, Prana Physical Therapy. I now work as an independent contractor for Core Wellness and Physical Therapy in a co-op building. We end up co-treating patients and being more collaborative. We do different but complimentary techniques.
Tell us something we wouldn’t know. This can be an interesting fact, a fun anecdote or even a more formal piece of information about starting a PT clinic.
For my current business, we don’t take insurance. We’re a cash-based clinic, and out of network providers. As I left to start my new business, I had some Medicare patients that wanted to follow me. What I learned through research is that if you don’t accept Medicare, you can’t treat Medicare patients. It’s illegal to accept cash payments from Medicare patients for physical therapy (see Section 40 of the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual from CMS). Medicare patients can only pay out of pocket when they see a P.T. for “Wellness” (i.e. general conditioning and not treatment). This is a little known fact that is devastating for a small practice (read Ann's blog post on the topic for more info). These are the folks that typically need care beyond what Medicare can pay, and they are not able to come see you. If you didn’t know about this and you got audited by Medicare you’d be in trouble. The way the code is written, the only practitioners who cannot opt-out of Medicare are P.T. and Chiropractic.
Jan 16, 2012| Mike Mannheimer
The WebPT member community includes some of the most business savvy physical therapists out there. Many of you have let us know that you would like to use WebPT as a business tool the same way it serves many of your clinical needs. We have heard that call and are looking to build innovative products to help you grow your business. One tool that we have recently released into the system will give you new capabilities when it comes to tracking and analyzing marketing initiatives. Many WebPT members use print ads, billboards, online ads, SEO, and other marketing campaigns to help bring in new patients. Tracking is the number one rule of smart marketing and we hope this new tool will help you track your marketing dollars better.
WebPT now gives you the ability to track your clinics marketing efforts with the contact manager and the referral report. It only takes a minute to get a new marketing referral source set up in the system.
Add: To add a new referral source, click on the ‘Add Contact’ link within the Contact Manager. You can find this button on the left hand side of WebPT.
You now have the capability to choose from 7 different referral types: Lawyer, Case Manager, Existing Patient, Search Engine, Ad Campaign, Self, or Other. Choose the appropriate referral source and type the name information and contact info if applicable. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the save button. Once you have completed this step, you have successfully added a marketing referral contact into WebPT.
Select: The marketing referral source will be recorded on a per patient basis at the time the patient is entered into the system or at the time you are adding a new case for an existing patient. The marketing referral contact field is accessible from the case information page, directly below the patient’s referring physician information. The drop down menu will allow you to choose from any referral sources you have already entered. If you want to add a new one, you can do that from this screen by clicking on the ‘Add New Referral Contact’ link. Here you will have many of the same options as the ‘Add Contact’ form we looked at earlier. Enter all of the applicable information and click on the ‘Save’ button to complete the action. You will then see your new marketing referral contact in the drop down menu, available for selection.
Track: You can track your different referral sources from the referral report in the tools area of WebPT. If you toggle the referral type to show only my search engine referrals, the referral report will show me a total and then a breakdown by individual source. You can also manipulate the date range to get a month-by-month comparison for each of your marketing campaigns. If you would like a visual walkthrough on this new tool, you can view a quick video here.
This tool will help you keep track of all of your marketing efforts and maximize your ad dollars. This is our first step in making WebPT a valuable and powerful business tool for our entire member community. If you have business needs that WebPT can help to solve, please submit your suggestions to the WebPT Idea Portal.
Jan 11, 2012| Mike Mannheimer
It seems like there is a new digital marketing tool available every minute nowadays. Between social networks, online advertisements, and daily deal sites, its tough for a Physical Therapy clinic to know which way to turn. Before you consider buying into the latest and greatest trend in online marketing and advertising, maybe its time to evaluate your more traditional marketing tactics.
Marketing and advertising has to be driven by your target market. Are your target patients predominantly on the web and is it cost effective to advertise to them there? Truth is, that more traditional tactics such as buying a simple print ad in your local periodicals could net your clinic as much ROI as any online campaign. Print campaigns tend to get a bad reputation, but the truth is that it’s all about the market that you are in. It’s going to be much harder to launch an effective print campaign in a major city like New York or Chicago than it is in a smaller community or suburb. If you don’t do business in those larger and more crowded markets, print advertising might be a good choice for you. If you plan to venture into the world of print marketing, are a few things to consider.
Where are your potential customers reading?
Print advertising can be costly, so it’s important to target your customer base as closely as possible. If you are trying to target mostly sports injuries you can advertise with local fitness clubs, or a local athletic newsletter. The more local the periodical is, the better target you will typically be reaching. Some clinics tend to think bigger is better and will put an ad in their city’s largest newspaper. This approach will get you frustrated quickly and also clean out your wallet. One way to ensure you are targeting your customers accurately is to ask your existing patient base what they read on a regular basis and go from there.
Use data to decide where you will advertise
Data should drive your decision when its time to decide which publications to advertise with. You already narrowed down your search by analyzing your audience; now its time to ask those publications for demographic and circulation numbers to narrow your search down even further. Every publication has these numbers available for possible ad buyers. Taking a look at these two figures will make sure that your target audience is well represented in the readership. This is a great way to validate your assumptions about your target market.
Set a budget and stick to it
It’s important to remember that selling print ads is how periodicals make money. When you call into the sales line, you are going to speak with an account representative who is going to try to up sell you. Information gathering is going to be important to making sure your budget is maximized. Ask the representative for a rate sheet or a rate card. Having this information will allow you to make your own decisions about ad placements and sizes regardless of what the account representative has to say. If you plan to advertise more than once with a particular outlet, ask the sales rep about bulk buying discounts. Usually they will give you a break if you are buying ad space for more than one issue.
Jan 9, 2012| Mike Mannheimer
Think of the most notable companies in the world. Juggernauts like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple come to mind. While these companies each have their own specific products to sell, their brand strategy is much larger than a simple product. A brand defines what your company stands for and helps your customers to connect emotionally to the services you offer. In Physical Therapy, establishing this type of connection through effective branding and messaging is crucial to become an engrained member of your community.
Below, we cover the basics of clinic identity. These are foundational concepts that can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your other marketing initiatives. Many of you reading this probably already have a logo, a tagline and messaging, but it’s a good idea to do a brand “audit” once and while. This exercise can help you decide where you can improve in the New Year. Below you will find a basic flow of a branding exercise. We have broken this process down into five steps that you can do today and see where you’re at with your brand.
1) Define Your Mission Statement and Your Company Values
It’s difficult to create a slogan or a brand name when you aren’t sure what your company represents. What are you currently saying to your customer base?
It’s likely that your current brand is saying something like ‘I provide excellent Physical Therapy services’. While that might be the case, it is certainly not going to create a sustainable brand. Sit down and write out ten things that you consider company values. For example, one of your values could be leadership. This could apply to being a leading in the PT world through education in research or being a leader in your community by offering your services at local sporting events. Once you have decided the values of your business, you can move on to the mission statement. An effective mission statement will embody your company values in a clear and concise statement. The mission statement should make it obvious what the focus of your business is, whether that is service, integrity, professionalism, and/or quality care.
Jan 5, 2012| Mike Mannheimer
One of our New Years Resolutions this year is to tap into the brilliant minds that are a part of the WebPT member base. We have over 8,000 members, many of them in private practice, and I think we could all benefit from tapping their collective knowledge. Between guest blogs and interviews, you will be seeing a lot more WebPT customers around here ready and willing to share their wisdom.
I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of Adam Banks, CEO of NY SportsMed in Manhattan. This month we are talking all things marketing, so I wanted to see what a business minded clinic owner had to say about nurturing and growing a sustainable referral base.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your practice, # of clinics, staff, location, years in business.
I run NY SportsMed in Manhattan. We opened our doors 5 years ago and each year we have made major investments back into the business. We opened 3 locations in the first 4 years. Our total staff consists of about 55 employees, inclusive of 14 physical therapists and a host of support staff. Each of our 3 locations located in very high-density areas of NYC and are very close to major transportation hubs. New Yorkers tend to be very neighborhood- centric. It was important for us to have multiple locations so patients don’t have to travel too far out of their normal commute to see a physical therapist.
I am not a PT. This has given me a unique perspective on the practice and has actually been a big help in building our business. I don’t look at the business the same way practitioners do. I am currently pursuing an MBA so that I am better able to manage a large and rapidly growing company.
Tell us something we wouldn’t know about NY SportsMed.
NY SportsMed has had the opportunity to work with some pretty famous clients. One of our PTs traveled with Bruce Springsteen’s band. Krista Simon was Clarence Clemmon’s personal PT. Krista actually went on tour with them, traveling the globe. She developed quite a bond with Clarence, so much so that he even mentioned her in his book. We were very saddened by his passing last summer.
What is one thing you think PT’s need to know when marketing to physicians?
Maybe its cliché, but I would challenge PTs to think outside the box and make it memorable. This past Christmas we must have gotten 14 baskets of candy in the week before Christmas. We received so many that we couldn’t keep track of who sent them. We decided to send Apple Nano’s as a “thank you” to our best referral sources last year. They are $50, about the same cost as a decent basket, and I know that we will be remembered for them. If you’re going to send a basket, be the first one to send it or send a Thanksgiving basket instead.
Jan 3, 2012| Lindsay Bayuk
It has been one year since I have opened my own private practice here in downtown Washington DC! Working sixty hour weeks is commonplace. Dealing with insurance, as expected, is frustrating. Here are a few pieces of advice that have helped me to survive in a tough market:
1. The internet is your friend. People are constantly using sites such as Google, Angie's List, and Yelp to search for therapists that have solid reputations. Register your practice on sites that customers may use to find you. Consult with an internet guru if necessary for tips. It also goes without saying that you must have a quality website that sparks interest with patients. Do not be afraid to "Tweet" and post regularly on your practice's Facebook page. This will help you to get more visibility on the internet.
2. Do not burn bridges! Before starting my own practice I worked for six years as part of a physician owned practice. I did make sure that I did the best job that I could do while working for them, and I am happy to say that I do still get referrals from their office.
3. Carefully chose your location. Some patients will choose your clinic based solely on convenience. My clinic is located literally on top of one of the most used METRO stations in DC. If patients can get to you easily, you are more likely to get business.
4. Make your clinic look fantastic. Nobody likes a dingy, uninteresting, or otherwise boring facility to spend an hour of their day in. Spend the extra money with your start-up to have impressive equipment and a chic design aesthetic.
Dan Baumstark, MSPT, CHT owns PhysioDC a unique, physical therapist owned and operated rehabilitation clinic conveniently located in downtown Washington DC.