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.
What are 3 tactics that you have employed in your practice that have worked to generate new referral business?
1) Be nice and make sure your staff is always nice.
2) Create an environment with a little wow factor– our facilities don’t feel like medical practices, they feel like a high end gym. Make sure your facility is attractive to the demographic that you want.
3) PTs should make it a practice to call their new patients the next day to see how they are doing.
Any Marketing tactics that PTs should avoid entirely? Are there any that you have tried personally that have failed?
We have stopped spending money on any kind of print advertising. We just never got a return on the investment. I have gotten very disciplined about this. I get pitched all the time for print ads but I stick to my mantra, “we don’t do print!” I would only advertise if I were in a smaller market where there is a local paper. In large markets like NYC, print advertising is too expensive and there is just too much of it to have an impact. Look at investing marketing money into an on-line presence. This is how we connect with clients.
If you could go back and do one thing differently (marketing related) what would it be?
Sometimes marketing is trial and error. I admit, I have made some stupid marketing decisions. I usually figure out that the decision was bad two months after I have signed a contract. I joke that there is never a contract that I have signed that I haven’t regretted later. I stopped signing contracts altogether with companies selling marketing. I look at it this way, if what they are selling requires a contract, then they don’t have faith that their product is effective enough to make me want to continue with them. If the marketing works, you will stick with it.
Any actionable advice that a Physical Therapy Practice could implement today?
First and foremost, clean your facility. Paint the walls if they are dirty.
Adam Banks owns NY SportsMed, a high end Physical Therapy practice with 3 locations in Manhatten New York. He also blogs at the PT Project.