This post comes from business expert and vereran Ascend speaker Amy Lafko. To learn more about Ascend—rehab therapy’s ultimate business summit—check out the official website.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve constantly heard people say, “I can’t wait until things go back to normal.” To me, this begs the question: Why do we want to go back to the way things were? If you’re a practice owner, was your business running perfectly prior to this unprecedented crisis? If not, then this time represents an unprecedented opportunity for you to build a better “normal” for the future. When have you ever had a moment like this—when you are able to truly work on your business in such a dedicated way?

The New Reality

We are far enough into this altered state of reality that you’ve already moved through the frustration, anger, and depression over the situation. If you are like most of my clients, you are running somewhere between 10% and 50% of capacity, and you still have many employees on payroll. In this post, I’m going to guide you through a process that will help you capitalize on the silver lining of these uncertain times.  

Still not convinced there is, in fact, a silver lining? Let me share with you a situation when I didn’t have time to work on the business but was forced to anyway. I spent most of my career in healthcare operations leadership positions. Before I started my consulting company, I handled operations administration for a group of urgent care practices. It was a mess. Turnover was at 70%, patient complaints were a daily occurrence, and the clinics were incredibly inefficient. This situation became the proving grounds for the people-first strategy I help my clients implement in their organizations.  

While this people-first strategy started to turn the business around, we still had many operational issues. We made a very conscious and fiscally painful decision to pull ten people out of clinical care for three days so we could redesign several of our key processes and workflows. Despite having to close one of our locations for three days, the payoff was huge. We were able to redesign our workflow in a way that yielded so many efficiencies that it changed our business forever.  

The Critical Decision You Must Make

This is the silver lining of these uncertain times. With volumes down, you can work on the business without much additional disruption. But you must make that decision. You need to recognize that now is the time to focus on what you can control. Now is the time to redesign suboptimal workflows and uplevel your business. Now is the time to build the programs you hoped to someday have time to build.  

Remember: This isn’t the first challenging time you’ve had in your business. Before you jump into the process I’m about to outline, take a few minutes to list five other scary or challenging times that you have been through. Next to each one, write down the lessons you learned. This will allow you to reframe your thinking and focus on the lessons, opportunities, and successes you’ve already had.

Exercise # 1

You’ve always had ideas for new programs or product offerings. How many times have you said to yourself, “When we have time, I’d love to do _________”? 

Well, now is the time. Write down the top five ideas you’ve never had time to work on. Then, pick one—yes, only one—and get the ball rolling. Rope in other team members to help you flesh out the idea. Determine your vision, goals, and milestones for success.

Exercise # 2

Think about the things employees or customers typically complain about most. Now, think about your own complaints and frustrations. These complaints reveal what is not working in your organization. 

They are the cracks in the foundation that you haven’t had time to fix. Don’t limit yourself to thinking about workflows. Consider whether your leadership team has the soft skills they need to lead effectively. Consider whether your onboarding program is successful in building alignment and inspiration.

Exercise # 3

Pinpoint areas where you need to pivot. In health care, for example, many businesses are pivoting toward a telemedicine model. In other industries, we are seeing a massive shift toward working from home. How do these changes become part of your long-term strategy? Explore the ways your employees are working differently—and how your customers are interacting differently with your service offerings. Understanding how and where to pivot your long-term strategy—based on successes you’ve seen in the short term—is the third opportunity to build a stronger practice for the future.  


These exercises will start you on the path to envisioning a better normal. (For a companion worksheet for this process, click here.) The final step you must take is to create the vision and structure for the first 100 days of that new normal. To get your team on board with that vision, you must first ensure they understand where you’re going and how you’ll get there. The clearer you can be in laying out your vision and the milestones for success, the easier it will be for your team to grasp—and the better and stronger your company will be at achieving and maintaining a better normal.

Want more help building a better normal for your practice? I’m offering a complimentary 30-minute call to the first 10 people who schedule one. Click here to find a time that works for you.

Additionally, I’m offering all WebPT Members a 25% discount (valid for two weeks from the publish date of this post) on an executive strategy process that will:

  1. Uncover critical issues through a series of specific assessments to help you define exactly where your organization needs to focus to ensure alignment and growth.
  2. Create alignment around the root cause (not just the symptoms) of those critical issues so that you can make progress quickly, thus allowing leadership to move ahead into the development of strategic initiatives.

Amy Lafko founded Cairn Consulting Solutions with the knowledge that you need to grow your people to grow your business. Amy focuses her work on the employee experience that is derived from skilled leaders and aligned teams. Whether through team dynamics sessions, development workshops, or consulting, Amy provides expertise to improve the entire lifecycle of your team. From hiring to engagement, she assists clients in decreasing turnover and increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. Amy earned her MSPT from Ithaca College and her MBA from Loyola University of MD. She is certified in DISC and Driving Forces as well as the 7 Stages of Growth™.