Tell us about the ugly side of starting a clinic and what you’ve learned.
Everything to do with marketing has been ugly. It’s mind-boggling how people don’t understand the things that they themselves are supposed to be the experts in. One of the first things I tried to do was a yellow pages advertisement. Their representative sent a rough draft for me to mark up with changes. The draft was way off base so I created my own and sent it back immediately. Shortly after, I received the original draft, without a single change, for my approval. Three times they did this before finally using the version I sent the first time. I once tried to put a sign on a restaurant marquee. The restaurant remodeled and moved the sign into their back office. It’s been one crazy thing after another.
What did I take from this? Write down everything. Don’t assume anything. Make sure you know who you talked to, what they said, etc. And follow up. I hate to micromanage the experts I am hiring to take care of me—why hire them if you have to do it yourself, right? When you're starting a business you don't have time for every little thing but it’s well worth your time to take a peak at what your advertising people are doing. At the moment, I'm plenty busy and I don’t advertise.
If you could do one thing differently what would it be?
I don’t think I would do anything different. I think everything is happening perfectly for me. I almost went with a different location, so if I had, my answers might be completely different. Overall, I am very pleased.
What’s been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
I can spend the time I need with my patients to get them better. Before opening Horizons I was tired of people telling me I needed to be more productive, telling me how to treat, how long to spend, etc. The bottom line is important, yes, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing for me is getting people healthy and well again. That’s the main reason that I started my own clinic. Oh, I may not make a million dollars, but I can't imagine having more job satisfaction and peace of mind.
Any actionable advice that an aspiring clinic owner could implement today?
I spent a lot of time early on with a business plan. While I never actually used it very much, it did open my eyes to the intricacies of business ownership. There are a lot of surprises along the way you can’t plan for; but it did help with the things you can plan like space, rooms, etc. I do recommend making a business plan so you have a guide line to follow.
My advice to PT students is to get some real-world experience as a therapist before embarking on your own place. For the health of your patients and ultimately your own success, it’s important to be a strong PT before starting a business.