Today’s post is contributed by Greg Babiec, Physical Therapist, and Owner Evolve Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation in New York. Greg is also a member of WebPT. You can follow him on Twitter at @DrBadBack. Thanks, Greg, for contributing your insights and expertise today!
WebPT has asked me to share my personal top 5 physical therapy resources in social media. This is by no means an extensive list; it is simply a list of the folks I check in with on a daily basis to share research, hash out practice issues, address topics of interest, and generally stay on top of what’s new in our profession. Enjoy checking these folks out, and feel free to add suggestions!
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.
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.
What is the number one thing you think PT’s need to know before starting their own clinic?
New clinic owners need to understand that they will work about 18 hours a day to start out. People think having your own business is great, and it is; but, you’re never done. When you work for someone else, you see your patients and go home. If you go out on your own, you do it all yourself. You’re responsible for answering all of the questions from your patients. You do all the marketing. And of course you treat all the patients. Part of that is exciting, part of it surprises people. A lot of physical therapists who have always worked as salaried employees are used to a full case-load appearing every week. So, when you go out on your own, it is surprising to see a blank calendar the first few weeks you’re open. You have to work really, really hard until you have sizeable number of patients.
What is something that you wish someone had told you before starting your clinic?
My first time around I thought everyone would be really excited and happy for me. What I learned is that you can’t expect people in your industry to be happy for you. I’m always really happy for others and supportive. I was shocked to find that people were not so supportive. You have to be sure of what you’re doing and don’t listen to anyone else. It’s a big risk. You just have to surround yourself with big supporters who are happy in their own lives. Don’t be shocked by negative responses.
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.
Today’s post is brought to us by Matt Wolach, the Director of Sales for WebPT. Thanks for contributing Matt!
Most are aware of Southwest Airlines’ legendary ability to stay solvent in a fierce industry. Especially remarkable is the company’s ability to stay in business when so many airlines were filing bankruptcies. But few know the secret.
Sure the company’s commitment to customer service and funny flight attendants and pilots are renowned. It doesn’t hurt that Southwest doesn’t turn away customers by charging for extras like checked bags or window seats. All of this helps.
But the reason Southwest continues to thrive, even when charging the consumer less, is that they clearly understand their core business. They are in the business of flying. ‘Well of course,’ you say. Ok, so let’s put it another way.
Southwest knows they only make money when their planes are in the air.
Southwest does not make money when the planes are on the ground. Thus, they do everything they can to shorten the time on the ground as much as possible. This is what’s called a “turn time.’
When it comes to social media marketing (SMM) for physical therapy practices, many wonder if it is worth the time and effort. When asked, how much business they have received from their social media efforts, the typical answer is, “I am not sure.” Some go as far as saying that they don’t get any patients from it at all.
How many visitors view your website each month? Analytical data from our clients tells us it’s in the hundreds of visitors …even more of you drive traffic with search engine optimization and/or pay-per-click ads. It just makes sense that you put some time into your website copy. Copywriting is meant to persuade someone to take an action. It’s not written words simply to educate someone.