Jeff McMenamy, OT, and Dr. Sabrina Starling (from the previous episode) join me in a conversation about Jeff's success and how his success is directly related to the business coaching that Dr. Starling provided and continues to provide him. Jeff started his clinic in a two-car garage and now owns four clinics across Wyoming - Teton Therapy. His life changed forever when Dr. Starling asked one question. Take a listen to the episode to find out what it was (mystery sandwich!). Jeff attributes a great measure of his success to the coaching he's received, and I am in complete agreement. Lesson of the day - get a coach!
With this episode, I'm excited because I've got three people on the line. One being myself but also a friend of mine, Jeff McMenamy, a successful physical therapy owner in Wyoming and his coach, Dr. Sabrina Starling. Dr. Starling is the expert in recruiting top talent and has a book called How to Hire the Best, which you should look into. Jeff got me in touch with Dr. Starling and I thought, “I'd like to have Dr. Starling and Jeff on the same episode, so we can discuss the benefits of having a coach in your life as a physical therapy practice owner.” Jeff, not only is inspirational in regard to the fact that the guy started in a two-car garage with his therapy clinic and is now the owner of four physical therapy clinics across Wyoming. A lot of that has been due to some of the consulting he received and the individual business coaching that he received from Dr. Starling. I thought I'd bring the two of them on together to share what it's like to work with a coach and how it helped Jeff go from two-car garage to a four-practice clinic owner.
Jeff is the CEO and owner of Teton Therapy, which provides both physical and occupational therapy services. They have four outpatient clinics in Wyoming. These clinics aren't close together. They're roughly four hours away from each other, but they still see roughly 600 visits per week combined. Jeff has full control of them and continues to succeed and continues to have plans for expansion. He started into private practice on his own in 1999 and joined up with a couple of physical therapists but eventually became the sole owner of Teton Therapy. He's originally from Minnesota, but he has called Wyoming home for years. He loves it because of the outdoor recreational opportunities and the spirit of the people that live in Wyoming. He and his wife, Mic, have three children. They are empty nesters. Jeff retired from coaching ice hockey and is planning to spend his winters in a warmer climate, but still managing his company from a distance. That's the goal of all of us is to be able to have such control that we can manage our businesses from a distance.
Dr. Sabrina Starling has been coaching for years. She's a clinical psychologist and is known as the business psychologist and author of the series How to Hire the Best. She's also the Founder of Tap the Potential business consulting, which essentially focuses on transforming small businesses into highly profitable great places to work. Her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world's leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses especially in rural areas and thus brought about the How to Hire the Best series. She also has a podcast called Profit by Design.
In this episode, we're going to focus on some of the benefits that come from coaching and some of the experiences that Jeff had in working with Sabrina that led to his success. I want you to know his story about the one question that Dr. Starling asked him that catapulted him into success. He'll share that question with you. The one question that she brought up that struck a nerve with me was, “What if it's not true, all the fears, all the things that hold you back? What if those ideas and postulates that you have in your head aren't true? What would you do then?” She also asked another question of Jeff that catapulted his growth. These are the some of the things that coaches do for you. They open your mind. They ask open-ended questions and help you come up with the answers from within. It becomes more successful in that way and becomes an eye-opening and mind opening experience.
I'm excited because I've got one of my coaches that I've interviewed, Dr. Sabrina Starling and one of my good friends from my network and a successful physical therapist, Jeff McMenamy with Teton Physical Therapy in Wyoming. Jeff has worked with Dr. Starling over the past number of years. I thought it'd be great to get the three of us and talk a little bit about Jeff's story. Thanks for joining me, Jeff. I appreciate it.
It’s nice to be here.
Dr. Starling, nice to talk to you again. I appreciate you taking the time.
I'm delighted to be back. It is fun to be here with Jeff. Jeff introduced us together, Nathan. I’m glad the three of us are getting to sit down and talk.
Jeff was great. He said, “If you ever want somebody on your podcast, Sabrina would be great.” We talked a lot about attracting recruiting top talent and a lot of that came from her work in this small town. You were in the same small town at the time weren’t you, when you were working with Jeff initially?
Absolutely. Jeff was one of the business owners who inspired that book.
The book that Sabrina is referring to is the book that she wrote called How to Hire the Best. If you're looking to get some strategies and ideas on how to recruit and hire, be sure to look for that book on Amazon or you can go to her website, HowToHireTheBest.com. She's got some extended webinars and training on doing that. Does that sound about right, Dr. Starling?
Yes, that's all good.
Jeff, specifically I want to take this interview to talk about you and your experience working with a consultant. To have both of you at the same time would be a cool thing to do. Jeff, do you want to share a little bit about your story and what got you to where you are now?
I was working for a large corporation back in the early ‘90s. It was roughly about 1999. I had it with big corporations and so forth. Though they treated me well, I felt like I wanted to do my own thing. I'm an occupational therapist by trade. I decided to go into an outpatient setting not knowing anything about what I was getting into. I went ahead and rented some space at a little place and eventually joined up with two other physical therapists. I ended up through time buying both of them out and then becoming the sole owner of Teton Therapy. That's where it all started. I didn't have much of a plan. I knew I wanted to work for myself and create my own life and my own career has taken off from there.If you had all the courage you needed, what decision would you make? Click To Tweet
You've done great. You're the perfect example of a successful small business owner, not just a physical therapy clinic owner but a small business owner. The first thing that came to my mind is how big was your space when you first opened up?
It was a double-car garage that filled in the doorway with a wall and a window and then carpeted it and painted in the sheetrock. That's what it was.
I never heard of a physical therapy clinic inside of the garage.
It was in the back of a doctor's office and that's why we went into it. The doctor was right there and he was willing to rent us some space.
Where are you at now? How many clinics and what are their sizes?
We have four clinics. We've opened up five and one of them went with one of my partners. The current clinic we're in, Riverton, is 5,700 square feet. Lander is about 3,500 square feet. Cheyenne is the same. Sheridan, which opened in 2016 is right at almost 3,000 square feet I believe.
Big changes and big growth from the two-car garage.
After the two-car garage, we were in a racquetball court.
I can verify that, Nathan. When I first met Jeff, he brought me into his office in the clinic that was in the racquetball court and his office was like a closet. He had metrics and numbers all over his wall. That's when I knew that he's not going to be staying in this clinic long this way.
You knew you had a gem to work with at that point, I'm sure?
I was reassured that it’s going to go well from there.
Jeff, when you introduced me to Dr. Starling, you said that she asked you a question that blew your mind and led you down the path that you've gone now. Do you mind sharing what was that question?
She asked, “If you had all the courage you needed, what decision would you make right now that would have the greatest impact on your business and your life?” She discussed more on that, our voices of reason and so forth that they hold us back. That was on a free webinar. I didn't know Sabrina. My wife had set it on my desk and said, “I think you should attend this thing.”
If you had all the courage that you needed, what decision would you make? Is that how it went?We get in our own way all the time as business owners. Click To Tweet
At that time, were you struggling quite a bit or were you looking for something?
I wasn't looking for anything and I was pretty happy with where I was at, but it was a very freeing question because I thought, “If you had all the courage you needed, there wouldn't be any risk.” When she asked that question, I took it in that respect of, “No risk. Big decision.” The follow-up question was, “What's preventing you from acting on that?” It was thrown out there as a group question. It wasn’t to me individually. She asked for anybody in the group if they would be willing to share.
Did you immediately come up with a couple of things that you'd say, “I would do this and I would do that?” Was it pretty obvious?
It was obvious to me that we were facing renting the next racquetball court over trying to figure out how you put a hole in a racquetball court wall because they're very heavy walls. It was evident to me. I was like, “We need to go find some new space and maybe even purchase a building.”
Did you eventually do that?
That day I told Sabrina on the call, “There's a building that had been up for sale for quite some time.” It's on Main Street and it’s the current location that we're in. I said, “I'll go make an offer on that building. I would make a low offer.” I went ahead and I remember I was getting ready to leave the next day for a hockey tournament. I was playing in myself in Las Vegas. I thought, “I'm going to go throw this offer before I leave tomorrow.” I didn’t consult with my wife or my business partner. I told them before I was going to do it. I said, “I'm going to go make an offer on that building on Main Street.” They said, “We haven't talked about this or anything.” I said, “Don't worry, it's going to be a very low offer. What's the worst thing that will happen?” The worst thing that could happen was they would accept the offer.
I assume it ended up being a good thing.
We saw a six-month growth from changing the building, opening our space up.Even coaches need coaches because no one can shine the light on their own dark corners. We need somebody outside of us who can do that. Click To Tweet
You're still there now?
Yes, we still have it but I have another corporate office that we've been in to do more of our administrative stuff.
I have to say when Jeff told me on that webinar that he was going to make an offer on that building, I thought, “What have I gotten this poor guy into?” As Jeff reflects on this, what I'm aware of is that he was playing it safe when he was looking at, “How do I put a hole in a racquetball court and expand that way?” That was him looking at, “Here's where I am, here's the little box I've put myself in and our company and I'm going to keep playing safe. How do I expand from this little box?” We do that to ourselves all the time. We put ourselves as business owners in these little boxes. Much of coaching is about getting out of the box and looking at other possibilities. From Jeff, that question helped expand his possibilities. It put fear on the back burner and it made it not so important to play safe. To hear him say, “We grew from there,” and the level of growth, he did. I remember it was rapid growth from there. Metaphorically, they came out of their box and Jeff and everyone in their business, their mindsets opened up the possibilities.
I don't think that's limited to physical therapy owners. That's something that you see across the board, Sabrina, that is fear gets in the way so much of what we do.
We get in our own way all the time as business owners.
Are there some commonalities that you see among physical therapy, clinic owners in your dealings with them in the past?
Yes. One is working in the business and feeling like I am the one that needs to be delivering the service. “The patients like me, they don't want to talk to anybody else. They want me, so I need to be there or I'm the only one who knows how to do this. It means I have to be doing this.”
How do you break them from that? How do you get someone out of that box?
The, “What if it's not true?” question is a powerful question. We have to listen to ourselves and we're not good at listening to ourselves. It is much better to have other people listening to us and pointing out, “You just said,” and what if that's not true? As a coach, it's always a little precarious to ask the client, “What if what you said is baloney?” You don't want to say it like that, but from a curious place like, “What if this is not true? What if these are beliefs that are limiting you and holding you back? What other alternatives and what other realities could you be operating from that would serve you better?”
I'm sure that leads to all kinds of conversations and ideas that come up as you're coaching these people.
When I threw that question out on the webinar that Jeff was on, I had no idea where he would take it or where anybody on that call would take it. I knew for myself that when I'd heard it, I knew my answers and it got me out of playing safe and looking at other alternatives. I thought, “If it helped me, it's probably going to help people.”
As you've worked with Dr. Starling in the past, Jeff, what are some things that you found that she's been helpful in guiding and directing you as you've worked with her?
When we both have worked with Measurable Solutions and it's all about growing your business and getting other people to get the work done. One of the things that Sabrina started with me was business coaching. The business coaching wasn't just about coaching through business. Probably more of our time was spent coaching me through different life issues because your business and your life is so hand-in-hand. With that coaching, I started to self-coach. I would run into a problem and I would call Sabrina right now, “What would she ask me?” They were always open-ended questions. You were never going to get an answer from Sabrina. I'll tell you that valuable time of contemplating what she was going to ask me and then we would get into our coaching sessions, it taught me how to be a coach. That training that I had with Sabrina, those real-life experiences also going through the coach approach training with her, I use that every day. I have other business partners in some of our other clinics. I see that from that outside perspective. I have to make them get through their barriers and helping to coach them through. It’s a skill. It takes practice. It's definitely a technology and it's so valuable to grow your practice because you're growing other individuals.
It’s so fulfilling when you're able to do that, don't you feel, Jeff?
It's not your answers. It's their answers. They're accumulating the wins when they make the right decision and they experience something new, just like when I experienced purchasing that building and seeing the business take off. That's like winning a big game. Now you're ready to take on stronger opponents. That's what's so fulfilling about seeing some of these other younger partners and younger therapists and so forth that have the same dreams that I had and watching them succeed and take off.
Do you find, as you've done more coaching, that retention of these key and A-players has improved?
Definitely. Some of the executive council that I have around me, they know they're learning more about coaching as well. They may ask a question and they’re like, “I know you're not going to answer it, Jeff, but I'm trying to think of what you're going to ask me.”
You're replicating yourself and that's exactly what you want. I want to turn that over to Sabrina. Is that your goal to help your clients eventually become coaches within their own company?
Not just my clients and the business owners, but their entire teams learning how to be coached as with each other. One of the things that I have come to appreciate coaching and when we ask open-ended questions versus what a lot of people think coaching is, is telling someone what to do. I coached them to go do X, Y and Z. That's very different. If I had been in a conversation with Jeff and he had said, “We're growing and our space is getting cramped in this building.” I would've said, “Jeff, I think you need to place an offer on a bigger building.” Immediately, he would have gone into why that would be not a good idea. He would have told me, “This is crazy.”The Gremlins are the enemy of change. They come up because we're on the cusp of doing something great. Click To Tweet
“I can't do it because of this, that and the other.”
We resist advice giving. That is our human nature. It can be the best advice in the world and we will resist it. That's the hard thing for me as a coach, especially when I'm talking to people about hiring because that's an area where I have a lot of expertise now. Sometimes I absolutely know the answer. I know what they should do and if I say, “You should do it,” I get the resistance. What we've done now is we have our clients in small groups with each other. When other clients share their experiences around hiring or their experiences around, “Here's how I did this in my business or here’s I became more profitable,” that's where people start to pay attention and get curious. It's that combination of experience sharing and asking the powerful questions. I love what Jeff is saying about his executive team when they're all coaching each other because there's that opportunity for those other team members to be sharing experiences and asking the powerful questions. It's not just up to Jeff to be asking those questions.
That's been going on for how many years now Dr. Starling?
Off and on, probably from 2006. Jeff, do you know?
It's probably right at about 2006.
Are there some points where you felt that Jeff needed to make a course correction? From a coach's perspective, how do you go about doing that?
Yes, there were points where I wanted to give him advice. The analogy that I use is like we're going into a dark room with a client and we're trying to shine the light on all the different corners and the exits from that room. When it's dark, you might only see the exit in front of you. The asking the questions helps to shine the light on other alternatives and other possibilities that the client may not be seeing for themselves. That's so important for all of us to be aware of. Even coaches need coaches because I can't shine the light on my own dark corners. We need somebody outside of us who can do that.
Coaches are so huge. One of my recommendations for any small business owners is to get a coach or a consultant. What would your recommendation be then, Sabrina, if someone like Jeff or any small business owner is looking for a coach whether that's you or somebody else? A coach is going to help no matter what, but which ones might work out best and what should a person do to look for the one that does fit?
Ultimately when you're looking for a coach, you want to find somebody that you're going to have a good rapport with. That is first and foremost. Look at the other clients that they have served. Do you look like their other clients in terms of not physical appearance, but the situations that their other clients are in and the results that those clients are speaking to? Do you resonate with those? Do those results match up with what you're trying to achieve? We deliver life-changing business transformations in my coaching company and not everybody wants a life-changing business transformation. They just want to grow their revenue. We're not going to be the coach for them. It comes down to looking at what the results that the coach and the coaching company is promising, your ease and comfort with them and the alignment of the values. The previous clients and the current clients, do you fit with them? Is that the right fit for what you're looking for?
Jeff, from your experience, what were some of the biggest benefits of having a coach on your side?
As a single owner, it was having another perspective and it wasn't somebody that I was paying as an employee who is going to give you lip service of what they thought you wanted to hear. It wasn't somebody like my wife who has the same perspective that I do. Also, it wasn't somebody in my own field that might be steering me in some way. It was somebody who was very neutral and was looking out for my best interests. That's what was key for me. It was a sense of security and also accountability. It was not anything threatening with her accountability. It was like, “If you want to get this to this spot, Jeff, you're going to have to do these things. You're going to have to confront these things and you're going to have to take action.” A meeting with her as often as we did, it felt like a partnership.Be in the business for the right reasons. Don't let anyone else tell you where you want to go with your business. Click To Tweet
I like that you said that it was someone that was outside of the industry. Did you find a lot of benefit from that, the fact that Sabrina was not a physical therapist herself?
I could state things that were beliefs in our world, Nathan, and somebody who's in the outpatient physical therapy might go into agreement with that but that's where Sabrina could ask like, “Why is that true? What are you basing that on? Where's your factual data?” Ask some of those questions that I accepted as truth. You might probe a little bit and get me thinking, “I don't know. I always believed it to be this way.” I might come to the conclusion that it's not true.
One of the best things that I got from having a coach, and maybe you can speak to this a little bit, Jeff, if it resonates with you, but simply dealing with the interactions with the individuals that I was overseeing and working with, it didn't come natural for me to confront them, to hold them accountable, to somehow encouraged greater productivity, help them through situations that you're dealing with professionally, maybe personally. Utilizing a coach, how do you have that conversation and how do you steer it to the best possible conclusion? That was something that I got from having a coach? Is that something that you also noticed?
Yes, absolutely. She would lead me to come to my own conclusion, the best conclusion and I would feel good about that. She would add that little bit of, “What are you going to do?” “I'm going to have a meeting with that person.” “When are you going to have that meeting?” “I'll have it Wednesday.” “When do you want to report back to me how that meeting went?”
We, as owners, don't usually have people holding us accountable. We’re at the top of the totem pole and so there's no one holding our feet to the fire. It's great to have that.
I want to speak a little bit about that accountability piece too because when we decide, “I'm going to play a bigger game with my business. I want more profit. I want more time freedom. I want to take vacations,” that requires us to be different as the leaders in our business. We have to show up as a different person than the person that we are when we're saying, “I'm going to do it all in my business. I'll wear all these hats.” It's very easy to get excited about an outcome or a vision that you're driving towards, but as soon as the rubber hits the road and you have to show up and be the bigger person, the shoes that you're trying to grow into, the gremlins, the self-talk, the negative self-limiting beliefs pop up.
I tell clients a lot of times when we first start working together, “I know you're thrilled. This is exciting. We're going to do great things in your business,” and you want to come to our meeting but a month from now, you're going to be like, “I don't want to show up. I'm going to cancel my coaching. I've got a patient. I need to see that patient. That's more important than my coaching session.” The gremlins are coming up because we're on the cusp of doing something great and that's changed. Our gremlins are the enemy of change. They like the status quo. We need that person holding us accountable to our vision of, “You said you want to grow your clinic. You want to grow your profits this way and you want to be able to take those vacations. What are you going to do about it this week?”
What are you willing to do to make sure you reach those goals? The accountability was huge. The guidance and direction that I received were huge. I can attribute a lot of success that we and our clients had through the coaching we received and the consultants that helped train us. Dr. Starling, anything in particular that you felt would be beneficial for most physical therapists? If they're considering consulting, what would be the benefit of coaching to physical therapy clinic owners specifically as you work with a few of them?
Not having to reinvent the wheel. When you work with a coach, whether it's in your industry or outside your industry, someone who has business expertise, they know what works. I work with so many businesses in different industries. I know what works consistently across the industries. It saves so much pain. I had a client that used the phrase pain puddle. He said, “Working with coaches can pull you out of your pain puddle.”
Jeff, any recommendations on your end, some of the benefits that you’ve had from consulting? For those people who might consider a consultant or a coach in the future, what would you say to physical therapy clinic owners?
The best way for me to tell this is in a story. Sabrina, as you can see when you're talking with her, she's a very nice, caring individual. She's small in stature and so forth, but the results that she gets, she is a pit bull when it comes to seeing that you need to fire this person. She wouldn't ever say that. She would never say, “You need to fire that person,” but she would make me see very clearly that, “You're willing to risk everything for this one employee who's not even serving you well. They're taking you for everything.” She would make me see that, “This person is hurting me and the rest of this company,” or when it comes to a decision of increasing profitability and I would feel worried, “Is that being greedy?” and all this.You got to do what's right by the business before you consider what's right by you. Click To Tweet
She would point out, “Why are you in business? You're in business to build that company and be more profitable.” She was very unrelenting in that way. For me, her as a coach, that passed on right to me, to be that unrelenting, be in it for the right reasons and don't let anyone else tell you where you want to go with your business, mainly your employees who maybe don't have your best interest. They don't have the company's best interest. That's what I see if you’re a physical therapist owning your own business. We're in the business of caring for others. We care for our employees and we definitely care for our patients. We care for the doctors who refer to us. We're always caring for everyone else. It's very hard sometimes for us to take care of ourselves and to take care of our business. It's the last two things will put out there or take care of and that's where I saw Sabrina helped me to keep that focus in.
That's what helped me. I love that you shared that at the very end because that's what one coach helped me and my partner recognize that it wasn't the owner and the business that came last. They actually had to come first. In fact, the business takes priority over the owner. You got to do what's right by the business before you consider what's right by you. If you keep it in that regard, that it's business first followed by owners and then employees, then you'll make the right decision for everybody in that regard. It's the company that's going to run your life and the business than your own. Sabrina, if people wanted to get your book or find you, how would they be able to do that?
The best place to find me and my coaching company is TapThePotential.com. My book is available on Amazon. My book is How to Hire the Best. If you want the free masterclass that goes with the book, you can get that at HowToHireTheBest.com.
Thanks again for joining me on this episode. It's groundbreaking for the Physical Therapy Owners Club podcast to have three people at once. This is awesome. I appreciate, Jeff, you introducing me to Sabrina so that she could share some of her secrets with the world as well.
Thank you, Nathan and Sabrina.
Jeff McMenamy is the CEO and Owner of Teton Therapy operating four outpatient clinics in Wyoming. They offer both Physical and Occupational Therapy services. The clinics are spread out roughly 4 hours away from each other and see roughly 600 visits per week combined. Jeff is an Occupational Therapist by trade and had to adapt to the culture of Private Practice Physical Therapy. Jeff started into private practice on his own in 1999, then joined up with two physical therapists and eventually became the sole owner of Teton Therapy. Originally from Minnesota, he calls Wyoming home after 22 years. He chose the state for it endless outdoor recreational opportunities and the independent spirit of people. He and his wife Mic have three children and are “Empty Nester’s.” Jeff recently retired from coaching ice hockey after 21 years and is set to spend the winter in a warmer climate managing his company from a distance.
Dr. Sabrina Starling is known as The Business Psychologist™ and author of the series, How to Hire the Best, and is the founder of Tap the Potential business consulting. Tap the Potential specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then celebrates by sending business owners on a 4 Week Vacation to celebrate their accomplishment. Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses, and has earned Tap the Potential the reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work. With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members. Tune in weekly to the Profit by Design Podcast as Dr. Sabrina and her co-host, Mike Bruno, bring you tips, tools, and strategies to grow a sustainably profitable business that allows you to live the lifestyle you desire.