TEL 14 | Adapting To Disruptions

 

Eric Miller of Econologics is back on the show with Nathan Shields to talk about money. His episode, released a couple months ago, is the most listened-to episode in the two-year history of the podcast, discussing what PT owners needed to do financially as they slowed down during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, as clinics begin ramping up, he's back to discuss what owners need to do to re-establish their financial foundation and set themselves up to weather any future downturns. He lists five accounts each owner should establish and the mindset needed to establish wealth. It's simple yet takes consistent effort and intention.

---

Listen to the podcast here:

Re-Establishing Your Financial Foundation: Ramping Up After Covid-19 With Eric Miller

I've got a returning guest, one of my favorites, Eric Miller of Econologics. Eric, thanks for coming on again.

It's always a pleasure and a privilege. It's good to see and fear the beard now.

Also, be jealous of your tan. You are doing well down in Florida enjoying the sun. It's great to have you back here, our favorite financial planner. I love going to you for advice. In your episode, we talked about financial management through COVID-19 is by far one of my most read blogs. You shared some great wealth of knowledge, but we're in a different space. People are still hurt. They're not running at peak efficiencies. There's somewhere in the 40%, 60%, 70% productivity range. Private practice owners are gradually getting back into play. Some might even still be shut down, but we want to talk about what we can do to reset financially. I've talked in past episodes about resetting business-wise, our goals, purpose, marketing strategies, how we see our businesses and getting back into them the way we want to build them back up again.

Let's talk financially about ramping back up and reestablishing some fundamental aspects to our financial foundation in our business. That will do a lot of us good as we start looking forward. I know you're going to talk about this, but to summarize, we're going to talk about PPP loans, how to use some of that money and how to eventually be in a better position to withstand these issues going forward. Let's start with some of the PPP stuff, to begin with, unless there's something you want to get off your chest right away.

The whole idea is that we have to get the attitude that we're all going to try to get into financial beast mode. Let’s forget we're trying to get by. Let's have the idea that we can get in financial beast mode, which is a term that we're starting to use a lot more. Let's up the game a little bit. Let's up the intensity of what needs to be done to get our financial house in order.

It does so much for you to be financially sound, provide so much freedom, and puts you in a position of power that you otherwise don't have. When you can establish the foundation financially, be profitable, and force that profit from your business. There's so much power to come from that.

You can relax to that degree and when you're relaxed about your money, it's amazing to watch what happens. The best opportunities that I see that come to practice owners is when they're relaxed about their financial condition. That's when they seem to get the best opportunities that come to them.

It seems like those opportunities find them. You don't have to go far, they'd put the word out here or there like, “I want to invest in something.” They get resources, they do some due diligence and suddenly, you're making money on top of money.

Good things happen to you.

Tell the owners what they should be thinking about with the PPP. A lot of them got funding, probably the majority of them. How should they see that money? What should they expect?

The best owners are very patient with investing money but impatient with the money coming in. Click To Tweet

As you said, a lot of practice owners are around 60% to 65% back to seeing the patient that they were at. A lot of them have gotten this influx of money that is sitting in their checking accounts. The first thing is that when you get a lot of money, you have to pay attention to making sure that it doesn't get spent on the things that it shouldn't be there for. The purpose of the money is for whatever the stipulations were as part of the CARES Act and you should use it for that. At the same time, you're still seeing patients, you're still collecting money and I would be aggressive on my collections line. I would be making sure that when I'm bringing people back, especially in that area, we're collecting money and pushing production back up to the numbers that we need to get to.

You’re saying don’t be compassionate when it comes to copays and deductibles. We need to draw a hard line.

Let's not be complacent. Let's try to break all these bad habits that we had with money in the past. You got to be aggressive on your collections. The best owners that we both seen are impatient with production and not seeing a lot of money come in. They're patient with investing money and being diligent with investing money, but you want to be impatient on money coming in. I would spend a lot of time making sure I was collecting money and then I would make sure that you are controlling that money and you're stacking Benjamins at this point because I don't know what's going to happen in the future. We could get another wave of uncertainty. I don't think the people are going to tolerate another shutdown, but people are still nervous and scared and they may not show up. I would have a lot more in liquidity than what people have told you that you need in the past. For me, it's important that you have that liquidity. I would stack as much money as I possibly can.

If they didn't have it before, people recognize the importance of having a line of credit available to them at any given time. Would you recommend that having a line of credit open and available to you?

I'm always going to recommend that you have lines of credit open for everyone. I would even look at it a little differently. There are five important accounts that every practice owner should have going forward. The level of financial unpreparedness is evident. A lot of practices couldn't survive for more than one month without making any money. That was an economic reality for many practices. There's an engineering term called having a factor of safety. If you're going to cross a bridge and it says, “This bridge can only hold 5,000 pounds,” the engineers didn't build it so that if the car weighs 5,001, then the whole thing is going to come crashing down. They build that factor of safety. As an owner, you’ve got to have that same mindset when it comes to running your household finances or your business finances. You have to have buffers in place. For us, I'm trying to tell a lot of practice owners, “You’ve got to control money differently than what you did in the past.” There are five different accounts that I would set up and make sure that they're part of what my make or break number would be for my business.

Do you literally have five separate accounts?

Yes. I can dive deep into that and quickly explain each one of them. The first one, we call our wealth storage account. That's where the first 10% of your practice revenue transfers from the business to a personal wealth-building plan so that you can create other income streams for your household. That is what we call your owner pay. That is the reward that you get for the risk that you took in putting that business there having to deal with all the employee issues, the debt payments, and the compliance aspect of it. That's your owner pay so we call that the wealth storage account. That would be account number one.

Ten percent gross revenues off to the side down.

Right off the top, like you didn't make it.

I told you before if I had done that from the beginning, my financial situation would be significantly better.

TEL 14 | Adapting To Disruptions
Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

It would be good. If you can at least get that one in, you're going to win the game. The second one would be a business protection and liability fund. What's the purpose of this? We all realized that we did not have enough in business reserves to pay our expenses for more than a month. I would start siphoning off money into that account. That's for the purpose of creating about three months of business reserves.

When you say business reserves, would you get that number from your CPA of your fixed expenses only?

You can make it like payroll, rent, utilities and those kinds of things.

A skeleton crew with grants and that kind of stuff. It's not your entire gross expenses. It may scale back a little bit, but multiply that by three.

It may not include all your profits and everything like that, but it would certainly be a number so that the organization can function for at least three months. Not only that, but that money would be there if you ever got sued for some reason. That would be to settle a lawsuit for legal fees. Anything that has to do with the protection of the business. We all realize that big corporations have these kinds of accounts. If they get attacked, they have resources to defend themselves.

Most of our professional liability plans cover us for $1 million to $3 million, depending on our plan but the out of pocket expenses usually somewhere around $10,000. You’ve got to make sure you have that.

It's like weather-related. Sometimes, you have a snow day and you can't see patients. You still got to pay the bills. It's an important fund to have for the protection of the business. The third one was simple. It's a tax account. In any business, most of the businesses that we see are S Corp, partnerships, or LLC’s taxes S Corp. The profits flow through to the owners. You're liable for the tax on the profits of the business personally. It would make sense to work with your CPA, get some a projection of what you think your estimates are going to be, and make sure money is being siphoned in that account. Nobody likes to get a call from their accountant that says, “You owe $50,000.” You’re like, “I don't know where I'm going to pay the money from.”

I've been there a couple of times. I had to learn the hard way. A couple of times, I had to get hit over the head. It's April and my CPA was in a great mood. He was like, “You had an awesome year last year. You made a ton of money. You did great. Do you think you're going to do the same next year?” I'm like, “Yes, I'm going to kill it.” He’s like, “Make sure you put a check in the mail for $80,000 for the IRS because it's April 14th.” I’m like, “What?” I had to figure that out quickly. Setting money aside is important too.

You want to set money aside for that. At the same time when you start making a lot of money, you're going to want to invest or utilize that money to create tax structures where you can minimize your overall tax liability. You need money to do that. They set up structures so that they can utilize them to offset their taxes.

When you say other structures, you're talking about other LLCs that cover your family, toys and cars?

Practice owners are overachievers. If you don't have a target, you are doing yourself a disservice. Click To Tweet

Yes, or other advanced tax structures like conservation easements or captive insurance companies, things that you can create, but you need money to do that. That can help offset. You can either pay that or the IRS, you choose. I'd rather do that one right there. The fourth account is simply going to be a business expansion account. How I try to look at this is there's this idea that you have to use debt to expand. You can use debt to expand, but I don't think it's always necessary to have to use it. In business, you should be able to have enough profit where you can reinvest some of the profits to use for expansion, either buying more equipment, buying satellite practice or putting 20% down on a new building or something like that. The idea that I always have to use debt to expand, I don't think is necessarily true. I would have some business expansion funds that you use to facilitate the growth and expansion of your business.

Especially as physical therapists, when we expand like that, that usually entails hiring on a physical therapist which is going to require some upfront salary before you get a return on that investment. Whether it's a new PT that you've got to bring on or tenant improvements that you need to do the space to build a bigger building. They want the cash upfront for that and the bank is going to ask you to put some cash down in these situations, have some available and ready for you. That way, the opportunities before you with so much cash and reserves specifically for business development make it that much easier.

Let's say that you did borrow a bunch of money to expand a bunch of practices and all of a sudden, they shut down the economy. You then have no money coming in and you have all this debt service to pay. It's another reason why I have a mindset that I don't necessarily need to always borrow to expand. It doesn't mean that you don't borrow money because borrowing money for expansion or cashflow producing assets is warranted but not necessarily all the time, especially for a PT practice. The last account, my favorite account, and I came up with this, so this is mine. It's called a celebration account. A lot of practice owners wildly don't celebrate their victories as much as they should. It's a grind sometimes and you need to celebrate to get off that mental charge that accumulates with that grind. I have people siphoned out. It doesn't have to be much, it can be $1,000 a month or something like that. It’s like, “If you hit the goal, I got this $10,000, $12,000, $20,000 and I'm going to blow and have a celebration of some kind.” It's important to have something like that as well.

Life is all about the experiences. If you want more cool experiences that you can generate, how rich is your life? The cool thing I like about all of these is I've done this to a certain extent myself. It makes it so easy if you have automatic transfers. I have my tax account and I know how much my taxes should be at the end of the year whether it's property taxes or personal taxes, we can estimate and whatnot. I have an automatic draw from the business account into that account. Same thing with my Business Protection Liability. I siphoned off a little bit of money so I never have to think about it. You set it up one time and it siphons money off every month. The money was never there, to begin with. It's not like you're writing a check and grimacing at the same time.

A lot of practices have an opportunity to set these accounts up. You want to set it up automatically and systematically doing this. What it does is it puts an expense on the business and that expense needs to be covered by demand of income. That's why it works. That's the only reason why it works because the business now gets accustomed to it as an expense style. I would start small and then build up over time in doing that but if you can get most of these accounts in as expenses, then you are never going to have to worry about turbulent financial times because everything is covered. That's how it should be. That should be normal. It shouldn’t be, “I have to borrow $150,000 or $200,000 from the government to save my bacon.” I don't think anybody wants to get in the habit of doing that because it makes people not be responsible necessarily for their money condition if there's no way you can lose.

Let's take this as an opportunity as the lesson learned. Hopefully, for most of the people out there that are reading, they weren't completely devastated. They have an opportunity as they're building back up that they can establish these different accounts and set up for their future. The Wealth Storage Concept that I had Christopher Music on, one of my first episodes in 2018. By the way, we had our anniversary here, the first part of June 2020 with a contest. He mentioned 10% off the top and that blew my mind crazy. Since I’ve read about it with Mike Michalowicz in Profit First, and he has a great way of laying it out and whatnot. Even if it's not 10%, to begin with, how easy would it be to start with 1% or 2% of your gross revenues, siphoned off and then increase by a single percentage point every month or two until you get the time? You can either rip off the Band-Aid and go straight to 10%, or you could gradually build up if that’s going to be a little bit hard for you.

I wouldn't encourage that. I would start with like you said, a flat dollar amount and then automatically program it up over a 10 to 12-month period until you get up to your 10%. It gets the business accustomed to that as an actual expense. That's the best way that I've seen it done but it works either way. All of a sudden, you’ve got a couple hundred thousand dollars sitting in your wealth storage account, your business accounts are looking healthy and you feel like you're in control of your money.

It puts you in a position of power because the last thing you want to be is in the same situation that you were, especially if you got negatively affected by the pandemic. You don't want to be in that position with so much going on around us, so much unrest and many questions about the future.

Not me, not at all. Think about how people are feeling now. You almost felt like a dartboard like everything was happening to you. Unfortunately, a lot of that has to do with how the system is set up and a lot of business owners feel that way. They're under a monetary system where your money is not worth anywhere near it was years ago because of inflation and they're putting more money now. You're under a political system where you're like, “I have no idea who to trust. I don't believe either party. I don't believe anything that they're saying.” We were under a tax system that's completely ambiguous and hard to understand. You're under a healthcare system.

I don't have to tell PTs about the healthcare system. You're under a legal system where the rights of you as an owner are underneath the rates of employees or anybody that would want to target you for your money. You're under an investment system where you put all of your money in the stock market. We'll hope and pray that everything will turn out even though I don't have much control over that. I can understand why practice owners are spinning around sometimes but there is a way to fight back. The first thing is that you have to take the viewpoint that I can do something about each of those and then get a plan together on how you're going to fight back because what's the alternative?

TEL 14 | Adapting To Disruptions
Adapting To Disruptions: The derivation of the word decision means to cut off. When you make a decision, you cut off anything else that would prevent you from reaching whatever that is.

 

It's not hard. That's the thing. There are not a lot of mental gymnastics going on here. You have to open up a few bank accounts and spend an hour or two setting up transfers. Over time, there’s a lot of comfort in knowing that everything is managed financially.

All of those things I mentioned can be done in such a short period of time. The actions that you would need to create in order to change your financial trajectory. People think it's going to be this long and arduous process and it's going to be like, “I'm going to have to change my lifestyle and all that.” You do a little bit but at the end of the day, isn't it worth it to pay the price for the next 2 to 5 years to have the rest of your life where you never have to worry about money again? To me, that's worth whatever uncomfort you'd have to do in the short-term to put in the systems in place so that your household and your business can flourish over the course of the next 30 to 40 years. Don't be shortsighted about things. Don't fall in the trap of, “I always have to have the nicest car or the most expensive house.” You can do all those things but you have to follow good financial habits and pay a little price in the beginning.

I want to touch on quickly that came to me. It was something that an exercise that we went through in your three-day Financial Freedom Summit that you have done. It was simply an exercise that you took. The group of us, but it was me and my wife, sitting down and determining what our monthly revenue goal was as a household. I wonder if that's appropriate for people to consider because you did a previous webinar about readjusting your 2020 goals for your clinic. It's a good time to consider our financial goals for our household. If you haven't gone through the exercise before, figure out what is that monthly goal that you have in revenue that comes from your clinics to your home? We set a number that is that's high for us. At that time, we're like, “I don't know if that could happen.” That's our number. It's not just meeting our expenses, it was double of what we assumed our expenses would be. It was crazy which would make us living high on the hog if we can get to that but it's getting close.

I'm telling you, if you don't have a target, you are doing yourself a disservice. Practice owners are overachievers. They love to achieve targets. This is the problem I have when people are working with financial advisors. I asked them, I was like, “Did they give you an actual income target for your household? How much money do you need to make? That doesn't consist of what's going to cover to pay your ‘expenses.’ That would include you putting money away into investments to create other income streams that would include your taxes and the other goals that you have. How much do you need to make to live the life that you want to live?” It is unlimited. Once you get that number and you see it, it's not a confusion. It's a certainty point. All you have to do is say, “I thought it was $200,000 a year, but it turns out that I need to make $400,000 a year. How am I going to do this?”

The good news is you have a business. How much would I need to get this business up to where I could earn $400,000 a year for my household? You operate on that target. By doing that, it's amazing what happens. Year-after-year, client after client, when I give them targets, I look back and I show them like, “Remember when we gave you that target?” I look back, “How much have you made?” They're like, “I didn't think about that.” I'm not taking credit for it but it's part of giving the observation of things and giving someone some reality that, “This is what you need to do.” It increases your necessity level, financial awareness, and demand for money. That's the secret sauce there because all I do is show people how to channel it, control it and hopefully expand it but it's your job to go out and make it.

It's a cool exercise. The coaching clients that I have, I'll say, “What are your financial goals with regards to the clinic?” “I want to pull $200,000 a year from that clinic.” I'll say, “What does that mean? What profit margins are you running at? How many visits does that entail? Are you working full-time or part-time or not at all?” That stumps them. They want to get to the number. Working backward and figuring out it's not a number, it's an ideal scene that you want to get to. Let's get clear about that. Once we have some clarity about that and what your part is in that ideal scene, let's work back into the numbers and see where the gap is between where you are now and what you want to be at because you'll then recognize that, “I'm only seeing eight new patients a week. I need to bump that up to twenty.” “What are your marketing efforts going to take to get from eight new patients a week to twenty new patients a week?” That starts giving you some action items but if you have some clarity about that number, there's something magical about putting that intention out in the universe.

You hit it right on the head that the clearer you are precisely what you need or what you want your scene to look like, the better you can compare it to where you are now and you can see what the outpoints are. For a lot of people, the gap isn't that much. It doesn't take a lot to bridge that gap but you need a plan. You need someone to hold you accountable to making sure that you're hitting those numbers as well. That's an important part.

That's huge whether it's a financial planner. Honestly, a lot of the financial planners that I have had in the past aren't good at communicating in those aspects. Finding the right financial planner and a coach that can walk you through that thing is important. They make you verbalize and hold you accountable like you're talking about. That's a huge part of the process. Another success story. One of my first guests was Sean Miller. He sold his practices at the same time we did, but five years earlier, he said he had a number in mind that was like, “I want to get to this number as far as wealth. I want many thousands or millions,” whatever that number was for him. Five years later, he hit it and there's something to it. We're talking about action steps and that stuff but sometimes it's simply the intention is out there, you visualize it, you have that number and you keep that number in your head.

It's a decision that you make. You look at the derivation of the word decision. It means to cut off. When you make a decision that you made, you cut off anything else that would prevent you from reaching whatever that is. There's some power behind that. I can't explain a lot of things but you can observe the phenomenon and know that it's true because you observe it.

Once you make that decision or things, that tend to fall in place.

It's important that you get a plan, get some direction, and be very precise on what you're trying to achieve. Click To Tweet

As long as there's a good purpose there. Another thing too, you keep your ethics in good shape and that to me is a secret for success because if you're doing the right things, there seems to be a reward for that. People that are doing immoral, destructive actions, there is a penalty to pay on that one. That's a whole other webinar.

I did another episode with Mike Bills. It was simply not so much that he was doing anything immoral, but he put more emphasis on improving himself. As he did that, as he focused on himself making his time sacred and holding other people accountable around him, his business tripled in about eighteen months.

It can happen so fast.

It can happen quickly. There's some power to maintain your ethics and don't sleep until 10:00 AM. You're not going to get to your number by that, but to maintain your ethics, hold that number fast and steady. As you said, the clinic owners we're overachievers, we'll get there. We'll find a way.

We always do. I love it.

Thanks for coming on. Any parting shots? Anything coming up with the Econologics that you want to share?

I would say to your readers, we're offering 15 to 30-minute free consultation. If they want to contact us, then they can certainly meet with one of our specialists and we'll cover any questions that they have from a financial aspect. I would not wait. I would not pause and contemplate what I'm going to do with my money. Now, it's important that you get a plan, get some direction and be very precise on exactly what it is that you're trying to achieve because the dangers of not doing something like that are too great. There is going to be a different financial scene in this country in the next years.

The people that know how to produce, manage their money, control their money, invest it correctly and stay out of debt, all those things that we show people how to do are going to be rewarded for that. The people that are saying everything is going to go back to normal, I'll do the things that I did in the past. You're going to get punished at some point in time because it goes against natural law. My call to action is to get on a plan, get with someone that can hold you accountable for your actions and you can reach out to us. I'll give you a link or something like that, that they can schedule a 15 to 30-minute time with us to talk.

Go ahead and share that with us. What is that? How can we get in touch with you?

You can always go to EconologicsFinancialAdvisors.com and reach out to us that way. We've got a YouTube Channel as well, Econologics Financial Advisors. That will be a couple of ways you can get ahold of us.

TEL 14 | Adapting To Disruptions
Adapting To Disruptions: People who know how to produce, manage their money, control their money, invest it correctly, and stay out of debt are the people who will be rewarded.

 

You have some great webinars coming out every so often. The next one is Seven Tax Saving Strategies and stuff like that.

We're going to talk about taxes. I do want to mention that too because a lot of people that have gotten all this money from the PPP loan that they're hoping to get forgiven and it may, but at the same time, you're also building up all this cash from the money that you're not spending now. You’ve got to be a little cognizant of how much you're going to have to pay in taxes. I would tune into that. We'll give you four fairly simple, powerful strategies that nobody is using. I'm going to give you two advanced tax strategies that can minimize your taxes by $20,000 to $50,000. It's worth tuning into that and then we're going to talk a little self-storage and real estate investments. We're going to put out a lot of good webinars.

Hopefully, people stay in touch and stay in tune with what you're putting out because you've got some great content.

Thanks.

Thanks for coming on.

Important Links:

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller has been in the financial planning industry for over 20 years. He’s a co-owner of Econologics Financial Advisors – awarded an Inc. 5000 honoree for 2019. As the Chief Financial Advisor for the firm, Eric has had the good fortune to have over 10,000 financial conversations with private practice owners in various healthcare industry and helped guide them into a more optimum financial condition using a proven system.

 

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the Physical Therapy Owners Club today:

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing Programs

 

Although Mike Bills, PT had plenty of managerial experience for a large hospital network, it did not prepare him for owning his own PT clinic. He quickly learned that owning and managing are two different ball games. Mike reached out and got some consulting support five plus years ago, stepped out of treating full-time, and has networked with other PT owners for the past five years. Now, his one-person clinic has turned to a 6,000-sf facility with thirteen providers, and they're continuing to grow in spite of the POPTs and hospital networks that have sprung up around them. What are they doing differently to thrive and survive? Today, Mike shares the formula to ownership success as well as their successful actions of obtaining new patients through their internal referral programs and social media/internet efforts.

---

Listen to the podcast here:

Successful Internal Marketing Programs With Mike Bills, PT

I've got a friend of mine. I've known Mike Bills for a few years. We're both clients at Measurable Solutions. He's the President of Measurable Solutions for those of you that have been through any of their programs. Knowing Mike and the successes that he's had at his clinic, I had the opportunity to have a phone conversation with him. He shared with me how much they're growing and how well they're doing. I thought, “I need to bring him on because there's one aspect in particular during our conversation that stood out.” One of his most successful marketing actions is a robust internal marketing program to the point where a great percentage of their patients come from internal referrals from current physical therapy patients. They're not dipping their foot in the water here. They've been doing this for a number of years.

It flabbergasted me when I was doing the interviews. They do 30 minutes of drilling, training, and roleplaying with all of their 30 to 40 team members every week on how to get referrals from current physical therapy patients, not just providers. The entire team is responsible for this to the point where it's affecting their referral sources significantly in terms of internal referrals. Another example is that they've focused on internet and social media referrals. That's where they get the majority of their patients at this point. We go through that. He shares the powers and the numbers. They simply get a minor percentage of their patients from physician referrals. I want to share that with you because it's powerful what you can do with internal referral programs and the usage of social media and online marketing to the extent that I have seen from other physicians or physical therapy owners during the course of my show. I'm excited to share this insight with you. Let's get to the episode.

---

I have Mike Bills, CEO and owner of Loudoun Sports Therapy from Sterling, Virginia. He is also the President of Measurable Solutions. For those of you that might've been through Measurable Solutions at one time or another over the past couple of decades, Mike is now the face of Measurable Solutions. Thank you for coming on, Mike. I appreciate you doing so.

Thank you for having me. I'm excited.

You've got a great expanding clinic in Virginia. In talking with you in the past, you've had some successful exit actions in terms of your marketing strategies and whatnot. I want to get to that, but I wanted to learn a little bit about you and your professional path. What got you to where you are now? Would you mind sharing it?

I started out as a physical therapist many years ago. I was a therapist for quite a long time, but I got started in therapy probably a lot as everybody else did. I wanted to help people. I had some injuries myself in high school and in college and it led me down that path. I was trying to decide between being an athletic trainer or a physical therapist. I had some physical therapy issues and I fell in love with it. I'll be honest, I never truly had any inspirations to be a business owner when I started out. I talked to a lot of guys and they come out of school knowing they want to own their own practice by the time they’ve been out for a couple of years. I never had that interest on my part. Physical therapy was a lot different then. I went to work for a company that I had been to the place where I had been a patient. I knew a couple of the therapists that were there. I had a good relationship with them. They helped me to grow skill-wise early on in my career. We got bought by a large hospital system, and I ended up somehow in management and not a hospital system. Maybe I got tricked into it.

I was the Outpatient Regional Head of about 37 different outpatient therapy centers up and down the different parts of the East Coast hospital system. I don't know how I get into that because it wasn't the direction I wanted to go. In the several years that I did that, I will honestly tell you that I never learned a single thing about running a business. I was responsible for all these places, who got hired and who worked when, but nobody ever taught me how to run a business. One day I said, “I am not happy with what I'm doing. I'm not happy working for this big conglomerate. I feel like I'm being told how to do everything.” I pretty much said, “The first opportunity that comes up, I want to get out.”

I mentioned that to my boss at the time. I said, “Anytime any one of these physical therapy centers in this area where I live here in Virginia is up for sale, let me know because I want to buy it.” Lo and behold, a few months later, Jane called me up. She said, “We're going to need to close a couple of places. Are you interested in any of them?” I said, “I sure am.” It fell into my lap so it's on my lap. I knew nothing about running a practice. There I was. All of a sudden I owned a practice. That was in 2005. A few days later, my wife and I bought a new house. A few months later, my daughter was born. A lot of things happened in a short period of time.

Here I am, I'm doing well. It was me at the time. I started to realize that I didn't want to be small. I wanted to help as many people as I could. I was in an area that was growing a lot. New doctors are coming in and things like that. I started to figure, “I got this. I can do this. I've run all these other places.” I started almost grasping at straws and pulling things out of the sky. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Healthcare was a lot different back then. We got reimbursed a lot better and there weren't all of the authorization and restrictions that there are now. As those things started to creep in, I wasn't sure anymore what to do. I was starting to have some struggles. You mentioned Measurable Solutions. I was a client of them as well, that's where I found them. I started to learn how to run a business and that's what's become successful for me to the point where I've grown my business significantly.

What led you to reach out to Measurable Solutions in the first place or decide to get some help? What's intriguing is that you had all these years of management experience, yet you didn't learn how to run a business and you would assume that it'd be an easy transition for you to be successful in an outpatient clinic, which is a story itself. What led you? Was there a turning point where you're like, “I need to get on top of this. I need to find something else?” Is there a backstory behind that?

People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it because they perceive how dedicated you are to what you do. Click To Tweet

Definitely, there is. Around 2011 to 2012, at least in my area, it's where a lot of physicians were starting to open their own PT practices. There were a couple of big companies that came into the area at the time, HealthSouth Physiotherapy came into the area. They started to open or buy a lot of clinics. I've run these outpatient centers, but I ran them underneath the guys in the management of this hospital system that I was part of. Here I am, I'm on my own. I don't know how to compete against HealthSouth Physiotherapy or PTs that are opening their own practice. I felt like I needed some help to help me to survive that period of time. That's when I reached out. That's what's been the impetus for me growing and being successful over the course of the last several years. We've expanded over 600% in terms of size and volume. It started from 2011 to 2012, where I was scared of what might happen if I didn't have a better plan in place to compete against these big guys that were coming in.

I don't know if the environment is all that different nowadays for new practice owners. Whether it's physicians that are taking their therapy services in-house if they haven't already done so or hospital networks buying up or larger nationally-run private equity firms or publicly-traded physical therapy companies that are coming and buying some of the smaller clinics. It's happening all over the place. Even though it's a little bit different than your situation, I'm sure there is a similar environment now where there are owners who aren't sure what their future looks like, reimbursements are going to go down, authorizations are going to be a lot harder, all that kind of stuff. There are plenty of questions out there. That's my mantra. You’ve got to reach out and get some help. Reach out, step out, and network. You’ve got to reach out and find somebody to give you some of that business training.

That's why I love your show because it exposes people to many other opportunities. Many other people had been through the same things. I was at PPS, I was talking to a lot of new guys that are coming out. They've been out for a couple of years and they're experiencing the same things. Here in my area, I forget about the fact that there is not even a primary care physician in my area anymore that doesn't own his or her own PT practice. I forget about that because I've got assistance ingrained. It works so well. As I was talking to some guys, it's happening all over the place pretty much no matter where you are from Alaska to Florida. It's the same situation.

It was you as a physical therapist when you initially got started. Where are you at now? How many providers do you have on staff? How many locations do you have?

I always like to look back on that. It truly was just me. I didn't have any office staff. I didn't have a tech. I didn't have anything. It was me. I answered the phone. I collected payments. I sent the claims to the insurance company. I treated the patients. I cleaned the tables. I always like to look back on that. Here's where we're at now. We had our fourteenth clinician PT that started. In PT/PTA, we have five athletic trainers that work for us as well. I wouldn't be doing it fair if I gave you a number, but we have a large number of the front office staff that includes billing and things like that. We'd probably have 8 or 9 people. We have a total of 38 or 39 employees now. We're all in one location. I would say I have six clinics. They're all in one building.

Every time we've needed or wanted to expand, we've been able to take on additional space in the building that we're in. It’s one of the things that I learned when I moved to this building back in 2007. We're in this direct center of the county and you have to drive through us to get to anywhere you go in our area. Rather than opening another place over here and another one over there, it's always worked economies of scale for us to take on another 2,000 square feet and turn it into that. We took on 2,000 square feet. We haven't knocked down the wall yet. We don't need the space yet, but it puts us at over 16,000 square feet. That's why I say I have six clinics, but they're all in one. Every time we do so, we've got to hire new office staff, new clinical staff and that's how we've grown.

I've always been envious of that. It's nice to say that I've got 4, 6, 10, 12 locations, but I've always been envious of you because you've got one location and a bunch of providers knocking it out. It’s economies of scale. You got immediate visual oversight of what's going on in the clinic and everyone is in connection with each other. It's easy to develop your culture and a lot of that goes on well. Your story is awesome but I want to talk about what ramped up your numbers. What were some of the successful actions? There's one particular program that I want to delve in with you about. What do you think some of the successful actions had been for you in terms of expanding your numbers?

I would say there are two pieces. One is getting more new patients in the door. I would sum that up as saying like marketing and promoting. Both internal and external things and how we look at and how we address a patient from the time they start to the time they finish, getting them to what I would call a successful discharge. Those are the two pieces where every year we'd rather bring in more new patients. We've expanded that way and/or we've tightened down our systems and made a much better process. We improved the process to make sure that we're keeping patients all the way to a successful discharge. Those two things have been the biggest driving factors in our expansion, especially over the last several years.

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing Programs
Internal Marketing Programs: We should address a patient from the time they start all the way to a successful discharge.

 

I love what you said there that you added tightening up the processes because many times, I find that many clinics if they're going through some tough times don't necessarily need a lot of new patients. What you find is that they have holes in the bucket, holes in the ship, however you want to analogize that, but they don't have the structural integrity to maintain the patients to get them through their full plan of care to a successful discharge. If you can shore up those holes and maintain the integrity of your system so there are people getting through to discharge successfully. You don't meet a lot of new patients, but when you do start getting new patients, you start seeing tremendous growth. That's what you see that you shored up your systems. I do have to put a plugin here. Your wife has been on the show before, her name is Dee Bills. She owns Front Office GURU. I recommend you go back and read her episode and when she recognized that she spent more than a year in fortifying the front office systems in your clinic to do exactly what we're talking about.

I am glad you mentioned that. I was going to say that in the year 2014, we had five fewer new patients came in the door in 2014 but it’s when we implemented and instilled all of the processes that she now teaches people out in Front Office GURU. We grew 31% in the year of 2014 both in collections and patient visits because we shored up all those holes. That's a great point to the fact that you don't need more new patients all of the time, you need to be sometimes look at improving your systems. We had fewer new patients over the course of fourteen from the previous year thirteen. We grew considerably because we shored up and plugged all those holes with all of the things that she now goes off and teaches other people. I'm lucky enough to be able to have learned that along the way with her. We continue to put it into play now.

I can't imagine how much money, how well that hit your bottom line, your net profits in that regard because your expenses were probably about the same. I did a show with Heidi Jannenga and they do their annual WebPT State of Rehab Survey Report. They found that the average small clinic loses about $150,000 per year in gross revenue. They haven't shored up their systems in there and patients essentially aren't completing their plans of care successful.

Think about it, you need to get a patient that finishes two visits, finishes themselves, two visits before they should have. You multiply that by however many patients there are. That's a ton of visits. It's a ton of money that we're losing as business owners.

What I want to talk to you is you've focused on and all of us are out there, “I need to get physician relationships, visits and referrals.” Those are super important. It's important to have those relationships with the doctors in the community, but you've been successful with your internal referral programs. Do you mind sharing with the audience a little bit about that and what you do?

We have done a good job in my opinion. We've done a good job of building relationships with patients that are current and how we get them to refer patients. You can call it a patient referral program, but anybody can give out a card that says, “Refer a patient or I'll give you a gift card to target if you refer me a patient.” I live hard on this philosophy of people who don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. They perceive how dedicated you are to what you do. You talked about the culture before. You're creating a culture where patients want to share that with their friends and their families. It goes a lot into educating the patient. In Virginia, we have some loose direct access laws, which do help us. I would tell you, I'm working with a client in Texas that has some restrictive direct access laws. This is working gangbusters for them.

If you educate your patients on when they can come to you, how they can refer their family, friends, and you teach your staff how to have the right conversations, that program comes into play. I'll give you an example. If I'm working with a patient and I am talking to him about, “What do you do for work?” “I work around the corner at Oracle.” “Tell me something about the guys that you work with.” “We all sit around in these cubicles all day. We're all on our computers all day.” Let's say this guy is here for his knee because he hurt it running, but I will start to ask questions like, “Anybody at work ever complaining about their arms hurting them, their elbows hurting them, their necks hurting them?”

He was like, “We were having this conversation. We've got to figure out some way because at the end of the day, on Friday, our necks are always stiff and sore.” There's a light bulb for me. I'm going to educate him on what he should be saying to those five guys that he sits in a cubicle with. Before you know it, 2 or 3 of them have become patients in a short period of time while that guy that I was treating is still here. It's a matter of how do I educate him to go back to the office and educate those people so that the internal referral is walking in the door before that guy has ever been discharged. He's replaced himself 2 or 3 times over. That cycle keeps ongoing.

Train, drill, and practice. Click To Tweet

I love it because that takes it to another level. I love it because you're basing it upon your higher purpose. Whereas our internal referral program in the past, it was a little bit more like, “Who else do you know that's in pain?” Inevitably you might know somebody that has some issues with this, that or the other. It was surprising to me how many patients would sit there as we're working on their knees and they'd ask us, “Do you guys work with low back pain?” That's 75% of my patient load. Patients still don't know what we do essentially. We have to educate them on how we can provide value to them. For those patients who are coming with their knees, you ask them, “Are they having issues with their backs? Tell us about your family or whatnot.” You look for opportunities where you can instruct not only them but also instruct them on how they can help or guide their friends and family over to you by the value you provide.

I realized that it's a matter of I had to change my mindset that it was okay for me to tell them what type of patient to send me and when to send me that. If I'm having a conversation with a parent and they're like, “What'd you do this weekend?” “I was with my kids. My kid had this soccer tournament.” “Does anybody ever get hurt on the field?” “All the time.” “Here's what I want you to do.” I had to change my mindset. “The next time somebody gets hurt, I want you to give them this card. We're going to write your name on it because I want you to get credit for it. Once you give them this card, I want you to tell them about the experience that you're having in therapy. What do you like about therapy right now?” “I liked the fact that every time I come in, you guys remember my name and you remember what we did last time. You always want to know things. You're progressing me.” “I want you to share that with that child's parents.”

It helps that process of I'm educating that patient on what to do because they don't know that we treat backs because they're here for their knee. They don't know that somebody else can walk in off the street because they came to us from a referral from a physician. All of those points where we can educate them on, it might come into play when they're in therapy. It might come into play a few weeks from now, but we all are going to come in contact with somebody that's in some level of discomfort. I want them to be able to go, “I had a great experience. You should go see those guys.” For us, that was a big part of it.

That's a great example of how you're not handing over the card saying, “If you know anybody, you can get a free movie ticket if you pass them along to us.” I love how you give them the words, the verbiage to use when they're in that situation so that they do feel comfortable. Maybe they don't use the exact words, but they know the feeling that you're trying to portray it. Through them, they can express that feeling in those words to someone who needs physical therapy, honestly. What have been some of the benefits of that? Have you seen a significant amount of growth simply by pushing the internal referral program?

Yes, we've tracked a lot of different statistics. The ones that we track is how many of our new patients on a weekly basis are coming from what we call patient referrals, which would be that internal referral program. On an annual basis up through the end of the third quarter, after the end of September 2019, about 38% of our new patients had come from referrals from other people, which is only second to new patients coming to us off of the internet, social media. It's three times the amount of referrals that we get from physicians, we're getting patients referring family, friends. It's been successful. When you look at it if I used to get three new patients from that, let's say 27 is what we had. If I get 27 new patients from patient referrals, then let's think about how much that's going to help things to expand. It takes us back to the previous topic we were talking about.

If I referred you to someplace, you're going to go with you're already sold. I don't have to sell you on your plan of care. You're going to want to stay because your wife said it was a great place. You're going to do what I tell you because your wife said that. It helps that process much easier. I always tell my staff, “Wouldn't you rather treat the friends of the patients that you liked, then roll the dice on that guy that walks in off the street and you don't know anything about him? You already know that patient because they work with Joe at Oracle. You already know things about them. You already have things in common.” It's much easier to treat that patient. Put that energy into educating them on how to refer somebody.

You use the words well and I'm sure you established a great referral program. How do you get the other providers on your team to do the same thing, to have the same words, to use the same energy? It's one thing to do it as the owner because you own that program and process, but how do you get that to extrapolate into the rest of the team, even the front desk?

This is the message that when you ask me, what is the one thing that's been most successful for you across all aspects of your business? It would be what I call drilling or training. We drill and we train all the time. I'll use it as an analogy. The World Series is finished. Washington Nationals, I'm not a Nationals fan even though I live right here in Washington DC. Let's say I was, I'm a Yankees fan, but nonetheless those guys train year-round. They'll take a couple of weeks off, but even on a day where there's a game, they're in the batting cage before the game. Why? They're going to get 27 pitches or so over the course of the game, but yet they're still practicing that. I take the same philosophy with my clinicians, with my front office staff.

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing Programs
Internal Marketing Programs: You don't need more new patients all of the time. Sometimes you need to look at improving your systems.

 

We need to practice. I have to recognize that I didn't get good at having a patient referral program in the first few years I was a clinician. I probably was horrible at it back then. As the business owner, I've perfected that skill, which is what helped me to be successful as a business owner. As to help my staff, all of them, you have to be as successful as that. It comes to training. We train, drill and practice. How would you ask me for a referral? I wouldn't say, “Do you know anybody I know?” I would train them, drill with them, and practice with them how to have that conversation so that it flows They want to get those referrals. They don't know how to go about the process. They'll be like, “Have this referral card and bring it.” They'll get back to whatever they were doing because the conversation doesn't flow naturally. It's practice.

To get into the weeds a little bit, are you doing this one on one? Are you doing it as a group? I mistakenly immediately went and said that you're training this with the providers, but you're dealing with your whole staff. The entire staff should be on board with this internal referral program because they know the value that Loudoun Sports Therapy provides to the community. You shouldn't be holding that back. How often are you doing these drilling or training sessions?

I'll try to break it down for you this way. If we're talking about the referral program, it starts on day one. If you are a new employee, you're training and drilling on the referral program every single day. Whether you work at the front desk, you’re a tech, you’re a PT. There's some semblance of drilling on that every single day, five days a week as part of from day one of starting. Even my people that had been here from 5 to 8 years, they're still drilling a minimum of one time a week for 30 minutes on that one aspect.

We do drills on a lot of different things, but that is the key thing that everybody does. No matter what you do, everybody's drilling on that a minimum of 30 minutes a week, at least one time a week. There may be other things that you're drilling on. Every staff member for us drills a minimum total of 60 minutes a week. That's the inside of their 40 hours a week. It's not an addition. If you're newer, more of your 40 hour week is going to be on drilling. If you're older, you've been here longer, it's still that minimum of an hour and 30 minutes of that hour is always on the referral program.

Do you do that over the course of a year? You guys have become experts then at getting referrals from patients.

Yes, it’s the same thing. Think about the baseball players. They're still in the batting cage all the time. It's funny, we're having this conversation. My youngest daughter who's sixteen, who still is in high school, she's the only one that we have left at home. She is interviewing for a job here. She's going through the same process. She's worked there since she was eight, but she's still interviewing for a job. It'd be a position at the front desk. She came home, she had the interview process. She's like, “I won't say their name, but I might want to drill with Sally a little bit more because she wasn't as good at talking about the referral program as I think she should be.” There's always been a joke. My daughter has always said that she's the Deputy CEO of Loudoun Sports Therapy. It was interesting to see how somebody who's grown-up seeing that and to be able to see. She’s somebody who's been here for a couple of weeks and that's a new employee that she was talking about. She’s somebody that flows well but still has room for improvement on that.

You guys will not only train on the internal referral programming. Essentially, the goal with the training then is to get the referrals from the patient or to pass along the card simply. What is the goal of each training session?

The goal of the training session would be that they have an increased level of confidence in being able to help the patients to have a realization of somebody that's out there that maybe we could help. We're not looking for them to give us their name and their phone number. That's not the process we're following. If that's what somebody is doing, that's perfectly fine. What we're looking for is for them to have the realization. I dragged my trashcan down to the street and I was talking to my neighbor. He's like, “My knee has been bothering me.” What I want is for that patient to realize that's somebody that they could refer to us.” It's drilling with the staff member to have that conversation, help the patient to have that realization, and come to the conclusion of, “I don't have to send them here, shouldn't I? Do you guys do these?” “Yes, we do.” “Do you have something I could give them?” “I have this card. You could give them the card” We have a card that says referral card on it. We'll write the patient's name on it so they get credit for it. We'll send them a thank you, but we don't do anything else.

The goal of the training session is to have an increased level of confidence in being able to help the patients. Click To Tweet

You say you're getting 38% of your patients from this internal referral program. I'm assuming that with all the physicians on physical therapy clinics in your area, you don't get a lot of physician referrals. What's your percentage there?

It is 11%.

Where are you getting a majority of your patients from at this time?

If we look at beyond the patient referral program, what I would classify to be like social media, the internet. It's social media, internet, and the patient referral program tied together. We have an expectation that every patient who successfully completes therapy is going to give us a success story. Do an online review for us. We average about 13 to 14 online reviews a week between Facebook and Google. That's hard. It's an extension of that internal review or referral program. They give us that review.

The discharge patients give us that review so that somebody out in the community sees that, has that reality with it and reaches out. The majority of our patients, we've been successful in building the use of that direct access through that patient referral program. Patients come to us off the street, they'll see something that we put up on Facebook or an email that we send out or something that we mail out. It’s a whole own separate entity. That's the number one driving force. The number two driving force for new patients is the patient referral program.

Physician referrals have declined over the course of a number of years. The study, a couple of years ago, it declined 50% between 2010 and 2018. It's dependent on us to change our marketing strategy. Don't forsake your physician relationships, those are valuable. You always want to be able to the physicians that these patients are saying, but you’ve got to consider direct to consumer marketing is the way you need to go. If you're outside of the internal, the patients are already there. I'm assuming you've got emails or newsletters that are going out to past patients and you're constantly mining that group because that's an ever-expanding group. You've got the internal referral program that gets you some immediate patients based on the patients that are in the clinic. When it comes to social media, are you doing some Facebook ads? Are you simply having those patients post on social media?

We're doing both. For example, that patient that is discharged now, they'll do an online review for us. They'll put their success story up. We'll share that. We'll like that. They'll share that and like that with their friends with that piece. We are doing a whole semblance of things online. We do run ads on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Most of what we're doing is unpaid. Most of what we're doing is I would term to be organic. It's not following the organic definition of Facebook. We post five things a day on Facebook about different problems. It falls back to the notion of if I educate people that there is a problem, how the problem is affecting them, that there's a solution for it, they're going to be much more likely to take action because they understand what it will do for them to take action.

It goes back to that mantra of people don't buy what you're doing. They buy why you're doing it. I'm constantly putting out content that helps people to see that it's not normal at the age of 45 to have knee pain, despite where we might think in society. In society, we think, “It's okay because I'm getting older.” It shouldn't be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. “Here are some things you might be having problems with going up and downstairs, sitting to watch a movie. There's a solution to it.” After they see that a certain number of times, they will start to take action. We'll tie that success story into it. “Here's Joe who had knee problems. He came to us and here are his results.” That's part of that whole process.

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing Programs
internal Marketing Programs: When the discharged patients give us that review, somebody out in the community who sees that will be reaching out.

 

The majority of what we're doing when it comes to getting new patients off of social media, internet, isn't down that paid avenue as much as it's down the continue to educate them and give them good content and information. They will make that decision to take action in a relatively short period of time. I hadn't changed my mindset. I used to think, “One post a week was enough.” Now, I said, “We do a minimum of five a day and a minimum of two emails a day.” That's a minimum. If we just hired a new clinician and we're trying to fill their schedule, then it's 7 to 8 things a day and 4 to 5 emails a day. I had to change my mindset, but following that same philosophy.

Who's creating all that content?

We have all of our clinical staff create all of that content. We do all of our own social media stuff in-house. It's a requirement. It's an expectation. If you're a clinician that works for us, you're going to produce one blog every three weeks and one vlog every five weeks. We're constantly creating that content internally. I have full-time promotions, people that work for us as part of our staff. They're employed here, but that's her job as she does social media stuff. She's taking those blogs that she's getting, she's turning them into content, throwing a picture with it, putting it up online, deciding what to do with it. It's getting that stuff out, but all our clinicians are producing all of that.

Do you find you're getting a lot of patients that say, “I found you guys on Facebook?” Are you getting some of that?

When we look at it if I were to turn around here. If I'm looking at my referrals that came from online, 63% of our new patients came to us of some form of online, internet, social media.

I haven't talked to a lot of successful PT owners that have had as much success as you have when it comes to the internet and social media work. Do you attribute that sheer volume on the consistency of your posting?

It comes down to three things. One is the volume. It is the quantity of things that we're putting out. Number two, it's the quality of what we're putting out. We're not putting out, “Come to Loudoun Sports Therapy.” We're putting out, “Here's a problem. Here's how therapy can help. By the way, at Loudoun Sports therapy, we treat that.” We're telling a story to the patients that they come to have a realization that there's a problem. There's a solution to it. The third thing that I'd say that helped us to drive that as that I've spent a lot of time. The benefit of me being able to truly be an owner and not have to worry about being a physical therapist is I've been able to dedicate my time and hire staff who have the same desire to learn a lot about that avenue of marketing and promoting and using social media.

I've become a pseudo expert in marketing and promotion. That's one of the things that I do with Measurable Solutions is helping to pass that information on to other practice owners so that they can have the same results. It is something that's been successful for us. I talked to a lot of practice owners who tried it but it didn't work. I'll say it's because they didn't put their full attention and energy on it. They were paying somebody that's also marketing for the restaurant down the street, writing a blog for them about something. It's always driven towards, “Come to Loudoun Sports Therapy.” That’s a no-no. “Go to physical therapy. By the way, Loudoun Sports Therapy does the things that we're talking about.”

People need to see something an average of twelve or more times before they take action on it. Click To Tweet

That's one thing I know about myself is that I'm not the creative type, content creation is like nails on a chalkboard. Inevitably you probably have somebody on your team that would probably love to have that responsibility to do that. You have shown by the fact that your providers are doing content creation, have created a culture, and a group of people that are willing, wanting and anxious to provide that.

I'd say it's a lot later. Back to the drilling on teaching a patient how they can refer to others. A lot of times, we'd get very all worked up about a blog has to be this big fancy thing with a lot of stats and a lot of stuff. It's making it simple for that staff member, “If you were standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you kept rubbing their neck, what would you talk to that person about for 2.5 minutes? Go write that down. That's a blog. Making it something that's much simpler because that's the type of relationship we should have with our potential patients. Don't be all fancy and super-duper hyper stuff. Be simple and basic.”

They will have that realization if they see it enough. You've got to have stuff out there and enough content. The same thing with the patient on the patient referrals side, the internal referrals, you can't mention it one time. You've got to be like, “When you went back to work, did you talk to any of those guys that were complaining about their neck pain?” “No, I didn't.” You're like, “You have to keep coming back to that point.” It's the same thing. It's everything in quantity will give you what you're looking for later on.

I love how you brought that back around full circle to the internal referral program. The one-time conversation isn't sufficient. There need to be followups, there needs to be, “As you walked around, have you noticed other people with a similar condition? What are your friends and family like?

I might've been talking to you about the guys you sit at work with you had lunch with, but then you're telling me about the soccer game. You're talking about raking leaves with your neighbors. All of those things are opportunities where I keep ingraining in you. I keep having this relatively same conversation, but I keep ingraining in you how you can refer to other people. I don't just have it one time. It's like a shoulder that's frozen. I don't mobilize it one time and it's all better. I've got to mobilize it twelve times and it starts getting better. It's the same thing with getting somebody to refer, getting those referrals in. A lot of times we get wrapped into, “I tried that. We tried it three times over the course of three months.” You have that conversation twice with a patient on day five. On day fifteen, they didn't do what you needed him to do.

I read a study that said, “On this day and age of social media, we need to see something an average of twelve or more times before we'll take action on it.” It changed my mindset. If I'm putting out a blog a week, a couple of weeks from now, maybe somebody will go, “I should do that.” The reality is if they're only seeing it once a week, they forgot about it by the time they see it next week. The same is true for patients. If I had a conversation with you about referring your wife, but I don't ask the next time, “How's your wife doing?” You forgot that we had a conversation. I’ve got to have that conversation with you multiple times for you to go, “I'm going to have the conversation with her and get her off my back at a minimum.” You’ve got to hear and see something twelve times before you take action on it.

That changes my mindset hearing you say that. It's understandable because, in the past, my refrain growing up was that someone's got to hear it three times for it to sink in. If you consider the decreased attention span of people nowadays and how easily distracted they are. You tell me once and I'm going to forget that by the time I scroll up to the next thing on LinkedIn or Facebook. If I see it a number of times and especially, more than three times over the course of even a couple of days, then it starts sinking in. I can see where twelve is coming from.

If you watch football games, if you watch an NFL game in a span of 3.5 hours, how many times do you see the exact same commercial? Not the commercial for Bud Light or for Ford trucks. It's the exact same commercial. It's the same philosophy. You've got to see it many times before you're like, “I need that truck.” That's the society we live in.

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing Programs
Internal Marketing Programs: When you educate people that there is a problem, how the problem is affecting them, and that there's a solution for it, they are much more likely to take action.

 

Thanks for sharing so much about some of the successful actions that you're doing with your clinic. It's evident in the numbers that you have now and the growth that you guys have seen. If someone wanted to reach out to you to pick your brain, ask about Measurable Solutions, even get in touch with Dee, how would they get in touch with you?

That's the point I love about where I am in my career now is that I get a chance to help other practice owners. I am so much about helping the private practice owner to survive in this day and age of big corporations. Anybody that wants to reach out to me, I would love to sit down, chat and help in any way I can. The best way to get in touch with me is to send me a text, shoot me an email, or leave me a voicemail. I'll give you my cell phone number. It's (703) 470-5995. One of the great things about me, having built this business to my clinic is I've been able to give back to Measurable Solutions that was helpful for me.

They taught me a ton of the basics of these things that I've applied and talked about. I've been able to join their team. I'm the President of Measurable Solutions now. The best email to reach me at is my email for them. That would be Mike@FortisBusinessSolutions.com. Send me an email. I'm happy to figure out a time that we could talk or anything like that. I am always about being able to help people because I want private practices to survive. I do not want us to get eaten up by physicians and corporations. I'd love to help anybody that's out there that wants more information.

Thank you for your time. I appreciate it, Mike. It was great. There's a ton of value. Thank you.

You're welcome. Thank you.

Important Links:

About Mike Bills, PT

PTO 74 | Internal Marketing ProgramsMike Bills is the Owner and CEO of Loudoun Sports Therapy Center in Sterling VA. He started his practice in 2005 and did everything: answered the phone, treated patients, billed the insurance, etc. Since that time he has grown his practice by over 10 times. He now has a staff of well over 20 people, including 14 clinicians and a facility size of over 10,000 square feet. It was always Mike’s goal to have the time and ability to manage his business and not work in it and he has fulfilled that goal as he is the true CEO and no longer treats patients. Another goal Mike had was to be able to help other PT’s have the Freedom they deserved from their practice.

Mike was a client of Measurable Solutions where he learned how to truly manage a private practice and where he learned how to truly be the CEO. This is where he learned the basis for all of the systems that he uses in his practice that have helped him to be so successful. Recently Mike was named the President of Measurable Solutions and is now able to fulfill that goal of helping other private practice PT’s have the same success as him. If it weren’t for the perseverance and drive over the years to build a successful business this never would have been a reality for him. Marketing is one of the most important pillars of a private practice and I have worked hard to develop systems that continuously help my practice to grow and thrive despite the time of year or whatever else is happening in my community. I am happy to be invited onto the podcast to share just a fraction of what has helped us be so successful.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Physical Therapy Owners Club today:
© PTO Club 2018 - 2019
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram