PTO 106 | Running Your Clinic Remotely

 

Roland Cochrun, PT set out from an early age to be a PT owner and had a ton of immediate success. Over time, he still fell into the trap of full-time treatment which limited his ability to run his business and pursue his goals for a year. Finally, on a day off, he decided that he was going to focus on what was important to him, and he hasn't looked back. He stepped out of patient care, focused on what he really wanted to do. He no longer lives in the same state as his practice (Oregon). He trains and coaches his PT leadership team remotely, and runs other successful businesses. The freedom he developed is exactly what small business owners look forward to. He joins Nathan Shields to share how he continues to have a significant impact in his community via his successful business.

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Listen to the podcast here:

The Freedom Of Running Your Clinic Remotely With Roland Cochrun, PT

I'm excited to bring on this guest, Roland Cochrun, who I would like to say he's from Oregon, but he's not necessarily. His PT clinics are in Oregon, but Roland is an executive coach and a PT owner, who has gotten himself and his business to a point where he lives remotely. That's why I wanted to bring him on. I consider Roland a great success in his business because he's now developed the freedom to live wherever he wants and run his business successfully remotely. He'll come and go out of the Portland area as he pleases. Otherwise, he lives across the country. He lives across the world for periods of time, owning his business successfully, and also doing other things in ventures that he wants to do.

I'm excited to bring Roland on not only share his story, but we didn't get into that part of it. He's been successful in what he's done thus far, that he lives remotely. It reminds me of a previous episode with Vinod Somareddy. He’s super successful with his PT clinic in New York, but he lives in Florida. That's maybe not the dream of every PT owner, but such freedom is that dream that we're looking for. Roland shares his story and some of the tips and tools that you need to use in order to obtain that freedom as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, and live the life that you're looking for whatever that might be. Let's get to the episode.

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I've got a guest that I've wanted to have on for a long time, super successful PT owner, and is doing his own thing, Roland Cochrun. He is an Executive Coach and a PT. First of all, Roland, thank you for coming on. I appreciate you joining us.

Thanks for having me.

I met you at PPS and heard your story. I was like, “That is the exact type of PT owner that a lot of us aspire to be like and want to learn from.” I'm excited that finally got you onto the show to share a little bit about your story and what you're doing now. If you don't mind share with everybody a little bit about your adventure, your journey to this point.

From day one, I was fifteen years old and I went to San Diego. In order to have use of the car, my friend's older brothers, we needed to paint this wall at the new business. It’s no big deal. We came there. I remember looking around. I was seeing these athletes. They're doing crazy stuff soccer drills, sports drills. I was like, “What is this place?” I had no idea. I don't think the signage was even up. It turned out it was a physical therapy clinic. It was a cool environment. The owners were in their 30s. They were cool, relatable, and what a cool experience as a fifteen-year-old to meet business owners who are in their 30s.

The coolest thing was they were passionate about what they wanted to do, it rubbed off on me. I came back every single summer for seven years. Looking up to these guys, I wanted to do what they did, but it was another eleven years until I was going to graduate from PT school. This is the piece that everybody can put into practice. I still do exactly these elements to this day. Eleven years I had to act. I couldn't stand waiting. It was so stagnant. I got right into it. I went to my first Private Practice Annual Conference in Seattle when I was sixteen years old alone.

I’ve never missed a year since. I even went to October 2019 in Orlando. I went and absorb all the information I could. I sat on the Insurance Alliance when I was still in high school. I learned about payment. When you're enthusiastic and genuine, people will invite you into their homes. I got to know all of the heavy hitters, people who own hundreds of clinics, 30 clinics. They took me right in. Between all of the involvement nationally, their mentorship and friendship, eleven years went by and I'd moved on to logo design, employee handbook writing. I absorbed all that I could and it was ready to pull the trigger.

PTO 106 | Running Your Clinic Remotely
Running Your Clinic Remotely: We can't do everything on our own. We eventually need to start seeking advice and coaching.

 

Are you saying you started employee handbook writing prior to even owning a clinic?

Unfortunately, I didn't update it until a year or two. I was like, “We get our birthday off and paid.” It’s a newbie mistake, but we had to keep that in. It's since grown. That's been an expensive piece of gratitude that I put in there when I was in high school. The employee handbook and policies and procedures handbook were written then.

Did you write them all up before you even opened the doors?

Before I graduated in high school.

You’re ready to go right out of the gate.

As you can imagine, when I opened it, it opened quickly. I would break even at month two and be profitable at month three. I 2x every year.

Congratulations. You were networking like crazy. Did you get some coaching and consulting along the way as well?

I'm a coach now. I’m a coach to my PT clinics and the people who run them for me. I also consult my services out as a profession. The funny part about that question is I grew up a little resistant because being a non-business owner and attending PPS had a different view. I was absorbing. I didn't have necessarily an agenda in mind. I saw a lot more stuff that most people don't see in terms of alternative gains. I grew up a little opposed to coaching because I saw a lot of self-orientation within them. I'd see them circulating and networking. At the same time, it put me off a little and it was funny. Fast forward, I realized what we all do. We can't do it on our own. They eventually started seeking advice and coaching for sure.

My mantra, if you haven't read my blog, is reaching out, step out, and network. You took networking to a whole different level from an early age, but you finally came around to recognizing that you needed to reach out to a coach or consultant. I'm assuming that soon after opening up, you stepped out of treating altogether. Did you even take some time to treat initially?

There was full disclosure, full honesty. There was a year where I got trapped by completely overwhelm. Once you get stuck in that 70-plus hour treatment, weeks turned into months and a month turned into a year. I got to a point where I plateaued. Here's how I describe it.

When you say plateaued, plateaued business-wise?

I kept absorbing all the work. I was still killing it from a financial standpoint.

Financially, you kind of, but you had plateaued professionally.

It was not entrepreneurial. I looked more like somebody who didn't know what they were doing and now that I look back on it. Here's exactly why I made a plan. I even had goals, Nathan, that had a finite end. I achieved them. I bought the RA. I did all the cool stuff. I found myself in this, “Now what?” They always say, “Unless you take control, your default is more.” Without goals and a vision, the default was, “Let's stack it up.” I was focused on a patent that bank account with a scarcity mentality of what if patients’ new visits drop. When it's all about money, it's easy to grow a scarce finite mindset because it's transactional.

The Formula for Gaining Trust: Credibility x Reliability x Intimacy divided by Self-Orientation. Click To Tweet

What a lot of owners go through is what you're talking about and correct me if I'm wrong, but they go from treating and to step out of treating, they don't know what to do with their time. I'm having this conversation with some of my coaching clients who say, “Now that I'm not treating, I've got this vacuum. How do I fill my time? I don't want to be surfing the internet, which will be my default. Inevitably I'm the filler inner when someone goes on vacation. I don't want to do that, but what should I do with my time?” Tell me a little bit about your story there. How did you get out of treating? How did you do what's best for the business after stepping out?

You can either spend 1 year there or 30. It’s an easy place to stay, especially if you're pulling in $500,000 or something like that. If money's your only motivation, you'll stay there. I woke up one day and asked them, we've all asked ourselves this question to some degree. “Do I want to do this for another,” sometimes it's five years? I was asking myself do I want to do this for another 40 years, 30 years? When you say that out loud and put that in perspective to time and your life and what you're saying no to when you're saying yes to work, that was the moment. I remember it was a Friday. I took the Friday off and I remember looking out the window and thinking, “Where did my entrepreneurial, creative, and inventive spirit go?” I can call myself an owner, but I might as well be an employee at this point. It's plug and chug going through the motions. That was the moment where I was like, “I need to do it differently.”

What was your step? You invested in another PT. We don't have to get too far into the details, but how did you find yourself becoming more productive when you stepped out of treating?

I’d love to give somebody an easier answer, but being coached and now coaching, maybe there's a better way. Please, teach me about your experience. The pain has got to be great enough one day to finally say, “I'm going to hire. I'm going to give my hours to that person.” We all make up some like, “I'll do this kind of day.” In the end, “When will you do that?” It ends up being an all or none because you find out how disruptive it is to have you with one foot in, one foot out. That's how it went for me. We were overstaffed and rather than paying a PT to not work while I treat patients, it's pure insanity. I gave my caseload away. I never took it back.

You have to get to that certain point. When I take on a coaching client, I'll have them fill out a survey. Towards the end there, 0 to 10, how interested are you in changing your circumstances? The people that I want to work with are the ones that put down ten. I want to change now. I can't keep doing this. I was at the same point that you were. People would ask me in social instances, “How's the business going?” I'm like, “I love treating patients, but I can't stand the business. I can't keep doing this for another 5 to 10 years.” The burnout is real. It exists in PTs. I figured out I have to do something different. When I finally wrote the check, lots of money to the consulting firm to get some coaching, that was what was the refrain going off in my head.

We've got to do something different. Something's got to change. When people get to that point, they recognize, “I will make the investment. I might lose money in the first month. The time that it will free me up to do X, Y, and Z for my business will more than make up for that initial investment. I'm going to be able to market more. I'm going to provide a structure for my business. I'm going to create a company culture that retains better. I'm going to hire a better one. I'm going to be able to recruit,” you name it. All the things that you should be doing as an owner, you can finally get to. It's not like you said transactional. I treat this patient. I get this amount of money anymore. It's, “I'm going to put in my time and energy. That's going to return to me in multiples than what I do for my business.” That's what you saw.

You have that point of reckoning where it's like, “I don't know how this happened to me.” That goes 1 of 2 ways. You either suppress it and try not to think about it. Some of us can have the power to make the right step. A lot of entrepreneurs spend too much time innovating, dreaming, and wanting to do the fun stuff, which is great. That's where they should be. That's where a coach or a consultant comes into play. It's like, “I could hire someone else who's an expert at organizing my dreams, and then I'll move faster.” You can do 1 of the 2 ways. I find most people wind up hiring a consultant.

A lot of people look at what I did and hiring someone when I was 28 and frame myself from work and money by 30. People joke with me and say, “Roland, I want to be you when I grow up. They're in their 60s and 70s.” I don't find that funny. I try not to laugh because I don't want it to be a joke. I look at them and I always say, “I did this in three years. I created millions in three years. Would you be willing to do it from age 61 to 64? Would you be willing to put it all in or whatever $4 million?” They always say, “Yes.” I don't find that a joke. The moment that you decide, “I'm going to get help and do things faster,” it starts that next day. It's a decision.

It needs to happen quickly. You need to take action relatively immediately or you're going to sit on it a little bit longer. What are you telling the people that you're coaching with nowadays? First off, I've got to ask you. You've got a superpower. There's something about you, even in my short interactions with you, that there's something different about you that would make you go to a PPS meeting at 15, 16 years of age. Having that network at such a young age, stuff that we're learning in our mid-20s and 30s, what's your particular superpower? What are you trying to instill in people that you coach?

That you can choose, I didn't have a bad upbringing. I didn't buy into the crap that people were telling me to do. A lot of people listen, “Go to this school, do this thing, work this hard, achieve this, apply for this, buy this,” and then you're there. I don't know if it was the chain of circumstances of how I grew up, but I never bought into that. I didn't see why you had to do one thing because someone's said to do it. I have to accept the byproduct and the consequences of all of those chains of events and decisions. I didn't see why that had to be the only way. What I saw was what about the way I want to do it?

What about the life that I want? What if all of those checkboxes achieved a lifestyle and an income that didn't serve me well? I looked around. That's my superpower. I never knew what it was. I never thought I was special or I didn't mean it like when people complimented me because I'm like, “I'm just a guy.” In hindsight, looking at what made me different, my superpower was doing me. Taking control of my life, my decisions, what was going to happen to me because I was not going to let it happen and find myself 50 or 60 years old and watch someone else live my life. That was not going to be the way it was going to be.

I'm sensing that you had an inner purpose. Maybe it wasn't detailed, written, and smoking regularly by you to yourself, but you had an inner purpose and you knew there were things that you wanted to do from a very young age. I'm putting out Nathan's theory here on Roland's life. I like to come back to purpose because it's usually when you get to that point on a Friday that you're talking about when you're like, “This isn't working for me.” Your actions and your purpose aren't in alignment. When you get to that point, “This isn't what I'm living for. I'm acting like this. I know what I want and I need to do something different even if I don't know what it is. What I'm doing now is not fulfilling that purpose and I need to go find it.” You were willing to invest in or take your patient load, push it off on someone else in order to take the time to find it. What you've done since then has been a lot of cool stuff.

You can either let your life happen or you can become a little bit more aware of the things that can change it. That's all it is. Nathan, I'm talking about a tiny little bit different. It’s that what if because if you can ask yourself what if at any point in time, I was lucky to start asking myself that at about 8, 9. You can ask yourself at any moment. I had a coaching call with a guy in his 50s. The theme of the call was what if you could and it changed his plans, his perspective on, what if it could happen? You'd be surprised if you make that shift. One of the coolest things about the COVID shutdown is impossible all of a sudden is possible. All this stuff that we refuse to see, it's changing and happening. We all joked about uncertainty is everywhere. It's everywhere now. You cannot deny it. Every time you turn on the computer, the news, something crazy you didn't think was going to happen happened. Anything is possible. You can take control. Even in an uncertain circumstance, you can make the choice all day long.

PTO 106 | Running Your Clinic Remotely
Running Your Clinic Remotely: The coolest thing about the COVID shutdown is the impossible all of a sudden becomes possible.

 

That's what comes out of these uncertain circumstances are people who would take advantage of the opportunity and make changes for good. Anyone out there that's reading, I challenged them during the pandemic to not go back to business as usual. If you did, you lost a golden opportunity to reset and make your clinic what you want. Make your company exactly what you want, make your lifestyle exactly what you want. Push the reset button, not necessarily pause, which is push reset and let's do things differently. Get out of your clinic, do what you want, figure out your purpose to go back to that, but ask yourself questions. What if, because we have these ideas like, “I can't hire a PT because I'm going to lose money on that.”

How do I afford that? What if you could hire the PT and make money even more than what you're making right now? Now working into that frame of mindset leads you to action and inspiration or using a question that another coach asked, a successful PT owner that I know, Jeff McMenamy, on a previous episode as if you had all the money in the world, what's the next step you would take? We're not talking about go buy an island or your favorite car. What's the next step you would take in your business?

If money wasn't a concern, what's the next step you would take? That takes money off the plate and focuses you back on what you're doing and your purpose again. Are you fulfilling that? Those are viable questions especially ask at this time is what are you doing? What are the possibilities? What could you do to have a more fulfilling life, a better lifestyle and see your family more, be with your kids more, enjoy your hobby, you name it, be in Airbnbs for a couple of months at a time of going all over the world like Roland?

I liked it because PTs are a special group of people. I finally got my first PT client a couple of months ago, which was fun for me because given that was my background. It's a fun thing to do. A little bit more knowledgeable in the area, I suppose. They're a special group of people. They have a gift of healing that is deeper than the hands. These are individuals that chose a profession that they knew going into. It was undervalued, underappreciated, underpaid. They knew this. They didn't care. They signed up anyways. That's number one. Number two is the style of treatment and the way that we are trained to perform, the way we want to perform provides something almost supernatural in the sense that we provide them a safe place to heal. It's the way I've seen it.

The reason I'm going in this direction is that it’s extremely valuable and everyone wants it. The problem is only 10% of the population knows how valuable it is. This shut down, they want normal. Normal is different now. It's not coming back in the same way. It probably won't. It probably shouldn't, but here's what PTs can provide people. It’s that new sense of normal within a healing and empowering environment. You can now allow whoever your ideal client is to come to a safe place where they can have this new sense of normal and almost reinvent, whatever it is that you, whatever your transformation is that you sell. If it's chronic pain and people who have been able to yet forget about their pain, maybe for the first time, or if it's athletes and they're achieving a college-bound dream that transformation is the new normal.

They're no longer going to seek the same things they did. I would also argue that I used to seek comfort and safety in social media. That's been destroyed over this because it's full of so much junk that even that's not a safe place, but we're exhausted looking at it. They're looking elsewhere. If you don't show up for them and become that solution, they're going to find a different place to be normal. It's a cool place as a business owner, especially a PT owner, to be that solution for the people. The intention is there and it's cheap and/or free and they want it. You need to be there and be a PT for them.

You've mentioned that you had your first PT owner that's a client. How does your coaching differ now as you're working with a PT owner compared to other executives that you're working with? Do you notice a trend with the owner that you don't see in the others?

On my website, I created a tool. My team made one for you. It's RolandCochrun.com/ptoclub. That will get you to my tool download. It doesn't differ. That's why I invented this tool. That tool made me multi seven figures and still is in my PT businesses. What I realized was it's all the same stuff, clearly being the solution, clearly not to you but them. It’s learning how to communicate what you do for them, not the features, but the real transformation. You probably don't know. You haven't spent the time. It's not your fault. We're caught up in our stuff. Being the solution for them, positioning yourself as an expert, and the answer. Bringing your clients to you and not constantly spending money and time trying to get to them. If you do those three things, it's the same elements in business. Business owners outside of PT are jealous of how easy it is for us to do those things. Be the solution, be an expert, and create an environment where your clients want to be. We have that easier than any other business.

The less it's about you, the more trust you will gain. Click To Tweet

Tell me about step number three. The story that always goes around is that no one wants physical therapy. They want personal training. They want maybe diet help and that stuff, but no one wants to go to physical therapy. How do you create an environment where people want to come? You don't have to go out, grab them, and pull them off the street.

RolandCochrun.com/ptoclub.

Is this the secret that we’re getting into?

It’s no secret at all. This is the seven-figure answer. I use the same tactic with all of my clients. It's nothing new. It's been done around. There's a difference between those that decided to own it and those that are too scared and want others to own it for us because we don't want to take the responsibility. It's bringing your clients to you can look like anything. You weren’t me and you were doing it now. We're creating a place for safety, content, and empowerment so people can achieve whatever they want. They're going to seek that out. You're either going to watch other people do it or they're going to be the ones helping everyone. That's what it is. It's free to help and it's whatever is your jams.

My tool will walk you through if you don't know what your jam is. It will walk you through why people are drawn to you and helping brainstorm there. I've done a good job of nailing it down, but create an environment there that people can come to you for help safety, security, success and friendship. It does not matter. The only thing that matters is you choose the one that's most authentic to you. Nathan is a podcaster and we love it. He's a great host. He's a resource. He's friendly. We are drawn to you because of that. If I need help, I'm going to reach out to you. That's the same element across all businesses and PT brings them to you.

I love that concept because in a previous episode that I did with the founder of Keet Health. His whole history was that you can triple your marketing efforts if you focus on the patient experience. That's partly what you're talking about here in creating an environment that you say is safe, where they want to be and it's comfortable. If we spent more time focusing on the patient experience, not necessarily the care so much, maybe you are. You already said we're already masters in what we provide in our care. What's hanging on the walls? What are the colors? What does the front office room look like? What magazines do you have there? How is the front desk presenting themselves? How do they call you on that first call? Is it drab? When are we going to get in? What's your insurance? Is it cordial, nice, welcoming, inviting, and safe as you mentioned? Focusing on that patient experience, what his theory was triple your marketing efforts.

It’s word of mouth. I love it when people say, “My clinic's word of mouth,” or “Primarily word of mouth,” and they blow it off. You can control word of mouth and you always were controlling it. It's by giving people something to talk about. That's why these successful businesses are successful is because there's a reason to talk about you. The more we can give them those reasons, the more this thing, this mystery of word of mouth. It's not a mystery. You can dictate that. You're either doing great work, which is good and good for you. That's fantastic. I agree with you. What if you could triple or quadruple that success by simply taking more time to amplify what they're already saying about you?

Be intentional about the word of mouth marketing because I agree with you saying that. It gets me thinking. We think of word of mouth is this nebulous thing that happens outside of our control. From what you're saying is like, what if we took control of the word of mouth and use it to our advantage? We're intentional about getting referrals, improving the patient experience, such that they talk to their friends and family about what you can get out of blankety-blank physical therapy. It's more than the therapy. I love the people. They’re another family. We've heard it all before, but what if you were more intentional on your end to make that a real strategy and a push?

The game as awareness, Nathan. It always has been and it always will be. How aware of other people's worldviews and how they blend with yours and your worldview, that's the name of the game. It always has been. Acknowledging that other people see the world a certain way and that when they see the world, the way that you see it, they feel something different. You want to look for what those things are because that's the difference between a mediocre business and an excellent one. The mediocre one continues to speak to the same 15% of the audience. The aware and enlightened business owner continues to be able to speak to a wider and wider audience and still is the answer for them. Because you are more intentional and more aware of the other world use out there, you're resonating with twice as many people. Emotional intelligence is always where you start. If you think that you've done a great job by the book again and read it. I always say this, unless you're getting 100% of the referrals in town, you can always communicate better to someone else.

If you are getting 100% of the referrals in town, FYI, that's only 10% of the population that needs physical therapy.

There's another 90% who you haven't been able to resonate with yet still. It's always being able to connect with a wider variety is the ticket.

Anything else you want to talk about or have we hit all the magic that comes from Roland? I know there’s plenty more.

The thing I would say would be to speak to the PT owners. As I've gotten more and more involved with a privately-owned business, the more and more I have realized that PTs need to take a step back and realize what we're doing for the community. I don't think it's pain. I don't think it's inferior glides or this and that. I don't think it's returning to anything. Our heads got a little inflated through the DPT era and afterward around trying too hard. When I look around other business owners and even other healthcare professionals, we might poke fun at them a little bit for these little gimmicks and shortcuts.

Let's use dry needling for a great example. We got access to this cute little thing and look at the tremendous response nationwide. We have patients, all of a sudden, are willing to pay cash in areas that they never would have paid cash for. It's all from us being a little open to making things simple, accessible, and allowing them to have a platform to give us money for something. I watched that example and I can't help but think if we stopped trying to be fancy and giving them things that they honestly never asked for. That's the thing I see in PT is the patients didn't ask for a lot of these things that we're trying to give them and do to them. I would ask everyone to take a step back and think about, what did they ask me for?

Gear all of your communication, your skillset, and your internal staff development around what the patient and the physicians asked you for. I don't think we've done a good enough job of that. Every time I go to the conferences, it's always fancier, more internships, residencies, fellowships. The patients didn't ask us to get a fellowship. Keep pursuing them, keep getting better. I don't think we need to tell them about it. We become good and show them other ways via what they wanted from us. We will disappear because the more and more obsessed you are with yourself and what you do, the less people care because you're getting further away from what they want.

What did they want? They'll pay a lot more money for a regular massage than a physical therapy session because they want that. Getting to the heart of what they want and when you find out what they want, then they'll come back for it over and over again.

You'll be the solution if you communicated that you're the solution. I don't think PTs do that. We take up all the real estate on our websites and our luncheons with doctors. We get this one lunch with a doctor group maybe for the first time in three years and they won't have us back again. Maybe you'll get on the phone with them, but this is your time to shine. Do you know what we do? They always ask us to tell and I say, “We're here to eat lunch with you guys. We don't need to ask away and being a resource.” Why would you botch that one lunch with talking about a bunch of stuff they didn't even ask you to do? Every time I say that and I say, “She asks a way,” they ask about my dog's name. They never asked about the PT until the last sentence is like, “How do we refer to you?” It's like, “Thank you.” They never asked. They just wanted a friend.

They wanted to have lunch with a real person. Let's go beyond patients as specific referral sources. They're not asking for this stuff. For you giving it to them, it is a little salesy. Here's my thing I always tell everybody, Nathan, and we can end on this, trust equals credibility, reliability and intimacy divided by self-orientation. It doesn't matter the details of all of those. One you need to focus on is the self-orientation. This can be your phobia of asking for more money. This could be your complex about a competitor in the area who's better. Anytime you say something that indicates a credential you took, a class you took while you're better than someone else. They never asked you for that. You're amplifying that self-orientation meter and it is on the bottom of the fraction. You might think you're helping them by saying all these certifications, they don't care. The more and more you talk about yourself, it might hinder the agenda because you might become expensive than somebody who wants to do your thing. Whereas if you listened, it would go a lot further.

PTO 106 | Running Your Clinic Remotely
Running Your Clinic Remotely: The difference between a mediocre business and an excellent one is the mediocre one continues to speak to the same 15% of the audience; the excellent business speaks to a wider audience.

 

I love the equation because if you think about it in true mathematical terms, the less that the relationship is orientated around you, the greater that trust goes up. The less you make it about you, the more you increase that trust. Patients don't care about all the letters after our names. That's nice, but when they get in the door, they're going to say to the same thing, “How are you going to help me?” There's a lot of different answers to that. If you make it technical, they'll know that you're not listening. If you ask more questions and turn it back on to them, that's when you'll start recognizing the true answers and what you can provide. It goes even further. I want to talk to relate that to physical therapy ownership.

A lot of owners think that they are their clinics. The less they can make the clinic about themselves, the greater their business will become. When it becomes about a culture, a team and an environment, that's when you see multiplications of increases in business and employee satisfaction, that's when your influence gets multiplied through the community. When your business is focused on Roland Cochrun, if the business is focused on Nathan Shields, I recognize that for years before I finally got some coaching and talk me out of it. The more that's focused on you, the less trust you're going to have in the community and the less impact and less power you'll have as a business itself.

I wrote an article and it was the six stages of business self-awareness. I made them up. I don't like to read. I was talking, but the final stage that I came up with through my coaching experience is exactly what you said, impact-driven. It's when you finally arose above everything. It's no longer about you. It's not about your immediate circle. It's not about your clinic. It's not even about your community. It's bigger. It's about the cause. Once you can become obsessed with the cause and the movement that you're trying to make and nothing else matters, that's not only when we are the most fulfilled, but if you look at people doing that, they've made the most amount of money.

Everything else is a byproduct of that.

They live in their car. We glorify these software tycoons. They might've still been making hundreds of thousands or millions and they're still living in the garage. Buying the house wasn't on the radar. It was the cause. It was the mission. It was what they wanted to do that was important. They have the money now. They got a nice house, but the cause was the most important thing. Most of those guys went bankrupt in the opposite direction, even though they had the millions because it was the cause.

In that situation, it's less about the individual. They had a vision and everyone worked toward that vision. They weren't working for Bill Gates, per se. They were working for Bill Gates’ vision of what computing could be.

To speak to that in terms of what truly gave me freedom, it wasn't the money, Nathan. It wasn't the referrals. The business became free. When I developed a platform for my staff to be impact-driven and to let them define it, that was when freedom happened to me. The money was always there. I'm a business person. It wasn't difficult for me, but I didn't care about money. It was the freedom I was after. Until you give them a platform to thrive and make them excited to thrive, and they believe it, you'll be owned by something until that happens. That's across all businesses. They will never fall in love with the cause until they know you believe it and they know that it serves a greater purpose. At that point in time, they'll work hard for you.

Thanks for your time.

I'm glad we did this. It’s been a couple of years almost since our first email. Here we did it. It took a COVID shut down, but we did it.

If people want to get in touch with you, how do they do that?

The easiest way is right through the website, you need to go to RolandCochrun.com or for purposes of this, to make it easier for your audience, RolandCochrun.com/ptoclub would get you directly right to that tool. Take that tool seriously. I don't want to hear from you until you're done. When you've done it and put your all into it, then you can email me and ask for advice. I'm going to want to hear about the exercises first before we dive into it. You'll find the tool extremely helpful. You'll see the dollar signs there. RolandCochrun.com is the easiest way. I'm accessible. I'm around.

People will never fall in love with a cause until they know you believe it and that it serves a greater purpose. Click To Tweet

I'm going to check it out. I'll be one of those people on the website.

Thank you. I'm glad we did this. I love connecting with you. I love private practice. Always reach out to all of these guys that all of us want to keep private practice owners alive, well, healthy, free. There is no reason why things should not be exactly the way you want them. It is an abundant world out there for PTs truly.

Thanks for your time, Roland. I appreciate it.

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About Roland Cochrun

PTO 106 | Running Your Clinic RemotelyRoland Cochrun is a PT clinic owner that has successfully removed himself from his business and travels the world running his clinics remotely.

 

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PTO 36 | Firing Faster

 

Robert Brown, PTA, is one of the few PTAs in the country who owns a physical therapy clinic, plus he is the first PT clinic owner that I've interviewed who purchased his practice. Wouldn't you know, just like any other PT clinic owner, he came across the same issues related to culture, staffing, growth, recruiting, and billing that any de novo clinic has experienced. You may think that since Rob purchased the clinic that some of those issues were easily overcome. You'd be wrong. Changing the culture and introducing new policies and procedures while focusing on growth ended up taking years to do, along with plenty of headaches. However, once he got rid of everybody from the team he inherited, except one, he finally turned things around and saw a great increase in business (84%!) from 2017 to 2018. Listen to the podcast to figure out what it took for Rob to overcome and succeed.

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Listen to the podcast here:

84% Growth In One Year with Rob Brown, PTA

Hire Slow, Fire Faster!

I have Robert Brown, Owner of Wasilla Physical Therapy in Wasilla, Alaska joining me on the show. This is a first because Rob is a PTA. He is a PTA that owns a PT clinic. He's expanding and he's growing. The reason I wanted to interview him is not only because he's a close associate of mine up here in Alaska but he's had some tremendous growth between 2017 and 2018. I'll let him share with you the exponential growth that he's had in revenues. I wanted to get down to the heart of it. I know his story a little bit. A lot of people share the same thing. It took him years to get through some of the issues that he had because Rob is also a first in that he bought a clinic. I don't think I've interviewed anybody on the podcast yet who bought a clinic. He did so years ago and thus, inherited a culture that he didn't like and wanted to grow, improve and expand with a bunch of people who weren't willing to do the same.

He went through years of heartache trying to train and spend money on training. People were covertly hostile. I experienced the same thing with one of my clinics and it reminded me of the mantra, “Hire slow, fire fast.” No one I've met has ever been upset about letting go of somebody too soon. In fact, it's the opposite and common refrain, “I should have let them go a lot earlier.” Sometimes when you find out the person’s the issue, you’ve got to set fear aside and cut those people off. Nonetheless, I’ll let Rob share his experience but he also had other things that he went through over the past few years to get to the point where he had such a great 2018. I figured I wanted to share his story and his experience with you all.

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I've got Rob Brown, Owner of Wasilla Physical Therapy in Alaska. Thanks for joining me, Rob.

Thanks for having me.

Like with any other podcast episodes, do you mind telling us a little bit about your story and what got you to where you're at on your professional path?

I'm a PTA. I'm a little in an unusual situation. I'm not a PT and I own my own practice. I've been a PTA for years now. Prior to that, I’ve had four different degrees, two Associate's, a Bachelor's and a Master's degree. I started as a paramedic. I went straight back to school and got my Bachelor's degree in Health Promotion and Education with an emphasis in Community Health. Then I did a couple semesters in PT school in Florida. This particular school didn't mesh well with me. It was a full PT school. I dropped out of that school. I came home, I got my Master's degree in Professional Communication. Then I met my wife and she said I had one year to finish up. I called around to a bunch of different schools, I found a PTA program in North Dakota that I could finish in one year. I got my PTA degree. I came home. I started working, I was PTA for about two years and an opportunity came up for me to purchase a clinic. I didn't think that I was very qualified but the savvy owners at the time convinced me otherwise. I jumped in with both feet and I've owned this practice for six years, going on seven years now.

It was an established clinic for how long had it been prior to purchasing it?

This clinic has been open since 1990.

It’s been going on for quite some time. It had a reputation in town. It had a following. You didn't have to start anything from scratch. You're one of the few owners that I've got that have bought a clinic and not started from scratch. What were some of the difficulties that you recognized in doing that?

Mountains of debt. The owners at the time also owned the building. They not only got me to purchase the clinic, I got a loan for that and I'm paying them to buy the clinic, I'm also paying them a monthly fee to rent the space. That was tough and we have quite a large facility here. My rent at the time was $9,000 a month. That was a lot. It was fortunate that the clinic had been here for some time. As far as I know, we’re the longest operating clinic in this area. There are no other facilities open as long as we have in this particular area of Alaska. It was doing good. It had its ups and downs, it was like a rollercoaster but it wasn't great. A lot of that was due to the culture in the clinic.

Tell me about that.

One of the biggest changes that I've made over the last few years that I've owned the practice is trying to change the culture within the clinic. You go from an atmosphere of having employees that have been in practice for twenty or 30 years, trying to come to get their paycheck, do the least amount of work. They love it when they have no shows and that's not what I was looking for.

That's a plight of many owners, even if they haven't come into practice. A lot of them eventually develop these people that become like that. They're okay with no-shows and they're okay just checking in and clocking out.

That's exactly what it was.

There will be no growth when you just maintain a status quo. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, you inherited that or at least you bought that. It wasn't something of your own self-creation but it's something that you nevertheless had to deal with. That had some difficulties I'm sure.

It became very evident within the first eighteen months that something needed to change. At that time, that's when I joined the Private Practice Section of the APTA. I joined PPS and that opened a whole new world of potential of what I could do and things I can learn. While I was down there, I met lots of different consultants that with your practice, help it grow and put it on the right track. At the time I didn't even know the stuff that I needed to know. I didn't even know the right questions to ask. I decided I was going to go down and get a consultant. I probably met three or four different ones and they all talk a good talk. They all tell you what they can do.

For one reason or another, I picked a MEG, which is Brian Gallagher’s organization. He had a pretty good impression on me. What I liked about Brian was that he had one of the breakout sessions at PPS. He had one of the talks and it was good. He gave a lot of good insight, a lot of good tips that he says, “You need to do this. You need to set this up.” He gave me step-by-step directions on how to do it. He was giving it to me for free by going to that lecture that he gave. I thought, “I need to get this guy's help.” I talked to him, I hired him and I flew him all the way up from Maryland to come to Alaska. It was his first time to Alaska. He taught us some great stuff. What I'll say is there are a lot of things that were very helpful and a lot of things that I don't think were applicable for our location in the country.

This is how long into your ownership that you hired him on to consult with you?

About a year and a half to two years.

Kudos to you for stepping out and reaching out that quickly. For some guys, especially some of the more successful ones that I have on my show, it will take two or three years of struggle before they finally burn out. Before they finally decide to reach out, step out and network like I strongly suggest that we own or do. You got into it rather quickly. Was that because you heard about PPS or did you have some burnout yourself to an extent?

I didn't know what to do.

You didn't have any business experience.

I'd only been a PTA for three years and I'd never owned my own practice. I've never owned a business. I honestly didn't know how to make things better. I knew I needed someone else that had gone through all this. With Brian, he had won Practice of the Year. I thought if anyone knows how to do it, this guy knows how to do it. He did. He knew some great stuff. I flew him up for two days and he came and he lectured all my employees. From that first two days, I was able to recoup all my funds because they started billing better. It was one week, it paid for my cost to fly him all the way up here and his fee for those two days. I employed him to do more stuff and that costs a lot more money.

That one story is a testament to the return on investment you can get from proper coaching and consulting. I don't think everything that every consultant coach has to say is applicable to everybody across the board. You have to individualize it. You're going to take what fits you. Unfortunately, a lot of people will be concerned about the price tag that comes along with coaching and consulting. You and I can have the experience and I don't want to speak for you. From my experience and what I've seen from other successful people in the network that I have is that, when they put the money and the effort into using a coach or consultant properly, that return on investment is multiples.

It's a double-edge sword too and I'm going to tell you why. When I brought him on, those first two days the single-most valuable tool was teaching us how to bill correctly. Once we did that all of a sudden, my charges went up easily over 25%. That's what I mean I made that money back because we are making 25% more money. This is the downfall. I jumped on board, signed him up completely, which is a huge price tag. I flew half a dozen people to Maryland from Alaska, put them up in a hotel, train them, went through his whole program, came back and I immediately had one of my employees quit after 30 days because they didn't like it. I lost all of that money that I poured into that person, which was thousands. Slowly over the next several months, I was forcing my employees in a direction they didn't want to go.

These were the people that had been there for twenty or 30 years.

PTO 36 | Firing Faster
Firing Faster: It’s hard to have an atmosphere of having employees that have been in practice for 20 or 30 years who are just trying to come get their paycheck and do the least amount of work.

 

They liked their comfort zone. I didn't want to maintain the status quo because there was zero growth in it. I had to do something to derail them off the path they were going to try to push them into a growth mindset. They did not like it. Since I have taken over since 2012, I had nine employees. I have twelve employees now and I have only one that is still with me from that first day.

How did they take his two days of lectures, to begin with?

It's funny because they loved it at first. They all praised it at first.

They put on a great face.

They were like, “This is awesome. This is what we needed.” Once you start putting action to the words, they didn't mesh.

It's funny you say that. I shared this with you before, but my partner and I had a clinic where you could walk into the clinic and feel something is wrong. It wasn't warm, welcoming and inviting. It was hard for them to even acknowledge the owners. When we would train them and try to implement new programs, it’s the same thing, bright and beautiful faces, “This is great. Let's do it.” When we'd hold them accountable they'd say, “We don't like it,” or “This happened,” or come up with excuses.

Every excuse under the sun of why it doesn't work. It's not their fault. It's something else.

Unfortunately, it was the clinic director that was the poisonous part of that group. He led that group in that direction. It wasn't until we weeded out every single person in that clinic over the course of a year to a year and a half before the statistics of that clinic finally turned around. They weren't going in a good direction. There wasn't a good vibe and even the people that we thought were still good, they still had, unfortunately, the influence of that poisonous person from the past. It wasn't until we rooted it out everybody that the stats started turning around.

The ones that do the most damage is what Brian Gallagher likes to call it covertly hostile. They are not hostile to you but when you're not there, they are doing their best to sabotage your efforts. Those are the most dangerous ones. Unfortunately, the last two therapists that I had before they left, one of them I let go, the other one quit after I let the other one go, were the two most covertly hostile.

They were happy to your face, “We're all on board,” but you find out after the fact that they weren't.

They don't speak kindly about me in the community. I wished them well. They have a bigger grudge on their shoulder than I do. I don't care. I hope they have a happy life.

What would you have done differently then? Looking back on it, where you're at is in a much better place. Your culture is great, your statistics are going up. Would you have done something differently back then?

When you're busy, you're not marketing as much, but then when you're slow, you're marketing a lot. Click To Tweet

Nathan, I'm not sure what I could have done because not to say it in a derogatory tone, I was ignorant. I did not know. I come into it so blindfolded. For those that are in the Lower 48, if you've ever done a polar plunge, you jump into the lake and it's shockingly cold. I jumped in with both feet. I didn't know what I was doing at first. My greatest educating tool is not only Brian, but it was PPS, Private Practice Section. I have been a loyal attender of PPS ever since 2013. There is no single greater teaching tool for a private practice owner than that conference.

They've got a ton of resources I’ve heard.

If you want to start a new practice, they have a book you can buy that tells you everything. How many parking spots do you need? It's detailed.

If you hadn't got the consultant, do you think those changes would have happened as quickly as they did? It took you years to weed out everybody honestly, but do you think it would have taken even longer or been more difficult if you hadn't had someone to help you like that?

No, it would have been much slower if I had survived. In one of the statistics, 85% to 90% of practices don't make it the first five years. It's huge. I don't know that I would have made it. As it was when that last therapist left, she gave me no warning. I was left high and dry so I was by myself treating. In Alaska, a PTA can do that if they have a therapist sign their notes once a month. I still had to have a PT come and do evaluations for me. Fortunately, I had enough ties to the community where I brought somebody in after their other job at 5:00 and they'd see two or three evaluations and I treat them during the week. Those are what I like to call the dark days.

That was 2017?

Yeah, that was early 2017. That happened and then I got a couple of travelers that were awesome. They stayed after their assignment, they signed on to stay permanently. Then they had some personal issues. I came back from hunting one week and they said they didn't want to come on Monday. They wanted to leave. I talk to them to stay in one week, then I was by myself again for about two months. Then I finally got some more therapists and slowly we have been adding more and more people. This time, I sat down with my office manager and we set down a criteria of the things that we wanted in people before we brought them on, including the travelers. We would interview travelers and I reached out to half a dozen or more travel companies. I had all of them send me their people. In the summertime, everybody wants to come to Alaska, so there is no shortage of interviews.

The one stipulation I had with all the travel companies if they wanted me to sign on with them is they had to remove any finder's fee if I hired them on permanently afterward. After they do thirteen weeks or however long, I could offer them a job and I would not have to pay the travel company any money. It's turned into like a thirteen-week interview. We got very selective on who we wanted, what kind of culture we wanted and once we did that, it was the single greatest key to the growth of the clinic. We've had 84% growth. We wanted people that had the same mindset, that had a priority of patients come first, with no drama and that was growth-oriented. I've heard a lot of woes about individuals that hire Millennials but those are the single-best resource I've had. They’ve been a lifesaver for me.

Your younger therapists, they're trainable, malleable, and they don't have any fixed ideas of how things should go.

They’re excited, they want to learn. They're right out of school, they know the most current stuff. They are a little more green so with that, their no show rate is higher. You have more cancellations because all statistics show the longer you've been a therapist, you have higher retention rates. We have that problem to deal with but they're agreeable. They come in after hours, they help out with community events. They're not asking for money every time you turn around the corner. They love being there.

What I was excited about bringing you on for is because not only do I know about some of your travails but the difference between 2017 and 2018 was so stark for you and as you said, 80% growth. It’s crazy. Were there a couple things you can attribute to? Number one is getting the right people on the bus. Was there anything else that you can attribute some of your successful actions?

My Office Manager/Marketing Director, Linda. You've met her before. She's the third person that I've put in that marketing director position and she’s hands-down done the best job.

PTO 36 | Firing Faster
Firing Faster: We want employees that have the same mindset as ours who prioritize patients, have no drama, and are growth-oriented.

 

What makes her special about that?

She's very personable and she has the idea of promoting the clinic and not herself. I've had another marketing director years ago that she was very personable but she was all about putting herself upfront, not the business upfront. I had another marketing director. He had great ideas, but he didn't implement anything. He couldn't get anything going off the ground. Linda has a combination of both. A good marketing director is important. Take your time with that one.

In her marketing director role, she also does some office manager stuff. The marketing director role, is that a part-time thing? How many hours per week does she put into that? You have the one clinic and you started a second one with someone of a similar size and you have two or three providers on staff.

There are four of us that do therapy.

I'm trying to help others that might be of a similar size and other clinics across the country. How many hours they should expect their director of marketing to spend doing that?

The busier we got, the less time she had to market. It’s like the rollercoaster. When you're busy, you're not marketing as much but then when you're slow, you're marketing a lot. I hired two more people upfront, Miguel and Alyssa to take the load off her so she could continue doing marketing. I hired more people that were her assistants and she would direct them to do our office manager stuff. She has more time to go and see the docs.

She probably sets aside ten, fifteen hours a week.

We try to do twenty but it hasn't hit that in a while because we’ve been so busy.

In a small clinic like yours, that’s not uncommon. People have to wear multiple hats. You can't have a full-time marketing director typically. That was the case when I first got started, one of my PTAs was also my marketing director. I had to set aside a few hours per week to get her off of the floor and go market. We did go through those rollercoasters.

Some of the things that we did is diversifying what we do because we no longer just offer PT. We got into OT for a while and we had an OT on staff. Then the OT ended up leaving but she brought in a lot of business. We got known through a lot of pediatric doctors that would do PT, OT. We've been looking for another OT that would be a good fit. We haven't found one yet but we also started into the massage realm. We have the PT and massage that we offer. I've got five massage therapists that are working for me. They're not all full-time. Three of them will do a day week. I’ve got two that work three days a week and then three of them work once a week.

I've heard the conversations between your massage therapists and your PTs. They collaborate on the care of the patients.

They talk to each other. They have great communication. The PT will come to the massage therapist and tell them exactly what they found on their last visit. They'll be doing two PT visits a week and one massage visit in a week, or whatever combination works for them. A lot of our massage therapy people are now referred to us for massage and their insurance company covers it. We don't have to have a PT visit at all. They come to see the massage and we’ll bill their insurance.

If you can be friends with your patients, they'll keep coming back to see whether they're getting better or not. Click To Tweet

I don't think that's the case in most states in the union but I know in Alaska that’s still a benefit of some of the plans that are up here.

It's crazy. There are some insurance companies that give them 75 massage visits a year.

That's something worth looking into if you are down in the Lower 48 states is to consider do some of these plans that your patients that don’t have massage therapy benefits that you could take advantage of. It's a way of getting that patient in and patients love it. They tend to become a lot compliant when they get their massage therapy visits. Anything else that you can say, “Between 2017, 2018, this helped out in making a change?”

The real estate, I bought the building I was in. That made a huge difference because when you're paying rent or you're paying a mortgage, the mortgage is cheaper. At that time, the people that own this building also owned a building in Eagle River. They wanted me to buy their clinic in Eagle River but they were having staffing issues. I didn't want to double down on my problems at the time. I was able to convince the bank to lump both buildings into one loan. I got this building, I got the Eagle River building and the Eagle River building had two tenants: a doctor downstairs and a PT clinic upstairs. The rent from that building covered mortgage for both buildings and I made another $3,000 per month.

If that’s not on the radar of private practice owners to eventually buy their practice, then you need to be.

That is your retirement plan. Don't get into the mindset that you think you're going to sell your clinic and retire on what you made. There are some people who do it, I wouldn't count on it though. People tend to overvalue what their clinic is worth.

You're excited about PPS and what it does for you. One of the other things that I wanted to get into and share with people your experience on the Peer2Peer Network. My mantra is, “Reach out, step out and network.” That's a pathway to success that I've seen in almost every successful owner that I have. They've got to step out of treating full-time to work on their business. They've got to reach out, get some training, consulting, coaching, whatever you want to call it. They also need to network. There's a real value in the network. One of my mentors always told us, “Your net worth is equal to your network.” Tell me a little bit about your experience with peer-to-peer over the last couple of years.

It's been good. I'm not a good networker naturally. You were a lot better than I am. When it comes to networking, I first didn't know what it was. The first PPS conference I went to had a questionnaire booth where you could go and ask the people that work for PPS any questions you wanted. Everyone kept saying networking and I go to this booth and I'm like, “Why do we want to network?” I didn't get it. I get it now, there are so many connections you make. PPS was lightened enough to create a program called the Peer2Peer Network where you join it, you put all your demographics, how much you make, how many clinics you have, how many employees you have. They put you with similar individuals all throughout the country. None of you are competing with one another. You're not in the same area. You share with everybody what you have learned.

You are with owners of similar demographics and they're all across the country.

I got them in Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Colorado, everybody has in my group one to four clinics. I've got two. That first year, I got into that. Jen, who’s from New Jersey, told us about this concussion program they've been doing in the school in their local community. That's a great idea. I came back, I immediately implemented a program with Houston High School. We have somebody that shows up to Houston High School, all their games, their football games, basketball games, wrestling, or hockey. We do the concussion training. We do all taping and bracing. The person that I had who went there, I trained him as an EMT. I send him to a course and he’s their emergency medical responder.

That’s a nice pipeline of business.

That's exactly what we did. That was strategic. Because of that Peer2Peer Network, I got that idea and I have a new practice. The second thing I learned is there's a guy that told me about real estate. After he told me the real estate thing, I came back. It took me a whole year to work the deal, but I ended up at this building and the other building. I'm making money and I'm putting money in the bank.

PTO 36 | Firing Faster
Firing Faster: People tend to overvalue what their clinic is worth.

 

That's something that didn't come out of the blue. That's something you started working on because of your networking that you were doing.

People just have ideas and they show you a pathway of how to do it.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel.

You don't have to come up and everyone has to brainstorm like, “How is this going to work?” The only disadvantage to it is the demographics in different locations are so different. I'm fortunate in Alaska that in my peer-to-peer group, I have the highest reimbursement out of everybody. In New Jersey, it's awful. In Baltimore, New Jersey, and East Coast, the reimbursements are terrible. When I tell them how much I get per patient, they all start lamenting that they're not in Alaska. They didn’t know I live here.

It's almost embarrassing to say how much you make per patient.

I'm the only one that's still one patient per hour.

The value that you can get from networking makes you think outside the box. It opens you up to opportunities and makes you think differently. It's a timeless concept. It’s well-mentioned in Think and Grow Rich, the book by Napoleon Hill essentially as a mastermind group. The logic is simple. If you can get eight people working on a singular problem, you've got eight brands and you’re not relying upon yourself. How much more likely are you able to succeed when you get more people in a room to solve an issue? More than likely, one or two of them have been through it before.

When you bring up a problem, we have yet that somebody else has not already had the problem and started implementing something and we're like, “What did you do? How did you do this? We talked about EMRs. What's the best EMR? What's your best motivating tool? How do you incentivize and all that stuff?”

It's invaluable and I'm sure you can't imagine not being part of a network now.

No, I wouldn't go back. It's too valuable because anytime I’ve got a question, I shoot out an email, blankets to these people. They all know me. They feel comfortable. I've known them for years and they're like, “This is how you do it.”

Anything else that's been influential to you, whether it's been a coach or a book or anything like that you think you’ve been able to lean on?

My parents because my dad is a PT. He graduated from the Mayo Clinic in 1963. He was an old-time therapist and he would tell me business techniques. In fact, I was reading about your other episodes where interpersonal communications with the therapist, my dad told me that years ago. He goes, “If you can be friends with them, they'll keep coming back to see whether they're getting better or not.” My dad was telling me he’d always get to be friends with these people and he'd chat about their family, “How are your kids doing?” They enjoy coming, it's not drudgery anymore that they go and they get hurt or whatever.

When they're coming two or three times a week, they've got to have some positive effect of it even if it's social.

We've got people that we have a hard time discharging because this is their social life. One of the other things we've altered the clinics, we do a lot of community events and I don't know if you've heard about the tea parties we throw.

I've heard about them.

They are crazy. We had all these older widowed women who did not have social lives. They don't have friends. Linda got the idea, “Let's get them all together and let's throw a tea party.” They're dressing up like 1700 Victorian style. They're bringing this $1,000 China. The Halloween one, they turned the whole gym into a haunted house. We had three people walk up to our window without an appointment and say, “I hear you have tea parties. I want to be a patient.” That's one of the community events, the women's event is big too. We do a women's health event. I'm always worried about the fire code having too many people here. We start staggering the hours of coming a little bit later, come earlier. We’ve got everything health-oriented. We had the mobile mammogram bus from Anchorage come out so the women can get mammograms. They had blood draws. We had a doctor who's become a rock star referral for us. She comes and does cancer screenings. It's been good.

Out of curiosity, I'm assuming Linda, your Marketing Director, takes care of most of that. How much are you involved in the creation?

This is what I absolutely love about the women's event, no men allowed. I don't have to be there.

You can say the same thing about the tea party.

We do have guys that start showing up to the tea party.

You don't have to be there.

I don’t but I supply the tables. I bring all the chairs, background stuff.

Here's the great thing about it, you set it up so that it's not all dependent upon you. If it's going to work and it's going to work out well, it's dependent upon your marketing director is what it sounds like. That's where an owner needs to be.

She makes it great. I would not be able to do that if I didn't have somebody on board with the creative ideas that she does.

From a broader perspective, the more you can hear some of your activities towards females, the better. I don't want to sound sexist in that but it's known that women make most of the healthcare decisions in the household. You'll see a majority of our patients are female.

Majority of the therapists are female.

When you're looking at how to interact with the community better, you're going to get a lot of headway if you work with the decision makers. Thanks for sharing your experience, Rob. I appreciate you taking the time. I've been intrigued by your story, especially because I've known what's been going on for the past year and a half or so by talking to you here and there. I'm excited to see how well things have turned around in the past year.

It's enjoyable now. It's not what tragedy am I going to try to put out or what fire am I going to put out when I get to work.

You enjoy going to work.

It’s not bad. Everyone would love to be retired on a beach somewhere.

You're not there 40 hours a week. That's amazing. You guys are succeeding and you're not even there.

I will tell you one thing that I set up early and I've never deviated on this. I tell almost every employee I hire that I go home around 2:00 in the afternoon. If I have to work longer, I will. I let everyone know that I come in a little before 8:00 in the morning and I work straight to about 2:00 in the afternoon and then I go home. That's my day. A lot of times when I leave the clinic, I am doing stuff for the clinic. I'm not going home, I'm running errands and getting chemicals for the water because we got onsite aquatic therapy, all that stuff.

Thanks for your time. If people wanted to reach out to you and maybe ask you a little bit more about your story and whatnot, how can they get in touch with you?

Email's the best way, WasillaPT@Gmail.com. Do that and you will get in touch with me.

It's great to hear your story and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

Thanks.

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About Robert O. Brown

PTO 36 | Firing FasterRobert O. Brown began his career as a paramedic working for EMS services in Idaho and Louisiana. Following this, he continued his education studying public health. He received his Bachelorette in Health Promotion and Education with an emphasis in community health. His focus at this time was on presenting and creating substance abuse cessation programs. Following this, he obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Professional Communication with an emphasis on organizational communication. In 2008 he ended his education career with a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant in 2009. In 2012 he became the owner/operator of Wasilla Physical Therapy. He is also a published writer who enjoys being involved in the community in various ways, such as local school activities with his 5 kids and volunteering with his church. He enjoys playing with his kids, working in his woodshop, and doing home improvement projects.

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