Episode 264

Considerations in Advance of Introducing Physical Therapy to a Gym Setting

In this episode, we talk about considerations in advance of introducing physical therapy to a gym setting.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend in today’s episode, you’re in for a real treat. Actually, Pete is taking the reins and he’s hosting an interview, which is a three part series interview. So I’m not even in this episode, which is so exciting for me, because I get to listen right along with you. So Pete basically interviewed the physical therapist at Cressy Sports Performance.

His name is Andrew Millett. And we’re breaking this interview into three parts. In this first part, you’re going to get an introduction to all the things you might want to think about before bringing a physical therapist. into your gym. And then in subsequent episodes, they’re going to dive into building your practice in the first year and then things to think about long term if you’re going to have physical therapy practice at your gym.

I’m so excited to learn along with you about what they talked about. And so if you’re interested in having a physical therapist at your gym now or someday, get started with this first episode and stay tuned. Happy listening.[00:01:00]

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello fitness business nerds. I am not Michael Keeler. My name is Pete Dupuis. Some of you regular listeners probably recognize my voice, though not me in the host chair. And we’re switching things up. I’ve wrestled the reins from Mr. Keeler. I’m going to be taken over for hosting a handful of episodes in the coming months.

The first couple of which will be with my good friend and colleague, Mr. Andrew Millett. Andrew is the owner of Move Strong Physical Therapy, a clinic inside of our space here in Hudson, Massachusetts. at CSP’s [00:02:00] flagship location, and he’s been kind enough to sit with me generously, giving his time, share insights on his experience to date, and we are going to kick around some best practices from the perspective of a gym owner and a PT clinic owner on how to properly go about installing a clinic in a space.

Andrew, welcome, and what would you like the audience to know before we jump in? Thank you for having me, Pete, not only am I a business owner, but I’m a husband and father of two children, been inside of CSP for six years now. I think we were going on knowing each other since 2008. So it’s long overdue podcast, but happy to be here.

And thank you for having me. Cool. So This topic, in my opinion, cannot be done justice in the typical 15 to 20 minutes that we typically aspire to reach when Keeler and I record. So we’re going to do this as a multi part series. We’re going to do three separate conversations. Those will be broken into categories.

First of which this episode will be discussing what we believe to be the boxes you need to [00:03:00] check during the period leading up to making a final decision on doing this. The second episode, we’ll come back and talk about how we believe you can thrive in year one of a partnership of this nature. And then the third and final episode, we are going to talk about how you can scale it from year two and beyond.

The way we’re going to do this, we’ve each got some bullet points, three tips, ideas, insights, pieces of wisdom that we’re going to share. Mine are going to be obviously from the perspective of the gym owner, and Andrew’s are going to be from the perspective of the clinic owner. This time around, I will lead us off.

I think rather than go back and forth with these, I’m going to hit you with my three best pieces of advice for what we can do before we get started. And then we’ll jump into Andrew’s. Andrew, obviously chime in as you see fit, as we have shared this experience from start to finish. Three things I would suggest people do before starting.

Tip one from me. is that the gym owner needs to assess the lease. So very first and foremost, they [00:04:00] have to ask themselves, are we in a position to bring in a subletting scenario or bring in another vendor of this nature? Because you don’t always have accommodating landlords in our case we did and we continue to, but this could be a place where I could see someone really slipping up on this Have you ever come across that, Andrew?

Not in my experience, obviously with us personally, I do do consulting for physical therapy, business owners, and I haven’t heard of it in a subleasing context, but I think just making sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s prior to jumping in. Yeah, this one is probably pretty quick and easy and.

Assuming you did a good job of auditing your lease right out of the gate, you should know the answer to this before you even start. And if I could give one piece of advice for those who are negotiating leases, you want language that says you can bring in subletters because these alternative revenue streams, rent specifically, are valuable in how we build the business and finance some of the bigger decisions we make.

All right, my [00:05:00] second piece of advice on this front. Assess the space and have an honest conversation with yourself about what the potential is for this because it’s very easy to put a single practitioner in your space and call it a PT business. But it’s another story to bring one in who has, I’d say the ambition that Andrew had when he came and made it clear right out of the gate that he intended to build this to more than one, two, even three practitioners.

And. It’s not that common to have so much space that you can accommodate that without having to make significant modifications. So I would encourage people who are considering bringing a clinic into their gym that they walk the floor, they talk to their colleagues about underutilized portions of the gym or places where they can be flexible and they are transparent right out of the gate with the person they bring in because it would be a shame to build a successful book of business in year one and then have the ceiling be lower than it needs to be right out of the gate.

Yeah, I agree with all those along those same lines of coming from the [00:06:00] PT perspective is like looking at the lease in the space and this 30, 000 foot view question is does this align with your vision? And does it align with your personal vision? Do you want to become a business owner? Do you want to?

Work crazy hours. Do you want to like deal with the other things that come along with being a business owner? And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a solopreneur and being a one man or one woman show. And I know business owners that do that, but at the end of the day, it’s not a business.

It’s still a job. Like you can’t just step away. And the business still makes money and that’s not why we’re in it to just make money. Like we obviously have a bigger mission and vision behind move strong, but as one of my mentors says, if you don’t pass, I get hit by a bus test and you die tomorrow, there’s no business anymore.

So seeing, making sure what is what you want, you just want to be a solopreneur or do you want to build something bigger than just yourself? Yeah. And it seems the. Average person who asks me about this has big hopes and dreams for it. [00:07:00] They come to me with the expectation that they’re going to put a significant clinic in their operation, but it really does start with one.

All right. My third and final tip from the perspective of the gym owner building into this is that you need to properly vet the person or the people that you’re putting into your space. You mentioned earlier in this conversation that I’ve known you for over a decade now, and the way that we went about doing this was you were a client first, a friend second, or a friend that was a product of being a client initially.

And. We had the opportunity to challenge the integrity and understand who you were and where you were coming from. We got to watch you build your career coming out of school. And when the time came to pull the trigger on this, it was an easy decision. It was kind of like when Eric Cressy and I decided to open a gym.

Well, we’d known each other for just about a decade at that point. We had lived together on a college campus. We knew what we were getting into as far as who the person was on the other side of this, but this is more than just running a [00:08:00] credit check. Or maybe doing an interview with some former colleagues.

This is about understanding who the person is, not just the resume. Do you agree? Disagree? What was your experience on this front? I agree a hundred percent. And if we go back to October of 2008, which was when we first met, you know, to be honest, I didn’t know. I was 24, 25 years old and didn’t think about running my own company as I was just out of PT school, but people ask me all the time, like, Oh, you’re inside of Cressy sports performance.

How did you get there? And I’m like, it was, and I don’t like this term overnight success. I still feel like we’re growing and building, but like it took nine years to get to that point. And it was basically like we dated for nine years to get to a point of we know and trust each other and we have each other’s interest at heart.

And we’re not, we vetted each other over that timeframe versus, Oh, we met and then, Oh, I’m going to be a PT in here. When can I start type of thing? It, it took time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yeah. It’s worthy of note that we slow played [00:09:00] it in a way that your time with us pre opening spanned multiple locations, or I should say two different units inside the same building.

And you were clear about your vision and your dream for this, but this was well in advance of it becoming a reality. So when it came time for us to look at the next space, we did have informal conversations about how you might fit in further down the road longer term. And so that did inform our decision getting into the new space, but it was still years.

Before you actually became a presence in our footprint and you just slow played the hell out of it. Yeah, I grew up. I’m still immature, but I’m older and immature. I, when I first met you guys, I was single childless. Maybe I had a mortgage. I don’t remember. Still have a mortgage. I have two children. I’m married fortunately still.

So I think some of those bigger life things that not that you need them, but it just helps you realize what’s really important in life and taking something as serious as starting a business. It’s like, It became more of a reality when I had [00:10:00] bigger stakes. Makes complete sense. All right, let’s flip the table.

I want you to give aspiring physical therapy clinic owners three pieces of advice, maybe how they can interact with people like myself who have the space and the ability to accommodate, but don’t know where to start. What’s the angle from the physical therapy clinic owners perspective that you want to share before opening?

Yeah, I think we touched on does this align with your vision? But another thing I was thinking of too is don’t come in hot and fast. Hey, I’m a PT. I want to open up in here. And I’ve heard stories like that and it doesn’t end well. It’s like asking someone to marry you the first time you meet them. Most often doesn’t work out very well.

So I think like what I did, like I came in looking to train and after being in college and looking for a training environment, and I found a place that I trusted and I liked the product that was put out. I think getting. Used to the service and like what it is and seeing it at all different times a day and experiencing the culture and the community, [00:11:00] I think that’s really important.

And that’s why I was 100 percent into open here because I had experienced it for that time. So I think it takes nine years to get that. Not necessarily, but. I think taking the time to really align with the gym owner, trust and respect both ways, not just one to the other and one avenue, but improperly vetting that like you see similarly on mindset of training, but also like business model and running a business and being able to like have transparent communication.

And sometimes that can take time to develop, but making sure. Like you said earlier, things are properly vetted on multiple avenues. Yeah, I’ll build off that with one thing we haven’t discussed and it’s that we don’t make a decision of the significance of bringing in a service provider like yourself without wholesale approval from the team and developing this relationship isn’t just kissing the right asses.

It’s about establishing an identity inside of our operation [00:12:00] where our coaches will say, yes, I’m at peace with that person becoming my colleague, because as much as we’re not adding you to our payroll. We are effectively adding you to the staff as far as the perspective of the general public goes. And that’s something my team needs to sign off on.

So had one of them said, no, it’s kind of a dickhead. Like he hasn’t looked me in the eye. He doesn’t value my feedback on the training floor. He’s clearly out for developing relationships with the owners. That would be a red flag that I couldn’t look away from. And to also on that same note, obviously I knew Eric and you and Tony and all the other staff that have been here.

And. I just, I’d never even crossed my mind to just know the owners. It was like, I just want to know everybody here. And that was part through training, but also like leading up to starting the business and while the, since the business has been here, it’s just become immersed and entrenched into the culture and the community and not be like, Oh, that’s just the PT, but still feel like we’re part of something [00:13:00] bigger.

And even though we’re separate business entities under the same roof, like I can firmly say, I still feel like we’re part of something bigger and not just like. A different umbrella. All right. Hit me with another one. The other one I thought of, and we didn’t really talk, discuss this as like an overall, like making sure your house is in order.

And what I mean by that, like, are you personally ready to start a business? And it’s cool. It sounds fun. Ooh, the entrepreneur word gets so, it’s so cool. 20 years ago, people thought you were risky, but do you like, you want to work harder than you ever have in your life? Do you want to not see your kids go to bed multiple nights a week?

And you’re significant under other wondering when the light is at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know if I’d say, do you want to, it’s more, are you at peace with the fact that this can happen? Thank you for rephrasing that. So I think looking at it from a personal standpoint, I was nine years out of school, has seen a lot of different professional settings, [00:14:00] so I thought it was a good move at the time, personally only had one child at the time, and I thought it was.

I could do it and I’m going to battle myself. I’m going to work my butt off to make this happen. And at the end of the day, like if I have to step back in and see clients or like work long hours, I know I can do it professionally. Like. It doesn’t, you don’t have to be nine years out of school. You can be a year out or new grad.

I’ve seen it done in multiple different settings. Do you have the confidence to be able to ask people for money? Do you have the confidence to be able to portray a plan of care in front of somebody, and do you have the confidence to handle objections of, wow, you’re expensive, or when you’re first out of school, like if you look young, you’re, you have a little bit of an uphill battle, but if you’ve had experience with strength conditioning, or you feel confident in your skillset.

You got to look in the mirror and see if you can handle that financially. Like I was not in a position to burn the ships as they call it. I was, I couldn’t just jump in and quit my job [00:15:00] and say like, all right, I’m going to be five days a week starting on Monday. Like I slow played it over 10 months of working full time somewhere else.

And one day, two days turned into five. And then I eventually quit my full time job. And then emotionally and psychologically, I think. Having conversations with your significant other if you’re with someone or making sure that you can handle working late nights and Saturdays at six in the morning and coming home late and making sure the support is there and that you’re both on the same page.

So the significant other piece cannot possibly be overstated. That one has torpedoed a number of the relationships, or I should say the businesses, the marriages, the things I’ve seen in my time having the opportunity to talk to other gym owners. And it’s sad when I put up a post saying how important it is that I have a supportive spouse and somebody pings me back immediately and says, this one hit me so hard and I wish I saw it five years ago.

Cause here I am. So that one’s a huge one. Well, let me recap where [00:16:00] we came from here for this kind of overarching concept of what we want to get done before opening doors from the perspective of the gym owner, the idea was, I want you to assess your lease and make sure that you’re capable of actually bringing someone in without pissing off the landlord.

Secondly, I want you to walk the space and ask yourself, what’s the capacity really look like if this thing blows up? And the third is you got to really vet. Are you at peace with me recapping your thoughts based on my own notes? Absolutely. All right. So my note taking mid conversation here, uh, from the PT perspective, we talked about making sure that our operation aligns with your vision, which we knew it did from the start, but that was only further reinforced by time training together.

Next, we got into not. Accelerating relationships when it takes time to develop them. So laying down a foundation of not just establishing that you trust the person who may be coming in to run a business, but you understand that they’re a good human being, not just somebody who has a good credit score.

[00:17:00] Next one, you said, get your affairs in order. So I interpreted this both as fiscally and personally. Are you, if you’re in a serious relationship, have you been transparent with your partner about whether or not they’re ready to absorb the burden of a significant other who’s going to pour themselves into this?

Are you ready for the hit it’s going to take on your presence as a parent? Do you have your shit together financially, a lot of different things that need to happen before you can even check the box and say, all right, I’m ready to do this. Let’s talk partnership or lease or any type of agreement as a tenant goes.

Did I get that one relatively close? You got it. And just so it’s on record, I don’t give my wife enough credit for all that she did do because this business would not be where it’s at without her. And all the nights of dinner and putting our children to bed that allowed me to build this business to what it is today.

So thank you to my wife, Kara. Same here. Don’t make me look bad. Alright, cool. We’re going to kill it here for episode one. We’re going to come back with a second part [00:18:00] here where we are going to talk about how you not only survived year one, but how you thrive. And I hope you tune back in. Thank you.