Episode 265

Tips for Surviving Year One as a New PT Clinic Owner in a Gym Setting

In this episode, we talk about tips for surviving year one as a new PT clinic owner in a gym setting.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend in today’s episode, you’re going to get part two of a three part interview series Pete did with the physical therapist at Cressy, Andrew Millet in the first episode, if you haven’t heard it, go back and listen to that one. They talked all about the things you should consider before bringing a physical therapist into your gym setting.

In this episode today, there’ll be talking about tips for, for surviving year one, all the things you want to think about for building that first year physical therapy practice. Inside your gym. So whether you’ve thought about doing this or you want to do it someday, if you ever want to have a physical therapist at your gym, it’s a great episode to listen to.

So listen to today and then stay tuned for the next one coming soon, where they’re going to talk about long term strategies for keeping your PT thriving at your gym. Happy listening.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their [00:01:00] 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.

All right. Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast. As I said in the last episode, I am not Michael Keeler. I am Pete Dupuy, typically sitting in the guest seat. I have stolen the reins as our host. I can open and make you feel at home by saying hello, fellow fitness business nerds. Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast.

If you listen to episode one of this series, you heard me and my friend and colleague, Andrew Millett, talk about the steps that we took to secure a strong foundational relationship and understanding that we were collectively on the same page before he started a business inside of my business. So if you haven’t listened to episode one, the information shared there serves as the [00:02:00] foundation for the advice we are going to share moving forward in this specific episode.

We’re going to talk about year one. We’re going to talk about the way that you make sure you survive that first one. As I do not have current statistics from say the business service bureau or wherever it is that we go when we get information on how many entrepreneurial ventures fail in year one, but the number is significant and I watched Andrew survive this, and I think there were a number of steps taken on both sides of the relationship to make sure that happens.

Last episode, we shared three pieces of advice from each of us. On my side, it was from the perspective of the gym owner. On Andrew’s side, it was on the mindset of the aspiring clinic owner who was hoping to get into said gym. Today, I’m going to flip the order. I’m going to let Andrew go first so he doesn’t get shortchanged.

Andrew, what are your three best piece of advice in year one for a PT clinic owner who has just opened [00:03:00] doors inside of a gym? Thanks, Pete. I think my first one, I would say be a resource, be a valuable member of the space and be available. So there are countless times where a client would cancel last minute or didn’t come in, or I just had space to my schedule.

And did I run away into the office and just do nothing? No, I would try to, I would hang out on the training floor, talk with the coaches, like, Talk shop, like just be present and I can’t speak any more like of the importance of that because if you just treat and then run into an office, no one really knows you’re there versus if you’re collaborating with the strength and conditioning staff, you’re connecting with the athletes.

It’s, it shows that you want to be around and want to be helpful. And one athlete we had, I. We lived in the same town, but I never interacted with him from a treatment standpoint until three years after I met him. And it was just us, like, comparing the best restaurants in [00:04:00] our town until he actually needed PT and reach out.

And I think that developed that relationship over the years that he trusted me and came to me, and it ended up working out in a great way. It was being available and being a resource for people on the training floor. That one speaks to me. I’ve watched this playbook be run for years now by our pitching coordinators.

So when we bring in a new pitching coordinator, they’re usually filling a, a role recently vacated by someone who was immensely popular and seemed to be like the best who will ever do it. And therefore it was a serious uphill battle for the next guy. And my best piece of advice for the next guy, every time we run this back, is to be as present, visible, and accessible on the training floor as possible during your downtime.

So if a session gets canceled, a block of time goes unbooked, you’d be out of your mind not to be mingling on the training floor. And the ones who go from zero to 100 [00:05:00] really quickly with booking their calendar. are the ones who are familiar faces to the clients because they’re out there playing that game.

But the ones who are fiercely protective of their time, typically take the longest to get up to capacity. And so this doesn’t just speak to PT clinic owners, though, I 100 percent agree that it is the path of least resistance to you having a viable product inside of our space. All right, tip number two.

My second tip is connect outside of the space and outside of the gym network and market. Outside of the four walls where your business is located. So a little backstory, when I first started, I said to Pete and Eric, I said, I, if an athlete is a great fit to train here, they’re going to train here. But not every athlete we see is a good fit.

Maybe they’re a different sport or the culture of the environment, or they want a female coach or whatnot. And I think Pete was very understanding of that day one, that not everyone’s going to train here. And I appreciate that. And [00:06:00] that leads to this point of. Unfortunately, from the area and I’ve built relationships with a lot of different people in the PT strength and conditioning world, but also outside of it and the I use a cake as an analogy in the scenario.

I want to build the cake on networking referral sources from outside the gym and that anything that is from the gym that’s referred is icing on the cake. It’s extra. It’s a bonus. I want to build a solid. Grassroots relationship in the community that we are in so that if there’s a quiet time in the gym, we’re still having people come in to see us versus the gym, maybe having a quiet time and we’re having a quiet time.

So really focusing on developing relationships, not just inside of the gym, but also outside because back to our mission or vision at Move Strong is we want to help as many people as possible get out of pain, move and feel better and get back to doing what they love. And if we only focus it on the small subset of people that train here.

We would not be fulfilling our mission or our vision, but if we connect [00:07:00] and reach out to the local community and try to capture as many people as possible, we can in turn, help more people. Yeah. On top of that, I think you’d have a harder time attracting talent if you had practitioners who were looking for work and you said, Hey, you’re only going to work with 14 to 22 year old baseball players who collectively have the same.

Terrible personality. I am, I would encourage our audience to be careful about instinctively slapping that tag, not a good fit for training here on someone who comes through a PT choice, because the most fascinating people we train are often people who on paper do not look like a fit for working with us.

I agree. And some of the biggest, most interesting, impactful personalities on our training for our people who possibly came in under that umbrella, the move strong client who is obviously not a fit for training. And then they just find their third place unintentionally. [00:08:00] So just, just try not to fall into the trap of prequalifying people based on.

The cover of that book that you’re judging because you guys have given us some, I would say people who seem like real weirdos out of the gate and they have ended up like powerfully changing the culture and the feel on the training floor. And I think that takes time to develop that relationship with that client, a prospective training client in the gym space.

Like you get, as a PT, we get to know our people pretty well over a period of time. We don’t really know them the first day we meet them. It’s when we’re done working with them or seeing them less frequently where we can make that determination of, yeah, that’d be great to train here or whatnot. So sure.

All right. Your third tip for thriving in year one. I would say subsidized rent is really important. And I think one thing you’ve mentioned like in the beginning is if the gym is successful, PT will be successful and vice versa. Collaborating with the staff. And this kind of falls under the same umbrella of if there’s an athlete in the [00:09:00] gym, they have a question about PT, of course, I’m going to try to help and not just because I want to see them, but you guys will benefit if this athlete does well too.

So I think having an abundance mindset and just collaborating with the staff and back to the point of subsidized rent is that if you have a high rent month one, and you’re not seeing many people right away, you have an uphill battle for sure. And I think you and the team have been very understanding, like when we first started of this allowing, putting us in a position to be successful and watering the business plant and getting the sun on it so that we can grow and get to the place where we want to be versus having the deck stacked against us.

This is exactly why I did not compare notes with you coming into this one. I told you that the general topic I wanted to cover, but I was eager to see if we were going to overlap on any of our bullets. And your third suggestion for year one was my first suggestion from the [00:10:00] perspective of the gym owner.

And what a wonderful transition here. I think it’s good that we explain the relationship we had and the mindset going into it as we open this relationship. My business partner, Eric, said pretty much what you said, if this fails, we all fail because a PT who comes into a space that is, is this busy in this supposedly successful and doesn’t make it.

Isn’t just a black mark on their rap. It’s not really a good look for us either. And we don’t want to deal with the optics of churning and having different practitioners and different brands coming through. So right out of the gate in year one, we offered a year one rental figure that was fixed at like in the vicinity of about 25 percent of where we took you to in year two.

Now there were no surprises there. It was very clear. We’re going to subsidize year one to guarantee that you build a book of business that can sustain a significant blow with [00:11:00] an increase in year two rental figure. And then we built a structure that said, Hey, as your business grows to additional bodies, here’s how that rental figure will grow.

And we all got on the same page. But the point here is that in year one, we on paper discounted this to a point where If we were keeping score, we might feel like we weren’t winning because you scaled quickly. Like I remember thinking, Oh my God, this guy is going to pay his rent by lunch on the first day of every month.

But then I realized all it did was serve to give you proof of concept. So you were excited to chase bigger and better. And you added that second coach and that third, I use the term coach, but the second and third therapist so much faster than I ever projected. And our break even on that subsidized year one was accelerated very quickly because you jumped into higher rental figures faster than I thought you would.

And I think that was probably [00:12:00] the impetus for getting that momentum going. Would you agree? I’d agree. And it built my confidence that, Hey, this is going to work. And looking back retrospectively of I would have hired sooner, but again, we learn, hopefully learn from our mistakes, but yeah, I grew so fast and had to learn a lot to eventually hire and we, I was, I would have hired sooner, but again, we always make these decisions and yeah, hindsight is 2020 my friends.

All right. My second piece of advice was that you blur the lines as it relates to the staff. We have made a habit of showcasing yourself and more often than not, your therapists on our staff page, and we aren’t, we don’t lie and say they’re members of the Cressy Sports Performance Payroll, but we have their faces and bios alongside those of our team, because it’s important that our community feel like we’re all rowing in the same direction, and we’re I didn’t do this without permission.

[00:13:00] I, I didn’t just steal a headshot of you and throw it up there. I do believe it to be mutually beneficial, but the point is that it elevates the credibility for all parties involved since we’re handing so much business back and forth. I agree. And to kind of touch on that is spending time either at work as well as outside of work together.

And So we have busy schedules as parents and significant others, but trying to spend that time so that we develop those relationships versus just being on a business level. All right. My third piece of advice is similar to what we discussed in, in your earlier points where you said be available. I said, share the floor.

And by that I meant I, if you were to leave today and we were to bring a new clinic in and they say, what did you learn from the last one? I would say Andrew and his colleagues routinely treated in the midst of the chaos and the concern might be, Oh, it feels like there isn’t privacy or there’s a lack of professionalism or God [00:14:00] knows what for the person who expects a clinic where they’re going to be in a quiet room sitting on a table and one on one silence.

And the reality is. Your presence on the floor, treating and interacting with your patients or clients, however we are referring to them, only serves to generate additional awareness from our clients who might be dealing with stuff and might need that tune up from the PTs. And it just makes it that much easier for me to facilitate business heading in your direction because they’ve seen you in action.

So if you are in year one and the gym owner says to you, Hey, would you like to do any treating in the space or do you need a private room? I’d run away from the private room as fast as you can. Agree. I agree 100%. I just set up on the floor literally next to the assault bikes and had a desk and a portable table.

And now we have an established space. And I think like being out on the floor, one, there’s a psychological impact for clients who are injured and want to get back to training and 100 percent [00:15:00] sports. And I think also my client manager, Michael, who handles us. Transcribed A lot of our backend stuff, he preframes for our clients, the scenario that we’re in, there’s a lot of music, we are out on a training floor, there’s athletes working out.

So it’s not a huge surprise when people walk in, it’s more of a surprise. Ooh, ah, this is an amazing space. Not, Oh, geez, I’m in the middle of a training floor. And that way it handles people’s expectations. First day. And that’s been very helpful as well. Yeah. We are in the business of managing expectations.

All right. Let me recap for this bite sized episode. We’re in year one, we’re talking about how to survive it and be one of the few entrepreneurs who makes it to year two. You’re a new PT clinic owner. My suggestion as the gym owner on the bigger space is number one. Discount rent. This overlapped with Andrew’s advice, which is really make sure that you can do everything you can to ensure their success in year one.

Number two for gym owners, blur the lines, be open to the idea of [00:16:00] putting both staffs in the same place as far as the vantage point of the general public goes. And then my third piece of advice was to treat in the midst of the training space so as to ensure easier facilitation of leads. My notes from your point, Andrew, were be available.

Show face on the training floor as often as possible in between treatments. You encourage networking outside the space. And I’ve always admired the way that you work with local business organizations. And then your third one was in line with mine, as I mentioned, which was discount rent, facilitate a subsidized scenario early on so that everybody wins.

All right, that’s going to do it there. We’re going to come back with a third and final episode where we’re going to talk about scaling this thing and that a year one, year two. Jump is a big one and I hope you come back to listen. Thank you for listening to the business for unicorns podcast. Thank you.[00:17:00]