An Honest Look at Your Physical Therapy Practice
As a private practice owner you must be able to take a good hard objective look at your practice if you are to succeed in business.
There is a difference between being comfortable and being in apathy.
It is very comfortable to have a smooth running organization when you have a team that knows what to do and does it. It is comfortable to have this group take care of your practice and make it expand, and all you have to do is take care of the team. It is comfortable when the staff will actually handle the discipline problems of other staff members and not give it to you to handle. It is, of course, very comfortable to have a consistent flow of new patients into your office and not have to worry about it week to week.
What is apathy?
Perhaps apathy is excuses -- thinking that things can’t change, considering that “this is pretty good” and “I just want everybody to be happy,” but recognizing that they are not. Apathy can be present when there are situations going on in the office that aren’t going well and you choose to ignore it and hope it will go away. Apathy can be mere excuses and explanations as to why a situation or problem exists.
Statistic rationalization is definitely a derogatory term. Sometimes, as a business owner, we can fall into such apathy that we don’t actually use any tools to evaluate whether the practice is expanding or not. We wait until the accountant reconciles the books and tells us whether we did well or poorly. That’s truly apathy.
Apathy can also be a lack of planning, the “just come to work and see what happens” attitude. Some practice owners at one point in time used to keep a “to-do” list, now they don’t even bother. They just wait until they come into the office and one of the staff members gives them the first order of the day, in other words, they take orders from their staff. That’s truly apathy.
Some private practice owners are doing all right and they are making good money, but they are not taking care of their staff. They may have lack of emotion or caring or a general apathy towards their staff. Whatever your financial goals are, you probably need to triple them, because it’s important to take care of the team that takes care of you. When you recognize what good staff members can do for your organization and you actually exchange with them for that good work, it tells those staff members how much you truly care about them.
When you are “reasonable” about why a statistic cannot go up and accept excuses for low statistics, you as a practice owner go more and more into apathy. And so does your team. But on the other hand, improving the employees’ ability to handle their jobs well, giving the staff real, obtainable production demands and getting them to achieve these targets regardless of the “excuses” is certainly not apathy. It is called being causative or making things happen as an executive.
Many private practice owners are not satisfied in some way about the volume of new patients into their practice, but most are not doing anything about it. Now that’s truly apathy! Sometimes we look around at other practices that are doing well and blame them for our lack of success. That is slightly better than apathy – at least there is some emotion, but the practice owner still hasn’t done anything about it.
What we are talking about here, plain and simple, is how to shift from being the effect of doctors and other referral sources to being causative over that relationship. In other words, in regards to new patients, instead of “look at me and recognize how hard it is for me to get new patients,” you can shift to “I know how to drive new business in the door.” One is apathy and the other is causative.
If you don’t have a plan to drive some business in the door, if you don’t have a solution for this problem and you haven’t had a solution for years, then most likely you are not very causative over this area. Most likely you’re in apathy about this area of your practice.
Perhaps you consider it is comfortable if you are making good money and you’re not working a whole lot. But if you’re doing well and you’re staff is not, something should change.
A good executive cares enough about what’s going on and cares about his group. I am not implying that you don’t care about your staff, that you don’t feel that they are important. I am sure you recognize that they are. Unfortunately, you can feel alone sometimes in the running of your practice because you make all the decisions in the practice. You may have a team that works with you that’s really not a team but a group of robots that take orders from you all day long. Well that type of management style would certainly make me or any other practice owner feel like, “why should I take such good care of these guys when they can’t seem to fight their way out of a paper bag?”
One way in which you can take care of your group is to show them how they can take care of you. The way you do that is by managing with statistics and not with emotion. Set good, acceptable, agreed-upon targets and work with your staff through whatever barriers that may come up in order to achieve that end. You can move from being apathetic apathy about certain areas of your practice to being more causative over it.
There are seven key major areas of your practice that need to run like a Swiss watch. One area includes the actions that you take to drive business in the door. If you have this area completely solved and you have a broad base of referrals sending you a steady stream of patients, then congratulations -- you have one of the seven areas fully under control! But there are six more!
If you don’t have any solution or you’ve actually fallen into apathy on the actions of getting new patients and driving business in your door then you should get help. It can shift you from being in apathy to making things happen.
Imagine the confidence that it will give you and your team to know that there is a long term future with your company. Think of the reduction in the amount of worry that you may do if you know and can predict your expansion. But if you are in apathy about what you can do to increase you numbers, you still are worrying. It is not like you are off picking daisies, you are still worrying. Sound solutions for driving in New Patient can help you get rid of the worry. Make no mistake, this is not necessarily easy -- it is a fair amount of work, you have to roll up your sleeves, you actually have to DO something.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shaun Kirk is Co-Founder of Measurable Solutions Inc., a business management and consulting firm for Private Practice Physical Therapists. Measurable Solutions trains Private Practice Physical Therapists how to be consultants to their own businesses, so they not only can expand their own physical therapy practice but any business. With his partner, Jeff F. Lee, he has built the most rapidly expanding company of its kind in the world. Visit his website at http://www.measurablesolutions.com/.