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Eight Lessons Learned from Top Practice Owners

Lessons learned come in all sizes. Sometimes they are large, important realizations and other times they’re small insights that end up making all the difference. Either way, for these eight practice owners, their lessons learned served as a launching point for their success. Another aspect of their success? The realization that learning never stops.

Here are the top lessons learned from eight practice owners across the country. Share your lessons learned with us in the comments below!

Brad Freemyer, PT, Owner, A Step Ahead Physical Therapy

Most valuable lessons learned as a business owner? Here are my top six:

  1. “Take care of your employees and if you do they will take care of your customers.” My personal favorite advice from former Genuine Parts Company CEO and friend, Wilton Looney (1919 – 2018).
  2. Make sure you have a business vision and mission that is thoughtfully developed and then filter all major decisions through it. Continually ask yourself when making decisions – does this promote my vision and mission?
  3. Realize that you will never know it all and it’s okay to use advisors as needed! One of the best things I ever did was to form a volunteer Board of Advisors that has served me tremendously throughout the 12 years of the current business.
  4. Always lead and run your business with integrity. I am in business to help people (customers, staff, and future generations of possible PTs and healthcare providers) and that should always come first over making a larger profit.  
  5. Customer impressions of your business are not always correct, but they are always important and can make or break you. Employ a “customers are always right” attitude.
  6. The more investment into your local community and into the PT profession (PTAG, APTA, etc.) the more rewards you’ll reap over time.

Dave Thomas, PT, MBA, El Dorado Physical Therapy

With increased competition and lower reimbursement putting pressure on therapy practices, understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) is a critical consideration to gauge the health of a practice. While patient care remains the central focus of therapy practices, competition and reimbursement pressures have brought new importance to KPIs and the ability to better manage a practice. Manual data collection and spreadsheets are not only time-consuming and prone to error, they provide a retroactive glimpse of practice metrics that can’t guide critical day-to-day decisions. Clinicient provides me with detailed up to the minute customized KPI’s that allow myself and my clinic directors to have our finger on the pulse of the clinic activity daily.

Ellen Hudgins, OTD, OTR/L, ITOT, President, Progressive Therapy Inc.

Here are the top lessons learned as a practice owner over the past 26 years:

  1. Monthly metrics are key for success. How can an organization determine success without monthly metrics?
  2. The front desk is a critical part of the team. They offer the first and last impression to your patients and referring doctor’s offices. So, ongoing training of the front desk is critical for a successful practice.
  3. Awarding and incentivizing front desk personnel for co-pay collection rates has created a win-win situation for Progressive Therapy.
  4. Point of service documentation enables timely submission of claims.

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Mike Studer, PT, President, Northwest Rehab Associates

As a physical therapist for nearly 30 years, and a private practice owner for 15, I have many lessons learned, and likely equally as many yet to learn. In no specific order, those that I have internalized include:

  1. Remember why you started and where you came from. This perspective is helpful to appreciate and to empathize. 
  2. Learning only stops when you stop looking for ways to improve. 
  3. If you want to be heard, respected, or listened-to, don’t shout from “on high” while standing on a platform of your accomplishments, model and speak from a podium of humility. 

Jeremy Matteson, PT, Owner, CPRx Physical Therapy

As a physical therapist and clinic owner, my most important learned lessons have been:

  1. Understand the importance of and types of metrics necessary to run a thriving practice. 
  2. Monthly communication with industry experts – in our case, our Clinicient client executive.
  3. Efficiency of documentation (learned from Clinicient!)
  4. Ease of customization of forms, necessary to increase efficiency

Jenna Coe, OTR, MOT, C/NDT, Co-Owner and Occupational Therapy Director, All Care Therapies of Georgetown

I’d say one of the most important things I’ve learned through starting a business is that the process will cost more than you expected, be harder than you expected, and take more time than you expected, but it will also be a more rewarding than you expected!

Another thing I’ve learned is how important interpersonal skills are. I’ve really had to learn how to deliver the same message to different personality types in order to help the communication be effective. It has also been interesting learning how to help employees learn to communicate better with each other. I never thought HR would be a responsibility I would take on when we started All Care, but it is crucial to your success.

Roy Rivera, PT, PhD, DPT, MCHES, CEO and Director of Rehab, Crom Rehabilitation

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is the correlation between company culture and patient satisfaction. A patient once said to me, “The most powerful form of advertising is word of mouth.” She could not have been more correct. There have been countless times where patients have referred their family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc., because of the positive experiences they had here in our practice. As physical therapists, we all get the same foundational knowledge in school and sit for the same board exams. We aren’t better therapists because we technically know more than the next clinician down the street, after all science is science, but we are better therapists because of the way we serve others.

Jason Lobb, PT, OCS, Regional Manager, Strategic Analyst, Mountain Land Physical Therapy

Here is one thing I’ve seen and am still learning… It doesn’t matter whether you are a therapist treating patients full time, or the owner of the company. Success only comes if you can build relationships, engage those around you in a shared vision, and communicate exceptionally well along the way.

Now we’d love to hear from you. Tell us in the comments, what are your top lessons learned?

Author

Taylor Goldsmith

Content Marketing Program Manager

Taylor Goldsmith is the Content Marketing Program Manager at Clinicient where she manages the blog, social media strategy, supports lead generation activities and more. She provides insightful direction to a variety of other daily Clinicient activities and brings to her team knowledge of core and emerging marketing strategies. Taylor earned a Public Relations degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. In her spare time, she likes to travel, explore the Portland food scene, and cheer on the Oregon Ducks.

2 thoughts on “Eight Lessons Learned from Top Practice Owners

  1. Thank you Taylor, Clinicient, and all of you that submitted lessons learned. It is great to learn from all of you. My #7 that was not published is the following: 7) Most important lesson for me personally is to always remember that the business is not my business, but is a Gift from God and I am to be a good steward of that gift and to always give Him the Glory and Praise.

  2. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful, eloquent thoughts on lessons learned. I think this is invaluable information!

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