What is the single biggest factor that separates the successful private practice owner from the one struggling to pay the bills and grow their practice?
This is a very important mindset that has shaped a lot of my thinking as a clinician, and as a business owner.
Stop thinking in terms of differentiation, think in terms of dominance. You raise the bar so high, you stand head and shoulders above everyone else and your competition doesn’t stand a chance.
Your patients don’t think of any other provider because they see you (and only you) as the answer to everything they are looking for (for a host of needs).
What is it that makes you the preeminent clinic in your community, the single, indisputable expert in your field?
Is it insurance companies they work with? Not really, because most practice owners work the same set of payers in a geographical area.
Is it the quality of care? No, because everyone was trained in almost exactly the same way, and although there are differences in treatment programs, the difference in quality of care is not as significant as you might think.
Is it a website? Of course not. If all you needed was a great website, you could hire the best graphic designer in the world and you would never need to worry about patients again.
Is it your EMR software? Is it your billing service? Is it your marketing?
The list goes on. In fact, you can drive yourself nuts just thinking about this.
Before I share the answer with you, let’s draw your attention to a classic article published by the Harvard business review asked the question “What business are you really in?”.
The article emphasized that the rail road industry was NOT in the business of rail roads, it was in the business of transportation.
The failure of the rail road industry to recognize that led to the decline of consumer use of rail roads, instead of the availability of air travel and other means of transport.
According to this article: “Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are now riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others that are thought of as seasoned growth industries have actually stopped growing. In every case, the reason growth is threatened, slowed, or stopped is not because the market is saturated. It is because there has been a failure of management….”
The articles highlights the importance of attracting the right clients. In fact, it states:
“In order to produce these customers, the entire corporation must be viewed as a customer-creating and customer-satisfying organism. Management must think of itself not as producing products but as providing customer-creating value satisfactions. It must push this idea (and everything it means and requires) into every nook and cranny of the organization. It has to do this continuously and with the kind of flair that excites and stimulates the people in it. Otherwise, the company will be merely a series of pigeon-holed parts, with no consolidating sense of purpose or direction.”
Think about this for a second. Is Hollywood in the business of making movies, or is Hollywood in the business of entertainment?
The movie industry now recognizes the fact that consumers don’t care about DVDs, blue ray discs or even CDs.
Consumers care about the entertainment, regardless of the format in which it is delivered.
That’s why your kids watch cartoons on an iPad during those long drives. That’s why you watch your favorite TV show on Netflix while you are at the gym.
So the question you need to ask yourself is:
What is the business that you are in?
Are you in the business of physical therapy? OR
Are you in the business of injury prevention / treatment / wellness?
The preeminent practice owner has the ability to truly understand the physical therapy business they are in.
They don’t just show up, deliver the service and occasionally exceed expectations.
They operate at a different level.
This perspective helps the preeminent practice owner to:
- Understand the need of the patient and deliver it.
- Inspire trust from everyone around you.
- Make the patient experience so incredible that it has a life altering impact.
- Recognize that there is a whole universe of opportunity by looking outside of traditional vacuums that infect 95% of your competitors.
- Adapt to changing times instead of allowing trends to destroy them.
- Tailor physical therapy marketing messages that attract more patients.
- Hire the right people and put them in the right position.
- Prioritize the things that will bring about the MAXIMUM impact to your practice instead of the INSIGNIFICANT things like spelling mistakes on your website, fancy logos, endless fear-based documentation and more.
- Preeminent private practice owners rarely have to market themselves.
- They exist in their own world, and create a competitive monopoly for themselves. Their competitors can copy them all they want, but they cannot come close.
- They have cash programs where they charge high prices.
- They have no financial ceiling of income they can earn.
- They have more compliant patients who love them, get better faster and pay them more money for ancillary services.
- They live rich, full lives (and by rich, I am not referring simply to money).
- They have very little staff turnover.
- They command respect, appreciation and trust.
- They have less stress than the average practice owner.
- They don’t have to deal with frantic, demanding staff and patients.
- Physicians return their calls.
- Patients show up for appointments. Patients refer. Celebrity patients are attracted to, and give endorsements to their practice.
The Preeminent Private Practice Owner realizes that preeminence is created by setting aside their own needs and focusing entirely on the “other side”… the side of the patient.
Creating a preeminent private practice, at the end of the day is about communication. You must:
Communicate in a manner that ensures every patient senses that THEIR needs and feelings are understood. “I want to give you what you want, what you need and what you deserve.”
Motivate the staff to adopt a definitive patient-centered culture based in EMPATHY (everything they do tells the patient “We understand in a compassionate and respectful way what you desire and need.”)
The strategy of preeminence depends on your ability and willingness to educate your patients on the benefits of physical therapy.
This isn’t just about words, this is about a radically different philosophy about who you are and what you communicate so that you attract the type of patient you want.
Always remember what business you are in and then cultivate your ability to put into words what people want, and you will be on your way to creating a truly Preeminent Private Practice.
Print this article and read it 2-3 times.
Go ahead, make your practice preeminent.
Have a great week!
Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT
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