Growing Your Physical Therapy Practice Through Storytelling

The competitive landscape of physical therapy has drastically changed over the past decade. In order to survive, you have to separate yourself from the countless PT chains, hospital based clinics, and physician owned PT practices out there. Besides offering a distinct treatment approach, like we do at Activcore, there’s one essential ingredient in the customer service recipe that most physical therapists leave out. By overlooking this important detail, you could be missing an opportunity to connect with your customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

This secret ingredient is your story.

Why did you become a physical therapist? Who influenced you in your life? What factors put you on this path? Was it simply a desire to help people, a fascination with the human body, or something totally different?

Also, why did you decide to pursue an area of specialty (pelvic health, vestibular rehab, etc.)? Did someone or something inspire you to focus on helping a specific patient population?

There are thousands of physical therapists out there and none of them share the exact same story. Your origin story explains who you are and where you came from. It conveys your core values and your belief system in the most authentic way. Most importantly, it explains why you do the things that you do. That's really what people connect to.

Your unique story should also inherently connect with the story of your practice. What do you want to achieve for yourself, your clients, and your community? What is so distinct about you, your approach, and your methodology?

These secondary questions can help answer the larger overall question that provides a foundation of your story:  What do you want to be known for?

Your story takes people deeper than job titles, industry labels, qualifications and education. It tells them what you believe in and what you stand for (i.e., your values).

Ultimately, your unique story is your brand. When you achieve clarity about what you want to be known for, you bring your brand into focus and unlock incredible potential for growing your practice and developing your team culture.

START TELLING YOUR STORY

By focusing primarily on processes and procedures, most physical therapy practices fail to adequately incorporate their story. Therefore, there is a large gap between how good they are at what they do, and how powerfully they communicate what they do. This gap can result in a lack of client engagement and diminished perceived value.

When you identify your story and communicate it in a powerful, believable way, you have an incredible opportunity to inspire everyone around you. Your teammates should know your story and be able to tie their own personal stories into it in some way. After all, there's probably a reason why you all work together. Typically teams share a set of core values.

As your teammates gain a better understanding of you and why you do the things that you do, they should become more connected to you and the company. Having this common bond can actually help you deliver an even better, more purposeful experience to your customers.

THE CAMPFIRE EFFECT

People are drawn to a good story. It can make them feel more comfortable, relaxed and fulfilled. This experience is known as The Campfire Effect. That’s how you feel when you sit around a campfire with family and friends. You tell stories and eat yummy smores. There's a level of trust established between the storyteller and the audience.

We all know that physical therapy patients can be a bit nervous and anxious when they show up for their initial appointment. They’re often in pain and searching for answers to their questions. Some are frustrated by bouncing around from doctor to doctor, without a clear path. The sooner you can help these people feel The Campfire Effect, the stronger your connection will be with them.

If you expect clients to fully open up about their story, you have to be willing to do the same. Identify your personal story, your practice’s story, and the connection between the two. Share your origin story with your teammates and make it an integral part of the overall customer experience.

People should understand what you want to be known for. When you become as intentional with your story as you are about your treatment procedures, you can’t help but grow your business and stand apart from the competition.

Check out my next blog post explaining how to get the most value out of your time.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Ian Kornbluth, Co-Founder

CEO | President
Ian's entrepreneurial spirit stems from growing up in Arizona around the family business — a small chain of "New York Style" pizzerias. Early on in life, Ian learned how to treat the customer like a person, rather than a number. He observed how the community came together to support an establishment that offered both quality food and an exceptional customer service experience. He also learned to appreciate how much sacrifice, perseverance and integrity that it took to make a positive change in the world around him.
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