The year was 1976. My parents packed up the car and drove me, my sister, and our dog from New York to start a new life in Arizona. My childhood came right out of the Karate Kid movie, but without Johnny and his gang of bullies chasing me around town.
Within just a few months of moving to the Wild West, we opened a pizza restaurant inside a local Phoenix shopping mall. That was a new concept back then, so we felt like true pioneers.
Our business became an instant success. It attracted a loyal customer base who enjoyed delicious food and the inviting "mom and pop" atmosphere from Back East.
Over the years we opened a few more establishments with the same proven business model. However, this was when we hit a wall. We realized that you couldn't run more than two or three locations successfully at any one time, without sacrificing quality.
Cutting corners went against our core values. We simply weren't willing to scale the business, if it meant that the customer experience would suffer. After all, most restaurants fail from a lack of consistency of the food and/or service.
But what could we have done differently to grow such an exceptional concept? I wonder how much further we could have gone, had we found other like-minded entrepreneurs to replicate our winning model. After all, there's strength in numbers.
We introduced pizza to a small portion of the Phoenix Valley. Maybe we could have scaled it to all of Arizona and beyond? We'll never know. But we took the business as far as we felt comfortable taking it on our own at that time.
A LESSON LEARNED
Fast forward to the new millennium. I’m a licensed physical therapist in New Jersey working for a corporate physical therapy chain. I was quickly moving up the ladder from staff PT to facility manager. But something felt wrong.
Treating people in volume went against my core values. Patients felt more like a number than a person. I simply couldn't treat them the way I knew was right. I would find myself thinking, "Is this why I went to physical therapy school?"
Whether it was serving pizza or PT, maintaining quality standards has always been essential to me. So, following in my parent's footsteps, I decided to go into business for myself.
In 2004, I opened my first practice in Princeton, New Jersey. I introduced a "value-driven" healthcare model where everything revolved around just one person per hour treatment. That was a new concept back then, so my pioneering spirit felt alive, once again!
My schedule steadily filled up with loyal clients. I was simply fulfilling an unmet need in the area for personalized, one-on-one care. My wife, Jamie, joined me about a year later. She added Pilates-based physical therapy and wellness services to further enhance the customer experience. A few years after that, we brought on a business partner, Tyler, who introduced Redcord suspension and the NEURAC (NEURomuscular-ACtivation) treatment method to the Princeton community.
Although, when the time came to expand the practice beyond ourselves (and beyond Princeton), I had a light bulb moment. This was the lesson I had learned growing up. I knew that if we went any further, we would be spreading ourselves too thin. There simply weren't enough hours in the day to scale the business, treat a full caseload of clients, and maintain quality control.
What we needed was help from like-minded entrepreneurs in the industry. So we joined forces with others who were just like us in Denver and Atlanta. We taught them how to practice Redcord and NEURAC, how to deliver a similar unparalleled treatment experience, and how to engage with the community to fill their schedules.
Developing systems and a process became increasingly important to me. Eventually I stepped away from treating, so that I could spend countless hours testing and perfecting the business model.
Today, with 8 thriving practices across the country, I spend most of my time helping other physical therapists grow beyond themselves. My lesson learned is that you don't have to go through what I went through on your own. By banning together as PT pioneers, we can pool our resources and achieve success for many years to come.
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.