Welcome, everybody, to this episode of “The Private Practice Business Academy.” This is your host, Dr. Joe Simon. On the phone with me today is the CEO and owner of Proactive Solutions, Rudy Haberzettl. Rudy, I apologize for butchering your last name.
Rudy: That’s all right.
Joe: Please introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rudy: My name is Rudy Haberzettl. I’m the owner of Proactive Solutions. I’m a physical therapist originally from New York. But now, I live out in Colorado and that’s where we’re based out of Colorado. And we’ve been in business, it’ll be nine years this year.
Joe: Nine years? Okay, so obviously, some time in the marketplace. Obviously, Proactive Solutions, is it a physical therapy-based company only, or is it health and wellness as well?
Rudy: We are a health and wellness company with our core in physical therapy with that. But we don’t have free-standing physical therapy clinics like other physical therapy practices. We only work with businesses and companies to provide on-site services. So, our clinics are all on-site with our clients taking care of their employees.
Joe: Excellent. This is a whole different business model that most physical therapists do not even think about. At the time when they do think about it and they don’t know how to start on this path. So, this is where we’re going to pick your brain, Rudy, and see how you started. So, give me day one. Nine years ago, what happened?
Rudy: So, nine years, we moved out to Colorado. Originally, like I said, from New York. And I’ve been in corporate health and wellness my entire career in physical therapy since I graduated. And it was time to leave New York and go back out west to a more laid-back lifestyle, quality of life and everything. And when I came out here, I said “You know what? I’m going to take a chance and I’m going to start my own company. And worse case if it it doesn’t work, I’ll go somebody.” But that’s the worst that can happen out of it. And nine years ago, started with a concept and an idea to only provide onsite services to employers and with the focus primarily being on prevention. Meaning who best knows how to take care and prevent musculoskeletal problems, but physical therapists. So, we figured “Why not put the physical therapists right where the source of the problem is, right there with the employer?” And headed on right away, rather than waiting until the employee goes to a doctor or finally comes around to physical therapists. Because for the most part, physical therapists seem to be at the end of the problem, rather than the very beginning with that. And that’s just kind of how our healthcare system is set up. It’s very reactive and they wait until a problem happens.
Joe: Absolutely. We see a lot of that now, obviously, in dealing with the healthcare market now. But here’s a question and I think a lot of younger therapists are going to be looking at this interview and listening to this interview and are going to say the number one question. “Rudy, how did you do it? Did you move to Colorado because you had the opportunity there? Or was it vice-versa? You were in Colorado and an opportunity presented itself?”
Rudy: The reason I moved to Colorado, to be honest, was 300-plus days of sunshine. The best skiing and mountain biking and outdoor activities you could get and the best quality of life. And when I came out here, I graduated from PT school in ’99, so I had been practicing six years by the time I came out here. And I really wanted to create the ideal environment to practice in. And my thought of the ideal environment is the PT is the direct person that the patient sees. You use a direct access model, they come to you right away, they come to you early. And you get to prevent the majority of the problems they have. And I figured “Well, how do you do that in the best model?” You’ve got to go to the source. And the biggest source is that everybody goes to work every day. So, if you can go on-site with the employer, being convenient for the employee and having that direct-access model, you can take care of the employee in the best manner possible. So, what I did is I did a pilot study for a client out here. And after doing the pilot study for a couple of months, it was so successful that the client hired me on to create the program for them. And then, that grew over time and in the first four years, almost five years, we went from just myself doing a pilot program, to four offices in three states, taking care of 13,000 employees in three different states and 15 employees on my side. And we just continued to grow the program, depending on the needs of our clients.
Joe: So, the 13,000 employees, basically, those employees are your patients?
Rudy: Pretty much. That’s the best way to look at it. You think that’s your patient population that you’re working with. And you exclusively work with them. So, for your clients, you are the personal therapist. It’s almost, you can kind of go to the sports team analogy. Where they have their trainer and their therapist that only takes care of their players, has immediate access to them. Has all the resources and none of the restrictions. And the bottom line is, just like that trainer, he’s there to make sure his athletes perform the best on the field and can do their best. Where they’re on site to make sure that that client’s employees stay the healthiest, can do their job the best and most productive on site. And they have the convenience of a healthcare professional like a physical therapist, right there to access at any time. Without the need to go off-site, get a prescription, anything like that. Wait, they come to them for everything.
Joe: So, you just gave a great piece of information obviously right there. Basically, you’re providing such a service to the employer so their employee actually never has to leave the facility. And they can get their treatment, they can do, obviously their PT, the fitness portion of it as well. And if there’s medical advice or referrals needed, is that also built into the model? Are there other providers that come in as well?
Rudy: Yes. That’s built into the model, too. So, obviously, the physical therapist knows their scope of practice. And if what they need to do for their patient or client to make sure they get the best care is outside their scope, they can either refer out and they will make those contacts for them. Or we partner with other professionals that we bring on-site that work under our model that support it. So, either way.
Joe: That’s great how that works out. I’m going to go back and touch because I know we didn’t get a clear answer on this. When you first started, did you have a company that you approached specifically? Did you have a packet that you put together to approach this company? Or was it an old patient that brought you in and introduced you to the company?
Rudy: No, it was actually a company that had me doing some other work for them. And after working for them a little bit, I could see the problems and the issues that they were dealing with internally. And that there was a much better solution to get them the results they wanted. So, there came a point in our partnership where I was no longer providing those consulting services. And I sat down with them and said “Look, I’ve worked with you for this period of time. There is a much better way to get the results that you want and go in a much different direction.” Since I had already built that relationship with them, they trusted me and we decided to do a six-month pilot study. Where I could prove to them that what we were doing was going to get them the results. So, it was a cost-effective way for them to try out what we do and we could set up all the metrics and everything to monitor it throughout. So, they could see the results at the end and the results meant something to them with it. And when we did the six-month pilot program, it did phenomenal. And I just grew it from there. And then all our other clients in the almost nine years we’ve been in business, we don’t do any marketing. Where a lot of PT practices will say “We market it. We do e-mail blasts. We do paper marketing. We do things like that.” We’ve done nothing in nine years. All our marketing has been internal referrals from clients that we’ve done work for.
Joe: Obviously, if you have that great lead of patients, marketing would not need to be done at all. That’s great.
Rudy: Right. And it’s nicer that way. Because I’ll be honest. You take a client and they put you in the seat in front of the decision- maker. You’re basically sitting down with the person. And it’s really for you to, how do you say, not make it happen. Because they’re already coming to you, you already have a proven track record. Your recommendation comes from another professional who they count on. It’s just like if you had a patient who did great with you and they told their friend “Hey, you’ve got to go see Joe. He did phenomenal work with me.” That recommendation carries so much weight. It’s really up to Joe to provide the service.
Joe: Absolutely. Question, though, and this is an important takeaway. As the interview I did with Dr. Lease and she does corporate health services as well. And I asked her, “Are there any slow periods dealing with the corporate structure or corporate organization?” Is there a time when, say, I’m just going to pick on finance for now. But say if they have a busy season and the patients can’t come in because they’re busy; they have to get their work done. So, is there a slow season when you deal with a corporate environment?
Rudy: Well, I think “slow season,” it depends how you define that. We provide so many different services for our clients; what I don’t want people to take away is “Hey, they just put a clinic there. A therapist waits for people to come in” and that’s it. Because that’s really a small component of what we do. We create entire programs for that client. Anywhere from on-site wellness programs, where they have fitness classes, to on-site massage programs. To on-site ergonomic programs. So, there are so many different ways that we touch the client. If there is a slow period, per se, in one area of service, we’re usually booming in another area. So, there’s really none of those dead times. It just depends on where you’re busy.
Joe: And that’s what I wanted to touch base on. Because I didn’t want the audience to get confused. Exactly what you said; that you opened a corporate PT office and all of a sudden, you just sit there and the floodgates open. That you took the initiative, obviously, to have more than one program going, so you have more sticks in the water at any one time. If something dries up, you will have, obviously, revenues coming in for more than one location. Which is marketing and it’s best; it’s basically having different programs up and running.
Rudy: I think it’s also understanding your client, what their needs are. And when you’re on-site, you’re in that inner circle, so you can really see what their needs are. So, when you go to them with another service or a change in service, you’re not just up- selling them, you are objectively showing them the benefit of adding this other service because you can show them where the need is and how to meet that need. So, it’s much better received rather than just trying to up-sell a client. That’s one thing we don’t do. We find a need and we meet that need for that client in a very unique way. And the only way to do that for a client, is to be on-site. Because you’ll never know what all those needs are until you’re inside with the client.
Joe: Absolutely. That’s a takeaway that almost every therapist that’s in the private practice can take away. Obviously, since you’re so close to the workplace where they work, you have a few inside looks at what they do. But in general, if we can provide the needs of our clients. If there’s an overall need that keeps popping up over and over again, that is something that any therapist can do. So, I don’t want them to take away the fact that it’s only corporate as well. But, hey, this is something I wanted to touch base on. How does the payment structure work? Do you have to be in-network with them? Is it all out of network? Or do you have a customized contract with the company itself?
Rudy: It’s a customized contract with the client. I would say the bulk of our clients, it is strictly a fee for service thing. Where we are providing a service, we are invoicing them and they are paying us for that service. So, we get away from insurance or any of the regulations or any of the headaches and problems that you run into that. Now, we do have some clients. Who we customize a package where they, for some our service, we will utilize their insurance provider. And since we are on-site for them, they, all of a sudden, put us in network. So, they take care of that. We have one client who they are self-insured, but they utilize an outside insurance company to provide, to handle the administrative portion. And what they did for us, since we’re their on-site people, is they set up the electronic billing system for us. So, when we do go through their insurance, we just go to their site, put all the information in and it’s all taken care of. So, administratively, it makes it super easy on our part. And it’s much more convenient for a component of the business that we do for them. But like I said, since we are their preferred selected on-site provider, they’re going to do that for us because they’re trying to make our job easy, so we can continue to focus on what we do for them.
Joe: Absolutely. So, does that mean, I’m just going to say “durable medical equipment” or just a brace or some equipment that you’re getting for the patient. Would that be invoiced as well as part of the fee for service?
Joe: Absolutely. In general, I believe this is a great business model and I did corporate PT years and years ago. I love the atmosphere; I love the way everything flows so smoothly. It was a great vibe there. Now, obviously, we have to see if there’s any downsides. What are the downsides, Rudy?
Rudy: Everything has its downsides. Obviously, when you have a client; if that relationship changes personally with that client, you could lose that client. So, that is always a down side. The key is when you’re picking your clients out there. A lot of times, when people hear “on-site PT,” they think of industry and things like that. And our target client is a very tech-savvy client or more high-end financial, hi-tech client with that. So, very little industry. I mean, I’ve worked in industry for years with it. But you can see the trend out there in the business world, that businesses are going more to customer service. We’re becoming a much more service-oriented culture. And heavy manufacturing and things like that are just kind of falling by the wayside. That’s all going overseas to China. So, our target audience is that customer service-based client. They are a hi-tech client, they are a progressive-minded client. So, they understand what we do and they support and they believe that culture. Because obviously, I wouldn’t want to work with a client who doesn’t have that progressive mindset. Because it’s going to be a pretty futile business relationship because you’re not going to be working together. And we also look for a client that’s well- established. Has been in business, has a solid track record with it.
Joe: Got it. Rudy, here’s a question. Obviously, the first client that you picked up, it was done a certain way. Now, how about the second, third and fourth? Was it easier to obtain these clients once you already had one in the pocket? Where you can say “Here’s our case study. This is who we are working with now. And we’re more accepted, I should say, for the second and third.”
Rudy: Yes to all those questions. Because we’re obviously, the second client came by a referral from the first client. So, that put us in with the decision-maker. We already had a proven track record. We had done several different types of programs, so we had many options to offer them. But at the end of the day, we customize every program. We don’t have, how do you say, a pre- packaged program and we try to fit that to the client. We sit down with the client, we find out what their needs are. And based on that, we can start a very small program. And then, show them how incrementally, it can grow into a large program to meet their needs. So, we have a whole scalability of our product with it. But just like you said, every client after that one, it gets easier and easier to attain those other clients. It’s just like with patients. Once you’ve proven yourself very well to a patient and they refer you to someone else, it gets easier and easier.
Joe: Absolutely. And that’s a great point that you brought up. While you have one client in the pocket, your next client, if you’re showing them the exact-tailored program that’ll work for them exactly, obviously, that’s going to close the sale so much faster than a cookie-cutter example that you had from the previous one.
Rudy: And you can’t do the cookie-cutter approach. A lot of people will always ask me “Hey, just give me the basics of that.” And it really doesn’t work like that. It’s definitely a nuance of how you do it. You may have key components in every program that overlaps to different clients. But how you deliver that service is very unique to each client with it. And that, also, is a pro and con. One, you have to be very good at creating that uniqueness and meeting that client’s needs and really understanding them. But, two, that also makes it challenging because it would be nice if you could just create one model and just keep reproducing it. But it doesn’t work that way.
Joe: Have you tried it? That’s a question that, obviously, it would much easier if you did create almost a franchise-based system. Could this model be franchised across the country?
Rudy: It could be franchised in the sense that, and we’ve worked with other PT clinics who want to go into this area. Because they have been frustrated with the standard clinic model with it. And they’re looking for new revenue sources and they’re looking for ways to, how do you say, safeguard their future? Rather than being totally reliant on insurance or physicians in that area, things like that. And what we’ve had to do with them is sit down and meet with them, look at their needs and teach them the key concepts. And then show them how to adapt those key concepts. Probably think of it like this. You go to PT school and everybody comes out with a good solid degree. But then you take that solid degree and you tweak it to the field you want to go into and go from there. But you still have to have those basics to start. So, that’s the only way I could see it being franchised to other clinics. Now, when we’ve done it for clients, if that client has had offices in multiple areas, then we can create a program at one office. And if those other offices are similar, then we reproduce the product for them.
Joe: I see what you’re saying. Obviously, the business side of me is popping out. And this is something that’s really super interesting. Obviously, I was in corporate healthcare. But you’re about the fourth or fifth PT that I’ve seen do this. Again, I think it’s a great business model. Obviously, I’m asking you the same question. But no one’s come up with the fact. And you’re saying the same thing. It can’t be a cookie- cutter, it cannot be a franchise model. Because, obviously, it has to be tailored to almost the company’s needs.
Rudy: I think, like I said, it can be franchised where you can teach that physical therapy practice the basics. Just like we’ve done for physical therapy practice. We’ve sat down with them and we’ve taught them some core components. But then, we had to sit down with them and say “Okay, this is the state you’re in. These are the businesses you’re looking to approach. This is the staff that you have.” And that’s where the uniqueness starts to come in. But we can teach them the basic components. And what we offer to them is we teach them the basic components. Then, they start doing it and then, we remain the consultants behind the scenes. So, we can always be called upon to help them through obstacles or the uniqueness of the business. But they remain the face of their business with it. So, they are able to pursue out there and do it. And once they learn how to do it and once, like you said, they become successful with the first client, then the second clients comes in easier. And all of a sudden, they grasp the uniqueness of the business. But they’re still building off the core components that we show them. And if they do hit an area where they’re like “Wow, I don’t know how to approach this” or “How do we deal with this?” They can always call on us and we can support them. But their client, they don’t lose that faith with their client. Because the client doesn’t see us, they only see the relationship they have with that PT practice.
Joe: Absolutely. Here’s a question because I know you have practices in different states. Let’s talk about communication first. How does the communication factor affect the fact that you have more than one location? And it’s not like “Hey, there’s one location here and the next location is the next township over.” We’re talking about one on the East Coast and one over on the West Coast.
Rudy: Yeah, we’re in three different time zones. So, that’s always a factor. But they key with that is, obviously, we live in a great world of technology. So, you’ve got the Internet, you’ve got text messaging, you’ve got Skype, you’ve got GoToMeeting. So, nowadays, you can do so much via technology with that. And the bottom line is if you interview your people well and you select the right person, that’s going to cover the bulk of the issues out there. Because you can’t micromanage people when they’re 1,800 miles away and little would I want to. I’m not going to pay people really well to do something and then micromanage them on the back-end. It’s just not in me, it’s not how I function. But it would be a total waste of time and it would not work. So, you have to be very selective of who you choose with that. And then, you use technology for the rest. Because people say “Aren’t you flying out to all these different places all the time?” And I said “That’s not the best use of my time, either, with that.” If I’ve got somebody who’s really good and I’ve trained them well and we stay in communication very well using technology, I should not have to go see them all the time with it. If I go see the people who manage and work for me, if I see them once a year, that work is good enough. Because they do such a great job.
Joe: So, obviously, you had to hire some rock star employees. Because, I’ve got to tell you, my favorite line so far has been “I can’t micromanage someone 1,800 miles away.” Trust me, I know owners and I’ve consulted with them. And they own 14 clinics, nine clinics. And they have a job. Because they’re micromanaging all of these clinics.
Rudy: Yes. That’s just not the best use of your time. I’ll be honest, at the end of the day, one of the biggest reasons for doing the business the way I did it, is lifestyle. It’s totally lifestyle. I’ve got a lot of friends who own clinics and all of that and they work 60, 70 hours a week. It’s a crazy amount of hours. And I’ve got two little boys and great wife. We live in a great place. There’s no way I want to work that much with it. So, you have to streamline your process. You have to be efficient in what you do. You have to trust people. You have to hire the right people. That’s really the key to managing things well. If you’re micromanaging everything, you’ve got to be exhausted by the end of the day. It’s just not the best use of your time. So, I created a business model where we can do that. Is anything perfect? No, nothing’s perfect. But I’ll be honest. At the end of the week, my weeks average whether it’s talking to clients or working or doing any of that, I try to keep it to about 40 hours a week. That’s my goal, 40-45 hours a week schedule. So, I can be at my boys’ swim practice. So, I can be at their soccer tournament. So, we can all go skiing on the weekends, we can go mountain biking. Because otherwise, what’s the point of working and making money if you can’t enjoy it? And if you’re not enjoying your life with that. So, it’s more about quality than quantity. And that’s also probably some of the reasons that I’ve limited the growth of the company. Because you have to find that work/life balance. And you’re always challenged with balancing that out. It always slides back and forth all the time and your goal is to keep it in the middle. But when you grow to a certain point, sometimes, it’s hard to keep that balance.
Joe: I agree with you on that, Rudy. And I face the same challenges at times. You can only do so much. And I have two children myself and you want to spend time with them. Obviously, you want to go to the practices with them and they’re only going to be once, so you want to enjoy life as you have it. But let’s touch base on something that you said. Hiring the right people. What’s your process of hiring the right people? I’m going to be honest. In the clinics that I own and some of the clinics that I partner with, this has always been a challenge. When my partners approach me and say “Hey, how did you do it years ago?” “How do you do it now?” “What are we going to do with this new employee?” “How do we hire?” And I have a little system that I go through, but I’m going to be honest. It can be 50/50. Sometimes, we hire a rock star and sometimes, we have a dud.
Rudy: Right. Again, I wish I had a little secret formula. I would just sell that and I think I could retire on that one with it, but I don’t have a secret formula. I do personally interview each of the people we hire with that. My staff interviews them, but then I interview them with it. Because at the end of the day, you could look at a piece of paper, you can hear what someone else says. But when you sit down with someone and talk to them, you can get a really good feel of what type of person they’re going to be. And are they going to fit in your organization? Because the bottom line, it’s not always hiring the best therapist in the sense of their skill set. You’re really looking for a very well-rounded person. And there’s area where they may be deficient in that you know you can help them and you can bring them up to speed in those areas. But there’s other areas where you’re like “You know what? I can never change that portion of them and they’re just not going to fit with it.” And it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person or a bad therapist. They’re just not going to fit into your environment with it. So, you have to be very selective on that point. And part of it is gut feeling. Part of it is luck. There’s always luck involved. But part of it is just really sitting down and listening to people. Posing the right questions and people say “What are the right questions?” To me, it’s when I sit down with them. You get a feel for that type of person. And if I can work with them all day, then that’s usually a person I’ll pick with. If I can’t work with them or I’m probably not going to get along with them or my staff wouldn’t do well with them, they’re probably not going to fit in well with that. So, really, we look for a very well-rounded person. Someone who is very open-minded, is open to change, is open to a new experience. Because a lot of people will say “Well, go out there and get a very senior therapist. They’ll be great.” They may be great on the skill side. But they may be so set in their ways that when you take them into this very dynamic environment, they don’t do well. And they’re not willing to change and they’re not open to that. So, it’s not always picking the most experienced therapist with that. But it’s also, on the other end, you can’t take someone, a new grad who’s right out of school and throw them into such a dynamic environment.
Joe: Absolutely. And I think a lot of practice owners are going for this right now. As practices expand and there’s more programs that they’re offering, they’re looking to hire physical therapists. And the challenge they face is exactly what you explained. It’s either someone that’s too seasoned and it will be hard for them to adapt. Or someone that’s way too fresh. And obviously, I’ve tried it and many others have tried it and see what they can do. So, you’re always looking for in-between. Obviously, with your corporate structure, are they by themselves? Or is there another therapist with them?
Rudy: A lot of times, they’re by themselves. So, they have to be a very independent person. They have to be very comfortable in a direct access environment with it. They have to be very sold in what they do. So, it is a unique environment. Now, when I say they’re “by themselves,” they may be the only therapist there. But they may be working with other professionals. Whether if it’s fitness professionals, whether it’s massage therapists. Whether it’s ergonomic people. It’s a whole range. And the other thing that we have to look at that a practice may not have to look at is if we have a client, that client has a unique culture. And we have to match the people we put there with that unique culture. So, not only do they have to match the culture that we work in, they have to match the culture of that client with it. So, it really comes down to a unique person. But the benefit of that is, when you put this person in this environment where they really get to run with it and they get to create things and really be an individual and a true direct-access provider out there. And you pay them well. At the end of the day, we pay probably 20 to 30 percent above average for our therapists. As in for salary and the benefits that they get and everything. But it comes along with what we expect out of them with it. So, you have to put all those unique factors together when you’re picking that person. But when you put that person’s environment and the comment I get back from my staff is they talk to their friends. And their friends are always like “Well, how do I get a job there? Because I would love to work in that type of environment.” My youngest therapist was back with all her graduate friends and everything and they were all talking. They’ve all been out of school several years now and they’re comparing experience with jobs and everything. And when she told them what she has been doing for the last four years, they were all in shock because they didn’t believe it existed, that type of environment. And all of them after, “If he ever has an opening, please give him my resume. I would love to work in that type of environment.” And to me, that’s, how you say, the nicest thing that somebody can say. And it’s nice when your staff gets reminded externally by how good they have it. And then they come back to you and they say “Thank you for letting me work with you.”
Joe: Hey, Rudy. Here’s a question. I know we’re running short on time, but I just want to hit a couple more questions. The question is “Have you had an employee try to poach one of your clients from you?” Say he or she has been working at a location–
Rudy: That’s always the risk that you run. But we have a phenomenal attorney on staff whose specialty is intellectual properties. And he handles all our contracting and everything. But I’ll be honest, in all the years, that has not been an issue. Even though it’s built into the contracts that our employees sign, non-compete clauses, all these kind of things, we put them in a great environment with it. We give them this great opportunity. And obviously, we have very strong relationships with our clients. So, we have contracts with our clients where this wouldn’t be an option with that. If they were approached by an employee of ours that did this, it’s a responsibility of theirs, too. That would void the contract and there’s penalties for doing that. So, it’s not in their best interest either, with it. But we haven’t [inaudible at 00:35:12]. Don’t think that’s something that doesn’t cross my mind. But the other thing, too, is the staff that works for us, the business had a lot of moving parts. And it would just be like one of your therapists saying to you “Hey, Joe, I’m going to run my own practice.” And I encourage people. It wouldn’t be a bad feeling. “Hey, you want to go out there, you want to do your own thing, that’s great.” It always sounds a lot easier than it really is. And there’s very few people that can take the ball and manage every moving part and do all those things. And it can be pretty overwhelming. So, when somebody says “Oh, this is the greatest environment. I’d rather just do this for myself,” they’re only seeing one component of it. There’s a huge bunch of other cogs working to keep their environment the way it is like that.
Joe: And Rudy, what you said, right now, I can guarantee there’s a lot of people, a lot of practitioners listening to this audio right now and shaking their head in agreement. That owning their own practice or running their own business, there is a lot of moving cogs.
Rudy: Exactly. It takes a very unique person to own their own business. And I’m not saying that I want for any business owner to come across narcissistic or anything, because it’s not. It is an emotional roller coaster all the time when you own your own business. Because you don’t punch out at 4:00 in the afternoon. You think about what’s going on, things can impact you. You’ve got a lot of skin in the game when you own your own business. But there’s a lot of reward to that. And you have to be somebody who enjoys both sides of the fence. The risk and the reward that comes with it. And I don’t think everybody is wired that way, which is good. Because otherwise, who would work for anybody then?
Joe: Absolutely. So, I think you need a little of everybody. You need the soldiers, you need the generals, you need everyone. I also want to touch base, Rudy, that you’ve started a new venture with the company. Let’s talk about that a little bit.
Rudy: So, right now, we take care of 13,000 employees. And you’ve got a couple of options. You can stay where you’re at with that. The hard part with doing that in business is that if you stand still, eventually, you regress with that. And you really can’t do that in business with it. The other thing is, all right, let’s get even more clients. But then, logistically, the more sites that you open and the more practices that you have, the more people that you have to manage, the more headaches that you can run into and the more issues. And it just complicates the situation even more. So, we sat down and we figured out “How do we grow, but minimize the complications that come with growth?” And we said “How do we touch more people, but without physically being there all the time?” Because physically is tougher. You’ve got a staff and everything like that. And what I came up with is the concept of virtual health and wellness. And like I said, technology is phenomenal now. You can reach out to people all over the world. You don’t have to just be in your little radius in your small town with it. So, what we decided to do is we wanted to make physical therapists the go-to person for the general public when it comes to health and wellness. And the reason for that is the two biggest components that are going to keep you healthy and well are exercise and nutrition. Now, on the exercise portion, who’s better to do that than physical therapists? They know how to prevent injuries, they know how to take care of injuries, they know how to keep you overall healthy. They know the system better than anyone else with that. Why not go to them to stay healthy and well long-term? We do it for athletes, we do it for your everyday person in the clinics and all of that. Why not do it at a greater level with that? And the other side is nutrition. We have nutritionists on staff and everything, too, to help our clients. So, we figure we’d put the two together. And how do we do it? We do it through a virtual health and wellness program that is Cloud-based. And right now, we do it through our clients; where all their employees can sign up for this service. And then, they can access this service from their phone, their tablet, their computer. And they go on this service and they can personalize the service to themselves, where we can set up health challenges. They can converse and meet with health professionals to help them achieve their goals. They can track their fitness. They can hook their favorite fitness app up to it, so they can download their information. We created a home base where you can go for your health and wellness. And you can access it anytime, anywhere, as you long as you have an Internet connection with it. And then we support it with the professional content and the professionals that can help you truly achieve your goals and stay healthy and well with it. So, we created a platform with that. And our goal is to grow our company virtually, rather than physically. Does that make sense?
Joe: It does make sense. Anytime you build software, though, there’s tremendous challenges with that. And we just interviewed Dr. Scott and he built software for a home exercise protocol. Beautifully done, I checked out the website. He has a clinic to trial-run it for a beta program. We want to come back to it and show our audience how it works and the benefits of it. And obviously, if there’s something wrong with it, we will also bring that up as well. But, just in general, and I’ve worked for a lot of software companies for different ventures myself, you know how difficult that is. What stage are you at building the software? Are you there already? Is it done?
Rudy: So, what we did, we are obviously not IT professionals. We are healthcare professionals. So, we stick to what we’re really good at. And we created strategic partnerships with IT companies that are very good at doing that portion. So, we partnered up with them to create the product. And then, we supported and delivered the service in a unique way. And they support the IT side of it, with it. So, we have the platforms all ready to go, tested and they’re ready to roll with it. So, we’ve overcome those challenges with it. And we strictly stay in the side of providing the professional health, education and training for our clients. And our strategic partners provide the IT side to making sure that all runs smoothly. And together, we work on enhancing the product with it.
Joe: Excellent. Is this a beta program or are you running full speed ahead with this?
Rudy: No, we’re running full speed. This is ready to roll.
Joe: This is ready to roll? Okay?
Rudy: Our business model is always the corporate world. So, that’s what we geared this for. But the more I thought about it is this would be a great tool for a physical therapy practice. Where they could have this program. We have the options where you can customize it, put your logo, your graphic on it with it. But then, you can sell it in a membership format to your clients with that then. So, the key with it is their clients sign up and they pay $5, $6, $8 a month to be a member. They get access to their own portal, where they put their information in and everything. But when they need to contact a healthcare professional or stay in touch or they need more. Whether it’d be a wellness service, whether it be physical therapy or anything like that, who are they going to go to? Well, they’re going to go to the practice that they have the membership with. Because they can e-mail them, they can contact them. So, you create this lifelong relationship with the physical therapist, rather than “Hey, I only go see you when I get hurt. And hopefully, I won’t get hurt for the next eight or nine months so I don’t have to see you. Or I’ll wait until my doctor sends me to you.” So, the goal behind the virtual health and wellness, when it comes to the standalone physical therapy practice, is they start to create their audience and their base that will always keep coming back to them for health and wellness advice, training, exercise, prevention. Any matter of service. But they’ll be the first one they think of with that. Does that make sense?
Joe: Absolutely. This is a new revenue stream for a private practice to look at. Basically, a continuity model. Where they could keep clients for a pretty long time and stay basically on top of mind. And then, as needed, they can come back to that practitioner or if they need a referral, it could be done very easily. So, a great concept.
Rudy: Just like you said. If that practice always stays in the forefront of that patient’s mind or client. So, when an issue comes up, who do they think of? They think of your practice with that. And build that long-term relationship with them.
Joe: Can you give us the link to that website there, Rudy, so we can all take a look at it?
Rudy: They can go right to my website. And when they’re on the homepage, they’ll see an icon off to the left that says “Software.” And when they click on that, it’ll be “Health and Wellness Virtual Software.” And then, they can go to that page and it’ll give them a brief description. And then, we’ve got three different platforms. So, that’s where we always ask them to contact us and we find out the platform that will best meet their needs. Not only financially, but functionality for them with it. And then, what we do then is, again, they remain the face of their business. We remain the consultants behind the scenes. And we supply them with the software. They pay a flat fee to us. And then, they will sell the product to their clients with us. If they’re at a stage where they say “Hey, we really need to provide nutritional advice.” But we don’t have a nutritionist or it’s not cost effective to have a nutritionist at this time until we grow this program. They can utilize our nutritionists to support their clients’ needs and charge a fee for that service. And then, when they grow to a point where they say “Now, we’re at a point where we can sustain our own nutritionists,” then they will hire their own nutritionists and that will become their person to do it.
Joey: Absolutely. What was that website there, Rudy, so everyone can get to it?
Rudy: It’s www.pastherapy.com.
Joey: Got it.
Joey: So, as everyone knows, those links will be also on our resource page for everyone to have access to as well on our website at privatepracticebusinessacademy.com. So, please double-check that. Where anything that Rudy has mentioned, if there are any other links that we have stated throughout this interview, we’ll make sure we put them up as well.
Rudy: We’re here to help out in that sense with it. It’s interesting, Joe, because last year, I was asked to speak at the APTA National Conference out in Salt Lake City. And we spoke on innovation and practice. And when I talked about some of these concepts, a lot of people just looked at me and they really didn’t know what to make with it. And they really wondered “How does this apply to me? How do I own my own physical therapy practice? How is this really going to help me?” And what I try to tell them is “You don’t have to do what I do. But you can take components of what I do to enhance your practice and create a different source of revenue for your practice to support.” Kind of going back to the question you asked me “What about down times?” Well, just for a practice that’s got more than one avenue of revenue, that’s the best approach. Because if your primary revenue source starts to decline or reimbursement changes out there, you’re going to see ACA models coming out. It’s going to be very challenging in the future for physical therapy practices with it. We’re just trying to give them other avenues to stay productive and profitable.
Joey: That’s a great piece of advice that you just set out there and we did say it earlier in the program. You should have different revenue streams out there for your practice, have multiple ways to generate revenue. And if this piece of software works for them, it’s true. There are a lot of therapists that I meet and I consult with. Where sometimes, if I speak and I get off stage, I joke around and sometimes, there’s crickets in the audience. They’re lost at certain topics.
And it’s not a bad thing. You just have to ask questions and see how this can pertain to you exactly and how it can. That’s the same reason why I created this show. Not only for marketing, but business strategies as well. And this call has brought on a lot of great, as I like to say, golden nuggets of business strategy. So, I hope they take away that as a finer point. Rudy, once again, I want to thank you for your time. We ran way over on time, but there was a lot of great stuff on here. And I think it will benefit a lot of people. Again, Rudy has given out his e- mail and the contact information which will be all on the resource page of privatepracticebusinessacademy.com. Rudy, thank you again for your time, I appreciate it so much.
Joey: Once again everybody, thank you. And we’ll see you on the next episode of “The Private Practice Business Academy.” Take care.