When you’re a private practice owner like me, whether cash-based or insurance-based, you can’t just be a good therapist and expect amazing success. You have to become a perpetual student of Business. Long before I left the ranks of the employee and became a business owner, I was seeking and studying everything I could about “Business.” Whether or not it’s related to Physical Therapy, I love to learn and talk about business … how different components can be tweaked or created to make a business the best it can possibly be. One of the business authors, and company owners, who’s articles I really enjoy is Jason Fried. He’s a contributing author to Inc. Magazine, and co-founder of 37 Signals, a Chicago-based Software Firm. I have a friend who works at 37 Signals and I can tell you: it’s an awesome company.

Jason just released an article in Inc. that I’d like to share with my readers because if you’re at this site, it’s likely you’re interested in starting or converting to a Cash-based PT practice; and if that’s the case, this information will serve you well. I can tell by the way he writes, that he ‘gets it,’ not only when it comes to business processes, but also in terms of mindset… the type of mindset I feel is vital to being hugely successful. For this same reason, I devote an entire chapter of my e-book to Mindset.

You can read his full article at here (and you should!)

Things that came to mind as I read the article and how they relate to our business of Cash-Based PT

“Understanding what people really want to know—and how that differs from what you want to tell them—is a fundamental tenet of sales. And you can’t get good at making money unless you get good at selling.”

If you’re already a private practice owner, then you know that every business, even clinical healthcare, is in the business of sales. One of the things I’m often asked is: “How do you convince people to come to your clinic and pay out-of-pocket rather than using insurance elsewhere?” I may release a book excerpt soon that gives a more detailed answer to this question, but in general you can go about it in the following way…

In line with Jason’s comments above, you ask yourself, “what do prospective patients want to know?” (NOT, what do you want to tell them). I think they mostly want to know if they can be helped and how quickly that can happen. Most of my prospective patients call in already knowing they want to schedule an eval, but if they’re in need of convincing, I make sure to:

  • Figure out what they’re dealing with
  • Let them know it is very treatable (if that’s the case)
  • Explain that I tend to get results far faster than most other PTs, largely because I don’t take insurance … I can spend a full hour with them and use highly effective manual therapy to get rid of their pain very quickly.

If that doesn’t convince them, they’re probably not the type of patient I’m looking for anyhow. Motivated patients help me keep my reputation of getting fast results.

Success in business doesn’t have to be hard

Though the article is fantastic overall, there’s one small part I’m not crazy about in #3 … He uses the term “hard-earned cash,” and this is a phrase/idea I think everyone should delete from their mind. Lately, between a full schedule of patients, writing a cash-practice guidebook, and other projects, I’m working 12+ hour days and much of each weekend. I work hard to earn the money I’m currently making, but I’m very very careful to make sure I don’t think that money is hard to earn. If you think it is, you’ll likely be correct until you change that concept in your mind. This is a lesson I learned from one of Dan Kennedy’s books, and I am incredibly glad I did. I personally believe that our attitudes about money have a huge influence on how easily we acquire it. Maybe you too should evaluate your beliefs and attitudes about money and wealth?

In that same section, Jason says something that I have found to be very true since starting my Cash Practice:  “The lesson: People are happy to pay for things that work well.”

I sense a lot of fear from PTs considering moving to cash or adding cash-services. The fear has a number of ugly components, but a primary one stems from the question: “Are there really enough people willing to pay cash for my services?” If your service ‘works well’ (and you don’t live in a rural town of 300 people), then the answer is yes.

#4 … One thing we should take from this section is to be flexible and experiment with different pricing models. That does NOT mean you should be overly willing to drop your price. Don’t sell yourself short, but be creative if you see that something isn’t working related to your price. Maybe in your area, people aren’t willing to pay $150 for an hour of one-on-one time with you, but they are willing to pay $75 for half an hour with you? If you add wellness/gym packages to your business, there are endless possibilities to how you can change variables to entice more sales.

Starting a cash physical therapy practice without financing

I could say quite a lot about the other tidbits of wisdom in this article, but I still have a book to finish, so I’ll end with some comments on bootstrapping in #5. Whether you’re a PT looking to start a cash-practice, convert to one, or just add cash components, you can absolutely be profitable from day one. I know because I was. Like most Physical Therapists, you probably get at least a few job offers in the mail or recruiter calls each week. If nothing else, get a part-time home health position to pay your bills while you see cash-patients around your ‘work’ schedule (either at their homes or at a pay-per-session room rental like those used by massage therapists). If you already have an insurance-based practice, don’t try to convert to cash overnight. Start by opening up a few hours a week for cash-patients, and build from there.

So be creative, know that it’s possible, and realize that you can start slowly and build up. When the big cuts to Medicare and insurance reimbursements hit, you’ll be very happy you did.

Interested in the cash-based private practice model?

Click Here to learn how to start your own Cash-Based Practice

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