Targeting niche markets can be key to the success of a Self-Pay Physical Therapy practice, so today I’d like to discuss one that most urban areas will have: Cyclists. When identifying niche markets and target populations that are likely to pay more out of pocket for PT, you need to make sure they possess at least one of these two characteristics:


  1.     A decent financial surplus (on average).
  2.     Intense passion for their sport/activity.

Having just one of these is enough in many cases. For example, in rural West Texas, High School Football is considered more important than most of us can imagine. The passion and emotions associated with it are incredibly intense. There are a number of families who will drive 4 hours to my clinic so that Little Johnny can get treatment, then stay in a hotel and get another treatment the next day before heading home. They may not have much money but they’ll gladly pay $120/treatment (or more) if it means their son can play in that weekend’s Football game. 

With cycling, you often have both the above factors working in your favor. I’m not saying that all cyclists are wealthy and are hardcore about competing; but those bikes are incredibly expensive, and people willing to pay that much for the bike tend to also be okay with paying more out of pocket for great treatment.

So how do you “get in” with the cycling community? Probably the best way would be to become a cyclist yourself, but I can’t afford those bikes so here is what I’ve done …

As I’ve explained in other posts, you don’t want to approach businesses and groups simply asking for business if you can avoid it. It’s better if you can create a scenario in which you clearly want to set up a mutually beneficial relationship. If you can convey that you may be able to send business their way as well, they’ll be much more open to you.

In my experience, many common cycling injuries can be solved or at least improved when the cyclist’s bike has been properly “fitted” for them. Any serious bike shop will have someone who does bike fitting and retooling. So here is one way to “get in” with a bike shop and start to generate referrals: approach a bike shop and explain that your cycling patients are often hurting because they haven’t had their bike fitted or something has changed over time and they need a retool. Explain that you’re looking for resources for your patients and you’d like to meet the person who does this work for the shop.

See if you can set up a time to come observe a bike fitting or two. You can learn a lot and also take the opportunity to impress them with your knowledge of biomechanics and your ability to treat common cycling injuries. If you are going to do this, spend a good amount of time beforehand doing online research on bike fit geometries, common problems with bike fits, common cycling injuries, etc etc.

Be ready to explain how you would treat certain issues that are often revealed in a bike fitting (tight TFL/ITB, Achilles tightness, insufficient glute contribution, tight QL/Psoas causing asymmetrical trunk movements, etc). If you’re not already familiar with this information, make sure you know it before you show up to the bike shop.

As you build up a cycling clientele and a reputation in the community, you will then have the ability to effectively approach the best-known coaches/trainers. Prove to them you can get their cyclists riding pain-free quicker than other clinics in town, and you’ll have a steady stream of Cash-pay patients.

Aside from the tactics above, there are plenty of other ways to get involved in your cities’ cycling community: purchasing booth space at races, offering free injury evaluations before/after group rides that start/end at the bike shop, advertising in cycling publications, etc. My suggestion would be to explore the Free options first … you may not have to spend a dime to successfully build a name for yourself among the cyclists in your area.

For other niche market ideas for Cash PT Practices, click here.

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