Welcome to the “Lessons Learned” edition of PT Business Corner where we provide the most important points we learned in discussion with our guests. Our first guest is Matthew Laing, aka “Matty”, a graduate from the University of Toronto, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT). Matty is the co-founder of Foundation Physiotherapy, a modern, multidisciplinary downtown Toronto facility focused on redefining patient-therapist relationships. Matty is very fond of both self and professional development and he continuously passes his wisdom along to many physiotherapy students and an avid business specialists. We have been lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Matty and discuss principles of growth and business excellence.
Having all these qualifications and years of valuable experience, Matty had plenty of information to share about his journey to co-founding Foundation Physiotherapy and shared with us some of the valuable lessons he learned along the way. You can listen to the full entertaining podcast in our podcast section of our website here or on Soundcloud here while we provide you with a summary of the top 5 lessons.
Lesson 1: Choosing the right partner
Matty has always had a desire for growth and development and meeting Raj, his business partner, allowed them to share their vision for a clinic that treats the patient’s underlying issues rather than focus on superficial problems. Having the same goals for the final product and a similar view of the business culture they wanted to create worked wonders for their partnership. Therefore, both business partners must be on the same page for the end result. At the same time, they needed to have slightly different styles of management and ability to counter each other’s ideas to create a healthy discussion. Lastly, it was important for Raj to be a good friend but not a best friend. This would help deal with any business related issue such as money management and/or resource allocation in a more professional way.
Lesson 2: Creating a thriving culture for employees
Matty and Raj have instituted a formidable culture for their administrative and clinical staff. They host weekly huddles to allow the staff to voice their concern and “to be heard”, which brings forth any issues that are important to the people. They also reward their team with occasional lunches as a token of appreciation for doing a great job or stepping up when the clinic needed their contribution. Lastly, Matty and Raj provide mentorship for their team with the people having access to their calendars allowing the team to schedule mentoring sessions when they need. This creates an a positive team atmosphere allowing employees to be honest and open with both Matty and Raj in any circumstance. This environment that they have created at Foundation Physio has been a key factor in keeping employee retention rates high and satisfaction levels even higher!
Lesson 3: Using social media with a PURPOSE
Matty mentioned that a lot of people often use social media for the sole purpose of posting, but with no real intent behind the posts. He believes that making posts need to be backed with a message and a purpose. Understand WHY you are making a post! What message are you trying to communicate with your audience? And more importantly, WHO is your target audience and will you be able to reach them with your social media posts?
Lesson 4: Finances and Operational Costs
Starting your own practice will vary depending on the location, size of the clinic, and many other factors. When discussing with Matty regarding some finances around starting Foundation Physio he mentioned this had cost them an estimate of $175,000 to $200,000 of personal and bank investments combined. From this lump sum he had stated that $25,000 to $50,000 of this is in the form of personal investments that the bank also uses to consider providing a loan (among other factors). Most of the costs go towards rent and staff salaries, which need to be paid monthly. However, the cost of equipment, like plinths and gym gadgets, have to be paid right away most of the time. Given this type of investment and ongoing operations, it took the clinic four years to become very sustainable. In the first few years of owning the clinic, the personal take home salary was not a significant amount due to the requirement of reinvesting the money earned back into the clinic and paying other staff. This is something that needs to be considered when looking at your balance sheet early on.
The lump sum that was mentioned was the amount that was required around 7 years ago. We need to keep in mind that the landscape and the markets have changed since then. It is likely that, considering inflation over the years and the rising costs of real estate, the estimate startup costs for a clinic in the heart of Downtown Toronto will be north of 200K. This high startup cost is one of the reasons why many physiotherapists have been opting for “boutique” style of practice where they will rent rooms in different areas and provide treatment. This allows them to have a low overhead cost and pay for some equipment such as beds and acupuncture needles.
Lesson 5: Advice for people who want to start their own business
Matty provided lots of great advice during the podcast. However, the main recommendation was to start looking outside of healthcare and into the business world for ideas to set up culture, operations and the finances. Most physios will know how to manage their own solo practice but managing a clinic and being an entrepreneur is a totally different game. Looking to see what others are doing outside the physio community regarding how to run a business would be a great start in fine tuning your business acumen!