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Lessons Learned with Bonny O'Hare

Updated: Jul 4, 2018

Welcome back to another edition of “Lessons Learned” in the PT Reading Corner where we provide the most important points we learned in discussion with our guests. This week’s guest is Bonny O’Hare! Bonny received her Physical Therapy Degree from McGill University and became founder of Pro Motion Physiotherapy in 1987. As the Director of Pro Motion, Bonny is focused on providing the highest quality of care to each patient, using a carefully crafted and systematic approach. Bonny is also an expert in the field of osteoporosis, having developed Osteo-Circuit, a unique physiotherapy education and exercise program for patients with osteoporosis. We were fortunate to be able to sit down with Bonny and discuss principles of growth and business excellence!

With many years of valuable experience, Bonny had plenty of wisdom to share about her journey to founding Pro Motion Physiotherapy and shared some important lessons with us. You can listen to the full entertaining podcast HERE while we provide you with a summary of the top 5 lessons.

Lesson 1: Finances and Operational Costs

Bonny emphasizes focusing on the personal aspects of opening a clinic, in addition to the various business components. You have to be cognizant of your personal situation and more importantly, your personal financial situation in order to establish your clinic. Costs are much higher now compared to 30 years ago and Bonny highlights the importance of preparing for rainy days. Specifically, when establishing a new clinic in a neighbourhood, there may be many people who are unaware of your company or the services that you provide. So initially, you may have a 3-month period where you don’t generate as much income as you would have anticipated. Bonny estimates starting costs will be over $100,000 for a smaller clinic in Toronto, but this figure is dependent on a multitude of factors such as the location of the clinic, amount of staff and equipment required.

Lesson 2: Importance of a Business Plan

The first step in establishing your own clinic is to have a solid business plan in place. After all, banks will be hesitant to offer you a loan unless you’re able to present an appropriate strategy to generate enough revenue. Bonny says to focus on the essential “must-haves” for your clinic as well as developing your projections for the profit that you’re going to be bringing in. Bonny also emphasizes incorporating accountants and lawyers in your initial plan, but also networking with other physiotherapists who have established their own clinics in order to obtain some advice. When Bonny founded Pro Motion Physio, she had the luxury to start small and grow from there. There were no other established physiotherapy clinics in the area, and most physios at the time tended to work in the hospitals. However, in today’s market individuals may have to start opening larger practices as many neighbourhoods tend to be saturated with physiotherapy clinics.

Lesson 3: Hiring the Right Employees for your Clinic

Bonny stresses the importance of having a stringent hiring process in order to find the best employees for your clinic. Pro Motion Physio utilizes an approach of having multiple individuals interview a potential employee. One individual focuses more on the clinical or administrative aspects of the interview and the second individual deals primarily with the applicant’s soft skills. It’s important to be able to take a look at potential employees as a whole and to not simply focus on their clinical skills. While applicants may write that they are a “team player” on their résumé, Bonny’s hiring team poses questions in such a manner to tease out the validity of these claims. Once an applicant is hired at Pro Motion, they undergo a 3-month probationary period, where Bonny and the team look at whether patients are satisfied, if the individual is able to retain patients and whether the employee fits into the rest of the team.

Lesson 4: How Do You Decide on Expanding Your Current Clinic Versus Opening Up a Second Clinic?

This is an important scenario as any business owner is constantly thinking about “what’s next”? Bonny has pondered this situation multiple times, but feels that her current clinic can still be maximized with regards to the services they provide and the people working in the clinic as well. Ultimately, she decided to keep the one clinic, but indirectly she’s added other clinics to her network through her Osteo-Circuit program. The program was developed about 20 years ago when Bonny had a patient with osteoporosis who wanted to exercise, but was fearful of doing the wrong exercises and injuring themselves. Bonny began the program with an aerobics class but expanded and developed a method which resulted in significant decreases in fall and fracture risks for program participants. The program has since expanded to multiple clinics in Ontario, Quebec, Israel and the United States. The key message here is that while Bonny may not have opened multiple clinics, by teaching other physios her program, she’s expanded considerably and was able to reach a large network of both patients and clinic owners.

Lesson 5: Advice for People Who Want to Start their Own Business

Bonny highlights the importance of having multiple sources of input. Not only from physiotherapists who have already established clinics, but from individuals in human resources, lawyers, accountants and especially from family, since they know you well. Secondly, explore WHY you really want to open up a clinic. Is it because it seems to be the norm nowadays, or is there a higher purpose for you? Bonny opened Pro Motion to provide the best experience to her patients in a situation where she could be creative and to provide the best services for them. Determine whether you want to have a partner or not, there are many pros and cons to both scenarios, but it’s important to tailor the findings to your situation. Finally, develop a budget but be mindful of fantastic opportunities that may present themselves, but not be within the confines of your budget. Sometimes, pursuing a great opportunity may not always be the most financially savvy choice and it may involve a significant investment of time and resources. However, for a once in a lifetime opportunity, take the time to really analyze all the details.

These were a glimpse of some of the great lessons that we took away from Bonny! For a full interview, you can access it HERE.


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