Welcome to the “Lessons Learned” edition of PT Business Corner where we provide a summary of our conversation with our guests. Today’s guest is Connor Massimo, co-founder of Pulse Physiotherapy. Connor graduated from McMaster in 2011 with a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy and began working as an orthopaedic physiotherapist at Total Physiotherapy in Peterborough. He obtained his FCAMPT designation in 2015 and has extensive experience in acupuncture and soft tissue release. One year earlier, Connor and Adam Summers co-founded Pulse Physiotherapy, a state of the art facility offering rehabilitation and injury management to the greater Peterborough area. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Connor and discuss owning a clinic in a rural setting.
With years of valuable experience working in healthcare and business, Connor had plenty of information about his journey and shared some valuable 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: Opening a Clinic in a Rural Setting Compared to the City
Connor highlights that similar to urban settings, location is always crucial when opening a new clinic. Connor states that the downtown core of Peterborough was saturated with physiotherapists but there was a scarcity of clinics in the northeast end, where Pulse Physio is currently situated. By strategically picking this prime real estate, Pulse Physio has seen plenty of growth. Connor emphasizes it is important to differentiate your new clinic from established competition, especially if your clinic is located in a more saturated area. Pulse Physio carved its niche by providing specific one-on-one care to individuals in private rooms. While this may seem like a relatively common occurrence, it is a crucial detail which helps to establish therapeutic alliance and provide excellent patient care. Additionally, Pulse Physio provides pelvic health services which is quite common in a densely populated area like the GTA, but in a smaller setting like Peterborough, it is a unique offering. Therefore, when opening a clinic in a rural area attempt to stand out from your competition by providing services that are exclusive and/or target a specific niche.
Lesson 2: Advice for New Graduates Starting Their Own Clinic
Connor advises that you do not need to know everything related to business before opening your own clinic. He stresses that while it is important to develop an understanding about business, it is a learnable skill which can be acquired over time. Thus, a lack of business knowledge should not prevent individuals from opening their own practice. Connor states that there are many resources available for potential clinic owners to learn from, including books and mentoring from other successful clinic owners. For clinicians contemplating opening a new practice in a rural area, Connor mentions that it is important to take into account some key aspects of logistics. For example, if you are opening a clinic in an area such as Muskoka which is commonly known for its tourism, then you may have a huge influx of patients during summer months but see very few clients during winter months. Thus, it is important to account for demographics when attempting to open a new clinic in some rural areas.
Lesson 3: Purchasing vs Renting Clinic Space
Since the beginning, Connor and Adam have been leasing space for Pulse Physio in Peterborough. Although the price of real estate is more affordable in an area such as Peterborough in comparison to the GTA, purchasing land to expand the clinic would simply not be feasible for Connor and Adam. It is an important decision which involved many discussions with accountants and other clinic owners, but in essence, the numbers are paramount. For Connor, purchasing land would require significant penny pinching for years to come, a decision he was uncomfortable with. Ultimately when considering purchasing versus leasing, it is important to analyze numbers and have discussions with others (especially accountants) in order to ensure the viability of your clinic.
Lesson 4: Deciding on Your Role
As a clinic owner, you have to be aware of your career path and consider whether you want to continue to treat patients or switch to more operational role. Connor has pondered this decision and says that he will continue to treat clients for the foreseeable future because he loves his job. He explains that the clinical aspect of physiotherapy is what allured him to the profession and that becoming a clinic owner was a possibility, but he did not always have strong ambitions for it. In regard to his treatment hours, Connor acknowledges that he will likely have to scale them down in order to focus more on growing Pulse Physiotherapy. After all, you can’t devote too much attention to clinic operations if you are treating clients for 10 hours a day. For clinic owners, it is important to focus on work and life balance as well, as treating clients and growing a business are both time-intensive tasks which may lead to earlier fatigue and burnout.
Lesson 5: Advice for Marketing
Connor states that direct marketing nowadays is driven through social media. Connor runs the social media platforms for Pulse Physiotherapy while Adam focuses more on the numbers and clinic operations on a weekly basis. Connor remarks that he is surprised at growth through social media and states that it allows a unique opportunity for clients to interact with healthcare professionals. With regard to etiquette, Connor notes that speaking in generalities is acceptable on social media, but providing specific advice should only be done after carefully assessing clients first.
In addition, Connor and Adam market Pulse Physio through community outreach events such as dragon boat racing and street festivals. These are great opportunities to increase local awareness of the clinic and to have some fun!
These were a glimpse of some of the great lessons that we took away from Connor! For a full interview, you can access HERE.