Welcome to the “Lessons Learned” edition of PT Business Corner where we provide the most important points we learned in discussion with our guests. Today’s guest is Jesse Awenus, co-owner of Synergy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Synergy has two clinics in Toronto and provide unique programs for clients including Back Care and Neck & Shoulder programs. Jesse has specialized in managing acute and chronic pain stemming from sports injuries. He has completed his Fellowship of Canadian Manipulative Therapy and uses a movement-based examination to assess and treat his patients. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with Jesse and discuss healthcare and entrepreneurial success.
With many years of valuable experience working with healthcare and business, Jesse 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: Stay Hungry
Even as a new grad, Jesse was never satisfied by only treating patients and was always preparing himself for eventual clinic ownership. While working in clinics, Jesse viewed his room in the clinic as his personal business. So while he was always striving to achieve the goals identified by the clinics, within his office he was “Jesse Physio Incorporated”. This growth mindset was fueled by his constant desire for autonomy. Jesse didn’t want to rely on other individuals to feed him patients and he strived towards marketing himself and building his own caseload. As a budding physiotherapist, he was curious about the daily operations involved in operating a clinic, even if it was something as simple as ordering therabands. All the tidbits of information he collected served as a strong base when he became co-owner of Synergy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. While he acknowledges that he still has a great deal to learn in the actual ownership role, his constant yearning for improvement will undoubtedly ensure his success.
Lesson 2: Investing in Others
There’s an individual at Synergy who Jesse refers to as the “numbers guy.” While this person isn’t a healthcare professional, Jesse says that he’s been the most impactful individual in Jesse’s ability to co-own the clinic. Jesse highlights that the "numbers guy" possesses strong business acumen (unsurprisingly) and is able to foresee upcoming problems, helping Jesse tremendously with the business aspect of owning a clinic. With regards to having such an individual on your team, Jesse advises that it depends on your business prowess. As physios, we tend to have more experience dealing with clinical decisions rather than business ones. So if you’re faced with tough decisions regarding finances, it may be worthwhile for you to invest in a business professional. Take a look at the individual’s credentials, examine their track record and don’t be afraid to hire help if you’re lacking expertise.
Lesson 3: How to Transition from Physio to Clinic Owner
Jesse stresses the importance of making yourself an asset. Many physiotherapists tend to work 9-5 in a clinic, treat patients, do their due diligence and leave. However, this monotonous role prevents them from becoming a truly valuable asset to the clinic. Physios should be looking at taking ownership or leadership roles in order to provide further value to the clinic. Jesse mentions that he doesn’t ask about money if the opportunity to provide an in-service or mentoring colleague arises, he’s focused on trying to help the clinic. This mindset has proved invaluable for him, as his dedication to leadership and selflessness was noticed by the owners at Synergy and granted him the opportunity to become a co-owner.
Lesson 4: The Importance of Soft Skills
When Jesse is looking to incorporate new clinicians into his staff, he emphasizes that his interviews are very informal. He doesn’t discuss the typical strengths and weaknesses, or ask about a time where you demonstrated your leadership abilities. His litmus test is essentially if he wants to sit down and grab a beer with you. He highlights that therapeutic alliance is tremendously valuable, so the individuals he hires should be personable and can carry on a conversation. He remarks that manual skills and providing certain treatments are teachable skills, however, the real difficulty arises with interpersonal skills. As he puts it, “people either like you, or they don’t.” He’s confident that he can fill learning gaps in clinical knowledge, but Jesse says that having strong soft skills is paramount.
Lesson 5: Marketing the Clinic Brand Effectively
One simple and cost-effective marketing technique Jesse used was joining a Facebook group in the east end of the city, where his clinic is situated. He wrote a post introducing himself and Synergy to the local community, instantaneously accessing 11,000 members. He stresses the importance of promoting a community atmosphere and every single time he’s written a blurb in that group, he’s had multiple new patients call in. Jesse writes the post so it’s easily understandable by the general public, occasionally he’ll add his quips. So far, he has received excellent results. Recently, he has begun utilizing google AdWords to improve marketing. As it was recently implemented he can’t really comment on its efficacy just yet. The best way he markets however, is by providing patients with an unforgettable experience. Patients are greeted by name, which promotes a comfortable and family vibe, rather than feeling like a number. Jesse provides an amazing experience to patients which leads to them leaving rave reviews on Google. This process creates into more attention and more new clients.
These were a glimpse of some of the great lessons that we took away from Jesse! For a full interview, you can access HERE.