Scaling Up Your Physical Therapy Practice: Insider Advice On Expanding To Multiple Locations

July 22, 2023   |   Physical Therapists

When opening up a new physical therapy clinic, whether it’s your first or fifth, Marc Phillips, PhD, DPT, always recommends the same starting point: your mission. After opening seven locations of his clinic in Colorado, he knows that having a clear mission and a vision is key to a clinic’s success and growth.

Today, as Fyzical’s franchise regional consultant of the west region, Phillips supports every new franchisee as they begin their first day of orientation with the company by creating a vision and a mission statement. “So often, we write a mission when we start a business, and it goes in a file somewhere. We don’t ever look at it again. But if you can easily see it when a decision comes up, it will help you make some of those hard ones,” says Phillips.

Fyzical is a physical therapy franchise based in Florida with over 450 franchise locations. Before becoming a regional consultant, Phillips joined the company as a franchise owner. The company acquires PT practices, like those of Phillips, or helps new owners start clinics from scratch.

Build your PT location right so you can expand to a second

The key to opening a physical therapy clinic with multiple locations is setting the first one up right. “For me, it was all about having processes in place early on so that when you expand, you’ve worked out any potential snags that will come up with a single clinic. Otherwise, your bandwidth cannot manage that second, third and fourth clinic,” says Phillips.

For your first clinic, says Phillips, marketing is essential to growth and success. Promote your clinic in local online groups, in neighborhood mailings and with other businesses. Let clinicians in your area know what you do and what sets you apart.

For your second clinic, hiring the right talent makes the difference between succeeding and struggling. Phillips says having well-trained, dedicated staff will allow you to divide your team’s attention between two locations. You’ll likely need to move your most experienced staff to the new location, so you’ll need to hire more talented employees to fill the gaps in the first clinic.

Phillips recommends considering the following three tips when opening a new clinic.

Hire the right team

A physical therapy clinic can only scale by hiring the right team in the first place.

Identify local business resources

Maximize local community resources, such as business groups and networking organizations, for support. Local partners can be key to making the private practice journey less isolating. They also are a great source of referrals.

Identify and track KPIs

Identifying and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) keeps you on top of what happens daily and over time. “Once you come up with a system on how to track KPIs, then train your staff on how to do it,” says Phillips.

Software that tracks KPIs is an important tool to help you get everything out of your head and into something you can transfer to someone else.

Phillips recommends tracking data such as:

  • Visits
  • Cancellations
  • Evaluations (new patients)
  • CPT codes mix

Consider working with a franchise for your PT clinic

Building your first PT clinic on your own can be challenging. If you’re struggling to grow the one you operate or are interested in getting support from the start, joining a franchise operation might make sense.

As a franchisee, you’re still the owner and operator of your clinic. Joining the franchise brand gives you access to many more resources and support from the corporate team. Of course, costs are associated with joining a franchise, and there is less individual control.

The following are some advantages of joining a franchise:

  • Existing brand awareness
  • Data-based decisions for site selection
  • Marketing support
  • Vetting of vendors and group discounts for preferred vendors
  • Business consulting, mentorship and troubleshooting support from the franchise owner
  • Professional development courses
  • Networking from other franchisees

Phillips sees joining a franchise as a way to release much of the burden of being a business owner. This matters especially in the early days of opening a clinic. Franchises like Fyzical provide business owners with a “clinic in a box” game plan, with support from signing a lease to opening a physical therapy clinic in 90 days.

Support from the franchise continues throughout the stages of running a clinic. In his role, Phillips serves as a business coach for clinics in his region. “I’ve owned seven clinics, so my experience and training allow me to help other owners avoid making some of the mistakes that I’ve made.”

How to build a team culture that allows you to grow

Phillips recommends building a positive team culture even when your team is small. “Culture is one of the most important aspects of growing a practice. You need your team to understand that growth can sometimes be difficult and painful, but they’re the ones that will be able to help you get there.”

Positive team culture doesn’t happen on its own, though. Phillips says it starts by helping each individual grow. “Many times, we’re focusing on the bottom line, but providing time for training and investing in your team increases job satisfaction and is more likely to lead to success,” says Phillips.

Mistakes to avoid when opening your first PT clinic

One of the most common mistakes Phillips sees among new physical therapy practice owners is hiring the wrong people. It can be difficult to compete for talent, and many people hire the first person available. “Finding a good match from a culture standpoint and somebody with a growth mindset is worth the wait.”

Phillips also warns against growing too fast. Even great staff can take time to grow into leaders. “You have to find a sustainable growth pattern based on your bandwidth and how quickly your staff can grow and develop into leaders.”

Leadership training is key to maintaining consistency and service quality across different branches if you’re thinking about eventually opening multiple clinics. Leadership training involves knowing the ins and outs of how your clinic works and building skills like conflict resolution, understanding KPIs and conducting annual employee reviews.

Finally, Phillips recommends new owners identify and use supportive contractors – like your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent. This will help you save money and time on your first location and can translate to bigger savings for future locations. “We were always looking for ways we could save money early on because we knew as we grew that if we were spending extra money on clinic one, we’re going to spend extra money on clinic two,” says Phillips.


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