Bridgit Finley, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Bridgit Finley, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, is the chief executive officer and founder of Physical Therapy Central. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Practice specifics (number of locations, employees, years in operation): We are having our 10-year anniversary this year and have grown from one location in Norman, Oklahoma, to 17 locations across Oklahoma. We have 42 full-time physical therapists and over 65 full-time employees. Most of the physical therapists that we hire have been our students. Each location has a clinic owner, which makes us unique.
What is the most influential book/person/event that enhanced your professional career and why? The One Thing changed the way I focus, work, and get things done. The authors condensed information from time management and leadership gurus and improved their original material. It is a must read.
Who are the most influential people in your career? Julie Whitman and Tim Fearon. They changed the way that I practice physical therapy. I have also been working with a business coach, Rob Wainner, and over the last six months it is amazing how far I have come with the ability to make decisions and communicate with my team.
Describe the flow of your average day. Do you treat patients and how many hours a day/week? When do you perform management tasks, answer emails, market? I see patients 16 hours a week (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) and on the other days, I mentor, run the business, and pursue growth opportunities. I really enjoy teaching and mentoring my team and more and more of my time is devoted to developing them. I continue to market the business, but I have purposely stopped doing the day-to-day tasks and delegate those duties to the local clinic owners.
Describe your essential business philosophy: My business philosophy is: growth at a controlled and systematic pace. Develop your people and promote from within. Always start with the right person and then find the right location to open a clinic. It is easy to say that you are a “people first” company and much harder to operate and make decisions based on those core values.
What have been your best/worst/toughest decisions? It was tough to close a clinic because of the people it affected. It was losing money and I knew that it had to be done, but it was difficult.
What is the best decision you have made? The best decision I have made was to partner with the best and brightest physical therapists to open clinics.
How do you motivate your employees? Author Dan Pink is my guiding light: I foster mastery, autonomy, and purpose. I treat each one of my employees just like I want them to treat my customers. We provide professional development and residency training so that they develop mastery. They enjoy their jobs because they are good at what they do.
How do you stay ahead of the competition? I had just opened my first location and I wanted some insight and information and a friend suggested that I join the Private Practice Section (PPS). The first conference I attended, I was hooked because of all the great friends I met and the great network I created.
I believe that the competition makes us better and stronger. It keeps us moving forward and does not allow us to settle. We focus on customer service, and expert, evidence-based physical therapy. Most of our marketing is internal marketing to our customers, who become lifelong consumers and consequently refer their friends.
I had to learn how to lead and feel comfortable in the chief executive officer position. I started the company and, at one time, had treated all the patients. I had to learn how to decrease my patient care hours. I love being a physical therapist and love working with patients. That decision is still very hard for me. However, the company was grown and I needed to step up and lead. I held on to patient care for too many years.
What are the benefits of PPS membership to your practice? I am always seeking out resources from the PPS section in terms of podcast, ideas, and information. For me, the most beneficial offering is the annual conference. I always learn something, have great networking opportunities, and enjoy seeing all the vendors.
What is your personal goal? My personal mission statement is simple: Do the right thing, treat people fairly, and pursue growth and learning. I never want to settle or stop improving.
What worries you about the future of private practice/what you are optimistic about? I think what worries me most is the uncertainty of health care and reimbursement. Health care dollars are shrinking, and we have to maximize our productivity. I am optimistic that people see value in physical therapy services, and if we can educate the public, I feel like they will choose physical therapy over surgery and/or drugs. We provide the best and lowest cost care for musculoskeletal conditions. We need to shout this out.
List at least one new opportunity you plan to pursue in the next year: Our company is continuing to grow and expand. This year we opened six clinics and next year we plan to do the same thing.