Louis Zollo, PT, MSPT, CMP, OCS
Louis Zollo, PT, MSPT, CMP, OCS, is a member of the APTA Private Practice Section and is the co-owner of Manchester Sports & Physical Therapy in Manchester, New Hampshire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practice, Location: Manchester Sports & Physical Therapy, Manchester, New Hampshire
Size of practice: 4 employees
Years in practice: 13 years as a practice owner, 23 years in practice total
Favorite vacation spot: Ogunquit, Maine. Best beaches on the upper East Coast with great waves, but the water is cold!
Favorite movie: The Godfather
How do you like to spend your free time? When I am not in the office, you will find me doing some of the other passions in my life: coaching football, getting my own workouts in, and also spending time with family. Running my own private practice doesn’t leave me with much free time so I try to make the most of it when I do have it.
Like most about your job: The best part of the job is having the opportunity to meet new people from different walks of life and helping them get back to those lives again. Patients and injuries are like snowflakes . . . no two are ever the same.
Like least about your job: Fighting with hospitals and physician-owned practices for patients. It seems that every year a local hospital expands its services or another physician-owned private practice opens. I end up replacing my top referral sources almost every year, but I keep fighting.
Most important lesson you’ve learned: Even the best clinicians can’t “fix” every patient. As you gain experience you understand that sometimes patients will have residual deficits despite your best efforts. As a young therapist it can make you question yourself, but with age comes wisdom and understanding.
Describe your business philosophy: Primary focus should be on customer service. We are in a service industry, and you should try your hardest to make your customers feel appreciated. Having the best equipment and the best clinical skills won’t do you any good if you don’t treat your customers well. I start every day with the goal of having 100 percent customer satisfaction. We track this information with patient surveys throughout the treatment process to make sure we are hitting our marks!
Describe your management style: Treat each employee as I would like to be treated. No task is above me and likewise, everyone on my team is willing to help me out. A full open door policy with upfront honesty is vital. Taking steps to have high employee satisfaction is as important as having high patient satisfaction. They go hand in hand.
How do you measure success? I have always felt the best way to measure success (other than boring metrics) is to see how many patients are referring family members, friends, etc. That is always the best compliment: to know that someone was satisfied enough with my services that they would send others they know.
Goal yet to be achieved: Retirement . . . I love what I do, but I am looking forward to getting some more free time when my private practice days are behind me.
Best Decision: I worked for a number of years for a large, multistate corporate physical therapy company. Although I still loved being a physical therapist, I didn’t necessarily agree with their version of physical therapy. This pushed me to explore other options, which eventually led me to starting my own practice in partnership with the Pinnacle Rehabilitation Network 13 years ago. Best decision I ever made!
Toughest Decision: Probably the same as many private practice owners. Having to move on from employees who just didn’t fit in the practice. When you have a private practice, you put so much time and effort into it and you hope that others share your vision and goals. When that doesn’t happen and it’s time to move on, it’s never easy.
How do you motivate your employees? I work hard to make them feel as though this is their business too. When they feel they are really part of something as opposed to just another person in an office, it helps to motivate them to take that extra step. It makes the difference between an employee and a happy employee.
If you could start over, what would you do differently? I wouldn’t have waited so long in my career to open a private practice. I spent too many years in the corporate physical therapy world helping to make executives I didn’t know rich, when I could have been working for myself and been much more satisfied. It would have been nice to have a few more years in private practice when the payment was better too!
Describe your marketing strategy: Each and every patient that you treat is your best marketing agent. Treat them as such. When they have a family member or friend who needs services, they will send them to you. When they go back to their MD for follow-up, they will be sure to talk about what a great job you have done, or how much they have enjoyed the experience. The best part is marketing that way is free.
What worries you about the future of private practice? As accountable care organizations expand, hospital networks expand, and more physician-owned physical therapy practices continue to open, it will continue to be difficult to access referrals. It’s already happening and as these large groups consolidate, you could wake up one morning and find out that you are “out of network” with everyone, despite having top-notch services. I will just keep fighting the good fight!