Navigating COVID-19 as a New Practice Owner
By Kevin Lannan, PT, DPT | As told to Craig Phifer, PT
Q: First, congratulations on starting your own practice in January! How did you determine that private practice was the right thing for you?
A: For those who know me personally, I don’t make any quick decisions without careful consideration. After years of working in different settings and for other people, I realized the only way to fulfill my vision of healthcare and human performance was to open my own performance PT practice. I would never be able to create the experience that I hoped to until I created it myself. This is certainly not a knock on my past employers, as I have had wonderful experiences that I wouldn’t trade. I just realized that nobody would believe in this more than myself. This idea cornered me and eventually led to the creation of The MVMT Institute.
Q: You made a profit in your second month, which is incredible. How did you manage that?
A: First, there are a lot of people that were behind the answer to this question, and I need to give credit to them first. I had many friends and family that sort of acted as an advisory board, each of them helping me in different ways. They helped me look at things from different angles and avoid being a prisoner of my own biases. When people see The MVMT Institute, I don’t want them to think of me but all of the people that believed in the purpose and were willing to help get it started. My wife, Bailey, and I have always enjoyed being active in the community and that certainly helped things take off. She was incredibly helpful in developing a social media presence that was true to our roots. As far as the work I did, I had to start with a lean canvas. This helped me to carefully define who I was and what my brand and niche would be. I knew it needed to be personalized care that always focused on quality over quantity. I didn’t want to be something for everyone. I wanted to focus on the areas that I was passionate about.
Passion is very contagious, and I believe my patients and clients felt it. I also wanted to make sure my clients and patients had an unparalleled experience. In the process of building it out, I made sure I was very resourceful, all the way from shopping for building materials to making sure my operating expenses were as low as possible without compromising the experience. As far as revenues, I implemented a hybrid model that included both cash services and accepting insurance. This helped to have a well-balanced menu of services that complemented each other. I really didn’t need to market myself as word of mouth essentially did the marketing for me. Again, passion is contagious, and others were happy to share their experiences. This resulted in quick and organic growth.
Q: Then, in month three, things are going great and you hire another PT, just before the COVID-19 pandemic really hits home in the United States. You must have experienced an incredible range of emotions that month. What was going through your mind at the time?
A: Initially there was a range of emotions. I was worried for my family, my patients, my clients, and my friends and family that were frontline workers. However, I eventually accepted we were facing a public health crisis and there would be no time to sulk. There also was no time to point fingers. I found comfort in knowing that we are all in this together and nobody is exempt. I believe we all have a part in this, and I had to quickly decide what that part would be for myself. I decided I would only make decisions that I would be proud of years down the road, regardless of the financial implications. I called all my patients individually to check in with them and offer some helpful tips while we figured out what to do with the business. I talked with their physicians to see if they had any concerns about me moving to telehealth. A lot of people were on board and that made it much easier.
Q: What was your initial response and how have you adapted personally and as a practice owner over this period of physical distancing?
A: Well, my initial response was revisiting my lean canvas and starting over. The world had changed, and I knew I would have to change with it if I wanted to stay in business and avoid contributing to the spread of the virus. I decided to limit in-clinic visits and start up virtual telehealth and sports performance offerings, including working with teams. This turned out to be a good decision as there was quite a bit of interest in it, and I really enjoyed it. I also have sharpened my camera speaking and have learned new technical skills such as telemedicine and video communications. The MVMT Institute is a relationship-centered business, so it really helped that all the patients never had any doubt that we were working hard to do the best thing for them. As far as adapting personally, I have struggled as I am a social person and really enjoy the company of others. I’ve also had to really adapt how I practice and improve my soft skills and exercise prescription. As a practice owner, I continue to strive to provide solutions for my patients and clients and continue helping them to meet their goals. I’m just using a different platform now, and most of them have been ok with that.
It’s been great to see our profession come together and support each other during all of this. The Private Practice Section put together some great resources, and I was able to collaborate with other owners and members to determine what moves to make. The response of the profession and the support I received from organizations and therapists alike has made me really proud to be a PT.
Q: What are you doing not only as a practice owner, but as husband and father of three young children, to make it through this pandemic?
A: Just taking it one day at a time. This season is being labeled the Great Pause, so I’ve really been focusing on improving my relationships at home and providing value in different ways for my clients and patients. It’s been a great time to reflect on how I got here and how I can do things better going forward. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to jump back into certain activities and lifestyles once this is over, but there are things that I likely won’t go back to, as I realized how much more enjoyable life is without them. I’ve also been trying to exercise more, and re-prioritize my time and who I spend it with. This has been really refreshing and provided clarity in a difficult time. It’s also made me even more thankful for every athlete, team, and patient that is wanting services. When you just start a business, it’s easy to get lost in the day to day and the bottom line. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns about that, but these events have certainly reinforced to me that it’s always people that are most important. Take great care of people and things will turn out all right.
Kevin Lannan, PT, DPT, is the founder and owner of The MVMT Institute in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. He can be reached at Kevin@themvmtinstitute.com.