Because You Have Connected the Dots
By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA
Your clients do not know what you know.
Put it on a sticky note. Write it on your hand. Whatever you need to do—remember this axiom. It will help you fill your schedule.
That is right, by reminding yourself that your clients know less than you—in most cases, much less than you—this will force you to connect the dots between what you deliver them, and what they credit you for. The more value they attribute to you, the more they will consider you first the next time they have a need.
There are lots of reasons patients get better. The body’s natural healing process, positive lifestyle changes, and the gunshot approach whereby a patient throws everything at the wall to see what sticks; they may try physical therapy, combined with medication, combined with yoga, and so on.
How does your client know that you have helped put them on a path to less pain, better movement, or return to activity? How do they know it is not the home remedy they tried, or the advice they heard from a friend?
You must help them connect the dots. And connecting the dots is generally pretty easy. It requires that you tap into your natural strengths as an educator, and simply calls for a direct and simple correlation that is made between your intervention and the positive outcome achieved by your patient.
When your patient comments that they are moving better, drill into exactly what was done to achieve this. Use specific examples that draw a correlation between your intervention and/or education, and the result they have achieved.
Spell it out for them and leave nothing to chance. You have to connect the dots.
When Janelle tells you that her iliotibial (IT) band is no longer irritated at the three-mile mark during endurance training, this is your opportunity to recap the treatment intervention you have applied, and call attention to specifics that will ensure that she does not confuse her improvement with other variables outside of your care.
When Bill reports that he has not fallen at home in over a month, recap the specific balance exercises that you are performing which relate to his functional improvement. Emphasize the importance of continuation of the specific exercises you prescribed, and make sure that yours is the number he calls when any related issue arises.
You provide services in a profession whereby your customers will always be operating with imperfect information; they do not know what you know. Because of this, your clientele is susceptible to many influences that can hijack credit for the excellent work you have done to restore their function.
From television, to word of mouth, to medication and more—even after you have delivered a successful outcome, it is your responsibility to connect the dots for your clientele and make sure they understand that physical therapy has provided them with the value they experience today. Do this consistently, and you will have a lot of repeat customers ready to fill up your schedule.
Have a good example of connecting the dots for a client? Ping me at @tannusquatre and let me know what you are doing. I would love to share your examples.Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.