Luck of the Draw? No, Not Really!

By Terry C. Brown, PT, DPT

One of the single greatest resources that can make our practices go from good to great is having a dedicated staff that believes in the practice and are with us for the long haul. Every practice owner knows that the people with whom they surround themselves play heavily into the practice’s success or failure.

Most of us are people persons and we can get someone in the door. We understand the need for a competitive salary structure and benefits. We are good at getting them on board, then spending time and money training and molding them into productive team members.

However, how many of us have a comprehensive retention program? Being good at getting folks in the door has nothing to do with keeping them as a longtime faithful employee. Why is this? I think many of us have a misconception about what factors matter for retention. Most of us built our businesses believing that salary, benefits, and incentives would keep our employees satisfied . . . when in reality the drivers go deeper into the human psyche to the actions and attitudes that make employees feel successful, secure, and appreciated.

As private practice owners, we must strive to engage all employees to feel as if they have ownership in the practice. We need to treat them as partners in our endeavor and ensure we meet their needs. I believe there are some core areas that we could all look at to make our employees feel like owners.

First and foremost, remember that communication is a two-way street. Listening and communicating your vision are equally important. Structure your communication to inform, emphasize, and reaffirm to employees that their workplace contributions have an impact. Properly done, communication with your staff will provide you with the insights you need not only to run your business better but also to know how your employees feel about working for your business. Employees need the chance to be heard and recognized.

Empower your employees to do their best. This requires having measurable objectives for each employee and providing steady feedback to them. Studies confirm that people have a deep desire to feel they are succeeding and that their talents and capabilities are being used in a way that makes a difference to the business. When people sense their actions are fulfilling this desire, they begin to develop a sense of belonging and a feeling that your company is their company.

Next is putting your company in a position of competitive advantage. Set yourself apart from the competition. People want to work for a winner. Be active in your community and engage your employees in those activities you support. Build loyalty by earning trust, respect, and commitment from your employees as they work along with you in volunteer efforts to better your community.

We as private practice owners should provide the place for young entrepreneurs to come and build a home that provides them with opportunity for success in the way that each of them defines it. I hope this issue of Impact helps you develop your staff as a competitive core of “business owners” that are providing top care in your community for years to come.


Five-Step Sales for Physical Therapists Who Hate Selling

Step 2: Engage your target audience

By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

Last month, we covered the notion that physical therapists hate selling.

We also discussed that selling is something that can—and should—be delivered naturally by physical therapists, and many of the preconceived ideas we have about sales are wrong.

Selling can be fun. And, if we believe in what we are selling, it could be argued that it is our ethical responsibility to sell.

The five easy steps of selling are:

    1. Awareness. Before all else, the target of your sales efforts must know you exist.
    2. Engagement. Once aware, you must engage their interest, or be forgotten.
    3. Education. Once engaged, you have the opportunity to share your value through education.
    4. Conversion. Once educated, you can comfortably make “the ask,” converting the sale.
    5. Amplification. Once the sale is made, you can now amplify sales through new relationships.

    Last month we discussed Awareness, acknowledging that before we can sell to someone, they have to know we exist. For the math nerds, this can be quantified by something like:

    1 great message x 0 listeners = 0 listeners who have heard your great message

    And awareness is where it all starts.

    Once your customer (or customer segment) is aware, however, you are still not ready to dive in and make the sale.

    You can try—and sometimes you will get lucky—but if you are playing the odds, you need to engage your audience before you can ask them to buy from you (and by “buy,” I am referring to scheduling an appointment, making a referral, or anything else that is going to benefit you).

    Think of the last time you took someone’s advice.

    Was it from someone you knew? Likely.

    Someone you trusted? Hopefully.

    A perfect stranger? Never (Remember “stranger danger”? Well, it applies here, too).

    When you are selling, you are giving your prospective customer some advice. You are advising them to buy from you. And you cannot advise a stranger.

    So you have to engage.

    Engagement brings you one step closer to your prospective client. It takes the awareness you have created, and molds it into a friendly and trusting resource which—at some point in the future—can provide the advice: “Buy from me.”

    So how do we engage? Lots of ways.

    Here are some examples that can be used to engage your audience, building a foundation that will allow you to eventually gain the trust of your potential clientele.

    Examples of how to engage the community at large (businesses, consumers)

    • Like or Follow the social media accounts of businesses you wish to target. Comment on their posts, share their posts with your network, and provide value by sharing information your target businesses may find useful.
    • Demonstrate your value to the local consumer market through free screenings, educational sessions, and guest lectures for synergistic businesses. Take the time to engage with your audience during and after these opportunities, and follow up personally (via email, phone, or other) with every contact made with a potential customer.
    • Make your contact information publicly available, and respond in a timely way to pings via social media, email, or phone. Consumers are on the constant prowl for resources to help them, and they will reach out to those they find most readily engaging. It will be you or your competitor.

    Examples of how to engage professional referral sources (physicians, health care professionals)

    • Strike up a relationship with the office staff of your target referral sources. These are ambassadors who—once engaged—will help you immensely as you try to work toward referral decision makers. Know there is no relationship that is “beneath” you, and forming engaging relationships with office staff is often overlooked by your competition. Use it.
    • Collect and document personal information about your professional referral sources and use it in your conversations with them. It is not creepy—it is smart. While your competition is boring your target physician with details about their education and background, you should be asking about their spouse and children by name. It will win every time.
    • Use personal channels to communicate, such as email, handwritten notes, and social media. Personal channels are, well, personal. They stand apart from the networking luncheons used by your competitors. It allows for a level of engagement that will distance you from others vying for time from your target audience.

    There are many, many ways to engage your audience and a good rule of thumb is “What works on me?”

    We are all the target of many a salesperson and the information we use to determine from whom we buy is useful in our own engagement tactics. Dissect the last time someone actually made an inroad with you that led to a sale, and see if that could work for you as well. It probably will.

    Next month, we will tackle step three, the concept of Education. You do it every day, but are you using it as a tool in your sales toolbox? We will find out next month.

    Until then, find me online at @tannusquatre and let me know how you are engaging your target market. You will find that I do as I say—I will engage you.


    Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, is a physical therapist and entrepreneur dedicated to improving the profession through innovative business and marketing solutions. His work can be seen in such projects as PT Pub Night® and, as well as through numerous speaking and authored contributions to American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Private Practice Section (PPS). He is president of Vantage Clinical Solutions and can be reached at

Staff Recruitment and Retention

By Allyson Pahmer

In a white paper released in January of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) investigated the difference in labor market activity—job openings, new hires, and separations—among 20 different industries and found that health care was one of a handful of industries where job availability far exceeded the number of new hires. Not only was that true for the reported, actual data they studied, but BLS also projects 5 million new jobs in health care between 2012 and 2022 and forecasts the compound annual rate of change—that is, the calculation of job openings, hires, churn, and fill rates—at 2.6 percent, the highest of all industries, tied only with construction.1

It is probably not news to any of us that the aging of the U.S. population will result in an increased need for health care workers to care for these seniors, as well as the need to replace those health care workers who are “aging out” of the workplace themselves. Physical therapists will be called on to assist this population with rehabilitation and wellness services in numbers and volumes we have never seen, and today’s physical therapy students are likely looking at a healthy employment future. 

But the availability of health care employment opportunities tells only one side of the story. I have heard from many Private Practice Section (PPS) members how difficult it is to find qualified, dedicated workers for their clinics and businesses. Survey information collected at this year’s PPS Annual Conference only reinforces these anecdotes. When asked, “What problems or issues would you like PPS educational programs to address?”, write-in responses included “recruiting the right staff,” “managing across generations,” and “cultivating a service-oriented workforce.” Nearly half of the 114 submissions the Annual Conference Program Work Group looked at fell into the human resources and practice management categories (although I will admit that this collection of submissions skewed much more to practice management than to HR, about 5 to 1). 

For those of you seeking assistance in this area, you have come to the right issue of Impact. And if you are looking for help from past issues, the Human Resources Compendium of Impact articles is a resource you must have on your shelf. The Compendium offers a concise resource for topics ranging from recruiting and hiring to mentoring, from compensation to equity arrangements, from communication skills to leadership development, and much more. 

Do not overlook the other resources your Section has to offer year round. Programming at past Annual Conferences is archived on the PPS website, as are some of our past webinars like “Independent Contractors vs Employees: What You Need to Know,” “10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review,” “Retaining Key Personnel through Deferred Compensation Strategies,” and “Riding the Waves Without Getting Wet: How to Introduce and Manage Change in Your Practice to Get Better Results.” 

As we look ahead to this year’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, October 19-22, think about sending your office staff to participate in the Administrator’s Certificate program. This 3-day, 13-hour curriculum is designed for the non–physical therapists on your payroll and is a complete immersion into marketing and customer service, human resources, business operations, legal compliance, financial management, and billing and coding. 

Finally, the granddaddy of PPS guidance, “Private Practice: The How-To Manual,” delivers on its promise to be a concise guide for physical therapists who are considering opening a private practice—and, I would add, for those who already have their own practice and could use a little help with, say, writing a business plan or revenue cycle management. The section on “Managing Human Resources” is an invaluable resource in payroll, credentialing requirements for insurance, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, employment policies and procedures, insurance and other benefits, compensation, and retention.

We hope these and other PPS resources help you build the best, most committed, and loyal staff you can. If we are missing something, please do not hesitate to let us know. 

1. “Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2016. Accessed March 2016.

Allyson Palmer
Executive Director, PPS


Because They Cannot Say No

By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

My dad always taught me not to take “no” for an answer. It has served me well both personally and in business.

While I am pretty sure the message Dad was trying to get across was to assert myself, there is a slight twist on this lesson that works well when selling your services: Do not let “no” be an answer.

When selling, many people are essentially asking the question, “Will you buy this from me?” A question that starts with the word “will” has two possible final destinations: “yes” or “no.”

That is not good enough. We do not want “no” as an answer. A good salesperson works hard to ensure the answers are all just different shades of “yes.”

Sounds great, but how does this all work? Here are a few tips that work to keep “no” out of the vocabulary for your customers.

Ditch the words “will” and “would.” When attempting to close a deal (schedule a patient, solicit a referral), never use the words “will” and “would.” Questions starting with these words can end in “no.” Starting your questions with words such as “when” and “how” provide options that do not facilitate “no” as an answer.

Do: “When is your next availability?”

Do Not: “Would you like to schedule your next appointment now?”

Use your watch, not theirs. Oftentimes, getting to “yes” takes several tries. As many will attest, a single lunch with a physician group does not by itself open the floodgates to new referrals. When a “yes” is not achieved, make sure that follow-up plans are directed by you, not them. If you did not get what you want, schedule a follow-up on your timeline and get agreement on your follow-up plan.

Do: “Thanks for your time today, I’ll plan to follow up with you in a couple weeks to check back in.”

Do Not: “Thanks, well just let me know if you want to follow up on this at a later time.”

Change the subject. If you do not see the answer you are looking for on the horizon, do not force the issue. Changing the subject will still give you the opportunity to leave a good impression and to work on getting to “yes” at a later time.

Do: “OK, enough about physical therapy for now . . . you said you had kids, where do they go to school?”

Do Not: “OK, it does not sound like you are ready for physical therapy right now. Let me know if you change your mind.”

Always leave an opening. Unless you have determined that you no longer want the business from your customer, never, ever, ever, let the conversation resolve with a final “no.” There is always the potential to earn the business at a later time, and leaving an opening to a future conversation can be key to landing good business down the road.

Do: “OK, it looks like you are all set for now but listen, I am going to stay in touch with you, and please make sure to reach out if your needs change before we talk again.

Do Not: “OK, well I am sorry I cannot serve you right now. I appreciate your time.”

“No” is a dirty word in sales, and it can unwittingly harm those who need our services. We have to be assertive. So, do not take “no” for an answer . . . better yet, do not let “no” be an answer.

tannus_quatre 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

Build Bench Strength

By Paul Martin, PT, MPT, CBI, M&AMI

In the current outpatient rehabilitation market, growth is not an option. There are multiple companies acquiring businesses across the nation and rapidly growing in their local markets. One of the best ways to grow your business is by establishing new clinics in contiguous markets. The challenge in most cases is finding therapists who can treat and manage these new locations.

We recommend building a program to mentor your existing staff to become those next clinic directors. Develop a career ladder in your business that points to a staff therapist growing to become a manager. Then create a training program that helps a therapist build those skills to become your next successful clinic director.

We work with some of the best rehabilitation businesses in the country, and one of the key attributes to these companies is a strong bench of therapists who can be called on to fill a need for a new clinic director.


Paul Martin, PT, MPT, CBI, M&AMI, president of Martin Healthcare Advisors, is a nationally recognized expert on health care business development and succession planning. As a consultant, mentor, and speaker, Paul assists business owners with building value in their companies. He has authored The Ultimate Success Guide, numerous industry articles, and weekly Friday Morning Moments. He can be reached at

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