Michael Eisenhart, PT
Michael Eisenhart, PT, is a PPS member and owner of Pro-Activity Associates in Lebanon, New Jersey. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Practice: Pro-Activity Associates
Location: Lebanon, New Jersey
Pro-Activity Associates is a nontraditional practice consulting with and embedded in various locations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania with 15 employees, 16 years in practice.
What has been the greatest influence on your professional career? Hands down, my parents. My dad pushed me not only to be a part of a skilled profession, but also to view it as a base on which to build, rather than a fixed asset to protect. Once I was convinced, he then flooded me with business-related content. I got hooked and became a huge geek, and it has served me very well. My mom (an early educator), on the other hand, made it okay to carve out my own path—to “trust your crazy ideas”—a Dan Zadra quote written on a postcard she picked up at the Crayola factory with her class and gave me shortly after graduation. I think people who know me would say that I am a total geek who can be found doing things that seem crazy to some. I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me that gift.
Describe the flow of your average day: For me, there really is no average day, which is just the way I like it. My alarm goes off between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. on most days, and from that point I do whatever is most important to help my team achieve its goals. Some days that means working directly with clients, some days that means team development and planning, and some days that means helping to build the brand. Although I have not seen a “traditional patient” in 10 or more years, I meet with clients all the time, any day or time they need me (and sometimes when they do not know it yet).
Describe your essential business philosophy: “If we care enough to do the right thing and take down barriers for those we serve, anyone can change the world, even if only one person at a time.” You’ll find that written on the walls at our facility, and I deeply believe it.
What are your best/worst/toughest decisions? All the same decision for me—early in my career, I concluded that with the trajectory of health in the United States, the inherent value in keeping people healthy would, at some point, so drastically dwarf the value of restoring health, that someone would be willing to pay for it. Despite being told “physical therapy does not do maintenance,” I decided to trust the crazy idea that prevention and performance had great potential.
How did you get your start in private practice? My sister, who is also a physical therapist, and I each put up $500 and borrowed $1,000 from our dad. Then we scraped, hustled, and sprinted—doing whatever it took [to get the business off the ground]—all while keeping our “day jobs.” As soon as we had enough cash, we quit those day jobs and went to work for ourselves. We put every dollar (except very modest salaries) back into the business for a very long time and made sacrifices along the way. It was fast-paced, and draining at times—but it worked for us.
Left: Pro-Activity holiday party; Right: Trying to muster a smile to high-five daughter at mile 127 in Ironman at Lake Placid.
How do you stay ahead of the competition? We work hard at what we do, and we care very deeply about the outcomes of our work—so maybe we rely on endurance. Of course, it could equally be that we’re just too stubborn (or dumb) to give up. We have enough “productive paranoia” to take competitors seriously, although we usually focus on doing what we do the best way we can to deliver for our clients.
What have been your best learning experience/s (mistakes) since inception of your practice? Trust. For me, starting a business was like raising an infant. A ton of work to do it right, something you are not very good at the first time, but something that challenges you to grow as it develops. Trusting others to help in the growth and development of my biz-baby was hard for me and at times the overprotective parent still rears up wanting to “do it all.”
What are the benefits of PPS membership to your practice? Hands down, the networking. I have realized that there are people with similar goals and a strong entrepreneurial mindset in the physical therapy world. Our challenges each have nuances that make them different, but the ground we are standing on is very similar (and there are even a few who do not think I’m crazy)!
What is your life motto? Be a doer of extraordinary things.
What worries you about the future of private practice and what are you optimistic about? I am worried that we will not adapt to perhaps some of the greatest opportunities our profession has ever faced. We are effective and low-cost. We can be the disruption that health care so badly needs: a means to bring affordable health to the mainstream. However, it does not (currently) look like we will be. I am extremely optimistic that we can do it. However, I am worried that we will not do it.
What are some new opportunities you plan to pursue in the next year? Our practice has almost kicked our addiction to insurance contracts. The vast majority of our revenues are not from traditional payers, and we are seeing our clients improve. It is exciting. We set out 16 years ago to change the way business gets done, and that is what we continue to pursue every day.