By Stacy M. Menz, PT, DPT, PCS
As I was reading over the articles for this month’s issue of Impact, I came to “The New Non-Niche” by Scott Spradling and found myself asking the question, “What is a niche practice anyway?” It was a little odd that this question popped into my mind, since I have always identified myself as a niche practitioner. That being said, I also decided to look up the definition of niche. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary the definition is:
- A job, activity, etc., that is very suitable for someone
- The situation in which a business’s products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people1
Looking at the definition, I feel that all of us in the world of private practice are in a niche practice. In reference to the first definition in the dictionary, we have all found a job or an activity that is suitable for us. I know personally, I could not imagine going back to working for someone else. While I encounter many obstacles as I run and grow my practice, I still would not trade it in. These are my obstacles: I get to be a part of the solution, and I get to create a team and a practice that thrives on the values that my employees and me believe to be paramount. I get to create a niche for other therapists who find outpatient pediatric physical therapy a practice area that is suitable for them.
In part two of the definition, I thought of Mike Eisenhart’s article on marketing, “Building Your Niche—Designing and Growing Innovative Programs.” He hits the nail on the head with his point that by bringing focus to our practice we are able to impact a specific group of people by meeting their needs. He notes that in reality all private practice owners work to fill specific needs of their community, which they have identified. Our business can succeed because we are selling our services to a specific group of people whose needs are met by what we provide. That might look just a little bit different for each practice, but we are all striving toward the same goal.
I hope Scott’s article makes you step back and think a little. The profession of physical therapy is its own niche. Regardless of whether we are in a traditional “niche” (vestibular care, dance medicine, etc.) or are a more general practice, we are all striving to provide a service that is attractive or suitable—to both the provider and to the potential patient/client. What are you doing in your practice to make sure your team is practicing within their desired niche and that your providers are doing everything they can to offer an amazing service to your defined target market? As stated in Mike’s article, are you thinking small or are you going narrow and deep?