Sean Flannagan, PT, DPT, Cert. SMT, Cert. DN

Sean Flannagan, PT, DPT, Cert. SMT, Cert. DN. is the founder, owner, and director of One Accord Physical Therapy, in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Practice specifics: 4 locations, 13 employees, 12 years in private practice.

What or who is the most influential book/person/event that enhanced your professional career? Outside the gracious support of my wife, the first person who comes to mind who continues to impact me daily is Brian Klemmer who died in 2011. Everything he did was about building up others. He wrote the book If How-To’s Were Enough, We Would All Be Skinny, Rich and Happy! He never feared competition, and I actually sat in a meeting with Brian where he helped a competitor become better and more profitable through his guidance. He truly practiced the philosophy of building people up, because when you do, they will build your business. He said most owners build a business and fill it with people, they remain unapproachable, they do not trust, they fear competition, they fear employees going beyond them, and they fear that there is not enough out there for them. I would rather have a great employee who wants to open a practice one day, than one who just wants to punch a clock. I feel honored to be part of their story and their success presently and in the future.

Describe the flow of your average day. Do you treat patients and how many hours a day/week? When do you perform management tasks, answer emails, market? I’m currently treating about six hours a day, with a lot of my management responsibilities done early in the a.m. Over the last three years I have been heavily involved with continuing education (, so I have to balance that passion along with my business pursuits. My family is the most important aspect of who I am and what I do, so I attempt to respect and balance my family time. I have had to learn to turn off the seduction of the entrepreneurial spirit within me. It is easy to get drawn into what I equate to an affair with your business. If I push, it grows and if I rest, it rests, and it does not directly point out my weaknesses unless I inquire. The business can become an addictive escape from actually growing and staying connected at home. Home requires you to be real, it requires you to be present, and it requires you to grow. I equate marriage to Lifelong Personal Development 101, kids are 201, and business is 301. You should never stop growing and learning.

How would you describe your essential business philosophy? We purpose to build a culture that builds people, inspires growth, encourages risk, and does not hold people back from their professional pursuits. We emphasize the patient experience before money, yet value profitability. Always make your employees think beyond you and attach to a bigger vision. I personally lead by example and put family and God first, and I encourage my employees to always keep family and personal growth a priority.

How do you motivate your employees? Employees are what I enjoy most about business. We have some creative hiring processes that allow us to get a true sense of the person we are interviewing and if they will fit within our culture. If I am going to spend more time with you than I do my wife, then let us agree to play big together. Personality assessments are a big part of that process, but I think how we use them is unique. I tell interviewees, “If you are here to just punch a clock, then we are not for you.” We have a rich learning environment that challenges us all to question our outcomes and clinical reasoning, as well as to balance professional and family life. As a group, we embrace students and enjoy working with those that will be the future of our profession.

How did you get your start in private practice? I worked both for a private practice and for corporate physical therapy prior to going into private practice. Being around people like Brian really sparked the entrepreneurial spirit in me and I wanted to invest in and develop people, as well as have the freedom to spend time with my wife and kids.

How do you stay ahead of the competition? In the beginning it was just to survive, then it grew to being able to become profitable; now we are working to develop staff and create freedom. A large part is our employees and their dedication to our patients. I am humbled by how hard they work. They describe our company as their second family, and truly it is their efforts and dedication to their professional growth that keeps us ahead of the competition. I wish we had a great marketing system, but we have not needed one. Our word-of-mouth marketing from our patients has kept us consistently growing, but that only happens because of the culture we have developed that puts employees first, so they truly serve our patients.

What are your best learning experience/s (mistakes) since inception of your practice? I am still learning daily; it never ends. We are always where we need to be to grow . . . it is hard sometimes to know that the struggle and challenges are our shortcuts to growth. I failed at asking for help early on, failed at searching out mentors, failed at being humble enough to admit my weaknesses. I think the best thing a business owner can do is find a coach and mentor. I did not early on and it is cost me, both professionally and personally. If you want to limit your struggles, then engage other private practice owners through the Private Practice Section or even other business owners who are willing to share their expertise and give you honest critical feedback about where you are weak and need to grow.

What is your life motto? You are always exactly where you need to be, to become who you are called to be. Your current trial is a shortcut to becoming mature, complete, and lacking nothing.

What worries you about the future of private practice/what are you optimistic about? I believe in every market there is opportunity and that we will survive, but we must adapt with others with a similar vision and culture.

What new opportunities do you plan to pursue in the next year? We are revamping how we measure success and approach profitability. Yes, I have a new mentor for this pursuit. With thinner profit margins and a commitment to improving our outcomes, we have to really redefine our practice model. In addition, we are focusing on our residency program and our continuing education company. It is going to be imperative to collaborate and grow with those who have a similar vision for the future of our profession.

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