The Why: A Patient Success Story


A member perspective of healthcare turned marketing opportunity

By F Scott Feil, PT, DPT, EdD

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways that humans learn.

It was a story told not by me, but by a patient of mine that really grew my business, and it was all through word-of-mouth marketing in the most viral sense of the word. When I first started my mobile physical therapy practice, I was not sure how to get my first few patients in the small (at least to me) city of Waco, Texas. I started by visiting all three CrossFit Boxes in the area and gave quarterly presentations on injury mitigation for key parts of the body like shoulder, low back, and hip and knee. My first two patients were female Crossfitters both looking to rehabilitate shoulder injuries. After working with both women, I realized that CrossFit was not my niche and not a population I could help tremendously. Ironically, both women had husbands who were small business owners in the area, and one had asked if I treat ankles while the other inquired about the neck. I explained to them I could treat both of those parts of the body and began working with the husband of each woman.

The first gentleman’s neck issue resolved in about four weeks with some simple strengthening, stretching, and joint manipulations. He was thrilled to get back on the tennis courts in his spare time and be relatively pain-free. He started telling all his friends (coincidentally, many of them were small business owners too). The second husband took a little bit longer to fix his ankle, but he too eventually was able to return to his sport of choice and even placed second in a member-guest golf tournament he was worried he may not be able to compete in. He too began spreading the word of how great my services were and how amazing it was that I would drive to his office with my treatment table for our sessions. That was one of the main benefits off working in home health and having a Cash Pay Mobile PT Practice — I was driving around all day; I figured I might as well sprinkle my patients in amongst my home health patients.

Worth Every Penny

Little by little I started attending some local business clubs, associations, and meetings, and I would meet many more business owners from the area over the next year or so. When I would explain to them my business and that I offered physical therapy and maintenance programs, they would show minimal interest and maybe ask a few questions, we would exchange cards, and I would never hear from them again. But new patients kept calling and scheduling and when I asked how they heard about me, it was usually one of those first two gentlemen that I treated in the business world. I reached back out to them to see what they were telling these people that made them want to pursue physical therapy with me, and both had a very similar story.

They set the scene with the barrier they were having in return to their sport of choice (tennis and golf) and explained their pain and limitations. They would then tell people in their circle who were having body aches, pains, or issues to contact me because I could get them better faster, and I saved them a ton of time because I would come to their home, their office, or their gym for my session. They said that alone was worth every penny.

A Trusted Source

Not once did they mention that I was a physical therapist let alone had a doctorate (or two). People just heard, from a trusted source, that I could get them better and back to doing what they loved, and I would save them time in the process. I was pitching physical therapy when really what I was selling was a business owner’s greatest asset — time. The golfer then told me one key takeaway in business and marketing — sell them on what they want, then give them what you know they need. This message has stuck with me ever since, even in my coaching and consulting business. Speak to your potential customers in the language they use repeating back to them what it is they are telling you they want, then solve the problem they have with your knowledge and skill sets (regardless of what you call it).

This key transition in mindset and messaging fostered the success of my business and shaped how I market physical therapy moving forward.

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