Does Physical Therapy School Set Us Up for Failure as PT Practice Owners?

Does PT School Set Us Up for Failure as Private Practice Owners?

No but it doesn’t teach us everything we need to know about running a Private Practice, business and marketing. Many PT’s just want to treat and help people in pain get back to normal naturally, not run a marketing campaign!

Looking to automate your practice?

I thought youd want to know

Ive been working with a select group of Private Practice Owners from around the country.

Theyve studied and implemented my Direct Access Marketing System and have diligently been sealing up their Patient Funnels with the 7 Step Direct Access Exam, Green Ink Letter, Direct Access Testimonial Machine, and The Greatest Promotion Everpatching all leaks and maximizing their marketing investments and profits.

In fact, some of them are reporting almost impossible-to-believe results.

Like Derrick, who went from 120 visits/month to 472 visits/month in 10 months (remember my blog on PTs Im willing to be in the trenches with?  Same guy – unreal study ethic and super hard worker). Learn more about how Derrick increased his physical therapy patients and revenue.

Derrick Hines, DPT
Derrick Hines, DPT – Owner Acadiana Pain & Performance Rehab

Anyhow, weve moved on to some higher level concepts in a more advanced training program called, 24 Months to All-Star.

Last month we covered How to Hire Rock Star Personnel”.

This month, I was to move on to another PT marketing system but a few key conversations with Practice Owners led me to stumble on that most of us, as Private Practice Owners, have no clue how to train someone and ultimately work ourselves out of a job.

Whys that important?

Over the past year, Ive had 12 Practice Owners fly in for a day of coaching with me.

We usually cover:

  1. Where theyre at nowon a personal, family and business level.
  2. Where they want to be.

Inevitablynearly every owner at some point has said, WellI want to be like you.

Now, they dont mean, Hey, Id like to be 58, have hairy arms, and a receding hairline.”  (At least I dont think so)

But I believe what they intend to say is: Id like to get to the point where my practice doesnt rely on me. So I can step away and invest more time with my family or work ON my business and expand it or purse other interests. All without it crashing.

So whys this such a BIG deal?

Why do so few Private Practice PT Owners ever learn how to accomplish this?

I don’t know for sure but here’s why I think we’re set up for failure.

What Happens In PT School Should Stay in PT School…

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

When we’re in PT school (graduate or undergraduate), we are given problems. Usually by a professor in the form of a test or practical exam.

It’s then on us to come up with the “right” answer.

And when we do, we’re rewarded.

Usually with an “A” or “B” (or C+ if it’s Organic Chem…ugh!).

And What Happens When We Graduate?

Well then, after graduation (if we had enough “right” answers) we sit and take our license exam.

Same deal – get enough of the “right” answers or enough solutions and we’re rewarded with a PT license.

And What Do Most of Us Do Next?

Well then, we study for a specialist certification, like the OCS or similar.  And againsame game.

Someone gives us a problem,

We give the solution.

Then were rewarded with more letters after our name.

By Now Were Working as a PTSeeing Patients


Oh, and this game is WAY different (tough to type sarcastically).

And whats that look like?

Patients tell us about their problem.

And were paid to solve their problems.

So by now, our inner Pavlovian dog is so conditioned. So ingrained in the habit of people bringing problems to usus having the solution. Were set up for massive success as a Private Practice Manager or Owner, right?

Not Even Close. And Heres Why Its Just the Opposite and Why Most of Us Struggle as Private Practice Owners

Especially if were trying to scale, expand or automate our business.

See, most of us enter into Employer – Employee relationships where were still the Problem Solver”.

And because were the “Problem Solver”we attract employees who are the equivalent of Problem Basset Hounds.

You know the type the staff member who cant handle whats right in front of them (Like a patient, hey, that People Magazine article is way too important).

But are amazing at bringing problems to you.

And will gladly watch you dance your Irish Jig as you try to juggle yet one more problem, one more fire.


Not cool.

Super not cool.

Yet thats where most of us end up in the first few years of Private Practice.

Being the Problem Solver.

Waiting for the fire to be found, so we can run and put it out.

What usually ensues is crazy high stress levels.

Regret and antagonism at our staff members.

Long work hours.

And a Practice and business life that is going nowhere fast.

And is light years away from our original Private Practice Dream.

And It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way…

Chad Madden, PT

Unfortunately, most of us have had to hit rock bottom before we resolved to figure it out.

And the reason Im sharing this is to hopefully save one or two of you from having to go through this.

Because it sucks.

The cognition.the realization is life changing.

And here it is:

Youre paying your staff to be Problem Solvers and bring solutions to you.

NOT to be “Problem Finders” and bring problems to you.

And guess what weve been training our staff to do?

You got it!

Most of us are actually training our staff to be “Problem Finders”.

So the next time a staff member brings you a problem, heres what to do:

  1. Ask them to write down the problem (There are lots of companies that do this. Most notably Amazon).
  2. Then ask them to write down a possible solution.
  3. Then you approve it or dont approve it.

Thats it. Doesnt have to be more tricky than that.

What this does that is truly magical is it 100% empowers your staff.

They may resist at first.

But your best staff will catch on.

Case in Point: The Staff Meeting

Just last week, a Practice Owner, Stacey, flew in for the day (I know, hard to believe someone would actually fly in to spend the day with me but it happens).

Chad Madden And Stacey Raybuck Shatz
Chad and Stacey

Stacey hung out at our Weekly Staff Meeting

And noticed how little I actually did or said at our staff meeting.

I shared that for years, I felt it was my job to talk at my staffand tell them where were at (via metrics) and where were going (our goals and plans).

But after being fed up with the staff backlash, one day I changed it up and had them tell me and more importantly the rest of the staff where they were at, what they had accomplished in the past week, what they were going to accomplish in the upcoming week and how they were going to do it.


The result has been a pleasant one.

Im much less stressed.

No longer have to prepare long weekly plans and solve all of my staffs problems (literally impossible to do with 30 + staff now).

The result is a team who is accountable and achieving their goals.

Our morale is high and we continue to attract awesome staff.

You can do this too.

And you can have the Practice of your dreamsautomating your business by having your staff build systems for your company.

You can do the same.

Just dont do what you did in PT school.

Hope this helps you,


PS – In almost every article, I mention some other training I’ve done for other owners. In a few months, right around the time of PPS in Orlando. I’ll be opening enrollment for the next Killer Marketing class.  As you know I’m super picky who I work with and right now we’re interviewing for the “Early Bird” access.  To date, we have 9 Owners who’ve made the cut and are in.  If you’re looking to take your practice to the next level and build scientific marketing systems with me, then Direct Access Marketing Services & Courses may be your answer.

There’s only one way to find out…

If this sounds like something you’d be a fit for, send me an email at [email protected].  In the subject line write, “Early Bird”.  Include the best number to reach you at in your email…and someone from my office will be in touch to set up a phone interview.

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