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Sept. 20 2006 12:00 AM

           Physical therapists, physicians, personal trainers and chiropractors have similar business goals: improve the health of their patients, help relieve pain, and by doing these things well, increase revenue. The more successful you are at improving your patients' health and relieving their pain, the more successful you will be financially. Right? Not necessarily... as many of you know.

            One problem that many clinicians face is getting too caught up in day-to-day activities and patient care. If you are constantly working in "present" mode, it doesn't allow you to think strategically into the future.

            Take five minutes to write down the answers to the following questions:


1. Have you been steadily increasing the number of new patients you see in your practice every year or does it stay the same?

2. What do you do really well?

3. What are you doing that is markedly different from your competitors?

4. How are you educating your referral sources and your community about what you do?

            If you answered that your business is staying about the same every year, you need to focus on the following questions. Chances are you are not giving your patients and your referral sources enough reasons to choose you over your competitors.

            So, what do you do next? Write down a list of your competitors. Then answer the same four questions for them. If you can't, you need to get to know your competitors better. Then put yourself in the place of a potential patient. Why would he/she choose you over your competitors? Are you offering something amazing that no one else is offering? Are you visible at community and corporate events so people know your name? Do people know your areas of expertise? The answer is probably no to one or more of these questions or your business would be growing. But if you say yes to each of these and your business still isn't growing, write down the answer to one more question.

            This is a painful question for anyone to answer. There may be one person or business process that is killing your practice even though you produce great results. If you honestly look at your practice through the eyes of your patients and the physicians who refer them and you see something that needs drastic improvement, make a change!

            If you don't see any special reason why a patient or referring physician would choose you, make a change by developing your own niche market. If there is something driving patients away, make a change! Change is good. Change helps you grow. And it will probably be the best thing you've done for your practice in a really long time.


            Molly Foley works with Joe Cirulli on developing the Core Spinal Fitness Systems. For more information, visit


What is your average annual income for your fitness-related work/business?