Planning and realisation of a commercial training division in physical therapy
The basic idea of a commercial training division is simple and promising. A physical therapy practice extends its therapeutic services to include a self-pay segment. The patients at this practice as well as other interested parties benefit from regular training under expert physiotherapeutic guidance and the practice benefits through added revenue.
So much for the theory. But those wishing to install a successful self-pay training division, not only need the premises, the staff, the training equipment and probably financing; they also need a consistent marketing concept that clearly defines the training offers needed to win over and permanently retain self-payers.
Challenges for building a separate training division
This step towards a commercial training division is easier to take for physical therapy practices that already have self-payers or co-payers for their therapy services. The experience gained with private settlement and self-paying patients proves very helpful at the beginning. It is true that the willingness to delve into one’s own pocket for health services has increased over the past few years but it still strongly depends on the patients’ income situation and their level of suffering.
Due to the income issue the location of the practice also automatically increases in importance. As does the question of how many health-oriented training services are already offered in the surroundings of that practice. Alongside these marketing-related questions finance, personal service, the design of facilities, the training offers, the training equipment as well as insurance, taxes, etc. are among the other challenges to be critically and comprehensively analysed and examined prior to realisation.
Winning over and motivating patients and customers
This remains the biggest challenge and, at the same time, most important success factor: How do you win over people to take part in commercial training sessions in your practice? For fitness club members fun and retaining physical performance are at the forefront whereas in physical therapy practices health impairments can be the motivation to train. This means the advertising, customer service and the motivation of the persons trained at a practice must be attuned accordingly.
The physical therapists planning a self-pay division should first ask themselves: How many of my patients are interested in training of this kind at all and how many of them will I be able to win over? How many physicians in my surroundings will I be able to convince of a cooperation? Are there enough companies in my surroundings that I could offer corporate health management concepts to? What are the training concepts I could attract people outside my patientbase with?
Marketing as a success factor
Just designing a little flyer to promote self-pay divisions is no longer sufficient these days. The website is the decisive point of departure for marketing activities for many businesses. Almost everyone is searching the web for information in a targeted manner today. Which is why the website should be highly visible, informative, well-structured and its visual vocabulary should be appealing. Since the majority of searches are of a regional nature it is makes sense to have a Google Business account. This ensures the practice can easily be found in local Google searches. Online Marketing, such as landing pages or Social Media, are also topics addressed by a lecture at FIBO@business, the digital version of FIBO, on 1 and 2 October.
You should also be found on Jameda and other platforms that list and rate physical therapy practices. Never lose sight of your rankings on these platforms and be sure to react. Physiotherapy practices should also be on social media like Facebook and Instagram with a link to their landing page. If you lack marketing expertise it is recommended you seek assistance. Canvassing customers is a team effort. A well informed and motivated team helps to recruit self-payers.
Furnishing of facilities and the training equipment
Training needs space. Once the training concept for the self-payer division is complete, the next step is to select the small appliances and training equipment. Training equipment manufacturers not only offer non-binding quotes but also detailed room planning. These plans often bring lots of surprises: often you only realise by that stage where supply lines are really needed and how much space a training area really requires for completing a specific exercise.
Unlike for physiotherapy using physiotherapeutic machines, you do not have to use training equipment in accordance with the Medicinal Products Law and/or the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) in the self-payer division. This makes for a substantial price difference. A strict spacial segregation for commercial divisions no longer exists today. The prerequisite, however, is that the training is accompanied by a physiotherapist and that this training forms part of a prevention, treatment and/or rehabilitation programme.
Many training equipment suppliers grant discounts on their products. This means that the prices of training equipment as well as their payment terms are negotiable. Likewise, many manufacturers of training equipment also offer leasing schemes designed to facilitate finance of the self-payer division. Even second-hand training equipment can be an option. Their big advantage is that you can purchase them on the market at low costs. However, you should never forget that you will then also be responsible for servicing the equipment yourself. The decision between second-hand and new training equipment should also factor in such topics as warranty, liability and insurance.
The best overview over the products and services available for furnishing, training equipment, small appliances, software, etc. can be obtained at FIBO@business. Here many relevant companies can be found as virtual exhibitors. It is very helpful that you can use the Matchmaking-Tool to establish direct contact with the exhibitors.
Keep everything under control – calculation and finance
Keeping spending and revenue well under control is not only key for the amount of capital needed. In the case of a financing option proper calculations will also be required for the bank documents. These calculations should include all the costs associated with renting and furnishing the facilities. In addition to the room rental and potential rebuilding costs all other costs should also be included in this calculation, if only on a pro-rata basis. These include labour, training equipment, marketing, sanitation facilities, software, floor covering, small appliances, insurance, etc.
On the revenue side of the balance the revenue should be shown as realistically as possible. Self-payer divisions are only rarely highly subscribed from the start. Then spending and revenue should be laid down in a monthly plan so that there is a clear picture about the liquidity situation and the funds required. It is recommended to plan carefully to allow for surprises.
It is also important not to lose sight of taxes. It can be worthwhile here to bring in professional support. When installing a commercial division the turnover tax burden and punctual tax prepayment must be taken into consideration. In this case the practice as a whole will also be subject to trade tax.
The opportunities offered by commercial training divisions
More and more people need professionally accompanied training. This is not only the case because of demographic change. Widespread diseases, longer working lives but also excessive leisure sports call for targeted training. Those with the right answers for the ailments of people affected not only do good, they can also secure themselves attractive additional revenue. It is therefore well worth looking at the possibilities that digital offers bring. Here, too, FIBO@business, held online from 1 to 3 October, will provide more information.