“So what is so wrong with putting the clients first?”
Well, let me tell you.
We have been fed so much BS in business in our startup and early years. The customer is always right? I don’t think so. Customers are the lifeblood of the business? Well, to a degree, but I believe there are more important elements in your business.
In my assessment, there are 4 key components of a business.
  1. The owner
  2. The business (as it’s own living and breathing entity)
  3. The team
  4. The customers/clients/patients
So what does the old “the customer is always right” model look like in a “broken” physio clinic?
The owner is a slave to their client base. They have a team, but they are the busiest therapist (as well as running the place). The phone rings – it is another patient wanting to see the owner. They have a waiting list weeks long and the other employed physios have diairies like swiss cheese – yet “the customer is always right” and they get added to the owner’s waiting list.
The owner is stressed. Wearing too many hats, as well as being the highest clinical biller in the business. Well, what did you hire those physios for?
The physio employees are frustrated. All they want is the owner’s time, but they don’t get it. They need to learn how to treat those difficult patients – the ones that don’t come back if they aren’t getting better. But the owner is locked away in their room for 40 hours plus a week, treating those patients. And what do the patients who don’t get better with the employed physios do? They go onto the owners list!
The admin team have no direction. Fighting fires all day, and either being micromanaged or left to their own devices. They don’t know the big picture and apart from their daily role they sometimes feel like they are going through the motions. They are great with the customers, but there is so much stuff they could be doing to help the business- and they really want to!
The Practice Manager feels rudderless. All they get is a fleeting 5 min conversation with the owner here and there. The owner always seems like they are doing a million things and the PM feels like the owner doesn’t have time for them. The PM is doing their best to help – but feels like they are trying to run a reactive business, as all they want is time with the owner.
The business isn’t healthy. It is busy, revenue is good, patients are in the diary – but profit is low. And the amount of profit is heavily dependent on how many clinical hours above a normal caseload the owner is willing to do. Owner working 60 hours a week? Clinic is profitable. Owner only working 40? Clinic is slightly profitable (but senior physios take home more $ per hour than the owner). Owner wants to cut back? So does profit.
In my experience this is an extreme version of what a business looks like when everyone looks after the clients.
The owner looks after the clients – by spending all of their time with them.
The team look after the clients – but are subconsciously undermined by the owner needing to be the “top dog” and best physio in the clinic.
The business looks after the clients – by allowing everything to revolve around them and not allowing the owner to do their real job.
So what is the owner’s real job?
Next post coming up.

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