OWEN: My guest today is Jeff McMenamy and he’s the owner and CEO of Teton Therapy. Jeff, welcome to the show.
JEFF: Thank you.
OWEN: Awesome. This show is all about getting guests like yourself where they’ve been able to systematize their business so it runs successfully without you. And I want to know how you did that. So before we jump right in to the detail of how you did that let’s talk about what are some mind-blowing results that you now experience as a result of going through that process of systematizing and automating your business?
JEFF: Well, one of the things that blows my mind is how a small business can continue grow substantially, and essentially very small markets. And so some of the things that I’ve experienced is that we track the amount of business we do and we continue to feel these all-time highs on a regular basis. And so that’s mind blowing to me that you think that you can continue to grow just by simply systematizing.
OWEN: Let’s make that clear. During the pre-interview you gave some details about that. You said that you live in a town where you have 10,000 people and then how many visitors a week?
JEFF: Yeah. We have two clinics. One is about 10,000 people and one of the communities there is more like 7,000 people. And our most recent all-time high was 340-patient visits in one week. Before systematizing I think our top we were hitting and that was very rare was about 90 visits a week.
OWEN: Wow. I’m glad you clarified on that. How will you say your company has been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
JEFF: Well, the company has transformed into what used to be me the driving force wanting to succeed and grow the business. And I was just doing so much of it, it felt very…
OWEN: All on you, right?
JEFF: Yeah, all on me, and I love that. It was fun to play that game but as time went on it just started to become a drag. And what’s happened now is with systematizing you put others in charge of their respective areas and they have that same passion. They’re the ones trying to grow the company and grow their area and so forth. That’s probably been the biggest transformation, it’s not just me. My momma sit back and watch these other individuals grow.
OWEN: I think you mentioned during the pre-interview that you asked one of the employees why they want to work for you guys, and what did he say?
JEFF: Well, he said at that point he wanted an opportunity to grow in his career and he thought in the future he would like to either start his own practice, or become a partner, or something like that. That was very intriguing to me because that’s exactly the employee I was looking for.
OWEN: Awesome. It’s an employee that now has his own, you guys secured a new building and a new practice?
JEFF: Yes. We are opening in September in Cheyenne, Wyoming which is the largest community in Wyoming. And so this is a brand new adventure for both of us. I hired him as a new graduate.
OWEN: And I like too because instead of losing that employee who you know is already an entrepreneur, now you’re growing the company and he’s getting to do and live his own dream as an entrepreneur, but yet you’re also growing the company together in the new venture. I love that. How would you say your personal life has been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
JEFF: Well, my personal life that’s probably the biggest rewards. It has really been able to follow your own passions and looking at your own purposes in life. And as a father and as a husband and all those things, that’s been my biggest thing. I volunteer with, I coach ice hockey and I’ve been able to volunteer more over time and dedicate a lot to those young kids. Last year we’re at the high school level and we won the state championship. That’s a personal passion that has nothing to do my business. But it was my business that allowed me the freedom of time to pursue that.
OWEN: If you’re willing to talk about this, how did that also work and being debt-free as well?
JEFF: Well, that was the goal of my wife and I is we really wanted to be debt-free and it seemed impossible. But we just focused on that and allowed the business to work for us instead of us working for the business so much. And we pay cash for everything now. Finance now is not a stress for us.
OWEN: Awesome. And since you have systems in place in the business that allows it to run without you what will you say has been the longest time you’ve been away from the business?
JEFF: Last year I look back and there was a six-month period where I had not spent the whole week, either in my practice or even at home. But actually coming up this next month I’ve got a four-week straight of traveling fun. But that’s really the test because I’m going to not be very available at all, so we’ll see.
OWEN: I love that, because one of the things that stood up for me was said you can see everything about your business from your phone.
OWEN: Hold conference calls, see the stats and all that?
JEFF: Yup, every Monday I get all of my statistics from my vice president of administration. She sends them on my phone so I can see everything. I can find out what their plans are for the week to address statistics that are down. It’s just all available to me. And I’ve got these people trained and so they know what to do if the statistic down or if the statistic just went one-way up. They’re already finding out what do we do right and how we’re going to sort them out.
OWEN: Awesome. I’m sure the listeners are already wondering what exactly the business is all about. So what exactly does your company do and what big pain or problem do you solve for your customers?
JEFF: We are an outpatient, physical, and occupational therapy clinic. And so we treat a lot of just pain victims from rotator cuffs, to knees, to rehabilitation. And it is an outpatient setting and so…
OWEN: Okay. We just want to understand the scale of the business. How many full-time employees do you have?
JEFF: We’ve got several open positions right now. I believe we have three open positions. I think we’re at somewhere around 18 employees currently.
OWEN: Okay. Is the company profitable? What was last year’s annual revenue and what do you expect to do this year?
JEFF: Last year we did 1.8 million. This year with the opening of the new clinic and just the growth of the experience, we’ll probably be around 2.5 million. I just looked at my profit and loss statement and grew up 22.6% net profit a year to date.
OWEN: That’s awesome. And so we’ve kind of shared the highlights, right? But I want to go back to the point before the business is where it’s ready to run without you successfully. So take us back to when the business was not systematized and automated like it is now. What was wrong with it?
JEFF: Boy, do we really have to have those?
OWEN: You’re really sad. I’m like, wow, we’re hitting a strong point there. Let’s get into it.
JEFF: I prepare to manage as though there’s no rear view mirror because it doesn’t do us any good.
JEFF: But looking back now I think there was just no control whatsoever. We didn’t know what we we’re doing, we thought we did. But especially in our billing and collections area, we had hired somebody to do that and our accounts receivable was $80,000. We’re a tiny business, and by the time we got rid of her we it was up to a $150,000. Then we hired another person and we went through the same thing.
OWEN: That’s like, $80,000 and $150,000, that was an outstanding one that you were owed by your customers that you have not collected yet, is that what it is?
JEFF: Yeah, and a lot of it is insurance companies and Medicare, and we have untimely filing. So a lot of that stuff we were unable to collect. We’re just couldn’t do anything about it.
OWEN: Yeah. So you were seeing patients are not getting paid?
OWEN: I didn’t mean to laugh. I just kind of… what it was, but I’m sure it was very painful. And so, back then the business was not systematized what was the lowest point and describe how bad it got. I think the story that had to do with your wife.
JEFF: Yeah. My wife and I, we were actually on a vacation. We driving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and we started talking about the business, and we just got into this argument, and she said, “I’m done. I’m fed up. I’m going to go get another job. I’m not going to work in this company anymore.” It was really affecting our marriage.
OWEN: I didn’t get that in the pre-interview. So she was actually working in the company before?
JEFF: Yes. She was working somewhat part-time, but now she’s full-time in the company. And she was an accountant so she handles all of the finance.
OWEN: How did that feel? This is your wife telling you your baby, your company, she wants to quit it. I just want to really understand that feeling. How did that feel when she said that in the car?
JEFF: You’re talking about feeling alone because that’s your one person who has the same desires, and dreams, and so forth, and needs it to go right. I just thought if she feels this way, what do the employees feel like?
OWEN: Yeah. She’s the only one who would be very open to you and just telling you that. You said it was affecting your marriage and stuff like that?
JEFF: Yeah, because it was just having the owner mindset, you can’t ever let anything rest. You’re always communicating, talking about things, and she was getting to the point where she said, “I don’t want to talk about work anymore, we need to setup some boundaries”, things like that. It was just all the time…
OWEN: And now that we’ve reach that point where you said you had to change up basically your breaking point. I think you mentioned that you decided on making some changes and one of them was, I think even before the changes you attended free webinar by this lady. I don’t know how to pronounce the last name, Sabrina. Talk about that lady. I think she’s a life business coach, something like that.
JEFF: Yes. Sabrina had a free webinar that was posted in…
OWEN: What was her last name?
JEFF: Sabrina Schleicher, and she now works with Mike Mickalowicz.
OWEN: The Provendus Group?
JEFF: Yes, the Provendus Group.
OWEN: Go ahead.
JEFF: Anyway, my wife had brought this webinar to my attention and I signed up for it. And we ended up doing, there were several people on this call and all of a sudden she asked a very powerful question. She said if you had all the courage you needed what decision would you make that would have the biggest impact on your business? And that was a very powerful question. And from there the very next day I went out and I and put an offer on a very large building that we couldn’t afford. And at that time we’re operating out of a racket ball court in health club. That was literally the size of our business.
OWEN: Well, if they hurt their ankle they’ll just come straight to you guys.
JEFF: Exactly. And so as a result of that I ended up buying some services from Sabrina. That’s when the systematizing… she really be able to see what was lacking and how we work on my business instead of in my business.
OWEN: And you mentioned that pride was one of the issues as entrepreneurs. We have this big pride. Talk about that and how it can be a hindrance when we’re trying to seek help.
JEFF: Yeah, pride will get in the way of everything because you don’t want to listen to other people. You don’t want to listen to yourself. You don’t want to ask yourself the tough questions. You think you know something and you don’t want to confront things that you don’t know. That was a really, really challenging thing for me. I didn’t even know what I was facing but looking back now, pride was probably my biggest enemy.
OWEN: Yeah. And so after a meeting with Sabrina you now took several steps to start systematizing the business. So what was the very first step you took to systematize the business?
JEFF: First step was developing statistics. Just some sort of measurement of what the business is doing it, what are we trying to accomplish and put them up on the wall.
OWEN: Wow. And was that getting that whole mindset of measuring the business and statistics? Was this from the physical therapy consulting group? Were they the ones who gave you that idea?
OWEN: Do you remember their name? Because our listeners always like to get these resources so they could check stuff out. So I’m wondering, do you know just to run with…? Okay.
OWEN: Okay, feel free to plug there.
JEFF: It’s a company called Measurable Solutions.
JEFF: And that time we’re only working exclusively with private practice physical therapy clinics.
OWEN: Okay. So the first thing they did, you said started tracking consolation rates. Why was that important, and talk about what they did specifically with consolation re-tracking I’m curious.
JEFF: First of all they said, “Who answers the phones?” And I said, “We answer the phones.” And they said, “Why we can’t afford to hire a receptionist? What’s your percentage of kept appointments? How often do people cancel?” I said, “I don’t know. We don’t track that.” And so they had us do some digging and we pulled all that information from our handwritten schedule book. We were somewhere around 70% arrival rate and they said, “Based on the number of visits you did, if you had a receptionist it could get you a percentage up to 90%. You will get an extra $65,000. Could you hire somebody for maybe $30,000 and get that up?” And so that’s what we did.
OWEN: I think you mentioned you hired the receptionist and then also put in incentive. What was the percentage rate to get the booking up to so as you could get the bonus.
JEFF: Yeah. We just said that you can get… make out the schedule for the week and get 90% or better on those patients that keep their appointments then you’ll be bonused on that.
OWEN: What was the second step you took to systematize the business? I think this was where you mentioned something about creating an organization board and mapping it out. Talk about that.
JEFF: Yeah. I didn’t realize that to put something on paper, how important that was. But just creating a simple organizing board that talked about marketing and hiring, and all these different thing, we just thought we just did therapy. But when you’re in a business all of those other categories have to be handled. And so separating that org board was the best way to start an organization and direct our activities.
OWEN: I guess after separating the org board you know picture out what the different parts of the company. What’s the next stage? You start filling them out? How did that go, I’m just wondering.
JEFF: I kind of think back, we got a very simple org board created and then we started looking at what parts of the org board were being neglected. If one of us, the owners, or current employee could take that on, if it was a strength of theirs, yeah, I’d take it on. It was something that nobody wanted them to do. Well then, that it was time to hire for that.
OWEN: But you mentioned that even at that time hiring was very difficult. How so? I’m just wondering.
JEFF: Well, in a small rural community especially that’s very strong in the energy producing industry. So oil fields and companies like that they pay very high wages. And so you’re small business trying to…
OWEN: You’re struggling with them, yeah.
OWEN: I totally understand that. You also mentioned some other steps you took to systematize the business. I think one of them was talking about putting vice presidents in place over the different divisions like you had in a company, right? Let’s talk about that.
JEFF: Yeah. Putting those vice presidents over was just a very interesting thing because we’d hire somebody who had that desire and that drive to oversee something. And we just say here it is, this is your position, and it’s your job to grow this, and organize it, and structure it. And we had some good structure in place already, but the first one we hired was a gal with a master’s in business administration. And oh my gosh, when she started taking off at my plate and was adding to the company was absolutely remarkable. And so that was the first VP that we hired, and that went on from there.
OWEN: I think you also mentioned that you created an executive council. What was that executive council about?
JEFF: Yeah, the executive council is made up of our three vice presidents. Vice president of administration, vice president of operations who’s overall the therapist, vice president of public relations and marketing. And so that is the executive council. Every week we meet and we get all the statistics. And each VP is responsible for their area statistics. And then we just look at them and they report back to me where are they at and what are they currently working on, and what are they going to do about it to keep those statistics, where they’re going to be. They also help create policy, to help find our points in their organization, and handle any projects that I as a studio have a vision. They are the ones that are going to make sure that comes true.
OWEN: Yeah. And so when we’re actually trying to systematize the business, I’m wondering how did you prioritize what order of steps to take? Which systems or processes to create first and which one next. What was the decision factor that play a role in that?
JEFF: I always seem to be more in cope mode. We try to do planning but it seemed like the cope mode is what…
OWEN: What’s the cope mode? I’m trying to get this and understand what you mean.
JEFF: Suddenly something comes up and you are prepared for it so you just cope, meaning you handle it with any old way. It’s not ideal. It would be much better to organize and plan the activity. And so you’ve got a program in place when you’re just doing it step by step. Where in cope mode, that’s like you’re always behind in time. You’re always something… And unfortunately that’s where I was most of the time, and that was the call of the day was what’s the priority, what’s the fire to put out right next. And so we always use the cope and organize, cope and organize. So we cope through something. We organize so that didn’t pop up…
OWEN: Happen again, okay.
OWEN: So you’re basically solving the issues based on demand. As it comes you figure out and solve it out. That’s really what it was, right?
OWEN: I think you also mentioned that Sabrina who you hired as a business coach was also helping to keep your accounting. Talk about that.
JEFF: Yeah. She was keeping me looking into the future and prepare. I was asking like who’s your next three hires? What are you going to do? What’s your next goal? And so she would make me plan out into the future. And then we’d write up a program. And then it was just following it step by step and keeping me on track. Pretty soon you start to finally know you’re not coping anymore. Now, you’re actually planning and you’re ahead of the curve all the time. And that feels so much better than always coping.
OWEN: When you were trying to systemize the business how exactly did you even document procedures and processes for the business and even more tools that you even use?
JEFF: One of the things we had to do is start writing up job descriptions. It was a little bit daunting to write up a job description on other people in the company. So we just simply start having everyone write up their own job description.
OWEN: So as they were doing the work they were adding to the file of what they’re supposed to do, right?
OWEN: I like that. That’s what the flow of thought because you did not finish, just go ahead and finish the statement now.
JEFF: That was basically it. And what would happen is some people would not know how to do that or they acknowledge it. I just do what I do and not just pretend you’re leaving for next week and you just want to write down step for who’s ever going to… I’m going to step in to your position. Just write down step by step what I should do. Okay, that’s easy enough. And so we get those in place. And they’re living, breathing, and you never stop changing.
OWEN: Yeah. And I think you also mentioned how one of your employees, Jennifer, she started out as a therapy tech, and then what happened when she had to move into a different department? How did this whole thing of updating your role on the job description, how did that help with the transition?
JEFF: Yeah, because she started as a therapy technician. They do housekeeping duties and things like that. And then she went into doing insurance verifications. And I said, “Well, you’ve done a very good job at this leading tech position. You need to write down everything. When do you clean the bathrooms, when do you vacuum, and all of those things. Once you get that all written up I’ll give you a raise into your next position.” So she wrote that up. And the person who came in to her position after he would actually report to Jennifer for a couple of months and make sure that that position was held the way it was held by Jennifer.
OWEN: Okay. So that’s how you made sure that she doesn’t write anything in the description when you got somebody else to come take and that role. That person was working based on what she wrote before, so it’s in her best interest to make sure that she brings as much details. That person will keep coming back to her. So that’s how you put the checks and balances in it, right?
OWEN: I think you mentioned something that actually struck a chord when you said that when she moved into this new role from billing you guys were paying another company almost 6% to handle that. But then when she came in you guys saved some money on that? I’m wondering what happened. Can you explain that?
JEFF: Yeah. So we paid an external billing and collection agency, and we used their computer software, and we paid them… I think last year it was roughly about $100,000. And so my employees came to me and said, “I think we need to bring this in-house. I think we can do a better job with it.” So we promoted Jennifer. So this is her third promotion in the company. And she said, “Yeah, I’ll take it all on myself.” And we had to hire one other position in the company. And I’ll tell you, the last two weeks our collections are an all-time high for the company two weeks in a row. Just unbelievable, so much more of a benefits than what I was doing there. And I did nothing with this. That was my employees saying this is what we need to do, and I said go for it.
OWEN: What I like about this is that now you have created a career path for your employees where they can move from one role to the other. And just by empowering them like that they’ve come to you and said, “Hey, we can take on this role.” And now by them taking on the role you’re even saving more money by them taking on that very role itself. I think it’s more like that ownership thing where they feel like they own the company with you I guess.
JEFF: Yes, exactly.
OWEN: That brings me to something that you mentioned during the pre-interview about how you guys use this computer program called Management by Statistics, talk about that.
JEFF: I don’t know a whole lot about it except that it is a data entry system that you put in these statistics and then it prints all graphs. And you can add whatever graph you want. But Management by Statistics. I have all of the major statistics of the entire organization are on my wall.
OWEN: They’re being tracked, okay.
JEFF: Yeah, so can see that they’re trending up or down. And then those all sort of been on my phone as well.
OWEN: I love that because now there’s full transparency so they can see the key performance indicators or what whatever metrics that you are tracking and the company that you track as success metrics. But you can all see it’s going up and it is going down. Okay, why are we going down? But I’m wondering just to give the listeners some kind of context as to what you’re actually trying to… Can you talk about a couple of them that you see as the CEO on the dashboard?
JEFF: Yes. One of the most important ones is we’re in the business of getting people better. And so what we track as we call that completed treatment plan. And we recently seen a downtrend in that. And so to me that’s our number one thing that we do. The completed treatment plan is there’s a couple of things I have to determine whether it’s complete or not. Like if the goal’s been met then who discharged the patient and those things. And so we tracked that and that’s one. We also track our number of new evaluation we complete in a week or the number of discharges that we have, or our percent arrivals, that’s our cancellation rate.
OWEN: I guess the main thing to the listener, look at what you want as part of your business in terms of the success out of it or just figure out how you’re creating metrics that you can track based on what you feel is successful in your particular business. And so at that point at that time when you were working on systematizing or automating the business, what books and even mentors have the most influence on you and why? I think you talked about Sabrina, your business coach. But I’m wondering if maybe you got other mentors and even books that also helped you?
JEFF: I have so many books. I’m constantly reading all the time, like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that was one that jumps out.
OWEN: You mentioned during the pre-interview something about The Pumpkin Plan. What was it?
JEFF: Yes, The Pumpkin Plan. That is one of the most recent ones that I found and that is based on a book by Mike Michalowicz. This is phenomenal with the business because you’re looking in growing pumpkins. What they do is rather than buying those out and feeds a whole bunch of small pumpkins they just keep cutting off those small vines until they see that one pumpkin that has the greatest potential for growth, and you feed that exclusively. And so that was…
OWEN: I think we need to really make sure the listener understands this. The plan itself has many vines for producing fruit and they keep cutting off all the vines that are producing the non big fruits. And then they only leave the one that is the biggest fruit so that that one has all the potential to really, really become huge. Is that kind of what the… Okay, go ahead.
JEFF: Yes, and it’s also what is the strength of your business. So if it’s a certain clientele that you really like to do, they’re fun that don’t demand a lot of attention and documentation. It’s easy. It’s got good reimbursement, all those kinds of things. And I just started focusing on that and really looking at for our business, it was insurance companies. What were the biggest payers and which ones gave us the least headaches. And so doing some digging on that, because I really couldn’t find just a certain patient because every patience has a different insurance company. But some might be good patients and some might not be so good patients. But The Pumpkin Plan really gets you to look at your business in that light where you can get caught up in a very small rural business. I’ve gotten everything because I’m so small. I got to take on every little piece of business that I can and that’s the wrong mindset.
OWEN: And if you can just talk about all the things you did and the results and don’t talk about the challenges you had when it came to you trying to systematize the business I think we don’t give the full story what was happening. What will you say was the biggest challenge you experienced when you initially tried to systematize your business and how did you even solve it?
JEFF: Yeah, that was by far the biggest challenge was getting all the employees to buy into it. Because when you systematize there’s more accountability. And some people don’t want accountability, so what happens is your bad employees, they start trying to poison the well. They start talking behind your back and so which people you thought were on your side and you start really finding out who your A-players are and who you need to get rid of. So that was by far the biggest challenge.
OWEN: And that’s so true because if someone is doing a great job they won’t even have problems have such transparency and a system around it because it will really show how good they’re doing anyways.
OWEN: And you also mentioned something that I think you said because you were systematizing things it means you were changing things. When you’re systematizing things and changing things that would bring chaos because it changes so much. Can you explain what that means because I didn’t understand that point.
JEFF: Yeah, because you’re doing things differently and we were finding things. So what happens is that it’s really stirring everything up. People get comfortable. The same thing day in and day out whether it’s getting good results or not. So it’s kind of like you were stirring up the pot. You’re disorganizing things even though you’re trying to put organization in. So what happens is as you put organization in, all of the confusion has to boil off.
OWEN: Okay. I get that. In order for you to organize you have to first of all… Is the right word dismantling it, or you just have to stir it up so that everything that was at the bottom that was all not… I’m using the cooking analogy now. So you stir all the stuff so that everything would all mix together, and so stuff that you do not even know were really bad are all bubbling all the way to the top.
OWEN: How did your passion and being worried about other people’s feeling also play a role as a challenge in that too?
JEFF: Whenever you hire somebody they feel like a friend and you’re just so close to them because you’re giving them their livelihood, you’re paying their paycheck and so forth. It was very hard for me to worry that I was going to hurt somebody’s feelings, or they weren’t going to like what I was doing.
OWEN: The changes, yeah.
JEFF: Yeah, because of the changes and they might start talking a lot about you, or they might quit, or they might burn a whole bunch of other staff members and say, “We don’t like this job. We’re leaving.” You’re already at vulnerable point, right? Put in some things that you hope they’re right. That point, when you’re systematizing you don’t have that foresight to know how well it’s going to go or not. So that being compassion I’m worried about other people’s feelings. That’s the wrong way to look. It’s more like let’s put the business first and then your strong leadership, but your leadership skills are going to come out stronger because you go and listen, I’m putting the business first for all of us. Our patients come first and as this business succeeds then we all succeed.
OWEN: Yeah. What would you say is the second biggest challenge that you experienced when you initially tried to systematize the business? I think you mentioned something about sticking to it. Talk about that.
JEFF: Yeah. Because you create these programs, this organizing board, and all these statistics and so forth. It sounds great and you’re going along, and pretty soon you just didn’t plan enough time to implement it all. Then you just start dropping things out. And so just the sticking to it, just keeping with the plan. Because when you start dropping things out then employees don’t really believe that your school is about implementing that. So that was by far the second challenge. So the first one was getting everyone to buy into it, and second was the, okay, let’s stick to it.
OWEN: And so solving it, was it by putting specific people in charge of specific departments. Is that how sticking to it was solved?
JEFF: Yeah. Because at first I was just trying to…
OWEN: Do it all yourself.
JEFF: Do it all yourself thinking I knew best, and finally I just simply just started shutting responsibilities. “This is your job. Make sure this has been done. Do you want that? Are you okay with that?” “Yeah, I’ll do that.” It was a form of delegation. I didn’t realize what I was doing but at the time but it really made things go smoother.
OWEN: Were there any other challenges that you experienced? I think you mentioned how the next biggest challenge was kind of hanging growth. How was that initially?
JEFF: Yeah, because you just get things in place and all of a sudden you’d be growing and would have a challenge. And so we would immediately set the goals and we’d meet them, and then suddenly we weren’t prepared for what was coming next. And we were just outgrowing the systems we had. That was the third biggest challenge.
OWEN: So how did you solve that issue there?
JEFF: At that point what we would do is we’d have people in charge, and if they could not handle the growth of that area. Then we would always look to hire from within and promote from within. And just strengthen up the org board is how we always looked at it. So if there’s a VP who is handling too many things, juggling too many balls, we’d say what ball can you get rid of and who in the company can take that ball on for you?
OWEN: So this is how you were letting go of stuff too. Is that council, when they got to the point where they couldn’t them, they had to do the same kind of thing and promote upward, inward, or… Basically, promote from within the company. Okay, I get that. Given all the challenges that you mentioned so far why did you even stay committed to the goal of systematizing your company?
JEFF: Could you repeat that Owen?
OWEN: Can you hear me?
OWEN: Okay, so I was saying give all the challenges that you mentioned earlier, you talked about quite a lot of challenges. I was wondering why did you even stay committed to the goal of systematizing your company?
JEFF: Well. That was everything I was reading and hearing from all different sources and so for where you need to get more efficient. And that meant systematizing, innovation, those kinds of things. So that’s kept being a message out here, and it was different for me that you just continually change and you continually grew. That’s what I was hearing and that’s what I found a lot of my young employees coming out of college or whatnot, that’s what they were wanting as well.
OWEN: Yeah. And because we talked about what happened in the past, so we’re trying to bring them back to the more closer part of the story, or a much more recent part of the story. At what point in time did you feel like you’re able to systematize the entire business and it would actually run without you successfully?
JEFF: That was definitely, once I’ve got all the VP’s in place where they knew their expectations, they knew what statistics they were responsible for, and they knew what their bonus structure was. That was by far because those VP’s, every one of them had a duty that when they were all working there was really not much that I needed to do.
OWEN: Yeah. And so, because we’re talking about the current situation of what the business is now. So what I would like to do is give our listeners kind of a behind the scenes to see how the business currently operates right now. I want to use the analogy of imagine the business being a conveyor belt. On one end is somebody who has a bad thing like myself right now. And on the other end is the person who has gone through working with you guys and they no longer have bad things, and they’re raving about you guys giving guys customers, right? They’re referring customers. But behind the scenes in your business and different parts working together to make that transformation of this customer happen. Feel free to start even from the marketing part before you even get this person in the first place. Let’s walk toward the different systems you have.
JEFF: The first thing you have to do is you have to… Who sees the most patients in a day and that would be a doctors’ office. So you got to have somebody visiting doctors’ offices and getting the word out to doctors on what we do. So I think you have to educate doctors and the public on all the different conditions that we handle. So we have a newsletter, mailings, and all those kinds of things. Then you have to get the customer through your door then you have to verify their coverage so that they don’t rack up the bill with you that they’re not prepared to pay. Very few people know what their insurance covers, and so we’ve created a whole new system in which we just verify their insurance and explain it to them. And everything that they’re going to go owe and give their agreement for treatment before it’s even started. Then you’ve got the actual treatment of the patient, and you have to survey the patient, make sure we’re getting the results that they want. And then your whole billing, your coding, because you’re dealing with…
OWEN: …insurance, paying the bills.
JEFF: Yeah. And you’re also dealing with an entirely changing health care system right now, and that dictates everything. So you’re still trying to keep that human component into something that is highly regulated.
OWEN: I think you mentioned also that you have a department of corrections, what is that?
JEFF: Yes. We have a point in our quality division in which you are looking at the quality of not only the therapy you’re doing but at the front desk, receptionist of your marketing, of your billing department, all those different departments. And so what we have is we have a company course room in which we train people on certain things. And then there’s an area of corrections. So somebody is having difficulty in their job and their statistics are lacking. You don’t come down on somebody, you try to help them. You come up with a corrective plan. And then we determine what that area of weakness is and we help the employee correct that.
OWEN: And so what systems do you have in place that any of your employees know what they need to do? I think we’ve talked about the job descriptions, the statistics that you guys track. And I think you mentioned also something about you have to-do list of battle plans. I don’t think we’ve talked about that yet.
JEFF: Yeah. Every week, we just ended our executive council meeting not long before getting on this call. So we looked at the statistics, and if we see a statistic going down, or statistic going way up then we would say why is that statistic going down, or why is that going up, and how are we going to handle it, how are we going to keep that statistic rising. And that becomes the to-do list or the battle plan for the day. For example, I had one therapist, I said, “You had a 100% arrivals, you did not have one cancellation for two weeks in a row. How are you doing that?” And so that was our battle plan, let’s find out what this person is doing. So I went and asked her. She said, “You know what I do? Every patient that walks in I say, “I am so glad you made it here today. I’m happy to see you.” We had to implement that throughout the entire company. Get all of the therapists saying that.
OWEN: I love that. You’re basically defining and systematizing what works and you’re teaching all the people the same thing.
JEFF: Yes. And so that to-do list or that battle plan may actually even become a policy of your company. “Patient gets…” because that was a successful action.
OWEN: And you also mentioned that they have a bonus system that incentivizes them moving up. Talk about that bonus system.
JEFF: Everyone has a bonus system for their position. Some of the bonuses are dependent on the entire company. For example we have a targeted number of visits for the week. So every single person that’s the first bonus criteria is that the number of visits were next. And so we get a team work component of everyone working to hit that bonus system. And it is a money system is what it is. And so their bonus with money. And then some bonuses are different based on like a manager. Their bonus might be dependent on how all of their staff are hitting their targets below them and so forth. But the bonus system is always based on statistics and they know exactly what their targets are to obtain that bonus. And so it turns into… Really you can make as much as you want, as high as you want to go. I typically do not put a…
OWEN: Put a cap on their success.
OWEN: You’ve mentioned you do all of the stats and all that to track everybody’s progress. And I think during the pre-interview you mentioned how every role has a different statistic that they’re being tracked by. So I just want to give the listeners some kind of context or the example of the therapist. I think you said they have five key metrics that they are being specifically being tracked by. Can we talk about those, just specifically for the therapist.
JEFF: Yes. The therapist, their first would be the overall visits of the whole company. Next would be the individual therapist percent arrivals. The patients that arrive for the visits that they already scheduled. That is a quality indicator. Because if somebody’s cancelling they’re saying it wasn’t that important to make their…
JEFF: The next one is number of success stories, and success stories is when a patient actually can tell a difference in their injury, something that they can do functionally, and they voice that.
OWEN: Are you guys recording that as testimonials or what?
JEFF: Yes, we write that down and we send that to the physician’s office.
OWEN: Okay, awesome.
JEFF: And then it’s called our percentage of our prescribed visits, so in the therapy world we typically see somebody two or three times a week. And so if they’re prescribed three and the doctor signs that treatment plan. So it’s like your doctor tells you to take a pill three times a day. You don’t only take once or twice a day, you take it three times a day. So that’s what else we’re tracking, their prescribed visits and then what’s called a completed treatment plan. And that’s where the patient has met their goals. They’ve had a success story in the chart. And the therapist and the patient have both decided together that they’re ready for graduation, for discharge.
OWEN: Awesome. And so now that you have all these free time in your business I’m wondering which areas do you focus on the business now and why?
JEFF: Now, I’m always looking at… For me it’s following my own passions, but looking at opportunities for new business or ways to do what we’re doing better. And my employees many of them want to either become part owners or they want to expand. So I’m looking at new opportunities for other clinics.
OWEN: Wow, that’s awesome.
JEFF: Not that I want to go and run them but if I can put an existing employee… Because all our therapists are doctor levels, so to put one of them in an ownership position and then having the structure of the parent company, it just allows a win-win situation.
OWEN: So is it the next stage of growth for your business is kind of like franchising and getting your own employees who all went through the system to become owners, especially the therapists?
JEFF: Yes. There’s a new clinic, we’re opening. That would be the first one that will actually be a separate company doing business as Teton Therapy. So we’re toying with that franchising model.
OWEN: That’s awesome man. The reality is you can’t franchise if you don’t have a system that’s predictable and works, right? So to find that you have a franchise is proof that this stuff is working, right? As we close out the question and as we’re ending the interview, if you were to give the listener a summary of what you’ve talked about so far so that they can leave here with a summary of what to do to transform their business so it runs without successfully. How would you summarize what we’re going through so far?
JEFF: The first thing is if a person just takes their business and they sketch it out, organization, and if you’re in business very new and you don’t understand all the components you have to have marketing, you have to have hiring and training, you have to have quality assurance, you have to have finance, you have to have vision, where is the company going. And really the first thing before you do that is really define what is your basic purpose? What is the ideal condition, what’s the ideal scene of the company if it was doing everything that you wanted it to do? Sketch out the basic organization and then start going from there. Then you track and measure the results of each one of those divisions that you put on that org board. Find some standardized way that would work, that’s real. I wouldn’t get too complicated. I wouldn’t do a whole bunch of metrics right away.
OWEN: Just track what’s important.
JEFF: Yes, the very most important ones. And then identify who the perfect employee would be. Write down all the qualities that you would need from that employee. This is time consuming but it is so valuable. But if you actually create that and write down what would the perfect employee be for my finance department? And then don’t settle for anything less. So as you’re going through the interviews of people you’re not going to be settling for, “Here’s somebody to fill this spot.” Don’t settle for anything less. Hold out for the perfect one, or at least somebody who maybe they don’t have all the skills but they’re trainable and moldable. The last thing before, if I’m looking at somebody who’s just starting the business or in business for us is you got to get yourself straightened out. You got to get your own ethics in. You have to get yourself very honest, very ethical in business for the right reason. Because if you do not have that, work on yourself you cannot…
OWEN: That’s your personal mind game.
OWEN: Okay. As we end the interview I always want to make sure that we address all the questions. I’m wondering, is there a question that you were wishing I would’ve asked you during this interview that I didn’t ask you, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with systematizing and automating the business? Anything that you think will round out this interview nicely, go ahead and post that question and even the answer. I put you on the spot.
JEFF: You could ask me what personally got in your way of succeeding early on in business?
OWEN: Go ahead, answer that.
JEFF: That would be where you question yourself and your abilities. And you might be doing things for the wrong reasons, you’re doing it for money, I want to make a living, when I talk about pride, things like that that get into the way of your business, or going out ethics on yourself, if you’re drinking too much, partying, or using your business to do other unethical things. And so those are probably some of the things that I found that when I overcame those things, they were nothing severe. I didn’t have trouble with the law or anything, but they were just personal things that I really needed to clean up my life. And that has been a rocket ride since it’s really improving myself.
OWEN: Awesome. I’m speaking to you the listener. If you enjoyed this interview I want you to do us a favor and leave us a positive review on iTunes. To do that go to sweetprocess.com/iTunes. And if you know another entrepreneur who would find this interview useful like you probably have then feel free to refer them to the interview so they can check it out. Finally, if you’re at that point in your business where you’re tired of being the bottleneck and you want to get everything out of your head so your employees know what you know, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Jeff, thanks for doing the interview.
JEFF: Thank you sir.
OWEN: And we’re done.