THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR TO YOUR SUCCESS:
Providing MSD prevention services is relatively easy….HOWEVER…. getting a workplace to realize they need you is not at all easy! MARKETING is the most critical skill you need to succeed in this business.
Let me steal this from a FB group that I frequent:
“ There is no relationship between being good at what you do and getting paid for what you do…. There is a direct relationship between being able to communicate (aka sell) the value of what you do and how much you will get paid for what you do.”
MARKETING these services to industry will be your greatest challenge. It will be challenging and often frustrating, as client workplace decision-makers (the individual who decides whether to hire you) often do not have a clear, accurate understanding of their problem. Their view is often clouded by misconceptions about MSD and distorted by outdated assumptions.
When we compare those therapists who succeed with our programs versus those who do not succeed, we see a sharp trend… the ability, confidence, and effort at MARKETING. We cannot emphasize this enough!
Many PT’s complain they do not want to do marketing. But you are already a marketing professional. You market to MDs for patients. You market to insurers to pay for your services. You market the public about your profession at every opportunity. Most importantly, every day your patient treatment is an ongoing marketing process whereby you market to your patients to do their exercises and control their ADL risks. This is marketing you already do every day.
Patients are easy to market because their problem is clear to them and it is easy for them to understand what you can do for them. And it is easy to market to them to do their exercises. Physicians and other referral sources such as insurers or case managers have a degree of understanding as to their needs and how you may help them meet those needs. This marketing is relatively easy.
But the workplace presents to you a different challenge, as they may not have a clear understanding of what is wrong or how you can fix it. And you, the PT, may not have a clear understanding about this client workplace and what they perceive to be their needs. We try to answer that here…
> “Where to start… How do I find client workplaces?”
First, where do your patients work? This is a great source of marketing intelligence for you. You know what MSD problems that workplaces is having. Patients can educate you further on what are the problems; why injuries; how company views and handles MSD claims; workplace policies, politics, attitudes; WHO is the best contact person; what is their attitude-viewpoint on MSD; how best to approach the company. Great essential insider info !
Then make a call to that key person: “We have been treating your people with MSD. Would you be interested in hearing about a highly experienced program that has greatly reduced MSD for several hundred workplaces around the US? We have acquired this program and found it to be quite simple and straightforward and shows great results.
< Focus on SMALLER workplaces!
The richest supply of clients actually resides with smaller employers. We concentrate on employers with 50 to 500 employees, with the most business coming from 30-150 employees. Smaller workplaces are easier to get into to make a proposal, quicker to agree to give our program a try, and most committed to implementing our suggestions, yielding the best outcomes.
It is far better business to work ten small client companies over a six month period, than to work one big company during that period. This is especially true when you reserve three months of work for a large employer, only to have them cancel the work a week or a day before you were scheduled to start work. Then you are stuck with an empty schedule, unable to fill it under such short notice. That can be a business disaster. Been there and done that. We now avoid filling our schedule with one big client. Rather, we scatter their work among work scheduled with other clients, to preserve our cash flow in the event of a last-minute cancellation. Diversify your work!
Every workplace has desk-computer jobs. These have a high risk of MSD. They all have the same risks, which are so easy to correct. It is a rather generic process: everyone sits staring at the screen as hands enter data. BUT companies have been given INCORRECT or OUTDATED ergonomics advice. When a company hears that, they become very interested in what you have to offer to correct that.
This is a good startup path because teaching them updated prevention tactics is quite easy in an office setting. We will post an essay on new office ergonomics & MSD prevention tactics on this site. Our MSD School Kit has a dedicated powerpoint presentation (Office Ergo School) that you can bring to these settings.
“But I have a BIG company in town that will give me lots of work!
Wait! Be careful! Many therapists make this common mistake (we did, too). It is best to focus mostly on smaller workplaces with 25-500 employees. This gives us a steady flow of well-paying work. This is far more successful and productive than trying to sign up a big company. Why? Smaller companies are much easier to get in for a presentation. It is easy for you get direct access to the top decision-makers. They are much quicker to make a decision, then much quicker to execute the decision to bring you in for work.
Big companies are a very different story. If you have a successful meeting with a key person at a very large company, and they say “yes let’s do this,” how long will it take for you to actually end up on-site doing billable work? Our extensive experience says 1-3 YRS! And this is where everyone there is saying “yes, let’s do this.” Frustrating.
This is due to their BUREAUCRACY: a parade of committees that have to hear about this and the several key people who need to sign off on it. You often end up making many presentations to many groups, trying to get them signed up for services. Then, worse yet, if they actually sign off and you schedule actual work, completely tying up your work schedule for weeks or months, only to have some key manager change their mind and cancel-postpone at the last minute… and you end up with lost work and lost income and en empty work schedule that hurts you income flow. We have been burned by this several times!
Another problem arises when they ask for a budget proposal detailing costs. The dollar figure is often large enough to trigger a public request for competing proposals. Do NOT present them with a full-facility comprehensive budget proposal quoting a 5-figure price tag. You will be done at that point. Insist that we proceed one department at a time, to control their costs. See below re. proposing a Pilot Project.
Propose a Pilot Project… The key to working with large companies is in little bites: proceed only one small project at a time. The KEY is to propose a PILOT PROJECT. Have them pick out one small but difficult department with lots of MSD issues for you to demonstrate your program. They will see this a tough challenge for you to attack, but it is actually very easy to do good work in a very messed up work area! This allows easy logistics for them to schedule and execute. It proposes a small $$ budget that is easy to approve. And you are committed to a smaller number of work days, freeing your schedule for other workplace clients. (It is important to DIVERSIFY your client base, so that if one cancels work for whatever internal reason, you still have scheduled work to maintain business income flow.
For a large company we may schedule only 1-2 days per week, usually every other week for on-site work, especially if we have other workplaces ready for our services. It protects your income when you spread your work over several companies over several weeks-months (in case one cancels or postpones scheduled work).
> “How do I get in front of the right decision-maker?”
Who do I market to at a potential client workplace? Different companies delegate decision-making authority among various people on this issue, so the answer to the question will vary. But there will be a minimum of two parties to consider… your primary or opening contact person at the company… and, later, the person who actually has the budget authority to hire you.
Your opening contact person may be with the human resources manager, safety manager, occupational health nurse, or even a specific department head. It will vary according to facility size and command structure. We target any company with more than 50 employees. The smaller the company, the higher up the command ladder will be your contact person. You may even deal directly with the plant manager or company owner at a smaller site of 50-150 employees.
Somewhat larger sites (200 – 400 employees) may allow these decisions to come from the human resource manager, safety manager or occupational health nurse. Much larger companies may allow decisions to come from the human resource manager, safety manager, occupational health nurse, worker comp loss control manager or even individual department heads acting as your opening contact person. Many larger companies (1000+) may be best marketed a department at a time. This is about the only way to get into a big plant.
Your opening contact person is of these people listed above who initially brings you into the facility. This person’s role is to initially determine if you may be of value to the company. They are the initial screening of you and what you offer. If this person decides you are of value to the company, that does not mean they can actually hire you, as they may not have budget authority.
The role of the contact person is to put you in from of the person with budget authority. It should be your objective to enable the contact person to get you in front of the person with budget authority. Only then can a deal be struck.
And there may be intermediate steps between the contact person and the person with budget authority, such as a safety committee or ergonomics committee or even union leadership.
> “How to make an effective Marketing Presentation ??” (critical)
There are several steps. First: EXPLORATION. Learn their perceptions of their MSD problems. Do they see them as mostly faking or lazy excuses; or work is very hard or repetitive; or we are stuck with these as unavoidable; or this is genuine employee health and safety hazard and we want to do something about it; or we are suffering the effects of an aging workforce. Make contact with a person there who is on the front line of the MS problem and ask them why they think they have an MSD problem… and just LISTEN… actively LISTEN. Ask questions that lead them to spill their guts on their MSDs. We come tight out and ask the safety manager, ”Tell us about your MSD problems; why you have MSD; what you have tried to do to control it; what has worked; what has not worked and why.” We also ask the obvious question, “What is your objective on this?” Sounds obvious, but it helps commit them to what you eventually propose, if you can make it fit those objectives. We do this exploration prior to making our presentation. It also allows you to anticipate what objections they may make to your eventual proposal, so you pre-emptively avoid them.
Next: We now use THEIR impressions and experiences to PRESENT… to describe the VALUE of what you offer to meet their objectives. “Hello. I am Dr. Lauren Hebert. I am a Physical Therapist specializing in teaching people in the workplace how to avoid musculo-skeletal pain problems. I am Board Certified in Orthopedics. I have been doing this for 42 years; half that time treating people with these problems; the other half in several hundred workplace studying these problems to determine exactly how workers develop rotator cuff, tennis elbow, tendinitis, carpal tunnel, and each of the six categories of back problems. We have developed a structured program that teaches everyone in the workplace how to avoid MSD injuries, claims, and costs. We have delivered this program to more than 600 workplaces across the US. We have tracked OSHA records at most of the workplaces to measure results, which show an average 70% reduction in lost work days following our program. We go to the workplace to examine MSD issues and look at jobs so we can customize our program to address your issues. We teach managers and supervisors what they must do to reduce MSD risks. We then teach employees to become experts at reducing their MSD risks, personal ergonomics skills, perfect body mechanics, and (most importantly) how to reverse the damage of work and aging changes. And this damage is, indeed, reversible. We have written a small Pilot Project for your most difficult work area so that you can see for yourself how we do what we do and what effects it can have here.”
Try to focus primarily on describing the EFFECT (the VALUE) of what you do… NOT the specific features or details of how we do this. That invites objections and debate. Example: don’t focus much about stretching exercises; too controversial. But they will likely ask, so we slip in … “ we teach employees personal ergonomics skills, risk time exposure reduction, and how to reverse the wear damage that builds up day after day.” That will invite the question. We then answer, “we teach employees how to select certain key TEN SECOND MICRO-STRETCHES that address muscles and tendons and joints that are being loaded by work tasks. There is one micro-stretch for tennis elbow, another for golfer’s elbow, another for disc bulging, two for neck strain. These are tiny brief stretches easily slipped into the workday without getting in the way of production, plus a few we recommend after work to reverse the aging damage of the day. Our experience has been that employees really, really appreciate these, especially those who you would think would really resist this idea. Notice how I describe these in a manner that reverses any potential objections your client workplace may have to this idea.
> Do NOT focus how much you CHARGE for this. Please: COST is NOT an issue !!
So many therapists worry about what they may be charging for this. They feel obligated to negotiate costs. This can kill your business. You are not dealing with insurance company network rip-off fee schedules. In the non-healthcare business world, price is NOT the issue to consider. Rather, the real issue is VALUE. How much money is the client going to save? We offer a service with a track record drastic reductions in MSD claims, lost days, and Worker Comp costs, as well as indirect cost savings from improved production and employee health.
The purpose of your marketing is to illustrate the VALUE of what you offer (not debate the cost). If you are effective at pointing out the potential effect on reducing Worker Comp costs, claims, lost work day, production, employee health and morale… then there is no need to discuss costs. If you are dickering over price, you have not succeeded at your marketing, or you are talking with someone without budget authority to hire you.
We do not discuss costs. When a client asks, we tell them we will provide them a “Budget Proposal” for a “Pilot Project.” This presents a small cost because it focuses on a small demonstration project. We never submit a proposal for a large facility-wide project, only one department at a time.
We base our fees on $300/hr for on-site services, plus $75/hr for travel time to and from client workplace. No, we do NOT negotiate that rate. I estimate less than ONE percent of clients have ever offered an objection to price, last one was back in the 1990’s. Do NOT get hung up on your price! Price is NOT the issue that determines whether the client hires you. What is your service WORTH?! If you prevent only 1-2-3 MSD claims, the client workplace breaks even on the investment… and we get much better results than that.
Clients understand that this is a structured, effective, respected, PROFESSIONAL program and, therefore, has an appropriate cost for them to access its value. If a client asks about negotiating price, we answer, “we structure our fees based on the value of the program, and we try to stay consistent among our clients, to be fair to them all.” It is kind of a “take it or leave it” approach, subtly presented. If they have tight budget limits, we are willing to do the program a department at a time spread over months to fit their budget structure. No, we do NOT do “train the trainer” or “video-based training.” We do not provide services that are ineffective, and these are ineffective (plus it rips-off your program, and violates my copyright).
Yes, a local chiropractor may offer to do back schools for free… but what is that worth? What is that DC’s track record for prevention? Are they motivated to reduce back claims, or merely to get employees to come to their office for endless care? We offer a far more experienced and proven program that goes way beyond a simple class on proper lifting and the value of manipulations.
One tactic that almost always works is to offer a demonsration class, perhaps for office staff or for supervisors or union leadership… whereby if they like what they see, you will simply roll the cost of that session into their program. If they dislike it, there is no charge. Just aware that they maylan to learn what they can from you in the class, then try to run with a program without you. But what they actually learn is they really really need you to do is program… so don’t worry about it.
This is a seminar we provide for prospective companies to hear about what we do:
Contact Lauren at Lhebertpt@prexar.com
See web site for workplaces describing our service http://www.impacc.com
Our clinic web site shows how we integrate this into clinic practice http://www.smartcarept.com
Two of our Marketing Guides we include in our program package for PTs to build a Prevention Practice…