“I tried another consultant company before Sterling,” says Shaun Kirk, whose prosperous practice is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The problem was, I was given a lot of information but no real courses in management technology and it wasn’t really helping me.”
It was 1992, and Kirk had been in his own practice for only a few months, but he had expected things to expand and they weren’t doing so.
“Then one day, in March of 1993, I got a call from a service consultant at Sterling and he started telling me about the program, and I said heatedly I’d heard all about that method, and it didn’t work for me. He said, whoa, what’s this, and we started talking, and I realized that there was something about management that I hadn’t really applied.
“I was invited to a seminar, and was told I could bring my staff and find out the principles which needed to be applied which were not being applied. So I went to the seminar and was totally convinced that these people not only had the data on management but could also get it applied.
“As a result, I went to Glendale in November of 1993, and when I met with my consultant, I went on for about 45 minutes about how I couldn’t be successful. I went on about how there were fourteen other physical therapy practices within three miles on one street, how managed care was ruining me. I just went on and on. And my consultant listened. And then she said: ‘Your success or failure in your life or business is your own doing, and as soon as you realize it, you’re on your way out of it!’ And that totally floored me. It was the greatest amount of truth I had ever heard in my life. I decided that while I was there, that I was really going to get everything possible out of it.”
Kirk started doing the series of courses which had been tailor-made for him, but says his understanding remained somewhat superficial until the last course, which was a high- powered communications course. “All of a sudden I realized that what was missing for me was confront — the ability to be there comfortably and face someone or something. I had not been confronting staff, doctors, or patients.
“For instance,” Kirk says, “I had a receptionist that would sit in reception and read magazines and would hardly pay attention to patients coming in. And all I could confront was her magazines. So I would come in and look at her magazines, and she would say, `Is something wrong?’ and I would say, ‘no.’ And I’d go home and tell my wife, and she would say, have you said anything to her, and I would say, I look at her magazines, she should know it’s not OK.
“Well, the communication training really made a difference, and I decided for real that I would do whatever I had to do to make things go right. And applying the right steps, we`ve been very successful.”
“We almost quadrupled all the statistics in nine months, and last month we had highest ever statistics for new patients, production and income, and I took the whole staff to the Bahamas for three of the days of that month.”
Kirk says that making the right decisions about personnel has mostly been easy. “The receptionist who read magazines all day quickly saw that it was the end and left. And there were some cases of gross overpayment, and those got sorted out. Things are expanding, and I’m looking to open two other offices this year.”
What does Kirk’s wife think of all this?
“She’s also a physical therapist, and she knew that I had some ability, that I was good with people, but I couldn’t get it going. Then we started expanding, and we almost doubled in the first month, and are almost five times our pre-Sterling size.”
An interesting point is that Kirk finds the Hubbard system of communication baskets and facilitating written communication especially valuable for physical therapists.
“The physical therapist is spending a lot of time with his patients, and he can’t be interrupted with a lot of phone calls. There are important things, various patient situations, which can’t be dropped, and sometimes an interruption is unavoidable. But the comm center leaves you alone to do what you need to do. The patient appreciates the fact that you are not being interrupted, and it makes them feel special.”