Physical Therapist to Business Consultant—Thriving with Systems

For business owners, the actual systematic working procedures of the business are usually secondary to the core services provided. However, as a physical therapist and business systems expert, Robert Moss stresses smooth-running systems are the backbone of any successful enterprise, no matter the industry. Being the best physical therapist wasn’t enough alone; Robert needed business systemization to thrive.

In this episode, Robert Moss—top physio and WTS certified coach—gives us insights into how he applies systemized business design to streamline team management and scale his physical therapy business.

Providing real-world examples from his physical therapy business, Robert delves into the strategic collaborative exercises he uses to identify and solve problems within his team’s workflow and automate marketing processes to ensure regular brand exposure.

Diving into the seven key business principles he applies across his company when making decisions, Robert offers actionable insights into how to apply the Japanese concept of Kaizen to grow your firm one small step at a time.

Going from physical therapist to business consultant, Robert reflects on how he’d approach his physical therapy business differently now. Robert cannot understate the importance of how integrating business systems has enabled him to boost accountability, productivity, and profitability.

In this episode we discuss:
● Top communications systems to improve team workflows and collaboration
● The power of regular, closed-loop marketing systems
● How to improve accountability with business systems automation

Podcast Transcript

  1. Click here for Automatically Generated Raw Transcript

    Josh:    00:00-00:34        Welcome to the Work the System podcast. We help entrepreneurs make more and work less, using systems. And I’m your host, Josh Fonger. And today we have a special guest, Robert Moss. After spending years as a physical therapist running a small practice, Dr. Robert Moss shifted his shift his focus, to streamlining his processes to give him more time to spend with his family, out of this shift sprung a passion for helping other business owners do the same, while also maximizing the profitability and customer satisfaction. Alright Robert. Happy to have you here.

    Robert:     00:35-00:47     Josh, it’s a pleasure to be here. Yeah, I’ve worked with you for a while. And so now to be on the podcast and, and talk about all these crazy systems that I’ve built over the years. It’s gonna be a fun, fun talk, I think.

    Josh:    00:48-01:15        Definitely. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. So now you get to be the expert and coach our audience. Yeah, just for full disclosure, Robert, previous client and true expert assistance. Systemized his practice and so he’s a certified WTF consultant. So really excited to hear about how he systemized his business, and then how systemizing others, but before we get into it, I want to give us the backstory, how’d you get into physical therapy, and then turned to becoming a business consultant?

    Robert:    01:16-02:16     Yeah. So to be perfectly honest, Josh, I was a little bit lazy coming out of high school, and had an interest in health and kind of lifting weights. But I thought maybe, you know, physician, somewhere along that line, and then I really started diving in and, you know, it’s like, you know, 8-9-10-12 years after you do residency, and I was, you know, kind of a bit of a lazy high school kid, and I thought, well, what else can I do still medically related and ran across physical therapy, and thought, well, that’s pretty cool. That’s like a three year degree. And it really I kind of got caught in a transitional period. So it ended up being seven years. And then after I got out, I was so in love with it. I actually went back and did my doctoral work. So that was another four years, you know, so now we’re close to 11. And then I’ve worked on other certifications, and orthopedics and manual therapy and all this sort of stuff. So, I mean, it’s been at least a dozen years and looking back, you know, you just don’t know what you don’t know. But I wouldn’t change anything. It’s been amazing career to help so many people and influence their lives.

    Josh:  02:17-02:31         So why don’t you tell us about the systemization of your business, then we’ll talk about other companies. So you’re running your business for a while owning a Physical Therapy Center. So what did you do to your business? or how did it change?

    Robert:      02:32-04:01  So the biggest like probably most of us, as you know, business owners, is something hurts, you know, and it’s true in physical therapy. When something hurts, that’s when you go to the therapist or the doctor or whatever. And so we were chugging along, we had opened an O-6, about 2015, a lady that had been with us for basically from the beginning, popped up and said, hey, having some marriage issues, I’m moving out of the area. I’m leaving in two weeks and first I thought, you know, I feel bad that she’s having marriage issues. And then I thought, Wait a minute, she’s been with me since 0-6, and she has so much stuff in her head that I don’t know what she does, because I’m in the back treating patients. So we frantically started writing stuff down and trying to do, you know, systems at that time. And then once she left, I felt a lot of pain just in trying to figure everything out. And so what we did was then I kind of went on this quest and I, you know, heard about emails and I’d read the book and but hadn’t really applied it. And then either a friend told me about Work the System or I stumbled upon it, I can’t remember exactly how I found it. But I got that book. And I was like, okay, that’s the missing piece that I needed. And of course, the next step was from there. I read through the book, went to the coaching program, loved it so much wanted to learn even more. So I took deep dive and went for the certification process. And all the while. Try not to make my staff crazy with building systems in the business.

    Josh:    04:02-04:16        So tell us tell us about so you I mean, you’ve gone to the full cycle here. And so now let’s just say somebody has marriage problems again and leaves the company two weeks. Do you have things dialed in or are you nervous still?

    Robert:    04:17- 05:08   Now we’re dialed in pretty tight right now. You know, what’s the Beatle song? One is the loneliest number. That’s true in business, if you’ve got only one of something and you don’t have some type of backup system, you need to find yourself a backup system. So we’ve got a lot of stuff dialed in. As an owner, now I’m a lot more hands on in terms of just really meeting with the staff and holding them accountable. Whereas before, I wasn’t as much as kind of like, She’s great. She’s got it. And I wasn’t checking in as much. So that’s something else that I’ve also dialed in on the process of a little bit more of a leadership team now. Set weekly meetings, set monthly meetings. We’re constantly looking over some of the processes that we’re doing. If we’ve changed some software, so we go back and tweak those processes, a lot more involved, but it’s not me doing all of the work.

    Josh:    05:09-05:22        Yeah, very cool. So let’s talk about your coaching journey. So what made you decide that you wanted to actually work with other companies? I mean, do you have to still work in your business? Or do you have enough freedom where you can work with other companies down?

    Robert:    05:23-06:32     Yet? No, I’m still working in the practice. Right now. We have a new therapist that’s going to come on in August. So we’ve got our, you know, have a hiring system and we’ve got an onboarding system. So I’ll help take her through that as well. And that’s going to allow me to step back and do a little bit more coaching as well. But really, you know, for me, I’ve always kind of been like I said, after I got the lazy high school kid, right, once I hit college and got into therapy school, it’s been just full bore knowledge, like a, you know, going through books at a time and podcasts and all this stuff. And so, really, for me, it was about, you know, taking a deeper dive and forcing me to learn Work the System even more, so I could help my team. But then as I started talking to other business owners, realizing, like how they don’t understand it, they don’t really get it. And it was my opportunity, then I feel like I can give back to them, especially in the healthcare environment. Because a lot of times we were just the doer, right? We’re just out there, treating the patients and we’re not thinking about the financial system or the hiring system, and we almost abdicate it to somebody else. And then we get mad when we look up and it’s not running the way we want. And it’s, you know, it’s on us.

    Josh:    06:33-06:50        So a big thing. I’d like to kind of explore this a little bit was you first started and you were working hard, but then you put the systems in, do you feel like a lot more control now? I mean, where you could actually not be at the office and know what you’re doing based on the numbers now compared to actually having to be there before?

    Robert:   06:51-07:54      Yeah, most definitely. So we have different scorecards and dashboards, you know, that we look at, I can do those from, you know, here at the house, I can be in the office and then when we meet with a team. It used to be me talking at the team, and as them talking to me and presenting their numbers. So, you know, I’ve got kind of a financial leader, I’ve got a physical therapy leader, and then my front office manager. So they’re all reporting their stats on a weekly basis. And then we use kind of a traffic light system, so green, yellow, and red. And anything that hits that red status that you know, becomes the issue that we really need to dive into to figure out what’s going on yellow. Yeah, we kind of look at it, but if it’s, you know, just a little weird thing going on for the week or so, of course, you know, here it’s been this last quarter with COVID. But, you know, we dive into that a little bit and then green, boom, keep plugging along with what we’re doing. But yeah, the freedom of really more than peace of mind of being able to step out of the office, and know that when I come back, that everything is still intact, and a lot of times running better than when I left. That gives me a lot of a lot of peace of mind and security in my team.

    Josh:    07:55-08:15         So what was the first thing that changed for you before you decided to systemize your business or put the systems in place? Because I mean, you already weren’t owner for number of years? Was it that that was at the person who left? Or was it a mindset shift that really got you going or what was kind of the beginning, I think that led you to where you are now?

    Robert:   08:16-08:58      Right it for me, it was really kind of the I would say the pain point of the employee leaving was kind of the kick in the pants that I needed. Leading up to that I was studying marketing systems. And as a therapist, I have, you know, evaluation and treatment systems that I’ve always but for some reason, I didn’t click as a business owner, like I need to put systems in the business. And it wasn’t until we had that pain point of someone leaving that had almost 19 years of knowledge in their head,  that I’m like, Okay, I have to figure this out. Because otherwise I can’t, you know, I can’t work 80 hours a week, I’m going to destroy my marriage, I’m gonna destroy my kids. The business isn’t going to be fine. I’m not going to enjoy it. So I have to figure something out. So that was the big, big point there.

    Josh:   08:59-09:18          That’s interesting.  Yeah, I asked that question because I’m trying to figure that out because whenever I talk to someone about it, it’s always something really painful or horrible or challenging has to happen first, before, they’re really ready to get serious about their business, and trying to figure out how do I create that and people without having to create the kind of pain that makes it happen. That’s it just you.

    Robert:  09:19-10:01       Yeah, if you can figure it out, I’d use it my physical therapy business as well, because that’s the main thing is we’ll see. We’ll have people come in and the shoulder moves, maybe at 50%. I’m like, and they’re like, but it doesn’t hurt. I’m like, Yeah, but it doesn’t move. Well, like if we don’t fix this, it will hurt. So when they show up six months later, and they’ve got terrible pain, you almost want to go well, I kind of told you so. And yeah, that’s the same thing in business. But I think sometimes as owners, we just were head down. We’re entrepreneurs, we’re driving. And it’s, if we don’t take the time to stop and look up and really evaluate what’s going on. Yeah, sometimes we just have that massive car crash and then the pain comes in and we start looking for people to help us get out of the pain.

    Josh:    10:02-10:32        The other thing I want to ask you about is because I know it’s a very human to human face to face kind of business, physical therapy, we’ll get into relationships. And there’s a lot of companies like this where you really are face to face. And people think well, how do you systemize those kind of relationships? For you, what was it? Was it systems that did like documented step by steps? Or was it more the principles you put in place? So that instead of you working with your clients, you enabled them through principles? Like what really helped your business?

    Robert:   10:33-12:07      So a little bit of both? I think it depends. So if it’s, you know, someone in the front office having to order supplies, it’s just kind of a written checklist. And we have, you know, a spreadsheet that tracks what we’ve got on hand and we have set minimums, we’re going to order and so from that perspective, it’s more of just kind of, like I said, written out procedure, this is what you do, but in terms of like the principal and the customer service and things like that so we talked about our magical core values. Right. So making a difference, our attitude, gratitude, integrity, customer service, attention to detail and leadership. And those are the really the core things that we kind of kind of push with the team. And if they do, you know, if they work according to those core values on a daily basis, then they’re going to help take care of the customer, and they’re going to do the right thing. And so I have a fantastic team that’s around me right now. And I would love to say it’s all because of me and my hiring processes or something like that. But it’s because when people come in, they kind of feel that vibe. And if they don’t naturally get along with that, then they’re kind of out the door pretty quick. And so a lot of a lot of our kind of lower level, I would say but assistance that we have that aren’t licensed. They were sometimes former patients or their parents were a patient and they came and hung out and they just thought it was a fun environment. And they’ve you know, they sign up they want to come work here because now they want to be a physical therapist or physical thing. The system or something like that. So hopefully it’s part of that environment that we’ve created, but based off mainly a lot of the principles that we lay out.

    Josh:    12:08-12:45        Yeah, that’s so interesting. Because oftentimes people when they hear about our methodology, they think, oh, you just write down systems. And then, yeah, there’s people who are like robots, and then they just do it every single time. And you’re explaining exactly what a thought is, you actually need both. And those principles guide you and attract the right people. Now, I was gonna ask you, so with regard to your business now? I mean, it was already pretty dialed in, we started working together. Have you noticed the profitability going up in your business? Because it systems and if so, was there one you can point to? Or is it just accumulation of just doing things right repeatedly?

    Robert:   12:46-13:43      Yeah, I think it’s, it’s kind of the Kaizen principle, you know, one small step at a time. And as we started building the systems and kind of adjusting the different leavers of the business, that was that was really kind of that exponential movement forward in terms of, you know, not only revenue, but also the profitability, you know, because we can look, and we really started paying attention to the metrics a lot more. That was, that was kind of the main thing I would say is I wish it was one little magic button for somebody, but it’s not. And, you know, you gave me a great bit of coaching advice. And I was like, well, you know, where do you start, you know, with systems. And it’s where I started the most painful thing that you have going on right now. And you put out that fire and you take care of it. And then you move on to the next one. And it’s not to say that you put it on the shelf and never visited again, you have to constantly keep coming back to these things. Make sure they’re updated. Make sure the staff that is there doing them, that they fully understand what’s going on.

    Josh:    13:43-13:57        So speaking of staff, what do they, what do they say? I mean, I can guess what they’re saying. But are they happy that you did this because of the, for the beginning, they might not have been Are they happy, now that you actually went took the effort and put the systems in place?

    Robert:   13:58-14:47    They are. It’s come like a running joke. It’s like we call like SOP. Right? Standard Operating Procedures. And they’re like, you know, that was the biggest thing is they’d come to me with the question. And I’d say, Okay, what does the SOP say? Can’t you just tell me what it is? And I’m like, I could, but here’s the thing. There’s so many things going on in my mind. I’m, I’m quite leveled to tell you wrong. And then if you went back and reviewed it, and you’re like, well, you told me to do it this way. And the procedure said, this way, the procedure is, right. And if you read it, and for some reason, we’ve changed something, we just need to update the procedure. But, and plus, it makes them think, okay, where’s the procedure? How do I do this? And it’s going to force them to put a little bit more knowledge into reading through and memorizing that procedure. So they don’t have to come you know, get me next time. And that was the ultimate goal of it is not you know, constantly putting out fires for people.

    Josh:    14:48-14:59        So at first they were like, they were ever used to go and do every single thing like hey, Robert, how, but now they sound like they’re in a habit now where they’re used to you not being in there so they’re okay with that.

    Robert: 15:00-15:34       Yeah, most likely, I think, you know, they still want to come to me every once in a while. And it depends on you know what it is? I’d certainly you know, I’m there to lead and help them. But at the same time, things that are a lot more complicated and have more steps involved in linked to other procedures, like you really have to go pull this up, and we have to look at it because honestly, you know, half the things my front office does, why are you asking me? I haven’t answered a phone in years, right? And now you’re going to come ask me something about answering the phone or transferring a line. Like I’m lucky to be able to pick up my own line, much less transferred to somebody else in the building.

    Josh:    15:35-16:12        Yeah, well, I think that’s great for people to hear is that also now you get to solve challenging, complicated new problems, and the standard ones already figured out. Right? I think that’s what gives you confidence to expand and to push to new levels because the regular things are they’re not they’re not fires anymore, right? Like the serious things matter. Well, I wanted to ask you a question about actual systems, since we’re talking about systems here, sure, can you think of a system you put into your business or your personal life? Or someone else’s company that made a big impact? And you can tell us what that was and what it did for your business?

    Robert:   16:13-17:30     Yeah, so I love kind of the marketing stuff about business. I love treating patients. I mean, it’s all a lot of fun. And so, you know, for me to kind of step back on some of that stuff. I was like, Okay, we’ve got to get this dialed in and write up the system. And so every month we send a, call it the physical therapy telegraph, right? Old school, print newspaper goes to our patients, and I enjoyed writing kind of the main cover story and the main, you know, thing that’s happening, whether it’s in the clinic or in my personal life, but the rest of it, like I don’t want to gather all the other stuff and we know, we put in our past patients and our new patients, we recognize them and have patient of the month and all that sort of stuff. And so we’ve written a system where the front office handles the rest of that newsletter. So like today, we’re getting ready to go to print I just notified the girl up front. I said, Okay, my story is in there, you’re good to go. She takes the rest of it, she finds a little funny means everything else sends it off to the printer. They mock up the proof, they send it back front office checks it for spelling errors, whatever else sends it back out since the approval, done. Whereas before it was, like driving me nuts of like, going back and forth to proofing and looking for stuff and I’m like, this isn’t this isn’t right. Like, I don’t want to do this.

    Josh:    17:31-17:52     Yeah, well, that’s a great example for anyone who wants to do ongoing marketing, which a lot of companies should a simple newsletter once a week, once a month, really effective. And it doesn’t mean that you as the owner have to be involved. There’s a lot of ways where you can put your stamp on it and then have the rest of a systemized that’s a great system. Yeah.

    Robert:    17:53-18:36     Yeah. And I think a lot of times when you say automate, you know, most people think okay, something with you know, Infusionsoft or you know, Active Campaign. But automation could also mean that other staff is automatically kind of taking care of that task for you. Now, obviously, you’ve got to rely on the people. But I think getting things off your plate, and really doing what you feel led to do, or whatever your key responsibilities are as the leader. And then that way you can really focus and work in your unique ability, and let the rest of the staff kind of handle some of those other things. Because other staff, they may look at this, like, oh, this is a blast. Well, that’s the person you want on that task, versus if they hate it as much as you they’re not going to put the love into it. So you got to find that right, you know, key staff member sometimes as well.

    Josh:       18:37-19:02    Yep. I totally agree. Yeah. And often, I was not thinking of automate, I’m not thinking of get some kind of special technology, just like you is like this, this podcast will automatically be taken care of by a team of people. And through a system and so yeah, that’s great. So what is a question, Robert, that I didn’t ask you, but I should have that. You think the audiences, the small biz owners listening to this need to hear about.

    Robert:    19:03-20:00     Yeah,  I think one of the biggest mistakes are the question, maybe my largest business mistake would be, you know, one not implementing systems when I first started, right? So if I could rewind, you know, 14 years, it would start out putting systems but again, I wasn’t, you know, the pain at that point was, how am I going to get patients in here? How am I going to get paid? Can I support my family on this,  that was the biggest thing. And the second would be to kind of set that vision. And like you mentioned earlier, not forget about your people. It’s not, you don’t want robots working for you. You want people that are going to take responsibility. They know what those key results are. They know what they’re being held accountable for. And you can have systems to help you do that. But at the end of the day, you still have people that have families that are working for you, and you need to treat them as such. It’s not just a assembly line process.

    Josh:    20:01-20:29        Definitely, definitely. Yeah, I mean, even more today than ever before, there are knowledge workers, no matter where they are in the world, they’re working for you. They get good ideas, and you need those ideas. Oh, let me ask this question. Because this relates. So since you’re involved, the less and less than day to day, your procedures still need to be tweaked. Are you finding that your team actually is engaged in tweaking or improving the systems in your business or just a silver lining, and you haven’t come up with a new ideas?

    Robert:    20:30-21:26     Not so much me coming up with the ideas, but they need a little nudging every once in a while, like, okay, we got to make sure on a regular basis, we’re pulling them out and actually glad you brought that up because I was having a meeting with our front office team the other day, and one of the ladies has been up there a little bit over a year. And she said, you know, I can really tell the difference between some procedures that one person wrote versus someone else. I said, well tell me about that. He said some of these are like super detail oriented and others are very vague and just kind of gloss over I said, well, that’s a great opportunity, as you’re learning new things, that we dive back into that system, and we update it. So and the next point is to give someone else in the office that normally doesn’t do that task, give them the opportunity to run through it, because if they can read it and handle it, then we know we’re dialed in pretty good. If they look at it, they have a bunch of questions, we got to go back to the drawing board, and we got to update that. And when I say we, I mean you because you own that position.

    Josh:    21:27-21:47        Now that’s great, well, empowering them to make their work better. And people actually take more pride in their work when they do that. Well, that’s great. Well, Robert. You’ve really shown, at least, at least to me during this interview, that you’re not a systemized business, because you’ve done it. You live it. Right. So where can people find more about you and the coaching consulting work that you do nowadays?

    Robert: 21:48-22:10       Yeah, right now, probably LinkedIn is probably one of the best tools to do that. We’re working on probably putting up a website for the business consulting at the moment here. And so we’ll have something in the future so we can get that up or if you want to visit me through our physical therapy page, you can do that and then send me a contact as well. That’s a Springtown Physical Therapy dot com.

    Josh:    22:11-23:00        Awesome! Yeah, definitely. Robert, we’re gonna get you on the Work the System website as well put you up there so people can find you on work the system dot com under certified consultants. But again, Robert, thanks for taking the time this afternoon to share with us your wisdom on how to systemize business. And thanks everybody for listening today or watching us on Facebook Live. Hopefully you got a lot of value out of this. Stay tuned next week, I’ll be sharing with you another business expert like Robert, sharing with you how you can improve your business so you can make more and work less. And also if you want a copy of that book right there behind me. You can find it at Work the System dot com for free to download or you can send us a screenshot of a review if you leave a review for us anywhere, send it that review to info at work the system dot com and then once a week we grab one of those reviews and we will mail you out a copy of the book. Otherwise, we will see you next week!

    Robert: 23:01   Thanks Josh.


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