Earlier today we hit “submit” on our entry into Chase’s Small Business Grant Competition. Chase is awarding $250,000 to select small businesses that can demonstrate that they will use the grant in a way that will benefit the community. To enter, each business was asked to answer a series of questions that run the gamut between “tell us how great you are” to “what kind of challenges do you face?” We essentially had to tell SPEAR’s life story, mining our past and our present for nuggets we wanted to share with Chase.
When our team got together to think about the answers to these questions, we got an unexpected reward. For the first time in a long time we paused to think about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve gained in the past 14 years. We began discussing all that we’ve learned about our craft, the joy of helping patients, of bringing them back to their expected level of life activity, the pleasure we’ve experienced working together and getting to know each other and developing our team. As the memories mounted, it all became overwhelming. In one afternoon, we revisited 14 years of growth and turned them into 2000 words.
We would like to share those words with you, and thank you for all the years you as patients, friends, family, and teammates have shared with us. We truly love what we do, and thank you for putting your trust in us.
Since Chase is awarding this grant to small businesses that will use the funds to benefit communities, it is also giving the community an opportunity to vote! To cast your vote for SPEAR Physical therapy, you must have a Facebook account (Chase’s rules, but please don’t worry. Your information is secure: no one will use your Facebook account to get any information or post anything to your news-feed. It is only being used to keep people from voting for the same company more than once).
1. click on this link: www.missionsmallbusiness.com
2. Scroll down and click the “LOG IN & SUPPORT” button (via Facebook).
3. Type “SPEAR Physical Therapy” in the search box
4. Cast your vote and share with your family and friends!
And now, without further interruptions, SPEAR’s “life story” in the words of our Co-founder and President and members of our team:
Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique? I’m sure every small business that is intimately involved with the health of other human beings can claim this, but at SPEAR I fully believe that we ARE this: The sole reason we exist is because we love physical therapy and we love our patients. The love of our craft and of the people we help are the guiding force behind everything we do, every decision we make, and every person we hire. When I first started SPEAR with my business partner Dave Endres, we were two young kids coming out of physical therapy school. We had no idea how to run a business and that, I think, was the reason for our success in the end. There were no gimmicks. We were eager to learn, eager to treat, and grateful for every single patient who walked through our doors. What makes our business unique is that we still treat every single patient the way we did when we were a 1 room facility. Every single person we employ cares about our patients and their stories as intimately and passionately as if they were treating friends and family. From our care coordinators to our techs and physical therapists, our patients can feel our presence of mind and attention to their problems the minute they walk through our doors. As a result, we’ve had the pleasure of treating and getting to know their friends and families. We’ve built a strong team over the last 14 years. We’ve grown from being a two-man operation, using the same room to treat our patients and do administrative work to establishing four locations in state of the art medical facilities. We’ve had the pleasure of rehabbing pro athletes, getting grandparents healthy enough to play with their grandchildren, and have helped tens of thousands of people regain active and happy lives. It has been deeply rewarding and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
How is your business involved with the community you serve? We’re very big on maintaining a close and informed culture at SPEAR. Every other month we hold our full staff meeting at our 56th street location, giving all of our 43 employees an opportunity to mingle and catch up with each other as well as celebrate each others’ and our patients’ accomplishments. At every meeting we learn a little bit more about what we do with our time outside of SPEAR. Without fail, at every session, I am inspired by the motivation and compassion of our staff. A few months ago one of our therapists, Jared Lando, brought two guest speakers from the Challenged Athletes Foundation to speak to our team about their organization. Jared and therapists Ryan Kitzen and Dave Endres are competing in triathlons this summer to raise money for CAF, a nonprofit that helps amputees become or return to being active athletes. Their talk was a huge inspiration to our practice and we’ve since championed their efforts at every opportunity, raising thousands of dollars for their cause. Every year we send volunteers to help out at the medical tents of the ING NYC Marathon, treating both elite runners throughout the race and those coming in with injuries at the finish line. The therapists look forward to this event in particular because it is the perfect opportunity to give back and to give care to people whose bodies really need it. We are also big on advocating for patients rights and the right to fair access to care. I am heavily involved in lobbying congress and the senate for medical reform. I also am an advocate for our profession, fighting for our rights to treat patients in fair and fruitful conditions as the head of the Physical Therapy Legal Group of NY and as Vice Chair of the Independent Physical Therapists branch of the NYPTA (New York Physical Therapy Association). Wanting to foster the careers of future therapists, we have established a unique career ladder at SPEAR; helping PT aides interested in our trade learn our brand of attentive and compassionate care while assisting their educational and career development. As we grow, we are looking to set up scholarships for both male and female graduating high school athletes as well as developing future models of sustainable medical practice. Since day one we have been about healing body, mind, and heart through physical therapy and sharing the success stories of the amazing people we treat with our community.
What would a $250k grant mean to your business plan and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability? With a $250,000 grant we can enhance the public’s access to our brand of high quality, high compassion physical therapy by opening a location in an under-served and high demand area in NYC. We will use our centralized administrative office and management team to successfully manage this new location, using our existing values SPEAR-IT values of Service, Passion, Empathy, Accountability, and Respect to create and foster Integrity and Teamwork. We would also be able to hire additional employees, growing our team and providing rewarding jobs during this time of economic hardship.
What types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them? As the nation has come to realize, the changing healthcare landscape built around our craft is the biggest challenge we face as a practice. Declining reimbursement has been an overwhelming issue for the past decade and makes every day of operation a challenge. Medicare caps, post-payment audits and denied authorizations for treatment that have already been deemed medically necessary by the patients doctor also pose a great challenge to any practice looking to thrive and serve its community. Adjusted for simple inflation, reimbursement for treatment in 1992 vs. 2012 has decreased by 32%. SPEAR has been able to successfully manage the constant challenges set forth upon us by the managed care system and the ever increasing regulatory environment. Despite these challenges we have shown year after year growth. This accomplishment has and will always require ingenuity and evolution to continue on the path of success. To help overcome the ever looming threat of falling reimbursement rates, SPEAR has created an Executive Management Team consisting of all the key members of the company covering all aspects of the practice. The genesis of many of our current policies and growth strategies have started in these monthly meetings and the main focus is on new ideas, customer service, and problem solving any company obstacles, review of operational/financial reports and to conduct peer review. The Executive Management Team’s passion and innovation has made SPEAR a stronger company in the past and will continue to keep us ahead of the challenges that lie before us.
Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful. Every therapist we employ has a specialty they are passionate about. Each of them has contributed to the development and implementation of our running, weight loss, vestibular, low back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, throwing, and women’s health programs. Having this vast specialty pool allows us to give our patients knowledgeable and effective treatment of almost any injury they may suffer. If we were a body shop, we’d be equipped to repair everything from complex Lamborghinis, Porches, to bicycles- and each with the same level of care and attention. Many of our therapists are from all over the country and we have an extremely diverse ethnic background which has helped to make our patients feel more comfortable. Our diversity has also created a wonderful working environment, one in which we are constantly learning and surprising each other. Our therapists intensely care about the success of their profession and of their patients, and that in turn has translated into success for our business. We rate at an industry-leading 96.1% Net Promoter Score, which is the likelihood of our patients to recommend SPEAR to their friends and relatives. We have such confidence our team that we publish, in real time, the results of our patient satisfaction surveys. http://www.education.spearcenter.com/SPEAR-Survey-Results/Spear-Survey-Results/a~4600/article.html
Additional relevant information you would like to share Because we are exceptional at communicating clearly with our patients, educating them about their injuries so they understand the whys and hows behind their injuries, we proudly boast a high “graduation” record- meaning our patients complete the plans of care prescribed by their physicians. Our graduating patients and their therapists are thrown a small but boisterous celebration at the end of their last visit, something we like to do to acknowledge their hard work as well as the dedication of their therapist.
Lastly, here’s one of our favorite stories, as told by Dan and Dave about a trip to the beach during a hurricane that could have ended pretty badly, but resulted in a life-long partnership instead.