For Dr Richard Wood, expanding his practice meant evaluating his priorities
The technology and patient experience was of equal priority when Dr Richard Wood expanded his practice—and the results were worth it.Learn More
When Lisa Roach and Tony Ganter opened their first physiotherapy clinic in the Brisbane suburb of Jindalee, they could see the potential. Allsports Physiotherapy Group opened in 1992—a decade after the fitness revolution began with the likes of Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons and even Olivia Newton-John.
“The demographics of the Australian population made healthcare professionals across the spectrum busier,” says Ganter, Allsports’ CEO and physiotherapist. “Many who threw themselves into a fitness regime ended up hurting themselves and needed physiotherapy.”
Nowadays, Ganter has recognised another trend in the industry. “People are not as active in their day-to-day lives these days. They're at desks or spending time just watching a lot of sport. Now we are helping more people with diabetes and obesity.”
Allsports Physiotherapy Group’s Chief Operating Officer Lisa Roach, who met Ganter at the University of Queensland while both were undertaking their physiotherapy degrees, expands on this: “The general population of Australia is now bigger, heavier and less active, and that creates strain on their bodies, which we see in our clinics.”
A multidisciplinary approach
Providing a unique, multidisciplinary approach to sports rehabilitation and injury prevention has seen Allsports Physiotherapy Group boom. After opening the Jindalee clinic with university colleague Greg Spurgin and work associate Ian Maclean, the business quickly expanded, opening a clinic in nearby Indooroopilly in 1996, followed by Red Hill.
As the number of clinics increased, the directors put together a new business model that encourages physiotherapists to be partners. “Our commercial model allowed physios to co-own the clinics alongside the other existing clinicians,” says Ganter. He says physiotherapists “are all like-minded and incredibly passionate but at the same time, are keen to move into leadership roles within their own clinics”.
To develop this system and to manage the expansion of the business, they turned to the team at BOQ Specialist, who helped them manage facilities across property, goodwill, fit-out, equipment, overdraft and personal lending.
“One of the key elements in the success of our expansion has been enabling young passionate therapists with three or four years' clinical experience to join us as partners,” says Ganter. It meant that these prospective partners could use BOQ Specialist’s lending products, which allowed them to obtain equity in businesses while helping to expand them.
“To expand into a new site, we need that key stakeholder in the clinic with us,” continues Ganter. “Obviously for that, they need funding. Initially that was difficult for us to get, but the team at BOQ Specialist have been able to facilitate funding for those key individuals which has then allowed our business to grow at a much faster rate. Without BOQ Specialist we wouldn't be where we are now.”
Roach continues: “I remember one of the Big Four banks saying, ‘It's not a problem at all, but you will need the applicant’s parents to act as guarantor to back the business.’ The BOQ Specialist team made it possible to create a financially independent journey for some younger therapists coming through.
“A lot of the young physios appreciate that we stick with them and help them plan so they can get their deposits together and work their position financially. It means they will be able to take on the opportunities that we can offer through our business.
“I really appreciate being able to upskill our physios in fiscal discipline and financial management. We like to help new partners impart that same level of education we had on the business side; this has been a really big part of the relationship,” says Roach.
After 26 successful years, Allsports Physiotherapy Group realised it was time for a new venture. Late last year, the business was acquired by the ASX-listed company, Healthia.
According to Ganter, the company managed to achieve the acquisition without altering its underlying ideology and ethos. “Our partners are on the ground in the clinics and providing leadership and stewardship of the clinical care,” he says. “The Healthia support offices are now able to offer our clinics in suburbia a much higher level of sophistication.”
Ganter says that this allows partners to get on with the job of being a passionate physiotherapist while taking away the strain of being a part-time HR manager, IT expert and even a web developer. “They can just do what they do best—being a clinician.”
Roach says BOQ Specialist made the system run smoothly by facilitating key staff members to move into co-ownership within the clinics. “They have accelerated our ability to expand under the ASX umbrella of Healthia. Nothing really has changed from an operational point of view.”
While Roach and Ganter have spent decades improving their business and finance skills, have they had time to do their original job as physiotherapists? While Roach is flat out managing the business side, as well as raising his four children, Ganter has still found time to practise as a physio once a week.
“We can still remember why we got into the profession in the first place,” he says. “We like to help people; that's why we got into health.”
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