Today, we're diving into a topic I've been asked about a lot – working with gyms and studios as a cash based practice owner. This guide is here to help, whether you're renting space, sharing facilities, or exploring different business collaboration options.
This blog is a basic guideline of the thoughtful approach that should be taken when partnering your physical therapy practice with another business. We'll dive into some of the key recommendations for establishing and maintaining these business relations, with insights from my own personal experience as a cash based physical therapy practice owner.
Setting the Stage: The Trial Period
First thing to note is that with any relationship, partnership, or collaboration, it's important to take into consideration that things may or may not work out the way you expect them. This can be true for both parties, not just you as the practice owner.
When teaming up with a gym or studio, it's smart to start with a trial period to make sure that both of you are the right fit for each other. This could be three, six, or twelve months of time that each party has the opportunity to work together.
Whatever the trial period is, make sure that it is placed in a written agreement signed by both parties. This trial period helps everyone understand expectations, achieve goals, and have regular check-ins. Think of it as a test phase to make sure the partnership works well for everyone.
Initial Steps: Getting to Know the Gym or Studio
I tell all of my business coaching clients interested in gym collaboration to join the gym and spend some time getting to know the place. Attend classes, talk to people, and connect with coaches within the facility. This allows you to get a feel for what the facility's values are, the type of populations that walk through the doors, and let's the staff know that you are invested in the relationship.
One of the biggest mistakes I see practice owners make is trying to establish a partnership with a facility before building that relationship. It's going to be challenging for the facility owner or manager to feel comfortable saying "yes" without witnessing first hand who you are and what you're willing to contribute to the relationship.
Gym Exploration Week: A Smart Approach
One way to scope out gyms or studios you may be interested in partnering with is by taking a week to focus on a single facility. During that week, go to that facility's classes as a regular member, not as a business owner. This way, you can figure out which community fits your style and where your services would be appreciated.
Location of a facility may play a factor in the success of your business. Check out my blog post here where I dive into choosing the ideal location for your cash based PT practice.
This also gives you the opportunity to see where you may not fit in. That's okay, it's better to know before attempting to establish a collaboration and finding out your services will not thrive within that facility.
Preliminary Meeting: Starting the Conversation
After selecting the facility you're most interested in and that aligns with your services, spend some time attending the gym as talking about before. Once you've taken the time to invest your own time, you're then ready to start a conversation with the facility owner or manager.
To do this, ask for a casual meeting with the facility owner or manager. Introduce yourself, share your experiences at their place, and express interest in the community. Instead of hoping to sell your offer during that first meeting, talk about collaboration as a change to support and improve the gym's current offerings. This sets a positive tone for future talks and doesn't make it feel like you are coming on too strong.
Get tongue tied during meetings? Check out my blog post here!
From this initial conversation, if you feel like it's a good fit, ask to set a follow-up meeting to talk logistics. It may take multiple meetings and conversations before the facility owner or manager is willing to enter into an agreement.
Creating the Work Agreement: Important Things to Discuss
When it comes to making the collaboration official, there are important things to consider when drawing up an agreement. Some key things to consider include:
Mutual Expectations: Figure out if they see you as a team member, a staff member, or just someone renting space.
Financial Agreement: Instead of a percentage of earnings, consider a fixed monthly rent.
Space and Equipment: Decide if you get a room, access to facilities, and if they provide equipment.
Marketing Support: Ask if the gym will help with marketing your services.
Membership Coverage: Check if your gym membership is part of the agreement.
Once you and the facility owner or manager have come to an agreement that benefits both of your needs, both parties should sign the written agreement. Make sure you each keep the agreement on file to refer back to if things get misconstrued at any point.
Regular Check-ins: Making Sure It Works
Lastly, make sure that you and your partner(s) plan for regular check-ins. This can be bi-weekly, monthly, or whatever works best for the both of you. This helps both sides evaluate how things are going and make any needed changes. These check-ins can be relaxed but formal enough to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak their piece.
It's also crucial to establish a more formal check-in once your written agreement timeframe has expired. This is the chance for both parties to once again voice their opinions, make changes to a new agreement, or cut ties in a clean break manner.
Accelerate Your Practice Growth
In conclusion, teaming up with gyms and studios can be a great experience and a possible path to help your business' success. Although this post may not be totally comprehensive, it is here as a guide to help you navigate establishing these business partnerships.
Not interested in partnering with a gym or studio? That’s okay too! Check out my blog post here where I dive into why you don’t necessarily need a referral source to ensure your practice’s success!
If you're feeling overwhelmed about the possibility of partnering with a local gym, get in touch! I'd love to help point you in the right direction. Also, if you're looking for a guided program to help accelerate your practice's growth, I provide 1:1 business coaching for therapy practices and would love to chat about your practice and goals. You can find more about the coaching program here!
Listen to this episode on my podcast!