There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” -Colin Powell, Former U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Mairead O’Riordan – The Physiotherapy Clinic, Maynooth, Co. Kildare 

In 1992 I set up my physiotherapy clinic in the time honoured method of commencing with a few evening clinics per week while holding down fulltime employment within the academic/ public healthcare system. My home based clinic grew gradually via a combination of choosing to work a couple more evening clinics per week, then securing the services of other part-time colleagues to cover another few sessions, to a stage where the business was sufficient that I reduced my public service employment to a job-sharing post. This allowed me to further expand the hours of my clinic further. Eventually, essentially for family concerns, I chose to go fulltime in my clinic in 2000, leaving off the safety net of pensionable public service employment. Thus for the first eight years the business grew slowly and generically.

However, with making the jump into full self-employment I also needed to expand the physical premises from a home based/ one room clinic. Not being sufficiently confident, brave and without any long term business plan, I took another well tried option within my industry: I leased a unit within a local GPs’ surgery. Moving from one treatment room to three gave the business room to grow, which it did year-on-year very successfully for the next five years. Then, inexplicably growth stalled over the next eighteen months. I made ongoing attempts to identify why growth had stalled, trying to measuring a varying range of indicators, but failed to identify any definite trends. I tried some local advertising. Nothing seemed to make any difference. I became gradually aware of feeling more and more dissatisfied with the performance of the business, the performance of my colleagues in the practice, a definite awareness that clinic income was under pressure. I was working longer and harder than anyone else in my business, for less financial reward and less and less professional and personal satisfaction.

Then, out-of-the blue a letter arrived inviting me to an Action Seminar on June 8th 2006. The letter addressed several pertinent issues, the one that grabbed my attention being the issue of ‘the business owner working longer and harder than anyone else in the business’. I knew I needed to make time to attend this event! The information during the seminar was a huge wake-up call to me. When Helen Burns, Action Coach, phoned me the next day I was delighted to arrange a meeting. By the end of the Action Alignment Consultation, I again knew that I had no option if I wanted to see my business prosper again, but to sign up for Action Coaching. The answers to Helen’s probing questions left me in no doubt that Action would be able to help me find the way forward. I knew that I had been presented with an invaluable opportunity to bring my business forward.

Over summer 2006 our weekly phone/ face-to-face sessions looked at the KPIs I had been measuring to date, how narrow their focus was, and in essence how they were PIs rather than KPIs. With Helen’s guidance I began to re-formulate the questions and gradually began to produce real information: industry specific KPIs that gave me a true picture of how the business was doing daily/weekly/ monthly. We explored my time-poor issues, addressed the fact that though I had excellent colleagues working with me, I had not made any effort to create a viable team and that this was both holding these colleagues back from improving performance, but also preventing the business from growing. Helen encouraged me to put team building strategies in place. Within three months we were functioning as a team rather than individuals, with huge spin-offs for me as my team worked better to service the business, freeing me up to run the team and the business. I learnt how to delegate successfully.

Helen coached me on the importance of written systems. I spent many hours consigning the systems I had always carried in my head onto paper. Formal team training put the systems to the fore of the business. Action sales training improved the team’s understanding of how to service our clients. In monitoring the changes for the better in my own business I realised that the knowledge I had gained would be useful across my industry. Most Chartered Physiotherapists become business owners in exactly the same way I did. Most of us have had no formal business training, many of us not even taking business subjects prior to Leaving Cert, as we concentrated on the sciences.

I had had the seed of a physiotherapy related business in my head for a couple of years, a great brand name and concept, but had no idea how to take it any further. While working on systems for my clinic, I began to realise that these systems might be one component of bringing my concept to fruition. In October 2006 I presented this concept to Helen. To my great delight she agreed that the concept had merit. She now turned her considerable coaching, mentoring and networking skills put me in touch with business people across a wide spectrum, each one offering valuable insights and assistance. Coaching certainly focused me on step-wise progress to bring a new idea to the marketplace. Each week we agreed on tasks to be completed before the following week’s coaching session, while all the time keeping a close eye on my original clinic’s performance.

Occasionally I would appear to hit a major obstacle. Helen invariably had some technique or tool to overcome the problem. Despite only first discussing the outlines of a concept with my Action Coach in October 2006, now only seven months later, in May 2007 I have formed two companies, a holding company and a trading company, have brought two directors/ shareholders on board, and have launched the concept for integrated patient centred clinically excellent therapies to members of my profession. My company and concept, TherapyXperts, has been successful in initial application for membership of The Irish Franchise Association. We have set high goals. Helen and Action have to date ensured that we have reached and exceeded each goal we set in the past twelve months. I have no doubt that our fledgling company will succeed sooner rather then later.

When you see and use the superb services of any TherapyXperts clinic worldwide in coming years, remember that it all started here, from one small business in a small provincial town in Ireland. The concept predated my first contact with Action, but without that fateful letter and seminar in June 2006 it would have remained in my head as an unattainable opportunity. Helen Burns and the Action Coaching System gave me the tools to bring a brilliant idea to fruition. I envisage a long and successful working relationship as we move through the steps to make our business a major player on the international healthcare scene.

Thanks, Helen! Mairead O’Riordan CEO TherapyXperts