Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop…Keep Moving
Could recent events such as the dismissal of the mask mandate and businesses beginning to open up again around the world be the beginning of the end of the pandemic? Is the worse behind us? Should we celebrate? These are just a few questions that have been going through my mind recently as I reflect on the events that took place in 2020; specifically on how my business took a beating but by the grace of God, our doors are still open.
I am a small business owner of a physical therapy center in the state of Florida. The challenges that I faced during the COVID19 crisis were unmatched to anything that I ever experienced before as a business owner. I remember clearly the day that my husband and I made the decision to voluntarily close down our physical therapy center. It was Friday, March 20, 2020. We fell into the category of an essential business, we didn’t have to close down, but we felt that this was the best and safest decision for our employees, patients, family and business.
We closed for two weeks and it was during this time that we were forced to come up with a business survival plan or say goodbye to Results Care Physical Therapy, Pain and Wellness Center forever! I remember feeling joyful as my priorities shifted over to assisting my 10 year old finalize her fourth grade year. I felt a sense of freedom from the routine and weight of being a business owner. However, I couldn’t dismiss the fact that we had to quickly come up with an idea, a solution that would sustain the vitality of our business during this time of uncertainty. After nights of brainstorming, my husband and I came up with a series of pivot strategies that helped us make it through these challenging and unprecedented times. These strategies didn’t come to us all at once, they evolved off of the one before it.
Our first pivot strategy was to open up again utilizing one physical therapist who could provide virtual evaluations and treatments via telehealth. This lasted for approximately one month because we failed miserably at it. Most of our elderly patients were computer illiterate and could not open up the zoom meeting to attend their sessions. Other patients slowly trickled off the schedule because they felt that in person therapy was more valuable than virtual therapy; stating, “it just isn’t the same.”
Because of this big flop, our second pivot strategy was to open up our doors and allow patients to come back into the clinic again. We followed CDC PPE guidelines for healthcare workers and dove right in, full force. By this time, we were operating at an 83% profit loss. Furthermore, we went from having eight full-time employees down to three part-time employees. Our future looked very dim.
Our third pivot strategy was to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPE) that would help keep our workforce employed, as well as cover rent and utilities. The amount that we received in April covered the company’s expenses until the end of July. Unfortunately, we were still operating at a significant profit loss because patients were afraid to come into our center for fear of contracting the COVID19 virus. Because of the low patient productivity rate, we were unable to pay our lease in Ave Maria. We were once again forced to find a solution that would secure the vitality of our business.
We were faced with making one of the toughest decisions of our business career. Should we stay or should we go? After establishing ourselves in the town of Ave Maria for six years, the last thing we wanted to do was leave the town where we birthed our business. All the memories, all the friendships, all the relationships were at risk of being disrupted. The pivotal factor came when the attempt to renegotiate our lease failed and we ended up with a breach of lease penalty and a 30 day eviction notice from our landlord.
It didn’t happen instantaneously, but we eventually lifted our jaws off the floor, and filtered through an uplifting, “it’s not the end of the world”, coaching session with my business coach, Dr. Phil Phillips that we finally came up with our pivot strategy number four! Despite all the uncertainty of whether or not this next decision would make or break us, we decided to pack up and relocate our physical therapy business eight minutes down the road into the town of Immokalee.
Fast forward to today as I write this small excerpt from my life, I can’t stop humming to the tune of, “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving!” by Matthew Wilder. I might be dating myself with this song, but if I’ve learned anything from this season in my life, I’ve learned that I’ve got to keep on moving. I CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP!
As I mentioned earlier, by the grace of God our doors are still open. It has been a rough, tough and chaotic year, but I can confidently say that if it weren’t for strategically shifting and pivoting all the roadblocks placed in front of us and our trust in the Lord, Results Care would have ceased to exist on Friday, March 20, 2020. But what’s even more astounding is that what we thought would be the end of us turned out to be the best business decision we ever made. Moving into the town of Immokalee has given our business purpose. We currently serve an underserved population who greatly need our services. We have shifted our delivery of care model to an affordable healthcare delivery model which has allowed us to get back to our pre-COVID19 productivity numbers in less than a year. I never would have thought that moving into the town of Immokalee in August of 2020 would have gotten us to the productivity numbers that took us six years to develop in Ave Maria. This move was definitely God-driven, God-led, God-orchestrated!!! To Him be the glory! “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” Romans 11:36.
May my story bring you wisdom and insight as you navigate your business during these times of uncertainty. If you find yourself in a tough situation, don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. Keep moving forward, utilizing effective pivot strategies and don’t be afraid to start all over again! As for me, it’s forward and onward to the new challenges and obstacles of the post-COVID19 aftermath! But first, Jesus and coffee!!!