10 Questions For Tommy..
1, Describe your background
I studied Physiology and Health Science in Carlow IT and then I went onto Salford in Manchester to study Physiotherapy. I have had numerous jobs before and during my college years. I worked as a labourer for all trades, Dunnes Stores, Xtra Vision and also I worked in Bord na Mona. Recently I added them up and I have had over 12 jobs and I have learned a lot from them all. I feel I am lucky to do my job as a physiotherapist because it's my passion, but the other jobs taught me different aspects of business. It doesn't matter what you are doing or where you're working, as the saying goes “every day is a school day.”
2, How long have you been in your present company/ position
Presently I am the director at TC Physiotherapy, which is now open three years. We have grown the clinic to now have five full time staff and are currently looking for our fourth therapist to join the team.
3, Tell us a bit about your business and its operating philosophy
As a chartered physiotherapy clinic we deal with clients with long term pain, recovering from surgery or just trying to keep active and mobile. We believe we are the bridge between your GP and surgeon as we can help rehabilitate from surgery but also we are an alternative to surgery. We have a multi-disciplinary approach where we work alongside local GPs and Surgeons to get the best treatment and diagnosis for our clients. We also work alongside major sports surgeons based in Dublin and this relationship has helped get our clients achieve the best results.
In the clinic our policy is 24 hour care as we believe if we take a new client on they will be a loyal client for life so our ability to help them at all times is very important to us.
I want to be known as a pioneering physiotherapy clinic that makes physiotherapy relevant again as most people think you just go in and get exercises there is a lot more to it than that.
4, Who or what in life has had most influence on your career
My family are who made me the person I am today and helped me through college and school. They gave me the start and encouragement to open the business.
Natalie my fiance then took over from there. She is a very positive influence and has huge belief in me and what I am trying to do. Every decision I make in the business I will consult her first.
What - the first course I done when I left college was a course called DNS. I was blown away and from that moment on I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted to be able to fix the ones that no-one else can fix, I wanted to be one of the best physiotherapist in Ireland.
5, How long is your typical working day
Like all self employed business owners there is no typical day but I am most comfortable when my day starts at 7am and will usually switch off at 8pm. Things have changed as the clinic opens from 7am - 8pm Monday to Friday and also work 7 am - 1pm on Saturdays. I do 6 out of the 7 days. I used to hate working Saturdays when working for someone else but now I notice Saturday is a far easier day than a Monday, everyone is in good form on a Saturday.
6, What are the greatest challenges in business you have experienced
For me the greatest challenge was knowing how to run a private physiotherapy clinic. Since I have left college I have worked for myself so I never understood that environment or business model. That stunted the clinics growth as I needed to find my feet. Also at the moment as a chartered physiotherapist I feel the industry is being diluted and not being respected / understood by the general public and other medical professionals. The reason for this is confusion and marketing. I am lucky as I have met some local gps and surgeons that send me clients on a regular basis but I also have met gp’s, surgeons, dentists and the general public that ask me the same question “are you a real physio or a rubber”. I am not blaming these people for not knowing the difference I am blaming the regulations and the regulatory bodies. Ireland is the only country that this is happening in, I have studied in the UK and America and they are shocked by what is happening. I am worried not because I will lose business from non qualified physios, I am worried that the profession that I think is great is getting watered down and undervalued. I respect there is a place for all but let us all use our respected titles and then our multidisciplinary health system can progress.
7, Where do you hope to see you and your business in five years times
I would have never seen myself where I am now and for a long time it was hard to see where I wanted to go. Only February this year I wrote my first growth projections and wrote down where I want to go. One thing I have about business is to diversify and that's what we are implementing this year. We have a project that we hope to have open in September in a midlands town but also I want to expand to Dublin and start a new venture up there. In five years I want to still be treating clients as that is what I love doing.
But with physiotherapy business it's the client that are sitting in the waiting room that's the number one, not your new project our ideas. My clients are my drive, if I ignore them it's all for nothing.
8, If you had as much money as you wanted what would you do to improve your business
I think the heart of any business is your team so I would invest in them first. The truth is you don't need a huge amount of money in physio to start because your three tools are your own brain, mouth and hands. If I had an unlimited amount of money I would like to design my own clinic and stick it on church street as we can still go and get coffee.
9, How do you relax on your downtime
I suppose that has being a struggle over the last few years. When I was in college I used to listen to music for hours or watch a tv series. Now I find it hard to watch something as I will be sending emails checking texts and looking at physio stuff. I remember I was able to watch the first series of House of Cards and never looked at my phone the whole way through but now I was watching the new series and just couldn't concentrate. Natalie is very good because she knows when to tell me to switch off or when to switch on and stop procrastinating. She keeps me balanced but also knows that when I am happiest is when the clinic is progressing so she pushes me. What I have to do is stick to routines, for example Sunday morning I like to get up at 8 am and get the two Sunday papers and read them. Also Kathryn my front of house blocks off times where I go on coffee breaks either Chocolate Brown or the Foxy Bean, that keeps me sane.
10, If you won the lotto would you continue in business in your present role
To be honest I am one that likes lying on the beach so it would be very tempting to leave it all behind. But it's something I have built and money you earn is harder to spend than money you are given. I think I would keep the job going but might have to move the clinic and staff to the Bahamas.