Dr. Melissa Davidson and Simon Smith run in-person physical therapy training for physios in New Zealand. Starting out, these business owners did everything manually. Then they discovered the tool that did all that they needed online.
Join James and his guests as they go over the journey and share best online practices for running an offline livelihood.
01:24 – When a physio marries an accountant… Dr. Melissa Davidson and Simon Smith share a life and a thriving physical therapy training business.
03:26 – Online support for an offline practice. What started with a Facebook post became a real demand for courses that our couple didn’t yet offer.
06:04 – Before the website came about. From a manual spreadsheet and invoices to having everything in one place online.
08:45 – The tool that brought everything together. Business website design became a cinch when Melissa and Simon discovered this software.
13:58 – Building the future on what’s working. The couple thinks forward, and 10XPRO will help them expand.
16:02 – What the pandemic has changed. COVID has prompted many to rethink how they work and do business.
18:59 – Travels before and in time of COVID. Pre-pandemic adventures and travel plans for the near future.
20:42 – Managing the tech side of things. Why technology isn’t an issue for Dr. Melissa.
When you deal largely with online businesses, it’s exciting to dig into a case study from a typically non-businessey field. Today, it’s James’s particular pleasure to chat with Dr. Melissa Davidson and Simon Smith. A specialist physiotherapist and an accounting specialist, respectively.
When a physio marries an accountant…
Husband and wife, says Simon, married 30 years and working together for much of that.
James can relate, having worked for a decade with his wife and currently sharing a recruitment business with her. It’s magic, he says, when you can make that work.
What caught James’s attention was the way they’re using the site. It’s very common now to see lessons and courses being sold online. Melissa and Simon are running in-person events, despite some limitations in the current environment. New Zealand being one of the least affected countries in the pandemic, however, it works well enough for them most of the time.
And it now also gives them a platform from which to leverage into the areas of information and membership.
Online support for an offline practice
It started with a Facebook post, says Simon. But some background may be in order.
Melissa is a physiotherapist specialist in pelvic health, the only one in New Zealand. She finished her PhD last year, with the aim of incorporating her academic background into physical therapy training courses.
They initially posted in their Facebook group, gauging interest in those sort of courses. The response was overwhelming. And they had nowhere to sign people up, no courses yet, no dates. Nothing.
They kicked things off in March this year. And by the end of the year they will have run in-person courses for roughly 80 physios learning to do pelvic health internals. That has increased the population of pelvic floor physios in New Zealand by a third.
It’s ramped up fast. And they needed a system easy for their physios to navigate. Physios, says, Melissa, are very good with the bodies, but not so much with IT. And they needed something to considerably reduce their workload.
Before the website came about
So how did they use to do it?
Simon recalls early on getting in touch with James through the support product in SuperFastResults. Their question was how to solve this problem. People were emailing them info, which they collated on a spreadsheet. They’d have people interested in various courses, and wanting to pay them. How to make it easier?
They ran their first course manually, and came up with some measure of marketing. They had course one, course two, course three and course four. Some scope there to improve their copywriting.
Course one was all through a spreadsheet. People would pay via internet banking, they’d reconcile that, and send a receipt or an invoice.
They’d also send out info about pre-reading, about what they’d need to bring on the course. Multiple emails would go out, for which they needed multiple tracking.
Participants also needed to take a pre-course test to make sure they’d done the reading. Melissa and Simon needed to run that. And after the course, just before they provided the certificate, they’d do a post-course test.
Juggling all this for 40 people at a time could take hours. They needed something to make it easier.
The tool that brought everything together
Looking now at their site, James sees one place to pay one fee. It’s fully hosted and tech-friendly. There’s information about the business, links to the courses, money collection and integrated follow-up. He imagines it works with some email system it’s friendly with, and the whole thing is easy.
Exactly, says Simon. After the first course, the business owners knew something had to change. Simon has listened to James since Freedom Ocean days, so he’d heard about 10XPRO. The hurdle was however many hundred US dollars it would cost per month. Now, however, they’ve gone annual, and so taken advantage of the yearly discount.
“If you can count your tech stack on one hand, you’re ahead of a lot of people. “
It was so much easier. In terms of tech stack, their CRM is ActiveCampaign, by James’s recommendation, Stripe for payments, and Zapier for some of the automations.
They’re also looking at Xero for accounting, and that integrates with the practice management system that they use to manage Melissa’s in-person patient consult side of the business.
Realistically, says James, they’ll be prone to lockdowns for the next 10 years. So he knows they’re thinking of adding online components, membership and products, etc, that people don’t have to come to in-person. It would be very easy for them to add a membership campaign, and then put their membership stuff there. They can have people come to their site, purchase something, and then have delivery of it.
And he imagines what’s worked for them would also work for other health service practitioners or other specialists, whether they’re teaching people to paint, to do music, look after babies, make coffee. All of these things could probably use a similar stack if they’re doing in-person components, or if they want to have a hybrid of in-person and online.
The aim, says Melissa, is to get things running well this year and take advantage of their many-months long COVID-free state.
At the moment, they’re in level-four lockdown, which she thinks most of the world translates as being in jail. But if they can control it, she says, they’re happy to only go outside their fence with a mask on. They can go to petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and the doctor (at the hospital, not to their GP, and only for emergencies).
With that in mind, they want to get any personal things sorted this year. She’s also combining this with clinical, seeing patients. So, Simon’s come on board full-time to help run that stuff.
“You just have to put all the things you already have into one simple place.”
It’s good, though, says James. They’ve gone from a fairly difficult organizational process to a very simple one, in just six months. They have a lovely little website. And that’s what he wants to get across. You don’t have to spend $50,000 on an agency, or try to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle – you just have to put all the things you already have into one simple place.
James didn’t make a single dollar for the first nine months of trying to figure out small business website design when he started online. So the technology and the simplicity of being able to do what they’ve done, married with an existing business, is such a recipe now.
Yeah, says Melissa. And they’ve basically doubled the business within a very short period of time.
She’s IT semi-savvy, but not IT geek, she says, and she can handle the tech of both 10XPRO and ActiveCampaign, when she’s finished yelling at them the first day.
That always helps, says James. It does, says Melissa.
And physios who are using the system love it. They’ve got a forum going, so once people have signed up for a course, they can message Melissa and Simon, and they can talk to each other.
Building the future on what’s working
The next stage is they want to mentor, have mentoring groups every month to discuss issues, and have a membership sign-up as the next stage.
They’re also bringing in some sort of public-facing directory. It all integrates. As a physio, Melissa wanted one thing to be able to do everything for them. Simon’s told her they can’t quite have that yet. But what they do have covers a huge amount of it.
Melissa can use it, and physios who are signing up for courses can use it, and eventually they want the public to be able to use it as well. At the moment, it’s health professionals. And they’ve got osteos as well signing up, and exercise physiologists. So it’s not just physios. They’ve opened it up because of the interest in it.
Next year, or by the end of the year, if they’re in lockdown for a long period of time, they will be doing the public side of things. That’s where they can get members of the public to find them, and have resources for them and bring some sort of membership for that as well.
They can definitely do blog posts and change search engine titles and start attracting the type of clients they want, says James. And Simon has experienced the social wall that he has in SuperFastResults.
It will be part of their membership offerings, says Simon. He’s listened many times to James’s course about setting up a membership site, that they got from SuperFastResults. They’ll be looking at joining the membership in SuperFastBusiness as well, soon.
What the pandemic has changed
COVID has given them a chance to rethink where they’re at in business. Simon was working for a big corporate. In the first lockdown in New Zealand last year, Melissa wasn’t able to see patients. So what do they do? That got them thinking that once Melissa finished her PhD, they wanted to get back into doing in-person courses and in-person events again, and having the right platform to do that.
Simon and Melissa are not alone, says James. The entire world has had a shift in, Oh, maybe I can work from home now. Maybe I can move from the city.
James surfs with a group of friends locally. Pre-COVID, on a typical weekday, there’d be around three to five people out in the surf. Now it’s 120 people per session.
What James is hearing from many, many corporate types is they’re not going to go back to work. They’re not going to do things the way they used to.
It’s a race, he says, for people as to how quickly they can discover this online world, get that early mover’s advantage, and gain a strong foothold. That’s what he’s been helping clients do for over the last decade. His clients had the best year ever, financially, because they were already a decade or five or three or whenever they started ahead of the tide.
Melissa and Simon have got a good boat, and James is excited for where they’re taking it. And he’s so glad they haven’t taken the obvious route of sticking people in a Facebook group, because that is so dangerous. They’re doing it right.
“The boat you’re in matters.”
Travels before and in time of COVID
Melissa is doing the in-person thing at the moment because they can, she says. They’ve got more courses. In a month, they’ve got a big one in Auckland, and whether they can hold it or if they’ll have to postpone it, who knows?
They’ve got one on the South Island, and if they’re going there, she says, they might as well see the old haunts in Queenstown.
James would be heading to Kaikoura, just quietly.
Crayfish, asks Melissa? Oh, surfing.
Yes, says James. Mangamaunu, he says, was one of the greatest surf trips he’s ever had. At the time, the best wave he’d ever caught in his life. And the only place he’d surfed where he could see an ice-capped mountain in the distance.
Managing the tech side of things
In health professional fields, says Melissa, they’re a bit backward when it comes to technology and using it. She has the advantage of a husband who’s somewhat an IT geek. Their oldest boy is a coder, and their youngest son is also computer-learned. So she handles the content and leaves the rest to them. If you’re going to marry somebody, she says, you might as well make sure it works like that.
Yin Yang, says James.
For anyone listening, he says, if the vision is your specialty, plenty of services now support 10XPRO, where you can give them your stuff and they’ll set it all up for you. He’s in partnership with one of them. And there’s three of them in his membership.
You needn’t look far to get help. So if you haven’t married Simon Smith, you’re okay. But if you have, then you’re extraordinarily lucky, of course.
Melissa agrees. That’s what I tell her, says Simon.
Winding down the episode
Melissa says they can easily take things international, in person, if they’re allowed to travel again. Or put things together to do it online, because they’ve got all the systems. And they’ll keep improving things, because you know, you can never stay still. But at least they’re where they are now. And it’s certainly made a difference to their bottom line. Not to mention, they’re back working together.
Outside their window, they’ve got ducklings and pheasants. And a lot of Aucklanders are relocating there, because big city life doesn’t compare to living semi-rural by Lake Taupo. Not much good for surfing, but…
Surely they get a swell occasionally, says James.
Oh, they do, she says. In a certain wind, you can do kite surfing and regular surfing. But it take a strong enough wind to blow her hair horizontal.
James has a challenge for his guests. If they can take their business to the next stage and want to share their results, he invites them to come back with an update. He also thanks them for sharing and for being 10XPRO users. He and 10XPRO founder John Lint are there to support them, and they may just inspire someone who’s on the same journey.
You can check out their site at DrMelissaDavidson.com.