Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Schumann.
Julie, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Professionally, I wear three hats (at least).
– By trade, I have been a physical therapist for the past 20 years.
– By will, I am the small business owner of PinPoint Wellness Physical Therapy located in the East Boulder County community of Lafayette.
– Through frustration and the desire to create a giving space, I have plunged into the ocean of small business marketing and charitable giving with the inception of Keep It Local Colorado.
It was never in my head growing up that I wanted to be a business owner. My career as a physical therapist has definitely steered me to where I am now. I guess we all learn as we go and I surely keep learning and striving to make things better. Physical therapy as a profession is rewarding but physical therapy as a business is fairly despicable. Largely, it is governed by insurance companies. Insurance companies decide what they will pay for a PT visit, usually $50-70 for outpatient practices in Colorado. I may not need to connect the dots, but it means that many PT practices need to turn over a high volume of clients (3-4 per hour) in order to pay staff, rent, billers, insurance, etc. I’ve worked my way through high volume clinics and definitely have felt the burnout. There is not really any extra time to troubleshoot with clients and at the end of the day, it was all about getting the documentation done and insurance billed properly. I felt I could give myself and clients a better experience by doing it myself.
Subsequently, solo practice begins at PinPoint Wellness and faces the same hurdles as any new small business. How do you get clients? How do you pay the rent? You try to niche and offer something different. But you still have to get the word out. You have to strategize where to lay down the thin layer of marketing dollars. It seems you must join at least one Chamber of Commerce, at least one small business networking group, you must consider joining high priced referral groups, you must make Facebook your primary means of self-promotion, you must attend mastermind groups, you must reduce rates to compete in saturated markets, you must hope someone mentions (nicely) your business on a Facebook thread that includes shoutouts for 50 other providers, you must put your business listing in #MarketingMonday threads with hundreds of other entrepreneurs, you must do videos on FB, Instagram, & YouTube, you must argue it out with your own profession on Twitter, and heaven knows I have no idea what you are supposed to do on LinkedIn. Bottom line is that you must compete for a space within your target market’s eight-second attention span to attain a medal in the speed scrolling Olympics.
Keep It Local Colorado was born one morning out of frustration with the high cost of marketing, specifically after answering another telemarketing call in which I could spend another $150 per month for, well, blah, blah, blah. Keep It Local Colorado was born because I specifically had extra time that week and wanted to come up with an affordable way to improve on my marketing endeavors. I had been searching for an office mate to share my space and was not having any luck. So I became my own office mate! In my free time, not treating clients, I dove into creating a platform that could help market my business, my partner’s business, and anyone else’s small business. But I kept some of my clients in mind during my concept generation.
I have amazing clients, some that unfortunately have seen or are going through more than their share of medical complexities and uncertainties. People whose lives are forever changed by an accident or an illness. My life is changed when I meet these people. You never know how much one person will impact you when they walk in the door for the first time. I wanted my new project to include giving.
I also meet amazing small biz owners through my networking endeavors. These people are out there trying to figure out how to stay afloat, how to find clients, how to spend that thin layer of marketing dollars, how to win at speed scrolling, and how to support other small businesses in the process. With my growing frustrations and experiences, I set out to find a way to do some affordable marketing for myself and for other small businesses AND bring attention to & collect donations for small local charities. That’s what Keep It Local Colorado is, an affordable way to list your small business in our directory, list events, promote coupons and discounts, make donations to our charity of the month, sponsor and be featured in a newsletter (mailed via snail mail), post business videos to our YouTube channel, design a business spotlight, promote through our FB page and group, use the Forum to promote biz related things (office space rental, jobs, biz opportunities), and just gain another route of exposure through our marketing efforts.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Great question! Nothing worth doing follows an easy path.
Physical Therapist? What’s a Physical Therapist? The definition is very broad and most people don’t know unless they have been told to go to one by their doctor. Basically, we try to improve physical function (decrease pain/improve mobility) through education, exercise, modalities, and hands-on care. Unfortunately, PT is more closely associated with illness & injury rather than wellness. I opened PinPoint Wellness with the intent to provide general musculoskeletal care as a wellness option, just as one might choose to see a chiropractor or massage therapist. Most people don’t typically say “let me go see my PT” for a headache, knee/shoulder/elbow pain, or back pain. If pain is severe, usually an MD is consulted and a muscle relaxer or pain medication is prescribed. I’d rather see someone before that happens to see if I can change that course of treatment.
Market saturation: Growing a small/solo physical therapy practice in an area that is brimming with talented physical therapists, bodyworkers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists with the same goal of providing pain relief, is very difficult. I try not to see this as a limitation or setback. Every small business professional that I interact with feels that their particular market is saturated. I believe the important part is that I offer something a little different in the world of physical therapy and pain relief. I concentrate on being the best ‘me’, connecting with my clients, and providing the best care that I can.
Cross Professional War, aka The Great Dry Needling Dispute: This rift goes deep between the acupuncture and physical therapy practitioners and their professional societies nationwide. It seems especially noticeable in Colorado because we have extremely high numbers of licensed practitioners in each of these professions. Let’s just say, there is plenty of misleading and negative information about the practice of dry needling in physical therapy which, amazingly, does not help grow a business. In fact, the negativity and perceived competition surrounding it have prevented me joining certain networking groups. It also prevents me from shouting out about my services in online groups because of harsh criticisms.
Marketing/Advertising: Like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. The internet ocean is just too huge to get a message out there. Advertising for small business is super expensive. It’s tough to plant yourself within someone’s eight-second attention span.
Please tell us about Keep It Local Colorado and PinPoint Wellness – what should we know?
PinPoint Wellness: Challenging the medical norm for physical therapy. I offer a different perspective on pain and healing than a chiropractor, an MD, and a surgeon. I treat headaches, back pain, sciatica, joint pain, jaw pain, chronic pain, new pain, sports/fitness injuries, tendinitis, bursitis, strains and sprains from a neuromuscular perspective. I don’t offer a quick prescription for a pain medication or muscle relaxer. I don’t offer a quick spinal or joint adjustment. I treat with my hands, with dry needling (ten years experience), with cupping, with exercise, and with education. But none of that makes me different than most other physical therapists in the area.
The PinPoint Wellness Differences: As needed care, no lengthy plans of care (typically a PT will be expected to see a client for 8-12 visits), and affordable (most visits $60-85). Respect for your wallet. Yes, you may schedule just one or a few sessions if you’d like to try out dry needling or other modalities for pain relief. I offer a down to earth medical consult and can help steer you in the right direction of healing. I can give you an honest & educated opinion as to whether you would benefit from getting an MRI or other diagnostics & interventions. I don’t make things seem worse than they are just to keep you coming in the door. I will also see some clients on a donation basis, as deemed necessary.
Keep It Local Colorado: The goal here is promotion of small businesses affordably while making charitable donations. Small business owners need a voice and visibility which seems impossible to emit loudly within the noise of the internet. Most advertising is just not affordable or sustainable. I am providing affordable ways to get small biz messages out through website, tangible newsletters, coupons & promotions, event listings, FB, YouTube, and working our way into Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My partner Nick Altomare has been integral in helping me bring my plans to fruition. His support has been truly unwavering. It’s not easy when both people in the partnership are both trying to grow solo small businesses. For him, it’s residential real estate. I have taken his cues along the way about networking and uplifting others in small businesses. He connects with people and negotiates for people. At the end of each day, we come back to each other and talk about our successes and failures. He has never diminished one thought I’ve had about starting and growing business.
I must also shout out to my amazing clients who continue to give me inspiration and make me love what I do.
And to all of my small business owner friends who sit in networking meetings with me, come into my shop, refer me to others, and support me with their presence.
- Keep It Local Colorado Small Business Listings $40-75, Donations to charity in addition.
- Keep It Local Colorado Event or Coupon/Discount Listing $15 or 5 for $50
- PinPoint Wellness visits typically $60-85, and by donation when deemed necessary.
- Website: www.keepitlocalcolorado.wildapricot.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keepitlocalcolorado/
- Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/PinPointWellness/
- Other: www.ppwellnesspt.com