We have been in the industry long enough to have seen numerous physiotherapist fail horribly at managing their own practice. There are various reasons why private physiotherapy practices fail. Here’s our shortlist of the top 10 reasons why their private practice failed.

Experts with poor skills

Being the best physiotherapist is not enough to make a successful practice. Successful practice owners understand that they need the best, to be the best. Surrounding themselves with staff and service provides that deliver when its expected of them.

Weak Link

Your practice is only as strong as your weakest link. If you find yourself frustrated with the delivery of consumables, staff members that’s late with their billing. Either they don’t understand the repercussions of their actions around the larger picture, or you have not set clear KPI’s.

Poor business management

Poor connections and employed staff. Not clearly communicating your goals, vision and targets to your team. This includes your accountants, service providers and admin staff.

Monitor KPI’s and act before a catastrophe strikes. Being pro-active is whats needed to stop a rolling ball, even before an cliff slide starts. Some measures must be taken to ensure smooth running of your practice

Failing to monitor stats & metrics

Understanding, implementing and monitoring what is happening to your practice is the key to growing a successful, sustainable business. There are numerous key performance indicators that give you feedback on how your practice is performing on all the fronts of your business. From Efficiency, productivity to Quality of patient care.

First you must understand the importance of these metrics to know how to manage each aspect of your practice.

Rely on referrals

Building a practice that only survives because constant referrals from your GP, or specialist. Its very common with Orthopeadic surgeons, where the volume of patients referred is high. With no other marketing strategy, your risk of waking up, and its all gone – thats risky.

We witnessed how a 8 physio strong practice had to lay off 5 of their colleagues, when their main referring surgeon fell severely ill. Within a matter of days, the practice owner had to retrench more than half her staff. She had no idea how to sustain her volume of patients apart form trying to get a few new referring doctors to make up the patient load. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket, you are doomed for failure.

A Successful sustainable private physiotherapy practice must consist of an Internal and an External marketing strategy. This will ensure that you don’t rely on one single campaign to gain new patients.

Supporting staff

Admin and front desk personnel are in most cases the first impression of your practice. Physiotherapist tend to undervalue the importance of their role in your business. If used to their potential, the administrative staff can improve the patients experience, or completely cripple your practice.

Practice Management System

Bad systems in business are doomed to fail, healthcare is no exception. Using a practice management system that is time consuming & outdated is the start of a downwards spiral. Physiotherapist tend to skimp on whats important without realizing the implications of their decisions.

We’ve seen practitioners that send invoices to medical aids using an excel template in an attempt to save on administration fees. If you are considering this you’re way off.

Business Model

A poorly set up business model, with no objectives and goals are going nowhere slowly. You’ll end up frustrated and confused, or even pushed into a direction that you haven’t thought through.

Role as Business owner

Practice owner, manager or practitioner? Not able to distinguish your role as a business owner apart form being the expert physiotherapist or managing your staff. Allocation dedicated time to address each of these aspects are vital. When starting out it is crucial that you juggle these 3 balls, to avoid catastrophe.

Dedicating too much time to spend time with patients are detrimental and may result in you losing sight of what else is happening in the rest of your practice.

Time management

Free up some time for you to spend time with your patients. Understanding how to schedule your patients and being in control of your bookings are two completely two different concepts.

Setting out time to allow for follow-up calls, marketing, training, learning and reflection. If you are all about seeing patients for 9 – 10 hours a day, you will never grow past that point. You are the expert physio, not the business owner. Being a successful private practice business owner means that you must be willing to step back, spend less time with patients and more time managing your business.

Marketing Strategy

Having your doors open are not good enough, you should have some from of plan to drive patients to your practice. Physiotherapist have the idyllic idea that patients will ‘just know’ there’s a physio practice on the corner

External Environment

Some practices just don’t survive due to the surrounding neighborhood and economic & financial position of their area. Trying to set up a practice in an already dense area of physios will be suicide, unless you have found a niche that none of of the surrounding practices provide.

Some factors are out of your control to change, but in your initial planning you must investigate the need and demand for physiotherapy services.

Understanding your target population is key. A practice cannot survive in an area if you are going to provide “physiotherapy” to the area are at a better price. Price is only one component of the factors that influence a patient’s decision.


Failure to address & monitor these key aspects of your practice, will leave you wondering why your physio practice is failing.