By Heidi Jannenga, co-founder and president of WebPT and a YPO member since 2017
I never intended to be the co-founder of a rapid-growth technology company, blazing a path of disruption in the rehab therapy industry. I was a physical therapist specializing in sports-medicine over a 15-year successful career, and I definitely didn’t have my sights set on pivoting to become a tech executive. But, here I am, several years later with my company, WebPT, approaching its 10-year anniversary. And in that time, I — and my company — have reached milestones I never thought possible.
Today, we’re the industry-leading software solution in the rehab therapy market, achieving a market share of more than 30 percent. We’re used in more than 10,000 clinics throughout the country, and have an ever-growing team of more than 300 mainly located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, USA, with small hubs in Denver, Colorado, USA, Chicago, Illinois, USA, and Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Of course, that growth didn’t come overnight. It took a lot of hard work, and I learned a lot of lessons along the way –– and I’m still learning. But over the years, I’ve honed a few best practices that have gotten us to where we are today. I like to call these the “Four Cs” of growth: conscious leadership, culture, customers and collaboration. Embracing these tenets has enabled us to grow wildly, and regardless of your company’s size or industry, I’m betting you can apply and benefit from them, too.
From the very beginning, we’ve committed to upholding a people-first approach and serving a deeper purpose. Our mission is to empower rehab therapists to achieve greatness in practice.
Having this clearly defined North Star has helped to focus our decision making, acquisition targets, and recruiting and hiring processes. Our commitment to stay in a niche market, when many questioned our total addressable market size, has led to our domination of the rehab therapy market.
When we first launched, there wasn’t a name for this mode of business. Today, though, it’s known as conscious capitalism. It is a global movement that champions a purpose-driven and people-first approach to business growth. It centers on identifying your company’s higher purpose — one that aligns and integrates with the interests of all stakeholders (including your customers, employees, partners, investors and community members) and mobilizes them to help fulfill that purpose. It’s about embracing a mentality of “we” versus “me.” And it all starts with creating a solid culture.
Focus on culture
In our early days, we naturally had a tight-knit startup culture. And once we started to grow, we knew we had to be diligent about preserving it. Otherwise, it could quickly erode. So, we rallied our team to help us document the core values that define who we are as a company. These became our culture commitments, and they guide everything we do.
In my opinion, this has been our greatest success to date — not to mention the core driver of our growth. By defining our core values and focusing on consciously developing our culture, we created an environment in which everyone feels not only valued, but also personally vested in our overall vision. We all feel like we are part of something bigger — something meaningful. In a fast-growing company with a never-ending task list, motivated, productive employees are absolutely key to meeting goals and deadlines. In the book, “Firms of Endearment,” the authors’ research showed world-class companies that cultivate passion and purpose show significantly higher profits over those “good to great” companies over a 10-year period.
At WebPT, we’ve made it our goal to create a community to which we all belong and contribute. As such, we prioritize customer feedback and iterate our product to meet customer needs quickly (and even proactively, when possible).
One way we’ve achieved this is through the use of the net promoter score (NPS). Initially, we measured our NPS twice annually, but we found this wasn’t enough due to the static source of data. So, we reimagined our entire NPS process, segmenting our members into different groups and sending out an NPS survey to one cohort per week. In doing so, we were able to get a steady stream of real-time customer feedback, which helped shed light on how system changes or timely issues impacted our scores.
We also included a comment box in the NPS survey to allow customers to make suggestions or elaborate on why they selected a particular rating. These comments are then appropriately routed to various teams so we can take action immediately. As a result, we’ve dramatically increased our NPS score and made our customers feel like they have a voice.
Another way we’ve created raving fans is through our educational content. Over the years, we’ve built a robust library of high-value content ranging from blog posts and e-books to downloadable guides and webinars. And while we always include the all-important calls to action, the real goal behind this content is to fulfill our deeper purpose — to create a much-needed resource hub that helps solve our audience’s problems. When you approach business from this altruistic standpoint, it helps deepen the trust between you and your customers, and they begin to see you as a reliable resource and trusted partner who always has their best interests at heart. With these efforts, we have become the third most used physical therapy resource, behind the American Physical Therapy Association and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services.
Rethink what it means to collaborate
Like most other successful businesses, we haven’t gotten to where we are on our own. We invite strategic partnerships, especially when those relationships align with our deeper purpose. For example, we’ve completed software integrations with several other systems—systems that, at first blush, may appear to be competitors. But, we chose to view them through a different lens. If they enabled us to better serve our customers’ needs, then we explored ways to create mutually beneficial arrangements. Partnerships and collaborations come in many forms, and I encourage every business owner reading this to get creative and reach out to a like-minded company or leader to explore the potential for a symbiotic, value-based partnership.
Every business is unique, and your approach to growing and improving it should align with your own values. But, if you weave in some of the tactics I’ve shared here — like committing to conscious capitalism, intentionally building your culture, using tools like NPS and content creation to better serve your stakeholders, and collaborating wherever possible — you’ll be in a great position to reach your goals even sooner.
Heidi Jannenga PT, DPT, ATC/L, is the co-founder and president of WebPT, the U.S. leading rehab therapy EMR platform for enhancing patient care and fueling business growth. Since the company’s launch in 2008, Jannenga has guided WebPT through exponential growth. Today, it’s the fastest-growing EMR in the United States, employing more than 300 people and serving more than 70,000 therapy professionals at more than 10,000 clinics. WebPT has also ranked five consecutive times on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list and twice on the Inc. 500. Prior to co-founding WebPT, Jannenga practiced as a physical therapist for more than 15 years. Today, she regularly speaks as a subject-matter expert at local and regional technology, entrepreneurship and leadership events, as well as industry conferences.
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