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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 3 weeks ago

National physical therapy chain puts in place efforts to assist growth

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Fyzical will earn close to $21 million in revenue in 2018, according to CEO Brian Belmont.
by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

Growth is a blessing, says Brian Belmont.

But the CEO of Sarasota-based Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers also says it can also be a challenge to manage correctly. Belmont knows of what he speaks: Fyzical, behind a franchise network of prescribed physical therapy, balance and physical fitness centers, is one of the fastest growing companies in the region, going from startup to $20 million in annual sales in six years. 

“Every company goes through different growth phases,” he says. “We’ve gone from an entrepreneurial company to a more established growth company over the last couple years.”

The company, founded in 2012, will be close to $21 million in revenue in 2018, says Belmont. Compared to its 2017 revenue — $14.37 million — that’s a more than 46% increase. And that’s up from revenue of $8 million in 2016.

For 2018, Fyzical worked to manage its growth by putting more teams and infrastructure in place to handle current and expected growth ahead. Those efforts came together during a year of change for the company. For starters, Belmont took over as CEO in January from founder Jim Abrams, who retired. Also that month, Chicago-based private equity firm New Harbor Capital made a majority equity investment in the company. It now controls 51% of the business.

Since Belmont took over, he says the biggest change at the company is its investment in additional staff and infrastructure to support Fyzical’s next phase of growth.

“It’s important to grow but also grow thoughtfully.” — Brian Belmont, CEO, Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers

“Where we really put our focus was around franchise support,” Belmont says. That included hiring several people in the marketing department as well as expanding support services in communications and IT. It also included establishing three regional directors to act as part of the franchise support team and represent different parts of the U.S. “It’s important to grow but also grow thoughtfully,” Belmont says.

Fyzical opened dozens more franchise locations this year, with now some 350 in its network. “We open anywhere from five to 10 a month, depending on the month,” Belmont says, describing it as “very aggressive growth.” 

Location growth comes in two ways: New physical therapy owners joining Fyzical and existing franchisees opening more locations of their own. “The best systems are ones your owners want to grow with,” he says.

The year brought the company into three more states, too, bringing its total presence to 40. But even though its growth is constant, Belmont says Fyzical is underpenetrated in some parts of the U.S. The way forward is more growth in those areas in particular.

To support its expansion, Fyzical increased its efforts to educate its employees. The company has 10 corporate-owned clinics, primarily in Southwest Florida, where it trains employees and owners as well as tests new processes and patient activities.

It also has an orientation program for franchisees at its corporate office, plus a companywide learning management system. Learning opportunities include workshops and multiple courses a month offered at clinical headquarters in Florida. Fyzical also sends people throughout the country to lead education programs at individual locations.

With hundreds of doctors of therapy within the Fyzical system, Belmont says he wants to make sure the company's ongoing education is cutting edge. In that respect, its goal is simple: “If you want to provide world-class health care, you have to provide the best clinicians,” he says.

One of the company’s key challenges ahead — in addition to managing growth correctly — is to make sure patients know and understand all the services Fyzical offers, Belmont says. That means conveying the company not only helps people with aches and pains and people who are overcoming injuries, but it also offers balance programs to help people with fall prevention. Balance, he says, is one of Fyzical’s competitive advantages. Balance has been an emphasis for Fyzical and will continue to be in the months ahead.

“We’re definitely in growth mode," Belmont says, "and we’ll continue to do that in 2019 and into the future.”

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