Aaron, tell us how you came to call Coffs home?
I’m a third generation local. I was born in the old Coffs Harbour Hospital, and I went to school in town. I moved away to study, then spent time living and working abroad, before settling back on the Coffs Coast. I had planned to come back for three – six months, but I’ve now passed 10 years and have no intention of leaving again!
You run a successful healthcare business with multiple locations across the region; tell us how this enterprise began?
It started in a small rented room in the old gym in Woolgoolga. I’d returned from working in Ireland and saw a need on the Northern Beaches for better access to good quality physio care. I was working with a colleague at the time, and we decided to allocate an afternoon per week to get it started. However, demand grew quickly, and I realised that this was the start of an exciting road ahead.
Since then, we moved a few times, added three new practice locations and have had close to 40 team members involved in the business along the journey. In recent times, the business has transformed to become a one stop shop for healthcare – we now offer 15 different healthcare services, including exercise physiology, nutrition and dietetics, massage, yoga, pilates … and the list goes on.
How do you effectively market your business to new customers?
The business is built predominantly on referrals from past and present clients, which is really satisfying. It tells us we are doing the right thing if people are confident to refer loved ones to us. We utilise a lot of different media as well to connect with people – internet marketing, social media, print, sms, internal marketing in our partner locations at Coffs Coast Health Clubs, e-news, Your Health Experts publications etc.
Building relationships throughout the community is also what’s important to us, whilst also being a key part of attracting new clients. Whether it be with doctors, other health professionals, community events, seminars we run, business networks – they are all important activities in building trust, credibility and sharing our passion for great health outcomes for our clients.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your role?
There are two key things that I find most satisfying. Firstly, I love seeing the progress for clients who come to see our team with a range of health issues and leave a healthier, happier version of themselves. I know it sounds corny, but when you can create genuine improvement in the quality of life people are living, then you can’t help but love it.
The second aspect that I find really satisfying is working with my team to help them reach their personal goals. We do a lot of work on personal and professional development, to ensure the team are providing the best care possible, while also being the best they can be. Whatever their goals may be, I love helping in any way I can to see them achieve great things.
How do you stay motivated?
My motivation comes from being very goal-oriented, not just from a business perspective, but also in my personal life. I find I lack focus without goals and clear direction. Whether it was at school, in sport or personal pursuits, I’ve always been competitive, so setting myself challenges is always a good way to drive motivation.
My main driver personally is to provide a safe and secure lifestyle for my family. My wife, Liz, and two daughters, Elsie and Sadie, keep me focused, grounded … and busy! They are the most important people in my life, so I want to make sure I’m a great husband, father and role model. I don’t think you need much more motivation than that!
What challenges have you faced in running your business?
Two things stand out for me. The first has been the transition from a solo operator, doing what I was trained to do and treating clients, to becoming a business owner, manager, mentor, marketer and leader. I think it’s a challenge that many people face when moving from running a one person show to genuinely running a business – you need a new set of skills to be able to do this effectively. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy in recent years learning all I can to develop new skills and knowledge, to ensure my team are well supported and the business continues to stay true to our values.
The other great challenge in the past has been recruitment, a common story for business owners in regional and rural areas. Thankfully, we have developed a really strong team, so people want to be a part of our business. We are also very clear on the attributes our team members need to be successful with us. This has made recruitment a lot less challenging, as we continue to attract people who want to join us – the vision we have for quality healthcare really resonates with them, to the point that they would love to be a part of it.
What’s the best part of working and living in the Coffs region?
That’s easy – the lifestyle and the people! I love the fresh air, the active outdoor lifestyle, the weather and the beaches – it truly is paradise. I also love the diversity of the people on the Coffs Coast – we have people with such a wide range of backgrounds, skills, knowledge and passions who call the area home.
How does your business give back to the community?
We’re really active in the community in a whole number of ways. From sponsoring sporting teams to being a founding supporter of the soon-to-be-officially-launched parkrun Coffs, we love seeing the community get active. We also provide support to many local charities as well, including getting involved in school events like the upcoming careers days for high school students in Coffs and Woolgoolga. We are always happy to support, promote and participate in local and national events, and partner with organisations, that share the same core values as us.
Most rewarding part of your job?
I really believe the greatest reward comes from seeing people bounce back from injury or illness to really enjoy the life they want. It might be something small, like recovering from an ankle sprain more quickly than expected to get back to sport, or it might be seeing a grandmother recover from a shoulder problem to be able to pick up and play with her grandkids.
The personal reward for me comes from seeing these successes for our clients and getting to share in their happiness. I also love seeing our team be a part of those wins and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. Being able to provide our clients and referrers with a range of different health professionals with diverse skills and knowledge to suit their needs is a real win. It’s what I’ve set out to create, and I am now even more passionate about continuing to develop and improve it.
Sam Wardman, CornerPost Creative www.cornerpostcreative.com.au