Rob, you’re a Coffs local. Tell us about your background.
My parents moved to Coffs in the early ‘70s. I was only three when we moved to what was then a small coastal town with a population of 10,000. I’m the oldest of four boys (even though everyone thinks Brendan is older). I attended Narranga and Coffs Harbour High. Growing up we participated in Rugby Union, League, swimming, Nippers, surfing and cricket.
I completed my physio degree in Sydney and following uni, spent a few years at St Vincent’s Public Hospital, where I gained great experience in all areas of physiotherapy. I then travelled overseas for two years on a working holiday with my now wife, Kerri. From our base in England, we travelled in the UK, Europe and Africa. I returned to Coffs in 1996 and worked as a physio at Baringa Private Hospital for 10 years, before starting the business. Kerri and I married in 1996 and have two teenage daughters.
What can you tell us about Hoys Physiotherapy?
My cousin, Matthew, was also working at Baringa. We launched Hoys Physio in 2006 at Coffs and Sawtell. We borrowed money from family and started simply with a few ideas, a little equipment, but lots of energy.
We’ve grown from the two of us to a staff of almost 20 that includes physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, remedial massage therapists and a naturopath, as well as our skilled and loyal admin team that includes our long-suffering wives, Kerri and Kate. We think they’re very lucky to have us, but they may have a slightly different take on that!
In 2007 we acquired Northern Rehabilitation Management, a local business with a staff of nine that helps injured workers and businesses deal with WorkCover and the return to work process, and this year we also opened rooms in Toormina to meet the growing needs of the area.
What are your areas of specialty in the field of physiotherapy?
Our aim is to meet the needs of all our clients, from toddlers to the elderly. We have a strong focus on treating chronic spinal and joint pain and on providing solutions via hands on treatment, spinal strengthening, core stability classes, hydrotherapy and exercise physiology programmes.
Sports physio is also a strong focus of mine and involves diagnosing, treating and managing acute injuries, be it for the weekend warrior or the elite athlete. My work has also resulted in an involvement in many local sports over the past 20 years, such as Rugby Union, League, AFL, soccer, basketball, soccer and surf life saving.
I’ve also had the privilege of travelling with the Australian Touch teams internationally to South Africa, Scotland and a number of times to New Zealand to assist in their successful attempts at winning World Cups and Trans Tasman titles.
Tell us of any challenges you’ve faced as a small business.
Small business always presents challenges – you just have to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work to provide the level of service that customers require. For us, this involves long hours, recruiting the right staff and ensuring our office and backroom procedures are in place so that our therapists can provide quality care to our patients.
One of the biggest challenges for any small business is managing growth. There are only so many hours in the day, and juggling work, family and personal commitments can be difficult. The last decade has shown us that employing quality, loyal staff and having a trusted team of advisors from which to draw advice and knowledge is vital.
At one stage we grew far too quickly, and Matt and I spent a lot of time running around in circles, as our infrastructure and staffing levels couldn’t cope. Being busier doesn’t mean you provide a better service or are more profitable. We decided to take a step back, review our business, and improve our planning.
Keeping pace with the ever-changing world of IT has also been a challenge. We evolved from paper notes and an appointment diary to specific practice management software, online notes, online bookings and an interactive website – all accessible from phones, laptops and tablets.
How do you strive to set yourselves apart from your competitors?
We pride ourselves on providing one-on-one treatment and care in a professional and relaxed environment. Being in pain is not a pleasant experience, and being able to trust your therapist in terms of treatment, advice and management options is hugely important.
We strive to provide treatment solutions for acute pain and long-term management of chronic pain, so patients can return to what they most enjoy – be it sport, work or leisure activities. Patient needs are extremely individual, and each and every patient requires a thorough assessment in order for us to provide the very best care for them.
What do you find the most effective ways to promote your business?
Word of mouth referrals and recommendations are the most powerful ways for us to promote our business.
Marketing our services directly to GPs, specialists and other Allied Health professionals is also an extremely important and effective way to communicate the range of services we offer.
Involvement and sponsorship of community events and sporting clubs allows us to put something back into the community, as well as helping promote our business. It’s also something we’re extremely proud of. Of course, playing in a charity golf day or two and having a few cold beverages along the way is always a nice way to catch up with other businesses and let off a little steam.
How do you use social media in your business?
Matt is our social media and electronic marketing guru. He assures me that it’s important he feature in most of the Facebook posts! Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts allow us to provide the latest research and information about a wide range of conditions. Matt also produces a monthly newsletter that is available on our website and distributed through social media. Each month, our newsletter focuses on a hot topic and profiles one of our therapists.
Any great health tips for us all to look after ourselves better this year?
If you have an injury or are in pain, be sure to get it assessed and treated as soon as possible, so you can get back to what you like doing sooner. Ignoring pain, which is the body’s warning system, will only prolong a problem that may have been easily resolved.
Another tip is to move and exercise daily. The latest catchcry is that “sitting is the new smoking” and it’s true – we’re designed to be active. Movement encourages the release of those feel-good endorphins in the brain, which improves your mood and body function. At Hoys, we want everyone to enjoy an active and healthy life.
What’s your work/life balance like, and how do you unwind away from work?
The work/ ife balance is always a challenge in small business, and having time “off the tools” is vital in staying fresh, enjoying the all-important family time and having some time to yourself. From the outset, Matt and I have scheduled time off during the week for catching up on life and for catching our breath.
Thanks so much Rob.