Interview with a Mobile PT Coach

Interview with a Mobile PT Coach

(The following are based on my interview with Mobile PT Coach David Bayliff.)

I've been a therapist now for 25 years. I worked in the outpatient clinic setting for 19 years. One day, about Year 17 and a half into it, I'm in the clinic amongst a bunch of chaos. I'm sitting there - at the time, I was 45 - and I said, “I did not want to be a 50-year old staff clinician.”

You just don't see 50 staff clinicians. There are either directors, entrepreneurs, or whatever. And I knew I wasn't going to be a director at the company as well.

I'm over a client, working on them. I'm looking out at the dance floor at three or four other clients that are out there who are going to be needing my hands on pretty soon. I know that my fresh rotator cuff repair - that is passive range of motion only - is weighing on me. 

I'm beyond instructions. Meanwhile, the person on the table is going, “Hey, dude! I'm right here. You're going to pay attention to me.” And I'm thinking like, “Again, I'm gonna be here until nine o'clock doing paperwork. And I'm still not gonna be called off.” 

Then there's a tap on my shoulder. It's the front desk saying, “Hey, your new patient is ready.” I'm like, “What new patient?” “Oh, yeah. We forgot to tell you about that.” 

I don't have time for this right now. This is not a life. I needed to do something different, but I didn't know what. I knew I didn't want to open a clinic because I had been a director of a large clinic in the past and quite honestly, the only thing that got me was divorced. 

I had a concierge physician reach out to me and say, “Hey, I got a guy. He wants services to come to him. Can you go see him at his home?” And I was kind of a little bit perplexed. You never heard that, never thought of that.

I was like, “You know what? I'm not making any money here in the clinic. Screw my director. I'll go see this guy at his home on my days off and make some extra cash.” I call this guy the first time, and I got what I need to do in life. This is the path right here. 

I realized there were people who wanted services at home, people who were willing to pay. It was so much less stressful. Then I got to two clients from this position. 

I'm gonna see two people in the morning and make more money. Then I'll see 22 people in the afternoon. Then I said, “Now, I gotta figure out how to make this work full time.” So that’s what I did.

How long was that transition for you between full-time employment and now?

The time frame was probably about a year and a half or so. Back then, I was divorced and responsible for two young kids. I had no spouse to help me out ease the financial burden by me leaving my job. It was just me. 

I kicked the can for quite a while. Then, I had the opportunity to start seeing some clients in this gated community. When that opportunity was presented to me, I said, “I'm going all in.”

How long was it before you hit that break-even point? Was there anything that helped you get there?

Just the fact that I'm just a stubborn old Southern boy - not willing to quit, or give up - that's what got me over the hump. But more than that, it was the fact that I believed in myself. 

I believed in me. I believed in what I was doing, I believed in what I was offering to people. I was passionate about what I was doing.

Back in 1987, on the second day of leaving my volunteer tech job, I looked at the building as I pulled out of the parking lot and said, “That is what I want to do in life.” Ever since then, I knew that physical therapy was what I was meant to do.

Getting into school was not easy. It took me three tries. I did the comprehensive exams before I could go on on full time clinical. I was in PT school. I was a good student. 

I go through that big comprehensive exam, the oral part. Then the professor stood there and said, “We've elected to fail you.” It was a wake up call. 

Each state had their own passing grade for the boards. I passed for Arizona, but I didn't pass for North Carolina. I missed about one point. I thought, “I can't even go home if I want to go home.” So I took them again, to have a higher score. 

Back in 2013, I went through a lot to get to where I was at this point. I was passionate about it. I knew it was my calling in life. I had grit because obviously I never quit. 

Every year that I didn't get into school, my dad would say, “Well, you didn't get into school, what are you going to do now?” “Dad, I'm going to PT school.” 

I had the grit. I had the passion. I believed in myself. The fourth element: I was just persistent. I just kept going. I knew that I couldn't fail. 

Honestly, for the first two years of my business, virtually every day I was scared. But I never had a single day of regret. That first year, I lived off credit card because I didn't have a whole lot of savings.

I had just bought a car and put all the money into it. I didn't have a heap of savings. When you're divorced and you got two kids, you don't have money floating around. 

For those of you out there, if you want to increase your net worth by 50%, there are two ways to do it. If you're single, stay single. If you're married, stay married. 

I started my business May of 2013. It was at a time here in Phoenix when all the snowbirds leave town, so that summer, it was sparse. I would have maybe eight visits for the week.

Then October hit and it started going up. When January hit, I started hitting the 18 to 20 mark. Then March hit and I had three weeks of 25 visits. I may have even had a week of 31 visits. 

I knew that the next snowbird season, we're going to rock and roll. That next summer, I did some PR in word, just here and there. Guys who knew me and said, “Hey, if you're slow now, I could use a couple of days here and there.” That helps me to get through the summer. 

It was about a year before I got to the point where I'm paying my bills. Even within that first year, during the Snowbird season, I was making money to pay my bills and not continuing to go into debt. Ever since then I've stayed. I'll stay above water and retire. 

What made you decide that now was the time to start to branch out to help others? 

Take a number of things. One is that I'm 53. I love what I do, but I recognize that I'm not going to want to be driving around town forever. I love being mobile, but 10 years from now, am I gonna want to be driving around? Are people going to want a 60-year old coming to work with them? 

I can’t do this forever. So what's my next move? Honestly, I've always loved coaching people, even back in high school. I love coaching motivated people who wanted to better themselves. Having my Facebook group, a lot of people would reach out to me for advice to help. 

When I'm in a call with someone, I'd help them with something and they're getting excited. It energized me. I got to the point where I actually look at my schedule and be like, “Okay, I got this phone call today. I can't wait to get on that phone call.”

I realized that was giving me energy and giving me life and it was actually helping. I was growing even more. It was the opportunities being opened up to me. So the more I did that, I got to thinking that maybe people do need or want formal coaching.

I get energized by helping people, by coaching people, and by helping them to see opportunities that are there. When someone comes in and asks me a question, you can tell that they have been shackled by the establishment and that's their belief. 

When I can crack that window and they see the light, they realize like, “Oh, wow!” They're excited. I then start doing push ups or something. I love it. 

That's how I have gotten into the transition of going into coaching. It's something that honestly, I like and enjoy. It pumps me up. People ask me, “How are you energetic?” “Because you energize me. I'm helping people. I'm transforming lives. I love it.”

A big part of it is the path that I've had to take to get here. It was not easy for me. To be told repeatedly, “You're not good enough. You're not good enough. You're not good enough.” Well, I'm gonna prove you wrong. 

I want to help other people who might be struggling, whatever their story is. They're stuck in a spot where they’re like, “There has to be something different. This isn't what I want. This isn't what I signed up for. I want life to be different.”

I feel you. I was at the clinic until nine o'clock at night doing paperwork. I was a single guy not dating because I'm at the clinic. That's not a life. It's not what I want. It’s not what I wanted for my kids. 

I look at my bank account every month, and all of them are red because I wouldn't get paid anything. I'm gonna be 85 years old and still working because I understand and I've walked the sheep in the shoes of what people are experiencing now.

Some people are better off than I did. Some people are worse. It doesn't matter. But I've walked through it, and I've been able to achieve. 

I think that's one thing that I bring to the table for people, is that I've gone from struggling to  now, paying my bills, and a little bit extra - which, in my opinion, makes me a wealthy man.

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