Don Showalter from Jonesboro, Georgia already had almost a decade of work as a physical therapist behind him when in late 1988, he decided he needed some management skills.
“Like most therapists,” he says, “I had gone to school where they teach you to be a therapist, not a businessman.
“I had been in practice since 1984, and I was having the usual problems of marketing and personnel, mostly personnel. Particularly at that time I was having a problem finding good people, something which has always been a pain.
“It was around that time that somebody called me from Sterling and invited me to an introductory seminar, and I decided what the heck, let’s look into it.”
Showalter’s experience at the seminar was enlightening:
“I got there,” he says, “and there were about 30 people in the room, different kinds of practices–physical therapists, physicians, podiatrists, dentists, a whole smorgasbord of practices–and the speaker stands up at the front of the room and asks each of them for their biggest problem, and then writes them down on the blackboard. Then he shows how there is a solution to each of these problems.”
“And that really impressed me, because instead of finding a marketing expert or an accounting expert or whatever, you find somebody who potentially has a solution to the whole thing. So I decided to go out to Glendale and do the Sterling training.”
“In the end I got my investment back pretty quickly. In terms of increased revenues, I made it back in about six months.”
“When I got there,” Showalter recalls, “There were two things that really impressed me.
“One: the attitude of the people. They had a tendency to blow through problems, and create solutions to problems–and the solutions would often solve multiple problems, though you might not notice it at the start. They stayed exterior to the problems, rather than get sucked into them.
“And two: the management tech. At first what I found most impressive were the Basic Organization and Management by Statistics courses, because they provide a whole introductory view and an overall look and a frame of reference. Sometimes other things impress me more now, depending on what I need at the moment, and how well a particular piece of tech works to handle that.
“I think what impresses me now,” Showalter says, “is being able to know what’s going on with people, and the tech that Sterling provides that does that. What’s most useful for me today is the data on what makes people work the way they do, because I deal with people all the time. In a sense I’m in the people management business, both in terms of patients and in terms of employees.
“Then again, just in terms of technology for the group, I think the technology of conditions and statistics is very important. Because with this you can predict trouble and good times. So situations which before would seem really bizarre actually make a lot more sense now. And when things are starting to go wrong, you see the trouble coming sooner, so it has a lot less impact when it arrives. And you can do something about it.”
“Generally, I can see where problems are coming from, people are easier to work with, and problems are easier to deal with when they are just getting started.”
“This may not be perfect English, but it seems I could sum it up with something like this: ‘Things have gotten simpler by understanding things better.’
“I think one of the most valuable things that Sterling gives you is the tools to develop the ability to see through the problems and see what’s going on. Part of the ability to deal with the future is being able to do a decent investigation and find out what is really going on, so you can work out the handling.”
“Another factor I think would be valuable for a lot of physical therapists is in talking to physicians. I found I got comfortable with evaluating them and how to work with their patients. You can evaluate which of these are going to be good physicians to work with, and who are going to only send you problem patients. I stopped working with physicians who were just going to dump their problems on me.
“I think the tools and tech Sterling provides and the abilities they help with would be useful to anyone who wants to improve their practice.”