I opened my physical therapy office, called Reavy Rehab, in Chicago in 2007, and, thanks to word of mouth, it grew quickly, expanding to five offices across the city over the next three years. But with that growth, I saw flaws in my business model. Each office operated separately, and offered methods of therapy that didn't reflect my own method, called the Reavy Method. In 2012, I made the challenging decision to close four of the five offices and focus on one downtown location, while launching a rebranding campaign. I knew I wanted to grow the business into a global brand, but I wanted to do it at a sustainable pace.
Today, my business, now named React, has one location in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood and another suburban location, and I have my sights on opening dozens more in coming years, guided by the policies I've put into place.
Here's what I learned about branding when it comes to business:
1. Hire a professional.
I'm a skilled physical therapist and entrepreneur, but I know that when it comes to things like marketing, logos and public relations, I'm no expert. When I decided to rebrand my business, the first thing I did was hire a chief marketing officer. She focuses on a lot of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business so that I can work with patients and physical therapists.
2. Sweat the small stuff.
I think people treat a brand kind of like a boat. “I really want a new boat. Boats are great. But I don't know how to ride a boat. I don't know how much money goes into a boat. How do I chart a course? But I know we need a boat, everybody else has a boat." We took the time to understand that not only do we need the boat, we need the instructions. We need to have all of the seemingly little things that support the boat: establishing a brand voice, establishing a brand guideline, understanding brand consistency. Now that we have those things, we still have to take care of the boat. You have to pay attention to the details.
3. Know your vision.
My goal with branding React was to establish a physical therapy business that didn't feel like a medical office. To do that, I changed the name from Reavy Rehab to a more active name and logo, and designed a space that looks like a boutique gym, where people work with physical therapists, participate in group exercise classes and focus on getting stronger.
4. Be consistent.
Because my business goal is to grow, I knew I had to have systems in place that would ensure that clients who visit one clinic have the same experience if they visit another clinic. To do that, we created an exacting system for all aspects of the business. The front desk staff is trained in the same way. The physical therapists are trained in the same way. The marketing is handled in a consistent manner. These are systems that we put on paper, and we hold staff accountable.
5. Be willing to invest in your brand.
It's not cheap, creating a website, logo, messaging and marketing materials that give a consistent message. And the payoff won't be immediate. But think about the most successful businesses out there and what they all have in common: a memorable brand. That brand is what will help you succeed and grow, and it's well worth the investment.
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Find out more about how David Reavy took control of his company's rapid growth.