Andy Zapata Featured on “Success Is Easy” Podcast
There were already plenty of reasons to visit Physical Therapy Now: lots of convenient locations, a top-notch staff of experts dedicated to getting you pain-free and on the path to healing, and beautiful facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and programs. Here’s one more–Physical Therapy Now was just selected as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 franchises in 2020! Much of that success can be attributed to the CEO and Founder of Physical Therapy Now Franchise, Inc., Andy Zapata.
As recognition for Physical Therapy Now’s top-500-franchise honor, Andy recently appeared on the “Success Is Easy” podcast, hosted by fellow entrepreneur Debbie Allen. During their interview, Andy shared some valuable insights and advice as well as the story of how he started his business and grew it to be the enormous success it is today. Here are some highlights from the podcast:
Not many success stories start with a seemingly innocuous piece of mail that most people would tear up and throw in the recycling bin. But Andy’s did. Andy went to college to be an occupational therapist; however, he knew that while he enjoyed occupational therapy and the difference it can make in people’s lives, at heart, he wanted to own a business.
While living with his mother, Andy noticed a piece of mail from Capital One…you know, one of those “You’re Pre-Approved for $10,000” types of letters. Most people don’t even give it a second thought. But Andy saw a way in – a way to get a business off the ground – through credit card loans. He finally convinced his mother to sign off on the application for a credit card, because she figured she’d never be approved. To both of their surprises, a brand new Capital One credit card arrived in the mail shortly after that–and with it, a $10,000 credit limit.
One of his close friends also applied for a new credit card, so now the two were armed with $20,000 and some big plans. He knew people who were flipping houses–buying cheap homes, putting time and money into them, and then reselling them at a much higher price. But it wasn’t homes Andy was interested in flipping–it was physical therapy facilities. Andy and his friend researched, pooled their money, and spent wisely, purchasing retail space with cheap rent and filling it with used equipment and furniture. His business was born. But it didn’t come easily.
“Being Brave Is More Important Than Knowing All the Answers.”
Andy is the first to admit that, as an aspiring business owner, he made his share of mistakes along the way. “I made every single mistake you can make–mistakes that cost me time and money. But you have to be okay with making mistakes,” Andy said. “Understanding that you’re going to fail, and there will be some pain. But you just get up the next morning with the same energy.”
Not everyone has the mental stamina or will to keep moving forward when faced with failure. Andy is obviously not one of those people. “Being brave is more important than knowing all the answers.” His persistence and acceptance of failure and all the learning that goes along with it paid off.
From 2006 to 2010, Andy was in a groove. He had learned all there was to know about flipping physical therapy facilities. He’d rent a location, fix it up, make it a fully functioning facility, and then flip it. All the while, he was profiting nicely on each sale. By 2015, Andy felt as if he had accomplished all he could as far as reselling PT facilities. He asked himself, “what’s next?”
Why not teach all of this? After all, he made a great living doing what he was doing; he was an expert in the field. “I need to teach this,” Andy decided. So, he got into franchising. But he didn’t start selling immediately; Andy wanted to get his system down pat so it would be simple to teach and implement for any prospective franchisee.
Andy is a firm believer that systems are critical–each department has a plan, and those systems are continually being honed and polished. “It’s very easy to teach a system,” Andy said. “The accountability for ensuring the system is being run properly is the hard part.”
Often, selling to your first franchisee is the most challenging sale to make, but Andy had a much different experience. “The first franchise I sold was the easiest because I was able to give all my attention to the franchisee.” To this day, that franchise is currently Andy’s #1 location.
What Drives Andy
So, what makes Andy tick after all these years in the physical therapy and franchising business? As far as the business aspect goes, he cites three keys to success: a clear vision of what you want for your business, determination, and perseverance to stick through the tough times, and the desire to ask plenty of questions.
Andy also possesses a driving force, or a burning passion, for business that he compares to a “runner’s high…” the euphoric feeling runners experience as they get into a zone during a long-distance run. He calls it a “business high,” his term for the addiction to success and to keep wanting more of it.
Tied into Andy’s business high is his love of working with others, teaching, and mentoring. He told the story of a husband and wife who came to him wanting to run a franchise. So he taught them his system and showed them how to work on their business rather than work in the business. Today, that location is a top-five franchise, and the husband and wife team is looking to open new locations. With Andy’s system in place, they have the right people in charge of the day-to-day operations, so they can finally take some much-needed vacation time for themselves. “And that’s what it’s all about,” Andy said.
His passion for healthcare and physical therapy also keeps him going. “Physical therapy is a very rewarding business. People come to you, and you see them in some of their worst and most vulnerable moments,” Andy commented. “We help people get back to independence, back to life. We do it hundreds of times a week, thousands of times a year, doing it all with a smile.
Dealing with COVID-19
While COVID-19 shut things down for a little while, Physical Therapy Now was never really out of commission. The locations had to limit their hours as well as the number of people inside each facility for safety precautions, but as Andy says, “Accidents never stop happening. We were deemed an essential business, so essential businesses had to be open to serve their clients. Our facilities are open and pretty much back to normal.”
A Final Note
Success isn’t always easy, but Andy certainly has made it look as such. He continues to keep learning because he wants to keep growing. He says that franchise shows and expos are valuable sources of information because they allow for plenty of face time with other franchisors. And when you want to keep building your business, that’s a great place to start.
There are currently 36 Physical Therapy Now locations throughout Florida and Texas… but that number will soon hit 40. Andy’s next goal? “I want to get to 100. And once I get there, I want to get to 300.” Lofty goals, for sure. But who’d be willing to bet against Andy?
If you need physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, aqua therapy, or other services to treat injuries from sports, car accidents, work, surgeries, and more, come visit one of the many Physical Therapy Now locations or give us a call at 800.481.4582.
Watch the entire “Success Is Easy” podcast interview with Andy here.