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#72 - How Did ModPod Find Success During The Pandemic

Jun 4th, 2021

This week we’d like to bring to you an interesting interview with two clinic owners who have pivoted successfully through this challenging time.

In this special OMD TV guest interview episode, Mr. Brent Goddard & Lance Penn, the owner and managing director of ModPod Sports Podiatry – Sydney’s leading podiatry clinic discussed how ModPod found success during the pandemic?”

This is part of our special Covid Success Stories series, where OMD TV will feature interviews with clinics that successfully pivoted and thrived through the tough times such as the Covid 19 Pandemic.

In this video interview, we examined…

  • How ModPod made a few strategic decisions to help survive and thrive during this challenging period
  • How ModPod has remained nimble and flexible to deal with all these changes during the past 12 months
  • Why tough times can be good times for smart marketers
  • How to change the marketing approach to keep reaching out and staying in touch with referring doctors
  • How to maintain the team’s spirit through this difficult time
  • What new strategies they are using to gain more patients

All of the details and much more are available in the full video interview. We know you will find it very informative and hopefully it will provide you with some new ideas and inspiration for developing your own strategies for thriving through this challenging time.

Show note:

Webinar: 3 Must-Use Strategies to Generate More New Patients and Referrals on Autopilot.

Podcast #21: Simple Techniques to Acquire New Patients

Hi, I'm Huyen
Our work (and this site) is devoted to sharing ideas, tools and resources that will help you automate, grow and scale your practice.


Learn More


Welcome to the OMD TV and podcast show, the place to be to grow and scale your practise. Now through our TV show, we like to provide our viewers with success stories in the industry, and tips and strategies that they can use to help grow and scale their practise. And today we have a couple of special guests on our show, Mr. Brent Goddard and Lance Penn the owner and managing director of ModPod Sports Podiatry, Sydney's leading podiatry clinic. And today we will talk about a very interesting topic, how ModPod found successes through the pandemic. And this is part of our special covid success story series, where OMD TV will feature interviews with clinics that have successfully pivoted and thrived through the challenging times, like the COVID-19 that is happening right now. So, let's get started. Yeah, welcome back to the show Brent and Lance. Thanks for having us. I know that our audience quite enjoyed your last episode of our podcast, number 21, which was the Simple Techniques to Acquire New Patients. Now we're excited to have you back on the show again as we can't wait to discuss your personal journey through the coronavirus experience, the pandemic over the last couple of months. Sweat and tears, sweat and tears. What an enjoyable time it was for everyone. So I guess first, for our audience that's learning about you for the first time, just tell us a little bit more about yourselves and your practise. Yeah, I guess we set the business up probably about 15 years ago and we started, well Lance had started with one clinic in the city. I came on board with him and then we ventured out and got our second clinic in Mosman. And then we've sort of progressively grown from there. We've tried a few different things along the way that may, or haven't worked, but mainly it's worked, and we've increased our clinic size. So we now have sort of five core clinics in Sydney and a couple of satellites up in the Central Coast. Yeah, so we've got a great team of staff members. I'm no longer consulting in podiatry, so I sort of have a wide lens view of the business. Sure. I tend to be more the face to face of the business. I like to think of myself as the ideas man. Which Brent tends to filter and shoot down most of the time. Yeah. Right. The bad ideas man. I'm the bad ideas man, apparently so. Few gems. Few gems in there. You've got to filter through them. But yeah, we really enjoy the business. And we enjoy servicing people, and providing the best treatment for them. But more importantly, we just like challenging what's happening in the moment and trying to find a better way of doing things. And we just love growing. We hate being in the same place for too long. I get bored. Sure, fair enough. Well, 15 years in the industry, you must be doing something right. I guess so. That's a long time for any practise, but you know, for not just one practise but you're now running multiple practises. Yeah, I mean, I actually looked the other day to see how long I've been practising podiatry full term. And I think I'm coming on nearly 26 years. Nice! I started off when I opened up my first clinic when I was 21. Right, so we missed the silver anniversary. Yeah. And you just told our audience your age. But they're called a practise, because you've got to keep on practising and trying things before you find out what works and what doesn't. Fair enough. Now, and we're here to talk about the pandemic, and your experiences through the pandemic. And so I guess, first off, we would like to know just a little bit more about what, you know, ModPod's response was to the coronavirus and various lockdowns that you had to endure.So while we, before we got over the shock and horror part? I guess the first response was just to freak out. Yeah. It was very surreal. Yeah. I think overall, we probably took a pretty rational view, didn't we? We were actually quite clinical about it. We looked at the different scenarios, you know, when it first started, no one knew what was going to happen, right? We didn't know whether there was going to be any government support. So I ran a few spreadsheets and thought, what's our worst-case scenario, how do we batten down the hatches? And then, I guess, we had that plan in place, from the early days. You know, we talked to all of our staff members, and you know, we didn't want to tell them what the worst case scenario is, but we sort of reassured them that we were going to do the best to keep business going. And that was the priority. The interesting thing about it was, it was the calmest, the most relaxed that we've ever been, in private practise, We're good in a crisis. And because when you're doing everything you can everything's in your control and things don't work out, then you always go, "Okay, what have we done wrong? What can we improve on?" This was something that was completely out of our control. So it took all that angst away. and all you could do was do your best, nothing more. It had nothing to do with you. Right. And that was really calming and brought us to action. Hm. And so when you were making those plans, I mean, we were hearing about coronavirus and starting to ask questions sort of in early January, and it wasn't until sort of mid-to-late March that we're heading to lock-downs and the challenges around that. How early were you making these plans or investigating these issues? Oh, February. It was, we started talking obviously in Jan/Feb, but we were like, "No". Looks like it's going worldwide, we'd better just start getting awareness in case it comes here. Then it kind of ramped up, and I think, once the lock-downs started to roll through we really structured it out, how that's going to look. We split our businesses into different teams, as well, so making sure that if one clinic went down, if someone got infected, that it wouldn't shut down the whole business. So we had a strategy. And it's also great having Brent working the numbers and working out different case scenarios. And doing that with the confidence, knowing, okay, this is the worst that can happen. This, I mean we worked out defaults for them and what we had to do to keep our heads above water. But we always had an exit plan or a game plan. Sure. Good. And then like how did you sort of continue on from there? I mean, you had these plans, and you didn't know that you've got support, you know sort of what was going to come next, you didn't hit, or did you ever hit your worst-case scenario? I mean, obviously the government, all of their Job-keeper stuff really helped us, you know, because we needed that, because our revenue went down below, I think it was 40%, we were way beyond that threshold. Because we had to effectively, you know, people stopped going out and stopped getting treatments. And just the core people probably, I don't know, probably you'd have an idea of it being on the street, the people who needed those treatments were still coming in. So we always had a bit of core turnover, and we knew we'd have support to a certain stage until the government came in again, reevaluated, are we going to make the next step. Well what we did during that period, was we managed to get a bit of cashflow going because we were able to put a lot of loans on hold. And so we, instead of using the money, we still put it aside and put it aside. So we knew, okay, we had a bit of a cushion to get us through a worst-case scenario. And in fact, when it came to the second round of, I wouldn't say government funding, assistance, but we missed it by 3%.

Oh, right! 3% So we were still bleeding. Missed out by 3. And that, I found it quite hard, it was so close and we really needed it, but we'd had the thought of adding to that little cushion that we'd put aside to get us through, and you managed to squeeze through. Yeah. And I think the banks are great, and that was really awesome getting support from, you know, people who have debt. And they were just very willing to, you know, we didn't get anything free, they just put everything on hold for us, but the fact that they were supporting us I think that was awesome, with an added push from the government as well. But also our team was fantastic. I mean, we had our receptionist and our podiatrists who would come up to us and say, "You know what, I'm just going to take a couple of days off, you're not paying us. And they came to us and we all just did it together as a team. So it wasn't just ourselves, our team got us through. And I think in a way it brings everyone closer, right, when you have those crisis moments, we kind of feel more like a family now. So yeah, it's always very interesting. You never really know how to plan for a moment like that. So it's always interesting to see how people do react in those situations. And seeing it quite positively. I think you just have to work out the scenarios. And if you address the scenarios before it happens, then it's not a shock. But you've got to work the numbers at all stages. Wow. So that's an interesting point. Now, when it comes to some strategic decisions, I know pivoting a business is a daunting task, right? Like especially that speed or reaction time is actually quite critical when it comes to times like this. And you don't have time, you have no time for a long decision making process, you have to have really fast reactions. So especially when changes are coming at your way rapidly. So how did you make some strategic moves fast? And how fast was that? And how much time did it take you to make this happen? I mean the interesting thing with strategy and with reaction and time, how fast you do something is just a reference point, it's different to everyone. Where our partnership works really well, I react very quickly, and within a couple of hours I'll be calling Brent going, "Hey, listen, this is happening, let's do this and that". And Brent will slow it down, to a few days, we'll start asking questions to keep people in industries, speaking to people on the street, gathering information. Now, once we've gathered enough information to get an idea of where things were going, then we'd make an educated decision, take the risk, and go for it. But it's based on probably me being more action and Brent slowing me down, collecting figures and numbers again. Wow. Yeah. We're polar opposites as far as our approach, which is good. You've got to be agile and nimble, but you can't spend too much time on a decision, you have to do the math, and then you have to just make a decision, back yourself and go for it. Rather do something and fail than do nothing at all. That's been our philosophy.

Lance has probably got a very intuitive gut, to see how things go. And he could see our city practise was going to suffer, and you picked up that that's not going to recover any time soon. Because you could just see how everything was going with people working from home. And we could see that some of our suburb clinics were doing really well, they'd actually increased because people were in the suburbs, right? And so that was our pivot moment, it was like, we actually need to get another suburb clinic, and we need to take resources out of the city clinic and put those elsewhere. But also, one of the changes that we did make that actually got us a fair amount of business to help us through, is one of the things that we all noticed was there was a decline in the amount of people that would go to simple nail bars to get pedicures done. So we started offering, as a lot of clinics did, but we were probably a bit more aggressive or forward with it, we would advertise a medi-pedi. Which is just a gym treatment based on a pedicure treatment. Right. And people that didn't feel safe going to normal nail bars, were comfortable coming into clinics. And we actually got a big following doing this through COVID. And that was just something that we really introduced then and flew with through COVID. And you've maintained that? We've maintained it, but it's, the demand has dropped off, because the trust for nail bars has gone back. But it served its purpose over that time. Yeah, great. Yeah, I remember setting up a campaign for you guys and I was quite happy. Quick set up. And I remember also talking to you through that time, and the one thing you said is don't stop advertising. Yeah. That's something we highly recommend you guys, and you'll probably remember my email is that when things change especially, your toughest or strongest competitors, they don't stop advertising. And you can see that that ModPod Sports Podiatry is so aggressive, advanced when it comes to marketing. And they didn't stop and haven't stopped, and you'll find they won't stop. You can't take your finger off the pulse, because there's always a lag between when you market and the results you get from it, so to market when times are good is a waste of time. You've got to market more when times are bad. Yeah, yeah. And consistency. Yeah. That's what you've taught us. It's all about consistency, I'll tell you, when it comes to the marketing game. And I've been telling the key success is or the X factor of any business success is their persistency, and talking about one of my favourites quotes from Charles Darwin, it's not the strongest or the most intelligent species that survive, it's actually the one that's most adaptable to change, right? And we see repeatedly from our own experience, that a key factor is that lots of businesses fail because they fail to adapt to changes when the market is changing. So how do you keep yourself nimble and flexible for the last 12 months, and also the strategy to move you know, in the future, how do you keep yourself flexible? I mean, I'll leave Brent to the first part of this, the reason why we are nimble and why we make decisions that's based on the constant auditing of stats and figures that you will do with your systems, making sure that in any given moment, you know where you are in space and time in terms of what's happening with the business and what's happening with the environment. And without having Brent working on that permanently, we wouldn't have such an accurate sense of where we are in real time, of where the business is in the environment. I think it's definitely that, but it's also probably part of our personality as well, as business owners, is that we're constantly looking for that change. Looking for an opportunity.We like change, I think. Naturally it comes easy to us. We don't like the status quo, doing the same sort of things. So I think it's probably those things rolled together, isn't it? You know, I think most business owners probably are more set in their ways. Less adaptable. I think though, the fact that they've set up a business to start with takes risk, right, but you have to keep changing and moving. Otherwise... Part of what you do is enjoying it and having fun. And if you're going to be doing the same things in the same place forever... Yeah. I think you bring up some valuable sort of ideas there that, that you need to embrace change, especially if you're going to sort of, you envision having something for the long term, things will change. Your environment will change. How you market will change. How, in your environment, the competition changes. You will have to inevitably change. If you want to have a practise, or any business that sustains itself for the long term. And the key thing is also not to overthink things. Yeah. You've got to be pretty strategic and time-wise when you make a decision and follow through. And then if it's the right decision, things will fall into place, but you won't get there if you don't make that quick decision and take the chance. I think that comes back to your gut feeling. No, I mean, we looked at opening up this clinic, I just knew inherently that the city was going to take a while to get going. And we knew that the suburban clinics are doing well. So it was a decision of, "Okay, where do we go next?" So then I made up the list. I wrote down some key criteria in terms of where my ideal practise would be. And then a wishlist. And then I kind of was at that stage, I was just a bit tired with the stress of COVID, and what was happening in the city, and I needed to take a week off practise. Yeah. And I took a week off, and day one's great, day two I was bored as hell. Day two I thought, well okay, I fell on my list of places I'd like to open up a clinic, and I came and I walked along the street and I saw this spot open and thought, oh, okay. This is actually criteria two, it's location, location, location. Yeah. And I thought, okay, well I'll just give the guys a call and see what comes out of it. And before I knew it, someone was giving me a call and next moment we were negotiating and by the end of the holiday, day four, I'd signed the lease. By the end of the second day you got a deal. I'd signed the lease, yeah. Like you said, it's all about speed and making quick decisions. I'm very impressed, because we talked about opening up the Rose Bay clinic, and see how fast it was, it was happening. You guys got all the fit out done literally like within a month, wasn't it? It took, we had engaged somebody to do the works within a few weeks, but it took a couple of months to actually do the build to their specs, around what we needed. Wow, so fast. We started in October, moved in here December. Yeah. And we actually prepared a Google ads campaign to prepare the whole launch of the new location, and actually it's helped as well. And now you're ranking really well on the Google maps as well, like for podiatrists Rose Bay. So that's really quick setup. Well because obviously we're working hand in hand with you, we were able to hit the ground running. And again, it wasn't just what we did, it was working hand in hand with you, and setting us up. Yeah, sure. So, I mean, 12 months went by somewhat quickly, somewhat slowly, and you know, how has the business now changed, and where are you today with the business? And sort of, where were you 12 months ago? Things were great, then possibly a little worried about maybe what could come, where are you now, and how do you feel about it? So it's pretty interesting that because pre-COVID, that January, we were starting to really take off, and we had a lot of new incentives that we were going to introduce to the business. And COVID actually stopped all of that. And reevaluating now, those things that we were going to introduce are not relevant anymore. Right. So now we are readapting to the change and we're going to start reintroducing things that are more relevant than what was occurring at the time. Even though we set up a new business, it's sort of been more of a holding pattern, and just kind of surviving, to a degree, with the staff as well, we haven't actually done a huge amount of fore-planning, but that's where we're now planning out, our next 12-24 months. Whereas all the other stuff, like you've said, is probably a little bit more irrelevant, because things have changed, you know, Sure. Exploring new thoughts and new ideas, times have changed, and they're never going to go back to the way they were before. And the sooner one accepts it and adapts to it, the better and the easier it'll be. Yeah, fair enough. A few sort of marketing ideas to discuss. I mean, you've got a lot of competition in your sector, and you're obviously been impacted during coronavirus. What is your sort of value proposition that kind of puts you ahead of your competitors? At least, what do you feel it is? Well, we've got Lance, to start with. You’ve got Lance, okay. Exactly. That's all you need, is a Lance. Anyway. No, I think we've got multiple, I think, even though within our business, we do cover the whole thing of podiatry, we've got quite a few specialties within that. So, you know, we do a special treatment for plantar warts, for example, fungal nails, and then we've got a whole sports podiatry arm, and then looking into like some rehab models as well. Right. So yeah, I think we offer all the service, but a wide range of services, and trying to kind of have a solution for most people's problems within that. But also then having a great referral network for when we don't have those solutions. I mean, that's the technical side of things, it annoys me to look out there at what else is happening with the competition. We don't really look at what everyone else is doing, and try to run our own race. I think there are two really strong points to our business, and the one is the technical side that we're bringing, from what treatments we're doing and how we do it, from processes, systems. But then there's also the people's person. And I honestly believe that if you just treat people right and you go out of your way to help them and you just do good work and you're friendly and it comes from a good place, it's just going to organically grow. I mean, how can you go wrong from that? Just stick to the basics, just be nice to people, do good work, and have fun. Okay. Great. Yeah. So two years ago, when we first interviewed you in our special podcast, number 21, about some techniques to draw new patients in, obviously things have been changing a lot, over the last 12 months, so now what are the techniques and marketing techniques that you've been using quite effectively to draw people in with a new condition like this? Yeah, I think again, taking advice from you guys... We're doing the, obviously we'll do the AdWords but the quizzes, I think, I'm not sure. The quiz, yeah. Yeah, and I'm just about to launch into the webinars. I've done your course, and I'm halfway through my first webinar... So, you've convinced me So I guess the question is, that's for the general market, we're also now wondering whether we can do that with our referral network because we've been cut off with COVID. We've got to adapt and find a new digital way of networking to our referral network. Yeah, because they're not, doctors aren't really taking appointments to see other practitioners. So we need to still communicate with them. And that's sort of where we're scratching our head a little bit at the moment. Well, I mean, we're not scratching, you guys are developing... We've given you the problem, and then you're going to come to us with a solution. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s probably where we’re at, but, you know, we're also going to have lunch with you after this. And we'll begin discussing more ideas. I think the webinar is a great way to keep in contact with your referring doctors, because now you can't see them anymore, and you need to still keep in touch with them. And so that's a good way for them to gain some educational value, and content from you as well. And that's the best way to go now with the webinar content. And we're not just doing that for referring doctors, we're also doing that for patients as well. But it's so important, because I think in our referral network, we've noticed pre-COVID that when you've got to have face-to-face meetings with GPs, we would know that it would take X amount of time to start getting referrals and building it up. You would have to visit somebody about six or seven times before they would be in the head space to start referring to you. Now the thing I've noticed with Rose Bay is the fact that I haven't been able to get face to face, I get very few GP referrals, so we really need to be innovative with how we can get those touches across without face-to-face meetings, because it definitely plays a massive role. Yeah, yeah, totally agree with that. Steve, do you have any more questions? I do. You've provided a lot of great information here, do you have any other sort of hidden pearls of wisdom or advice for those that maybe wondering how to sort of handle a similar kind of conditions in their future, situations of an unforeseeable nature that we can't control? I think you have to stay positive, as frustrating as that sounds. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Some things will always fail regardless of the times. And you've got to surround yourself with key people. Right. So key relationships, and having that robust structure. Yeah. Yeah. So how often do you communicate your vision with your team? We typically go in a way, you know, we're communicating all the time, but we do one annual trip a year, where we for you and we take... Wow, is that the trip you just mentioned? And that's sort of our, we call it our alignment weekend, so we have to make sure we're looking at our core values, our strategy, our vision. What have we done? So we look backwards, so what have we done in the last 12 months? Did we achieve our goals that we set out to do in the last 12 months? And what our next 12 month goals are, so we try to bring them into that decision making as well. Sounds really good. It's just having that clear vision. Yeah. Getting everyone on board, working towards the same common goals. Creating community. Brett, Lance, thank you very much for joining us today on the OMD TV show. I know there are viewers who will appreciate the insights that you've provided today. Congratulations, really. You survived! We survived, yes but we are not finished yet. It's not over yet. It's a work in progress. Isn't that really the lesson, that it is a work in progress? It's always a work in progress, and be adaptable and changing, and meeting the conditions... Take risks. Yeah. Great. Thanks very much. Thanks for joining us. And I hope you enjoyed today's OMD TV show. Thanks to Brent and Lance for joining us on the show. If you have any questions or feedback on the show we'd love to hear from you. And if you'd like to be on the OMD TV show, we'd also love to hear from you as well. Now, if you want to learn more about how to drive more of your ideal patients into your sales funnel using targeted messages and hooks, I suggest that you attend our webinar called The Three Must-Use Strategies to Generate More New Patients and Referrals on Autopilot. Spending one quick hour with us in that webinar will help you master the fine art of driving more traffic to your clinic, and ensure that you are successful in generating all the business traffic you can, instead of just hoping that they'll show up simply because you built it. I'll leave a link to the webinar in the show notes below so you can have a chance to sign up for it then. Thank you very much for coming, we look forward to seeing you at the next show. Bye for now.

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