Systemising Your Business For Rapid Growth w/ Jack O’Brien

Uncategorized Jul 31, 2020




In this episode, we sit down with Clinic Mastery founder Jack O’Brien.

Through Clinic Mastery, Jack helps health professionals all over the world build healthy, efficient businesses that meet real needs in local communities.

In our interview, we discuss topics such as:

  • How to employ systems and structure to grow a business that isn’t entirely dependant on the owner
  • What leading a team really looks like and how to do it successfully
  • Why you should always be willing to give more than you take in business

And so much more. 

👉 To learn more about Jack, head to

👉 If you’d like to explore any further training, then feel free to check out our range of free courses here:


Ben Donovan  0:03 
Cool! Welcome to the show today, guys. It's such an honor to have Jack with me here. Jack is all the way from Australia. So it's very late where he is right now. So Jack, thanks so much for making time in the evening to come to the show. Jack, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and then we're going to dive into some questions today and get some nuggets from you.

Jack O'Brien  0:24 
Yeah, awesome. Well, good day mate! Good to be here. Thanks for having me, Ben. And yeah, so I'm a physiotherapist by trade or physical therapist depending on where you're based. So we help people with musculoskeletal injuries and as I worked in private practice, I ended up buying out the practice that I was working in. And so now, I'm a clinic owner. We went from one clinic to at one stage, five clinics and a team of 27 across our region here down near Sydney. And so now I've progressed to coming off the tools so to speak, I haven't touched a patient in just over two years now, which is great. I don't get my hands greasy running through people's hairy backs anymore. I spend most of my time leading my team and attracting ideal clients for us to be able to help and now as an extension of that we help hundreds of clinic owners all across the world to grow their clinic and create amazing experiences for their patients.

Ben Donovan  1:18 
Amazing, amazing. Great. I mean, yeah, just obviously, knowing your journey and knowing your story. I know there's so much that we can dig into and I think where I'd love to start Jack is obviously you talked about from the very beginning starting that, you know, that business and then scaling up is just talk us through that process because obviously, you've done what a lot of business owners dream of. You've scaled it up, you've managed to step back and more from like that ownership seat. You're not necessarily doing a lot of that day today, but you're doing that owner role. Talk us through what that journey was like and some of the keys to help you get to that stage.

Jack O'Brien  1:51 
Yeah, I think so many practitioners or technicians are great at what they do, especially in a service-based industry, which is effectively what physiotherapy is - it's a service. And you can be as good at your craft as you like. But unless you get that message out to your ideal clients and help to identify their problems and the solution that you've got, you'll be a great quiet technician. And some of the best physios are quiet, their books empty. Some of the best practitioners or people that are delivering services are quiet, simply because they're not able to get the message out because we don't want a business. Yeah, by and large. I certainly didn't, when I went through uni. So, you know, I think it stemmed from, for me, a passion for helping people. I knew I had the skills in my thumb to be able to get people out of pain. And so that passion drove me to learn how to get my message in front of the right people. And the reality is that people could see any physio, at least in our geography. But we want to be the one that they came to. We know that people will, you know, they'll go and they'll see a physio that they know, they like, they trust. And so how can we overcome some of those barriers to help them identify their problems and get them in so that we can provide solutions?

Ben Donovan  3:08 
Yeah, great. That's really good. And I think, you know, the point you made there is so important that, you know, we don't really learn the business. Even if you do study Business in a University, it's not really the kind of boots on the ground business, practical knowledge that you really do need in this day and age to build a business. And I think that's where a lot of people struggle, right? And when, you know, one of the business models that we teach at Impact Unltd is growing a service agency, which is, you know, effectively similar to what you're doing there. But a lot of people struggle because they just stay - whether it's graphic design, whether it's web development, whether it's Visio, they stay on the ground, doing the work themselves, you know, forever and it never really is a business. It's just a job disguised as a business because they're still trading all that time for that money. So again, like drilling into that, have you found any resistance, any challenge as you've tried to make that transition from someone who's doing the work to someone who's managing the work?

Jack O'Brien  4:01 
Oh, there are always challenges. Absolutely. But I think, you know, differentiating ourselves was really important. Because at the end of the day, every Physio or every Web Dev, or Graphic Designer has a similar skill set, and especially to the general public or to the consumers, we all appear the same. It's really hard to differentiate. So we worked really, really hard on trying to be different. And our point of difference was the experience that we could help provide people. Of course, people come to a Physio expecting or looking for outcomes to get out of pain, or to move well, to feel better, to get back to their sport, or their job, or play with the kids. Of course, they want those outcomes. But we know especially in the service industry, that most patients fall off the radar. Most clients drop off our books, not because it was a bad service, not because we didn't deliver the outcome, but because of perceived indifference because they think we don't care. And because we don't deliver experiences, and there's a lot of really good studies in and around this perceived indifference that service-based industries, clients have this perception that the provider doesn't care. And so we went about really transforming the client experience, we still had to deliver our deliverables, our outcomes, but we want to make sure we deliver outcomes and experiences. So we worked super hard on that. And that's all well and good for me to do. I was able to really dial in my client experience and charisma, but specifically around the tech so we worked really hard on not just what happens at the time of service delivery. But what is the onboarding process like and what are the electronic comms, like? Do they get an SMS or a text or an email or video? How do we keep in touch with people in between their appointments? And when they are here for their appointments, what is the experience like, not just the outcomes? So I worked hard on that. But the challenge then is duplicating that and replicating it across other humans. Humans are off to the variable, right?

Ben Donovan  6:12 
Yeah, for sure. And from knowing you as well, and knowing that that is a real strong point of yours, that can often be the stumbling block, right? Because you, you're good at something. So then to give it over to someone that you feel, whether rightly or wrongly, might not be as good as you as a challenging thing, right? And I think that's the growth all of us as entrepreneurs, is realizing that we're not the greatest person on the planet. There are other people that can do those things. But yeah, talk to us a bit about how that journey was for you because it's something you're passionate about, but you have to obviously hand some of that off to people.

Jack O'Brien  6:43 
Absolutely. We did. You know, again, it stemmed from a passion of I wanted to help as many people as absolutely possible. And so with my hands, I can do that for 40 or 50 people a week, and most of us can help others for 40 or 50 hours a week, maybe? Beyond that, I wanted to be able to help hundreds of people with what they... And so I need other people to do that. And now by extension, I get to help hundreds of clinics that help hundreds of people. And our impact is 10s of thousands on a weekly basis, which is absolutely unreal. I love it. But what we had to do is systemize that service delivery to the absolute degree possible. It had to be predictable and consistent. Pilots use checklists, surgeons use checklists and systems so that there's consistent delivery every time. Now, of course, there's always a human element. But we need to humanize the exception and systemize the rule. So I wanted to make sure that whether, you know, Ben, if you rocked up to our clinic, and you saw me or someone else on my team, that you would have a predictable, consistent experience. And so we were able to do that across our clinic and systemize experiences to the nth degree. And now we get to see clinics do that on mass, but that becomes the point of difference that there's predictability around the brand of our business, not just me as an individual. Does that make sense?

Ben Donovan  8:04 
Yeah, a hundred percent, it does. And I think then obviously, the trick is understanding that that doesn't just apply to a physio clinic, it applies to any business, doesn't it? You know that the systemization of that is so important. And you know, as you said, Those visions, the values, the culture of the organization, touching every aspect of it is so fundamental. Have you found any, as you've grown? Have you found there have been challenges to that? And there's been times when that wasn't as you know, as much as evident as you'd like?

Jack O'Brien  8:36 
Oh yeah, hundred percent. So, especially in a service-based industry, it's my people that are delivering the outcome. Yeah. So you know, product sense. - you can refine a product and go into, you know, development and all those sorts of things, but in service, my people are absolutely everything. So yeah. It's a little bit crass, but in a lot of ways, I want to commoditize my people, so it wasn't human dependent. And of course, it's humans that deliver it, but it shouldn't matter what human so it's my job to make those humans as replaceable, and redundant in a sense. And of course, it's their job to make themselves irreplaceable. So that really comes down to hiring, we had to hire not just the best people actually wasn't interested in hiring the best physios. Now, I expected my team to be great physios. But more importantly, I needed to hire the right people that were on the proverbial bus that they were aligned with our culture, our you know, our big picture core purpose, our painted picture vision, and that they would be on board with how we wanted to transform the experience for delivery. So it's absolutely a people game. So my job now is to look after my team, my team looks after our clients, the clients will look out for the business and the business will take care of me. I'm absolute like I spend my time now solely, I don't use, I don't touch patients, I develop my team and attract ideal clients. That's the only two things I do

Ben Donovan  10:07 
it. Thank you, you know, you've articulated the absolute key to growing a service agency there in terms of, you know, again, that the terminology some people might not like the commoditization of that of people. But the principle of that is completely right in terms of, you know, being able to have a set process system in place that it doesn't matter who picks up the baton that day, but it still gets delivered in the same way. And, you know, I loved what you said as well about, you know, it's your job to make people you know, replaceable. But then, you know, the staff's job is to make themselves irreplaceable, so great.

Jack O'Brien  10:41 
And I say that with absolute respect. I love my team, they're some of my best friends, it's my job to create wins for them. You know, we win, the business wins when my team is winning in their career and feeling satisfied, but also for the rest of their life. If they're passions and dreams are to have kids, buy a house, not just their career goals. My absolute job is to be now a developer of people like you said at the top. If you don't do that, you, as a service provider, have the skills and you've got a job. And you have clients that might pay you by contract and you don't get paid by wage. But as a business owner now, it's absolutely about developing people who can then develop other people. It's leadership, it's how to grow business.

Ben Donovan  11:29 
Yeah, and this is the, as I said, I think the big transition that so many entrepreneurs struggle to make because there's a lot of emotion involved. There's a lot of insecurity involved. As you know, we take pride in it. It's like our baby, often, you know, our business. And so absolutely, it is obviously there's risk involved. So are there any more keys you can give to the audience about that idea of building that team, passing things off to the team making that transition because it is such a fundamental process in grabbing a service agency.

Jack O'Brien  11:59 
I really think that, you know, Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" has been such a pillar of leadership for me. And so we need to make sure that we are creating win-wins that we're thinking of others first, that we would seek first to understand. So it really is leadership and trying to understand what it is that your team as individuals are trying to achieve. And what you as a company, are trying to achieve and find that synergy and alignment and really build and develop a culture and core values. If you can lead from a place of values, not from a place of rules and expectations, that from a place of this is where we're going, this is who we're going to be on that journey. That's been an absolute pillar for us. And then it really does come down to that consistent experience that serves a really tight niche and getting absolutely clear on who your ideal clients are. And you probably have a couple of them, a couple of different variations of that avatar. But knowing them intimately and knowing better than they know themselves to a degree and then being able to understand their problems and articulate the solutions that you provide through the right medium, whether that's video, written, social media, referral partnerships. If we can systemize that experience, we know that when we get new clients into our process, we're going to be able to deliver. And so I would suggest, get that experience dialed in right. Systemize your business as much as possible, absolutely, so that when you fill it with new clients, that you're going to be able to maximize the value for those clients provide great outcomes and provide experiences so get the experience right, and then go about finding those ideal clients and market like absolute crazy.

Ben Donovan  13:50 
So good, man. I'm taking notes on this. This is great. I'm using this stuff for our service agency for sure. I feel like there's a million directions we can go with this. I'd love to just explore a bit of the online transition that we were talking about before we jumped on the recording. But just before we do, obviously, part of our training and what we talked to people about is that you know, you don't need to be an expert in what the agency is delivering, what you need to be an expert at is building the systems, building the team, you know, creating those things that we've been talking about. Obviously, that's a little different for you because you are, you know, an expert in physio, and you own a physio clinic or a group of clinics. Talk to us a little bit about, you know, that side of things. Do you feel like that is a major hindrance if people don't have expert knowledge, or do you think it's you know, surmountable, how do you feel about that?

Jack O'Brien  14:41 
I think either side is a blessing and a curse. Try it in. I think if you have the skills of the service that you deliver, and you're the business owner, you're probably the best at that skill on your team. And so what it takes is for you to transition out of being the best technician, the best practitioner, whatever title you give yourself. You need to transition out of being the best to develop the best in others. And that takes a level of humility that in my experience, a lot of business owners just can't swallow their pride and get out of the way. A mentor of mine from the UK talks about being not just a hit but a hit factory. Yeah, it's our job to create stars and create a team that is far better than us. So if you've got that skill, you've got to lay it aside and really take on the skill of being a people developer, a leader, and a business owner. Let others be good at the skill. So on the flip side of the same coin, yeah, if you don't have the skill of the service that your agency is delivering, that's a great opportunity that you don't have to be the smartest guy in the room. But you can be the greatest people developer and greatest leader so that others can shine.

Ben Donovan  15:58 
That's a great thought. Like I said, I love how you say a blessing and a curse. It really is. I think you know, not having a deep sense of the skill involved in an agency can be at that blessing because it does force you to build a team around others as well. So I think yeah, great, great thoughts. Really good. So, um, yeah, let's talk a little bit about the online transition because obviously a time of recording we're in the midst of like, global lockdown global pandemic. You know, part of your industry is inside of gyms that are closing down, you know, I know it's affecting your industry, but you've managed to really shield yourself from that negative impact. Yeah, talk to us a little bit about that journey, because I think it is a lesson for all businesses, you know, in that season.

Jack O'Brien  16:41 
Hmm. There are three things that spring to mind for me, Ben. The first is bricks and mortar. Yeah, physiotherapy is known for being a face to face delivery of service and it has been for centuries. And so now that you know Coronavirus, COVID-19 is here. No one wants to leave home or hardly we're allowed to leave home. And that's been a real difficulty for a business that delivers face to face services. Because of the years of work that we've put into systemising and making sure that our experience is a well-oiled machine. And I have a team on board that lives and breathes our values. When Corona has hit. Most clinics aren't able to stop the bleeding and most clinics, certainly the western, across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, are experiencing 30 to 40% cancellations. People are ringing up and canceling their appointment. We, in our clinic, are experiencing like 10, maybe 15%, which is a massive difference from 10% to 40%. We're able to do that because we've got the systems in place. And we've got the team that lives and breathes the culture so we're protected against, we've hedged ourselves against some of these unpredictabilities in the method of service that we deliver. So, you know, I'd be thinking, if I'm delivering an online service, what if one of the vehicles like if you're delivering consulting via Zoom, or you're outsourcing through Fiverr, or Upwork, or some other platform. If you're dependent on a platform, then make sure you've got the systems to be able to handle that redundancy.

Jack O'Brien  18:24 
The second thing that we've been able to do is to transition our service to not just be face to face, but be online, which is what we've been doing for years, but we've been dabbling and you know, just dipping our toe in the water and we haven't been all in. Now there's a bit of a reason to go all in. You know, 25% of our business is now delivered online. And that percentage is growing week-on-week now. So with that, there's a couple of keys. We've had to re-educate our audience and our clients that what they used to come in for face to face, they'd no longer have to come face to face. But there is a skill now in delivering stuff online that I've had to upskill my team with, and of course, get clients ready. But the advantage or the opportunity that we've been able to find is now there's a whole range of different clients that we can attract, we've actually pivoted our ideal client. Three weeks ago, our ideal client was someone who lived within a 10-kilometer radius of our clinic and went to the gym or six-mile radius. Now, we're not limited by geography, and gyms are closed. So as an example, right, our new ideal client, as of right now is healthcare workers that live within our state or our province, which is, you know, thousands of square kilometers for us here in Australia. We can service people thousands of kilometers away through the power of telehealth, and so healthcare workers that don't live close to us, or all these that have had their surgery canceled? Yeah, because we in Australia, we can't do any more surgeries on knee replacements and hip replacements. So we've adjusted our ideal client and now have a massive, massive reach. So that's super exciting and a huge opportunity for us to pivot ourselves.

Ben Donovan  20:18 
Yeah. The words you use are exciting. I think that's right. Because, you know, as you're saying that I'm thinking man that the shackles have almost been taken off, like the limitations. It's like, that could create something so new and I think, you know, you're so ready for it now, you know, and that quickness to pivot could actually be the key to that business goes to the next level, which is, I think what's so excited about this season is there's a lot of people out there doom and gloom, businesses shutting down, recession. There's a whole lot of entrepreneurs that are actually thinking how we can pivot in this season, and cause it to actually grow our business, not decline our business, you know, it's an exciting time.

Jack O'Brien  20:55 
I'd like to wrap some numbers around, you know, our ideal client, there were probably 10 thousand. It went well, I can tell you when I was doing Facebook ads for preview is ideal client 10,000, that audience database. Now it's more like a million, right? It's 100 X, our, our ability to reach people so if there's an opportunity in everything, you know, absolutely. And then for me, like the extension is I've also got clinic mastery, which is our consulting and so we can, which is effectively a service. So I've been able to go from not just helping people with my hands to having a team that helps people with their hands to helping clinics lead their teams. And so, you know, as a business owner, is there an opportunity for you to have multiple different service offerings to different types of audiences, different types of ideal clients to spread the risk and hedge yourself against any potential disruption?

Ben Donovan  21:51 
Yes, talk about that just for a couple of minutes before we close off. I know it's late here in Australia, so why don't you get to bed? But, as you've mentioned, that idea of diversifying, pivoting. A great opportunity, as you mentioned, is to be able to deliver teaching, consulting, coaching to a wider audience. And you know, the online education industry is set. You know, Forbes has assets that have grown to over $300 billion per year. In the next few years. It's like just insanely fast-growing, industry, and even more so now that everyone's at home and wanting to learn new things. So yeah, just talk to us for a couple of minutes about how you made that pivot from not just running your own agency or clinic to actually then teaching others how to do the same thing.

Jack O'Brien  22:35 
When it comes to having a service agency, which is effectively what our clinic is, we learned from experience, and out of a genuine passion to help people I think at the root of it most people get into business because they love what they do. And they want to be able to help more people. And so what we found that it's kind of like that concentric circle model you have. You can help people, you can build a team to help people, or you can help other teams to help other people. And if you're able to systematize or systematize your model or method of delivery, there's absolutely an opportunity to help others do the same. What I found that is one of the keys to coaching, consulting, mentoring is having an abundance mindset rather than scarcity. And so knowing that I've got something to share, and by sharing with others, we amplify our impact that you know, that impact becomes unlimited. And it's such an opportunity to help others. And so don't bottle it up. Don't keep it to yourself, find those, find that tribe, find the community that you can educate, empower to help others, and really amplify your impact.

Ben Donovan  23:49 
So true, and I think, you know, I've had that a lot in the past, I've been teaching other people how to do this, like, why don't you want to keep all the secret to yourself? It's like, well, there's a certain point where you know, just having a business that provides an income only satisfies you so much, you know that there's a more fulfilling aspect of life that is helping other people. You know, there's nothing more fulfilling for me than seeing other people when, you know, so really just resonate with what you're saying there. And you know about being able to scale that impact because, with online education coaching, there is an infinite scale almost to it, that can run your really, really create.

Jack O'Brien  24:24 

Ben Donovan  24:25 
Amazing. Amazing. Well, jack, if you've got any sort of Final thoughts for anyone that's thinking about, could I start a service agency? Could I grow a business? You've got any final thoughts for us as someone who has traveled that journey to you know, a degree of success? Can you just speak to any final thoughts, major keys, you get people to really go away and work on?

Jack O'Brien  24:47 
I think if you know, practically, like we said, if you can systemize your service and develop people, that is how we can scale an agency or service-based business. Absolutely. But you know, this podcast absolutely resonates with me, you've got to have a vision, a cause and impact bigger than yourself. If you're just doing this to line your pockets and put your kids through private school, it's gonna get tough leading people building a business is hard work. But it's absolutely worth it when you've got a cause, or an impact to chase. So, you know, I love as I help other business owners, my challenge to them is what cause or what given goal have you got? You know, at the end of the day business is a commercial economic transaction. But if you've got a cause and a given goal, you know, we've, we've publicly said that we, my family, and I want to be the first to write a million-dollar check for our chosen charitable church foundation back here in Australia. And you know, that's a vision so much bigger than we could ever picture, imagine. But it means that when the going gets tough, and when I don't feel like leading people and developing a team and documenting systems, absolutely. I'm going to do it because there's a cause that's depending on us to make a positive impact in the world.

Ben Donovan  26:00 
Sure, so powerful so true just anchors he doesn't have that vision that you have. So now it's great. Thank you so much for your thoughts, Jack. If people want to sort of find out more about you, maybe there are some people that do have even a clinic out there and they want to you know, learn more about how they can grow it successfully. Yeah, where can people find you jack?

Jack O'Brien  26:17 
Yeah, LinkedIn is probably the best place to connect so you can find me at Jack O'Brien on LinkedIn and our website is Head to meet the team and you'll see a few fun facts about me at

Ben Donovan  26:30  
Awesome. Thanks so much for being on today, Jack. Well, guys, I hope you've enjoyed the episode today if you do want to connect with Jack, make sure you do go to And if you do want to learn more about how to grow a service agency, or about how to transition your knowledge into creating courses and coaching to really develop an income from that too, make sure you do go to that's impact u-n-l-t-d .com/traning and you can check that all out there. Thanks, Jack for being with us today. Thanks for joining us on this episode, and that we'll see in the next one real soon.


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