ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR: A Wealth of Experience Invested in People Jill Marlan, PT, MSPT, OMPT challenges what’s expected from healthcare providers

If you’ve ever been to a physical therapist (PT), you know the drill. You’re referred by your doctor based on your injury. You go to the office, they take you through some arbitrary and repetitive exercises until your body is functioning properly again. Then you’re sent on your way — never to speak with your PT ever again. You’re back on track… and that might seem fine, but who’s to say you’ll never hurt yourself again or that symptoms won’t return?
The spirit of being a great entrepreneur lies within one’s ability to creatively twist the formula of traditional business to your will. Flipping the physical therapy industry on its head and raising the bar for patient care by exceeding her patients’ expectations is exactly how this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year is finding success. Jill Marlan, founder of Peak Performance Physical Therapy, will be the first to acknowledge that the issue that arises with your typical therapy treatment is at the core of her brand’s emerging success.

“The traditional model is we evaluate them, we treat pain and then we discharge them. I believe that it’s a doctor’s profession, we should be focusing on providing patients with what we call case management,” explained Marlan. “The approach is to treat them like a person and look into things other than their pain to ensure that they’re healthy beyond the injury. To make sure they’re progressing beyond the injury for better health. We look outside of the box, typically other medical professions are box checkers.”

A passion for improving her patients’ overall health, beyond the typical role of a physical therapist, and a genuine empathy that extends through each member of her staff, has helped to define what separates Peak Performance from its competition. Marlan and her team are firm believers in investing in people. The rule of thumb to treat patients as more than just a portion of the bottom line hasn’t gone unnoticed. At their current location they are seeing over 300 patients each week, and many are returning well beyond their recovery. Marlan’s promise of providing education to her patients on how to care for themselves and extending services beyond the life of each patient’s injury is a reflection on her personal experience.

“What truly inspired me was some of my experience in healthcare and leadership,” Marlan said. “Going through college on a basketball scholarship, I had injuries myself and went through therapy. As I mentioned during my speech [at the 2017 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards], I had my jaw dislocated during therapy. The emergency room didn’t care for my injury and had me sit down instead of being compassionate. Sure, there were probably more serious patient needs to respond to, but I believe that it doesn’t take any longer to provide compassion and service than it does to be rude. My biggest realization, in that moment, was that if I can make a difference to someone that walks into an environment in pain, back pain, sports injuries, whatever — if I could make a difference with kindness and compassion, one patient at a time, I would.”

To ensure she could do just that, Marlan dedicated her time as a student to developing the tools needed to help those in need.

Her illustrious slate of experience is truly something to marvel at. Marlan is a Board Certified Licensed Physical Therapist and a Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist. And while those certifications are necessary for her to practice PT, her commitment to this field of medicine has pushed her well beyond the bare minimums. Additionally, she’s been a member of the State Board of Physical Therapy for the past eight years and chaired the board for the last three years. She’s worked with the board to improve the requirements of practitioners around the state by working diligently to implement continuing professional development requirements for all licensed physical therapists in the state of Michigan.

Marlan is the author of the “Translatoric Spinal Manipulation” textbook currently used in physical therapy doctoral educational programs around the country; a resident instructor for Oakland University’s (OU) Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Program and Michigan State University’s (MSU) Kinesiology Program; a graduate of the Wayne State University Master’s in Physical Therapy Program, MSU Osteopathic Manual Manipulation Education Program and OU’s Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Program.

While these accomplishments are surely worth gloating about, the biggest achievement for Marlan is the success of Peak Performance. Like any new endeavor, things aren’t going to be easy from the get go, but Marlan’s confidence and persistence have made each obstacle passable.

“I would say persistence is a huge component of our success. As an entrepreneur it’s your job to make the tough decision,” said Marlan. “It’s not always wine and roses; and the attempt to stay focused on your plan and the tasks at hand is hard. It’s about not letting that go ever, it’s challenged by things every day. Maintaining that persistence of morality and business is important to success, that’s very important; and so is laser focus to not get sidetracked. One of my things is the belief that success is a lease and rent is due every day. We look at our abilities on a regular basis, and feel that you’re only as good as you were the last minute.”

Marlan’s extraordinary integrity will soon allow her to continue fulfilling her promise to patients, as their facilities are expected to expand into a new building soon. Marlan is hopeful this next step will allow her to continue to care for patients and bring remedy to their pains. Marlan and her team are ready to take on the needs of each new community they’re lucky enough to become a member of and hope to continue growing as an integral member to their new homes. The brand plans to continue expanding one step at a time. These exciting steps forward for the business are concrete evidence of success, as new acquisitions weren’t always so easy to come by.

“Financing was one of the biggest obstacles I faced,” reminisced Marlan. “When I started my business, I had already run two corporations and had actual numbers citing improvements of up to 40 percent profit margins prior to starting my own, but even with that knowledge I couldn’t easily get financing. So I had to go through my parents and from that point on it’s been history. I was able to pay them back within six months and be debt free within a year. I opened in 2011 when banks weren’t lending much money. Had I been able to obtain financing it would have been easier, but it’s actually worked out phenomenally. I haven’t needed additional financing but banks wouldn’t be an issue now.”

It goes without saying that Marlan and her experience is at the core of building the brand, but she’s quick to acknowledge this isn’t the case. The age old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, is similar to the situation at Peak Performance. Here it takes the compassion of each employee to help lift patients out of their suffering and onto a path of healing. Together they’re making a difference in the lives of many.

“We have people that truly understand the culture that we want to provide. People are your business and that’s a huge thing to us,” explained Marlan. “Being able to get people with the same drive and ethics allows you to do a lot with a little and I’m extremely lucky to have the team I have. They’re high producers that provide quality and passion to the service they provide.”

If you find yourself with an idea and a passion – look toward Jill Marlan as an example to affirm your aspirations. Marlan has crafted her calling into something beyond dreams or expectations, but it didn’t come easy. The potential of an idea lies within the commitment to stepping outside of the box and that’s something that Peak Performance thrives on as its growth has no end in sight.

“One of our mottos is that we give ‘exchange in abundance,’” mentioned Marlan. “The more you can give back, the greater chance it has to turn around and be of help to you. We’ve been blessed to be in this community and I’d like to thank them and anyone that’s been there to support us. People are the backbone of our company. Another thing to remember is to always be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We are going to be a presence in each community, a very positive one and our staff is going to continue to grow and strengthen their boundaries.”

Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell is a Grand Valley State University alumnus, and currently a Communications Specialist with M3 Group of Lansing. With a passion for all things creative it comes as no surprise that he’s also a musician, movie buff and graphic designer. Adam spends his down time biking, and spending too much of his personal income on concert tickets or vinyl records.

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