Dave Renfrew the brains behind Newcastle performance physio is a man of many talents when he's not whipping patients back into shape. He's a proud husband, doting father of three, a football fanatic and a science geek. But don't let that fool you. He's also a black belt in Taekwondo, and a former representative rugby union player, talk about a true Renaissance man. As a sought after speaker and industry expert Dave co founded the future health network, which is a community dedicated to helping health professionals level up their skills and improve the lives of those in pain. Now Dave builds Newcastle performance physio from the ground up from 2016 and now leads a team of six at a clinic which is set to become a million dollar powerhouse in 2023. He's about taking the latest in sports medicine and pain research and making it accessible to everyday people with advanced training in football, martial arts and resistance training. Dave is like a superhero for sore muscles. He opened his clinic to bring effective modern and patient focused advice, education and treatment to the people of Newcastle. He's here today to talk all about how he's built a center be seven figure business from scratch. Dave Renfrew. Welcome to Perfect Public Speaking.
Thanks Jaimie, thanks for having me. I like the sound of that intro when all of those things are in a you know nice 22nd soundbite. Sounds amazing.
It is a pretty impressive background. And I guess do you ever stop and smell the roses and think, wow, I've actually achieved a lot or do you like many other entrepreneurs just keep on focusing on that next goal and do the goalposts keep moving?
Definitely the second one, and probably to my own detriment in terms of how I felt about that journey and where I'm at on it, and I've probably been forced to move more to the first one more often just for just for my own sanity and well being I guess, because I don't know I say this to my team a lot. I just don't think you get much better with positive reinforcement. I mean, it's important, but where you get better is is what you could do better. So I've just learned to look at that and focus on that. And so therefore I'm still going on, certainly not at any destination yet. And the feeling is that there's always something else. So what's that and let's work on that. So I've gotten better at that recently, hopefully.
Yeah, absolutely. I'm sure you have well let's start from the beginning. So can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you became interested in physio and sports medicine?
Well, I wanted to be the soccer is physio when I was at school, and then funnily enough, one of my friends has been the soccer is Yeah, and he's had the career that every young physio wants, but I don't know whether I'd want his job now is sort of where I'm at now. But I came into clinic and I like having the flexibility of chasing some other avenues that that allows me so, but it probably just came from blackness. physios that came from interesting sport and not being good enough at sport to do that for a living so physios probably to get to hang out with athletes and and still be in sport but not have to be as talented as as a professional. That's probably where it started.
Yeah, great. And can you walk us through the process of starting Newcastle performance physio and maybe what were some of the challenges that you faced in the beginning?
Probably the main challenge was just presuming that because I was fairly good at being a physio that I would know how to run a business and then being arrogant enough to just do it and back myself, and then realizing that I had really no idea about how to do it. That was probably the big challenge. But I think probably a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners, it just comes from a frustration of how things are and and the knowledge that if given the opportunity or if or if you're taking the opportunity, then you could probably do it better. That while that was that's still the case, and that's probably helped me stick around for as for the time I have it certainly wasn't enough I had to also then get better at how to run a business because I certainly had zero training that in physio school.
Yeah, right. And so I guess a few lessons learned along the way. I mean, what have you got any that come to mind?
People that I've hired probably would be the ones that have taught me the most good and bad. That was early on, not really having a clear idea of exactly what I was wanting to do and how I was going to do it or what maybe even what was important to me about running a business. I knew what was important to me about how to be a physio but maybe an extension of of that into the actual clinic and whatever. What did I want it to represent and because you probably didn't know it at the time, but it's an extension of my identity, you know, like I My reputation is hinges off this place and if I see the clinic as as my family's future as well, so there's a lot invested for me personally. So how that's representing the Republic is pretty important to me, and more so than I would have more so than I understood at the start and so, getting a lot clearer on who I get to help me run that out. Sort of how it runs day to day. That was probably the mistake at the start, whereas I was hiring people just because they were there. And it sounded like that'd be that'd be cool to work with. And then that sort of flying part within. Certainly initially that was that was one of the bigger challenges.
So what sets Newcastle performance physio apart from other clinics not only in the Hunter region in New South Wales, Australia, where you are based but elsewhere around around Australia and around the world, what sets you apart?
Probably the best way that we find that is to without making myself sound like a complete deer is, is a story from so when I first opened my my two favorite people to help people that have just snap their ACL ligament in their knee. So to be athletic injury that needs a lot of rehab, and then people that have chronic low back pain. So the two almost almost perceptually two ends of the physio spectrum and I sent this to him, physio owner and business coach and he said you can't do that you have to pick one. I said, Why don't want to pick one. He said, well, you have to do that. Like they're the rules. So I didn't do that. So one thing is that the how things are that's a segue into me trying to sound really making special is how things have been done and how they are done doesn't really matter to me. I don't really care about that. I care about what works for people and and finding out what works better. And so the try and really try to be at the front of incorporating what we know about humans and how they work into what we do day to day with people in the clinic. So even even to as an example even to the extent of hopefully this year we'll be able to conduct some research in the clinic on our patients. So that at the end, we can have a paper like evidence that says that this is the way we do things is it looks like it gets better than then other ways. And and then probably the other unique thing is just the the day to day operations of how we do it. We have a lot of rehab gear here in the gym so we rather than sort of here's your exercises Jaimie go home and do them and I'll see you whenever we would get you in here with us and we would show you how to do it and and get you to do it to a level that you needed to which this makes it easier for people to get the outcomes that they're after. I think a lot of people that have recurring problems or do these problems again, it's because the rehab part just wasn't good enough. It wasn't hard enough or long enough. So trying to make that easier for people to get better outcomes.
Yeah, that's great. I think that definitely is what would set you apart. I know I went to a physio once and it was just like here are the the exercises go and do them on a piece of paper and I never did them. So that's really what you have.
I wouldn't say that. I mean, that's, I think people think because I'm a physio I'm very dedicated, active, athletic person. I'm pretty hopeless. Like if someone's gonna give me some boring stuff and expect me to do it. It's not gonna happen. Like I have to understand why and I have to be involved. So that's what has made it easy for me to help other people do.
I talked in the intro about the future health network, which is something that you have set up to help other health professionals level up their skills. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? And importantly, what is the importance of continuing education and professional development for health professionals?
Well, that's an easy place to start. I mean, I think that's probably the the crucial thing in staying up to date with what actually works because it can change. Maybe not super fast, but over the course of a career certainly change and if, if you have a set idea of what you do and how it works, time it will change past you. And if you're still doing what you have all things that you thought works 10,15 years ago, then there's a very good chance that those things are either best case they're not as good as they as we thought they were or there's something better or even we've come to understand that a lot of things that we used to do probably aren't very good for people, so we should probably stop doing them. So having access to quality education on an ongoing basis is probably one of the most critical things for health professional. I have the advantage of growing up without the internet so it was a bit more structured and and intentional where you would go whereas now you just get bombarded with information. And so someone in pain gets bombarded with information on the internet but health professionals do too. So trying to find or create somewhere there's plenty of great options, obviously, but trying to create somewhere where people can can go and trust that that works already been done in trying to distill out what what we actually know and what's probably superfluous. or erroneous on the outside and given like you haven't haven't, so it's easy to access young, particularly younger and newer health professionals. I guess where that came from was my career has probably been a bit unusual in the sense of where it's gone and the types of people that I've been exposed to. And some years ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague who by just sort of presumed that everyone had done what I've done and so we've got experience doing it and he sort of there's a bit of a light bulb he said, I don't know what that is, like I didn't understand that at all. And II would get a lot of benefit from you helping me understand it. So if if I get a lot of benefit, then everyone else would too so and then just say talking with colleagues just like the other two guys that are that are in there around dice sort of unique experiences that we've had over over time and how that collectively could help people sort of fast forward through that development to get to a point where they're, they're more confident and and a bit more skilled, faster and easier is probably the idea of a whole behind.
So with the future health network, you've had one event so far big event in Sydney I recall in 2022, where you had all these health professionals come and hear from you and the other two guys in the network. What's the vision for the future? Where do you kind of see the future health network going?
Live courses are probably the main focus because then I mean, I know that from from years I'm going to one myself in a few weeks. One of my academic Heroes is coming to Australia so I haven't signed up participant you know, so it never it's never been processed. But the live events are where you get to be in a room and have other people there with with this person who tends to facilitate that. So say the knowledge transition. So you're getting from an idea or a concept into this is how I will apply it that happens the fastest in that setting, in our industry, in my opinion. So trying to facilitate that in different cities in Australia would be the one of the goals of this year. We had we've done we've probably done three events all up and they're all pre COVID and then COVID to sort of flew in person events out of the out of the water. So that one last year was catching up pre COVID. And so now we're trying to over time we've evolved so we were trying to book in newer better ones but then also utilizing technology now to make continuing education a lot more accessible and then a lot more. A lot a lot cheaper to be honest before for every health professional is to have an online system I guess or place where we can curate a bit of a curriculum that has different options for people with with online courses, but also then accessing discussions between clinicians which is really helpful and is often that the main thing that younger clinicians will will say to us is that they don't really have people that they can bounce ideas off and talk in, in an environment where they're not getting criticized for not knowing the answer. They're not getting. They're not feeling like they're raising stupid questions. They're actually trying to, in their mind, they're trying to get to a point where they know how to apply these concepts that they somewhat understand, but they don't really know how to translate it into what they do day to day.
Oh, and I guess one of the main things at the live events is public speaking and so we better talk a little bit about that given this is perfect public speaking podcast. You're one of the first to go through by pay to speak calls, actually, I think in June 2022. And you have clearly done a fair bit of public speaking in the past. Well, you're certainly very good at it. And you know, how important do you think that public speaking is to get your name out? There?
I honestly think it's probably the key skill that a human can have, in terms of whatever they do, getting, getting their message across better and then becoming even if it's perceived as being more successful, but being better at it. as judged by your industry. It's probably the key thing that you can that you can say. You can't be terrible at what you do. You still need to know what you're talking about in some way, shape or form. But I know lots of clinicians in my industry that are experts, and yet they they're incapable of translating what they know to another person. And certainly technology may changes in the future when we all talk to robots, but over human history, humans talking to each other is how we translate knowledge through generations. So when to listen to people speak. And if we do it, well then the messages that we carry get across so much better than if we're terrible at it. So I've always been comfortable speaking, but that's because I'm a massive show. Off. whether I'd made any good at it or not, is a different story. So but you sort of think of you know what, what you're saying is one thing but then how you say it is just another level so that certainly for me as a as an educator and even a clinician here in the clinic, to talk to people that's what I do. So getting better at how you do that. The upside to that is I would say the infant and I don't know where the how much better you can get at it. But the return on that I think is probably the biggest of any generic skill that a professional could have.
totally great. I always say he or she who puts his best point of view forward wins. As I always also say, you don't have to be the best at what you do just need to be the most well known. So that brings me to talk about PR and marketing. Have you always done this yourself or have you outsource to people who are experts in that kind of field?
I've done a bit of both. So I think and certainly, you know, I say this to physios. I speak to my industry. It may be different in other industries but I think you need to know what you're doing even if you don't have to do it all yourself. So my experience of it was I started and I got someone else to do it, but because I didn't really understand what they were doing. I ended up wasting money on it on things that I didn't need that weren't really for me. After that I did them and I and I spend more time on it myself. However, that's not what I do for a living. So I'm not as good at it as someone else could be. And it's time that I need or I can better dedicate to what I actually do and what I'm actually good at, but it did give me an understanding of what what needs what it needs to look like and certainly the message that I want to convey that mine and now I buy outsource it to people that I trust and that I have been able to vet for quality. But I let them do what they're good at and I do what I'm good at. So that's I think that's the best systems. I think you need to have some understanding of what they do. And certainly quality control who you let who's on your team who's going to help promote that then you let them do what they're good at and you concentrate on what you're good at.
I love that. Except when it comes to email signatures. We say now you you attended to do yourself recently.
That's where the HD like growing up on the edge of the internet like I I am certainly more computer literate than my father but I'm not you know, some things are just outside my scope of practice. And I'm happy with that. That's cool.
For sure. So can you talk about some of the marketing or PR strategies that has probably been the most successful approach for you in perhaps attracting new patients?
So Google is useful. And I think having a digital presence that effective is really important. Particularly as certainly my industry has become much more competitive locally over the last 10 years. People are still searching for you online. So if you're not there, you're not there. So I think that sort of combat website and accurate information and paid Google advertising is an important environment to curate. The in my industry, word of mouth is still very important both with people who refer so doctors and specialists and things like this. Even actors, we see a lot of active people, even coaches and gym owners and things like that to communicating with them but probably the way that I've been able to access more people that perhaps others haven't has been with social media and advertising on social media. Just as an often the copied it from people that I know in the local area that say I can you get your face out of my phone because all I see is your face when I open my phone up on my wall that says more about you being on your phone than made so that often is minus the video now it's my head pops up and I just, I just try and visit it aligns closely with what I try. And what we try and do in the clinic here is promote better messages around how humans work and what actually works for problems. So a lot of the time I'm just saying things that I say you're in the clinic, but I get to say it to 1000s of people instead of one at a time. So that's that's a way that I've found. People have found us and certainly they've been able to identify what it is we do much sooner by hearing from from us before they even sort of know where we are or what we do.
Yeah, so true. I think those people who are probably seeing you may have gone to your website because I think I said to you recently you kept coming up on my Facebook feed that was because I had gone to your website to look up the phone number to book in a friend to see you so that means it's working right if they're seeing your your face.
And I just presume everyone Googles me.
Yeah, I'm sure they do. I'm sure they do. So we'll just finally you know, can you discuss maybe when we talk about PR it's all that media you've had some media exposure, and I know that you're pushing yourself out there to get into podcasts and do a lot more PR as you are having a million dollar clinic in 2023, which is part of your goal. Let's talk just briefly about involvement in local community events and initiatives and how do you sort of use that to build relationships and connect with the community?
Well, this one's always been really easy for us because because of what we do professionally then there are huge numbers of community organizations that will regularly need our advice so easy for me my my you know, I played rugby union locally so I'm, I'm involved with my local rugby club, my kids play soccer. I'm involved there like and with my staff and to be the thing that I talked about a lot is the areas that you're already interested in. If you can involve yourself in the community there, then everybody wins. Like you're going to do it anyway. They get access to you. And you get the benefit of of amplifying the people by the effect of on the people that you can help so we pick our areas. I'm not I'm certainly not out every weekend volunteering for all sorts of different things, but I am I'm involving myself in areas where I already am, but with the added skills that I can bring to it for the for the benefit of those involved, and then so I employ lots of people who like running long distances, they get to run long distances anyway they might as well go and volunteer park run and do all these sort of things that they enjoy. If for some reason I don't know why anyone would enjoy running long distances but apparently it's true. And, and they they can help as as a professional in a volunteer capacity and then and then people get access to a physio and advice and again it just for that sort of part of our values, I guess in terms of accurate and accessible health messaging. So if we're out in the community and having these conversations with people that's same same as I think you've been on social media, if we're talking about this is the way that things work and how you should think about yourself and what works and what doesn't work. Then it's just another avenue for for that and certainly in physio that's, that's pretty easy. And if you're not enjoying that, I think you're probably not serious about what you do.
One final question. So you're on track in 2023 to hit a million dollar clinic Mark, what can you what can we expect to see from you the clinic, future health network, all of it in the next few years? What's the next thing?
I'm not sure to be honest i i We've done a lot of time. So I'm not going to open up the Pandora's Box, maybe talking about, you know, the future and different things like that, but I try not to predict things that I have no business predicting so so I don't know what will happen. I just want to try and position myself and the clinic and anything connected with me to benefit from the upside of those things. So certainly last few years trying to minimise the downside. So unexpected events can go either way. So I'm trying to work to minimise my exposure to these things, but increase my exposure to what might happen in the future. So you know in terms of a clinic, I'd love another, another site somewhere else. Fiji health network I have colleagues in in London that want to have a course in London isolated in London, so I want to go back there and get paid to go back there was a lot of this and then that's that this idea that things are probably want but outside of that, it's just trying to make sure that we're positioned to make the most of whatever may happen and have some have some sort of goals and drivers to know that we're we're on the right track.
Oh, I look forward to seeing what you achieve next. Thank you so much for coming on to the podcast today. Dave Renfrew, thank you very much.