Business Odyssey

Real Business Stories of Growth, Struggles, Resilience & Success around Denver Metro, Colorado

A Successful PT’s Operations Guide to Building a Thriving Physical Therapy PT Practice

Written by YeeLing Lee | Operational Efficiency Specialist & Founder of BNP



Key Takeaways

  • See failure as temporary setbacks and an opportunity for growth.
  • Embrace discomfort and push yourself to grow.
  • Surround yourself with a supportive team.
  • Learn to delegate and trust others.
  • Practice humility and gratitude in leadership.



Interview with Lauren Ostry

Functional Performance Physical Therapy Center

Littleton & Aurora, Colorado

Denver Metro

Let’s get acquainted with Lauren Ostry, owner of Functional Performance Physical Therapy Center in Littleton and Aurora. She offers practical advice on achieving success while balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial Roots

Lauren’s journey as a physical therapist is deeply rooted in the values instilled by her parents, Brein and Lynn Buell. From a young age, they encouraged her to ‘just try’ and taught her the importance of perseverance. Their unwavering support, even during challenging times, provided her with the courage to pursue her dreams.

Raised in a household of entrepreneurs, including her grandparents, uncles, and parents, Lauren observed their tenacity in the face of adversity. Despite enduring setbacks, including catastrophic financial losses, her family emerged victorious. This upbringing instilled in Lauren the belief that failures are temporary setbacks, serving as stepping stones on the path to success. Failure wasn’t something to fear but an opportunity to learn, grow, and become more resilient in the face of challenges.

Following Her Passion

Although stable and lucrative opportunities awaited her in larger institutions, Lauren felt a strong pull towards independence. Driven by passion, she pursued the path of entrepreneurship, where she could carve out her own unique journey and positively impact the lives of others.

Guided by Wise Mentors

Lauren’s journey as a physical therapist was shaped by two successful female mentors in her PT field. One piece of advice cautioned against partnerships. However, Lauren took a bold step. She partnered with someone who brought strong operational and managerial skills to the table. This fast-tracked her journey to business ownership. After a few years, Lauren seized an opportunity to acquire her partner’s shares, securing full control of her clinics. She later expanded her practice into Aurora.

Lessons Learned from Partnership Challenges

Communication and direction emerged as prominent challenges within the partnership. Occasionally, this led to confusion among team members due to conflicting instructions. Recognizing the significance of clearly defining roles and expectations, Lauren embraced this lesson as a cornerstone for guiding her future collaborations and business decisions.

Streamlining and Simplifying Operations

From the outset, Lauren knew her practice had to be turnkey to thrive. It needed systems in place so anyone could step into her role anytime. At first, she was hesitant to let go of control as a self-professed micromanager. Eventually, she embraced the role of a business owner who practices physical therapy, rather than a physical therapist managing a business.

Lauren’s former partner shared a sage principle when developing their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Craft them with the least experienced employee in mind. By designing procedures that cover the most basic steps, they ensured that tasks could be easily handed over without confusion.

Checklists became a cornerstone of their SOPs, providing a systematic approach to tasks and ensuring nothing fell through the cracks.

Cross-Training for Resilience

Lauren believed in training both upward and downward within her organization. Clinicians learned administrative processes, while staff gained insight into patient care.

This cross-training proved invaluable during the challenges of the COVID pandemic when Lauren had to make the difficult decision to let her administrative team go. With everyone equipped with a broad understanding of the practice’s operations, PT clinicians were able to step up and handle tasks ranging from scheduling appointments to submitting insurance claims.

Lauren guiding her patient during a Physical Therapy session in Colorado

Navigating the Challenges of COVID

During the pandemic’s peak, Lauren faced significant challenges. She found unexpected support through PPP loans and grants. Lauren admits she might have had to lay off vital team members or even close a practice location without the PPP loan. She credits Joseph Theide from 5 Star Bank for securing a PPP loan when her primary bank, Wells Fargo, failed her.

Employee Management Strategies

Below are some innovative strategies Lauren and her team employ for recruiting and retaining staff.


Lauren emphasizes mentorship for new clinicians. She guides them toward their career goals and reminds them of the passion that led them to pursue physical therapy in the first place.

Creating a Family Atmosphere

Lauren and her team created a friendly and familial vibe in both clinics. New team members feel welcomed with thoughtful gestures like welcome baskets, while group outings strengthen teamwork among staff members across both locations.

Cultivating a Strong Team Culture

This close-knit environment naturally filters out individuals who are unwilling to contribute fully to the team’s success. It ensures that only dedicated and collaborative team members remain.

Emphasis on Attitude

Lauren prioritizes attitude over experience. She recognizes that a team member’s positive attitude and willingness to go above and beyond are invaluable qualities. She believes skills can be taught, but a positive attitude is essential, especially during challenging times.

Effective Employee Assessment

Taking heed of a patient’s advice, Lauren evaluates employees by assessing their compatibility within the team. She envisions how the practice would operate with more staff members possessing similar qualities as the candidate. This approach helps her make informed decisions regarding whether to retain or terminate employees.

Direct Communication and Documentation

When dealing with difficult employees, Lauren maintains open and honest communication, documenting issues and providing guidance where possible. She believes in addressing problems directly, without sugarcoating, and is willing to let go of employees who are unable or unwilling to meet expectations.

Interview Techniques

Lauren employs interview questions like “What is your spirit animal?” and “What was your worst job and why?” to assess candidates’ character, thought process, and problem-solving abilities. Lunch interviews provide additional insight into candidates’ behavior in different settings and their communication skills.

Avoiding Hiring Out of Desperation

Lauren recognizes the dangers of hiring out of desperation. She prioritizes finding the perfect fit for her team, even if it means facing temporary staffing challenges. She holds her team to the highest standards, adhering to the belief that it’s better to hire slowly and fire swiftly when necessary.

Boo-sting Team Morale: Lauren’s Physical Therapy team embraces the Halloween spirit.

Patient Care and Relations

Lauren’s commitment to patient care and relations shines through in various ways.

Attentive Follow-Up

My firsthand encounter with Lauren’s team left a lasting impression when they reached out after a canceled appointment. Their attention to detail and follow-up demonstrated their commitment to care. It also prompted me to reschedule. This emphasized the importance of ongoing engagement with patients.

Direct Patient Outreach

Lauren personally contacts patients, even those not directly under her care, to collect feedback on their experiences with her team. Recognizing the importance of promptly addressing concerns for patient satisfaction, she actively encourages feedback, ratings, and recommendations from patients in need. Proactively assessing care quality, she identifies areas for improvement and inspires patients to take action.

Overcoming Challenges as a Female Entrepreneur

In her journey as a female physical therapist, Lauren faces obstacles with practicality and resilience.

Acknowledging Realities

Lauren doesn’t ignore discrimination based on race, color, and gender. However, she refuses to let it hinder her progress. She draws strength from mentors who have navigated similar challenges.

Resilience Over Blame

Rather than blaming discrimination for her struggles, Lauren focuses on finding solutions. She understands that dwelling on injustices only holds her back. She prefers to channel her energy into productive action.

Maintaining a Positive Mindset

Through it all, Lauren maintains a positive outlook. She believes that a resilient attitude is key to overcoming challenges. She remains focused on her goals, refusing to let setbacks define her path.

Balancing Motherhood and Entrepreneurship

Lauren has navigated the delicate balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship. It has been a journey of emotional struggle and self-discovery.

Acceptance of Reality

Like many mothers juggling career and family, Lauren faced moments of doubt and insecurity. However, she came to accept that there’s no perfect balance and acknowledged the inevitable tug-of-war between her roles. This acceptance freed her to do her best in both areas, wherever possible.

Embracing Delegation

Lauren strives to strike a balance by surrounding herself with capable individuals and entrusting them with tasks. This shift enabled her to relinquish her grip on micromanagement and place trust in her team to handle responsibilities effectively, supported by sound SOPs.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Recognizing the importance of self-care, Lauren prioritizes her health and spirituality. She understands that taking care of herself enables her to better care for her family and business.

Gratitude for Support

In managing her children’s hair-cutting franchise, Cookie Cutters Haircuts for Kids, Cindy adopts an empathetic leadership approach. Instead of superficial interactions, she invests time in getting to know her team members on a deeper level. This commitment stems from her desire to cultivate a work environment where each individual feels valued, understood, and supported.

Lauren’s dedicated clinician helping Patient with Physical Therapy

Parting Thoughts

As Lauren reflects on her journey, she shares some invaluable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Embrace Discomfort

Success often lies outside your comfort zone. Whether it’s balancing work and life, facing long hours, or making leaps to expand, embrace discomfort and push yourself to grow.

Surround Yourself with Support

Understand that you’ll always be harder on yourself than others. Surround yourself with a supportive team who can share the load and help you achieve balance.

Learn to Delegate

Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks and responsibilities. It’s okay to relinquish control and trust others to handle things effectively.

Focus on Proud Endeavors

When you pursue endeavors that make you proud, the journey itself becomes a destination. This leads you to achieve goals effortlessly without even realizing it.

Be Flexible and Adaptive

Adaptability is key. As a leader, be prepared to play different roles for different people and adjust to changing circumstances.

Embrace Failure as Growth

 Fear of failure can be paralyzing, but remember that failure is just a stepping stone to success. Learn from setbacks, adapt, and keep moving forward.

Practice Humility

Lead by example and remain humble as a leader. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and be open to learning from others.

Gratitude Breeds Abundance

The more you acknowledge and appreciate what you have, the more abundance you’ll attract into your life. Practice gratitude and watch as opportunities unfold.


Lauren’s willingness to open up about the challenges she has encountered, and the evident emotional toll it has taken, speaks volumes about her dedication and commitment. It’s clear that her journey has been filled with both triumphs and tribulations. Her ability to navigate those challenges with such grace and determination is truly inspiring.

Family Support behind Lauren’s Success


Lauren Ostry

Who We Serve

Our services, including Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Employee Handbooks, Workflow Flowcharts, Contract Management, File Management, and other Business Operations Services, are primarily tailored to small and medium-sized businesses. We cater to various industries, such as retail and wholesale; cafes, restaurants, food trucks, and catering services; hair and nail salons; massage spas; gyms; legal and accounting firms; construction, engineering, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services; landscape, and property management; assisted living and care management, medical clinics, dental offices, chiropractic practices, and pharmacies; wholesale & distribution; as well as vet and pet retail & services.

Where We Serve

Apart from catering to clients within the United States of America, US / USA, we extend our services globally, spanning regions such as Europe, Australia, and Asia, all while being headquartered in Colorado. As business operations and systems consultants, we specialize in systems and processes, including relocation management for office and warehouse moves and global mobility services. Our services cater to Small Business Owners, Solopreneurs, and Start-ups in Denver city, Denver Metro Area, Aurora, Lakewood, Littleton, Centennial, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Broomfield, Parker, Commerce City, Northglenn, Lone Tree, Englewood, Highlands Ranch, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Longmont, Boulder and other Denver Metro areas within Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, Boulder, El Paso, Broomfield, and Jefferson counties.

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