As a part of my interview series with prominent medical professionals about “How To Grow Your Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark White, CEO of GAINSWave, has worn many hats, from entrepreneur, financial analyst, marketer, and venture capitalist. In 2003, Mark started HealthGAINS — a concierge age-management program that helps men and women optimize their vitality with breakthrough treatments such as hormone optimization, sexual wellness, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and aesthetics programs — to help people live better and accomplish more in life. In 2016, Mark started GAINSWave to help optimize sexual wellness through a progressive network of medical providers.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell our readers a bit about your ‘backstory”?
My parents were both entrepreneurs. They owned a family jewelry business together in Atlanta. I used to help them with that business on weekends. I learned a ton about how businesses really operate. Even though I had an MBA, running a business in the real world is very different!
I know what it’s like to be a business owner. It’s not a 40 hour a week job… It’s a 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week deal.
What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?
The funny thing is, I never wanted to start my own practice… Sometimes opportunities just arise when you keep your eyes open. I thought I wanted to be in commercial real estate. When I moved to South Florida in 1996, I was working for a large commercial real estate company that owned a bunch of different offices and medical buildings. In 2001, I met a doctor in one of the medical buildings. He could not pay his rent. He was prescribing testosterone replacement therapy to help people optimize their testosterone levels. He did not know how to market this business and he asked for my help in internet marketing. I taught myself a little bit about digital marketing and began to put the work into this medical practice. Pretty soon we have people all over the country looking for testosterone therapy and we created a successful business together.
Managing being a provider and a business owner can often be exhausting. Can you elaborate on how you manage(d) both roles?
Although I am not a provider, I do employ them. The trick to being able to manage a medical practice is having the ability to delegate and find people who are better than you in specific skill sets. When you operate a clinic, it’s important to hire a very good practitioner that has the ability to relate to patients. It’s also important to find a practitioner that will continue to elevate and make sure that your clinic is offering cutting edge services.
As a business owner, how do you know when to stop working IN your business (maybe see a full patient load) and shift to working ON your business?
You know it’s time to focus on working on your business when you find that you’re doing everything and you are running out of time. It’s important to delegate responsibilities to really good people to manage the tasks or operations that you don’t have the skills to do. This technique allows you more time to focus on working on your business. One simple strategy is to schedule alone time every week with yourself, so you can think about how to scale up your business. In addition, continual learning and networking will help you work on your business.
From completing your degree to opening a clinic and becoming a business owner, the path was obviously full of many hurdles. Is there a specific hurdle that sticks out to you?
Yes! In 2008, one of the main pharmacies in which we acquired our testosterone was raided by the DEA because they were working with clinics that were using testosterone to help athletes cheat in sports. Even though we had nothing to do with that, we found ourselves, overnight, without a pharmacy. What we learned from that was that you cannot depend on one supplier for a key business function. We then established relationships with three to four pharmacies going forward, so we would never have that issue again.
How did you build up resilience to rebound from failures?
I believe that the key to all great businesses is to give yourself permission to fail. If you’re not feeling afraid/nervous from time to time in your business, you’re not taking enough chances to allow yourself to grow. The most important thing is to learn from every failure, so they don’t happen a second time. This is the key to developing a culture that is built from resilience. I believe resilience allowed us to pivot through this recent COVID19 pandemic and now we’re doing better than we were doing before the pandemic!
What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Private Practice” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
The biggest challenge we ever faced was in 2013. At the time, we were getting almost all of our leads from Google’s search engine. One day, Google decided to change its algorithm and we lost our ability to generate patient leads. In addition, our main service was testosterone replacement therapy. Almost overnight, we encountered an onslaught of new competition that competed exclusively on price. Because of our failure to differentiate ourselves, we lost many patients to other clinics.
To make matters worse, we responded by offering new products and services hoping we would find the magic product that would help us grow again (a magic bullet). Many of these services; such as Botox and hair replacement, were not necessarily what our existing clientele was seeking. As a result, we were just months away from closing our doors forever.
So, we changed one thing and that changed everything! That one thing was to focus intently on what type of client we want to attract to the practice (our Avatar) and provide them specifically with the products and services they want.
We also implemented a branding strategy to ensure that pricing would never again be an issue. We’ve continued to innovate and strengthen our brand, and revenues started to increase and have stayed that way ever since.
From this experience, the five lessons I learned to scale up any practice include:
- Define who your ideal patient is and what problems they have.
- Provide them with specific solutions to their problem.
- Continually innovate based on your clients’ needs.
- Ensure your marketing strategy is diversified and highly targeted to ensure client growth.
- Never compete on price (I can’t stress this enough)! The best way is to brand your products and services or work with premium brands that are already established.
Many healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization”. How did you overcome that mental block?
For me, that was never an issue. Coming from a business and entrepreneurship background, I’m always thinking about monetization when offering products and services.
I know that practitioners struggle with the idea of money. Generally, doctors enter the medical field because they want to help people and that’s a great thing! I know many doctors that struggle with pricing and as a result run very unprofitable operation. The best way to overcome this is to realize that when you do provide a fair fee for your time and services and you make enough profit to grow, your operation will be able to help optimize the lives of even more people. When you do the right thing for your patients and operate with integrity, the money will come.
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
When I feel I’m getting unfocused or overwhelmed I change my environment. Going for a run or a bike ride always gets me feeling better. Some of my best ideas come when I’m exercising!
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career — None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs. My father would have been my biggest mentor. I realized from him that, in business, there are no shortcuts. I saw the sacrifices he made in order to provide a better life for our family. The most valuable lesson I learned from him was that even though you have a vision for something unless you’re willing to back it up with hard work and sacrifice, your vision is just no more than a dream and will not become a reality.
What resources did you use (Blogs, webinars, conferences, coaching, etc.) that helped jumpstart you at the beginning of your business? Can you explain why they were helpful?
When I started the business in 2003, we didn’t have YouTube videos or blogs or podcasts. However, I’ve always been a lifelong learner and I’d read business, sales and mastery books from Tony Robbins, Zig Ziegler, Jim Collins, and Verne Harnish.
About halfway through my career when we started growing, I was having troubles scaling up our business. I hired a CEO coach named Amanda and she made a tremendous difference. She explained how important it is for a business to develop a good value-based culture and have a strong leadership team that is held accountable, who will help you get your business to the next level.
I find coaching to be a tremendous resource because they bring a different perspective to your business. They allow you to see things you normally can’t, mainly because you’re so busy working in the trenches of the business, spotting problems you may have been blind to.
In interviews like this one, people often ask about the best advice that one was given. I’d like to flip the script. What’s the worst piece of advice or recommendation you’ve ever received? Can you share a story about that? Was there a lesson or take away from that story?
Great question! In 2012, we believed that adding brand new technology (a CRM) to manage our clients and leads would change everything. A CRM company sold us on the idea that it would be so easy to implement the technology and our life will be easier and leads would come raining in again. We invested over $100,000 on the CRM, despite not having the right people on board to help implement it. This magic bullet didn’t work at the time. Be wary of anything that revolves around “magic bullets”!
If you hire this one person, they can do everything. If you buy this one medical device your fortunes will change. If you invest in this technology or marketing campaign, you’ll get unlimited leads!
I’ve learned that nothing comes easy and nothing beats hard work.
Please recommend one book that’s made the biggest impact on you? Can you explain why that resonated so much with you?
I’m a voracious reader. So, it’s hard to just recommend one book. However, the book that has made the biggest impact on me was ‘The Four Agreements’ by Miguel Ruiz. It’s not so much as a business book as it is a book on self-improvement and mastery. I realized that even though I knew a lot about business, I would make a lot of assumptions that weren’t true and I would take things personally. The book really lays out a roadmap on how you always need to be impeccable with your word, do your best, shouldn’t take anything personally and never make assumptions. While I made many other changes laid out in this roadmap, I found myself a better person and I was able to execute my business strategy a lot easier.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for these great insights!