Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy opened their first location 25 years ago on the Boston Common edge of the city’s financial district, Downtown Crossing. Jake and Richard Kennedy wanted to build a sports medicine rehabilitation center that simultaneously delivered state of the art care and found a way to give back to the community. Their unconventional operating model is highly aligned with this stated two-prong goal.
The magic takes place above a Sleepy’s mattress store. A creaky elevator opens directly into a large open space, approximately 4,500 square feet (“Listing”). If it were not for the two rows of exam tables against the tall windows, it would feel like a high school gym from another decade. This is all part of the package the brothers are selling. Yelp shows over 10 other physical therapy locations within one mile. All have 4.5 to 5.0 stars from a small handful of reviewers, except Kennedy Brothers. Of 18 reviews, half are raving, and the other half are borderline scathing, leading to a respectably average 3-star score. However, at any given time, the place is bustling with clients ranging in age from 9 to 90 and buzzing with energy.
The Hospital for Special Surgery stresses the importance of homework before selecting a physical therapist. “It’s a partnership… Patients also need to understand that they are responsible for their recovery as well.” Recommended research topics include therapist certifications, convenient locations, appointment availability and cancellation policy, facility conditions, and atmosphere.
The Downtown Crossing center is built around Jake. He is an APTA Board Certified Sports Specialist, Certified Corrective Therapist, and Exercise Physiologist. In addition, he has been appointed to the Massachusetts Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sport by the last nine governors. With the support of a dedicated junior staff, he keeps the clinic open three days a week way beyond typical business hours (6:00 am to 10:00 pm), allowing clients to slip in before, during, or after work. Tuesdays and Thursdays the facility is open until 1:00 pm and dedicated to new patient intake and administrative meetings. Though Jake will commit significant amounts of time to learning about his patients, diagnosing them, and developing a care plan, he relies heavily on his staff to execute.
His staff is composed primarily of fully cross-trained young professionals and student interns. This relatively low-cost, leveraged model serves several purposes. (1) Jake is able to maximize his own utilization, ensure attentive customer service, and deliver unmatched convenience to his clientele with an entirely walk-in, no appointment required system. Clients can come whenever they like and stay as long as they please. (2) Jake sees his staff as mentees before employees. He trusts his team with owning relationships under his watchful eye. This responsibility provides them an incredible launching pad for their future careers, allowing Kennedy Brothers to attract and retain the best aspiring talent, and serves as the basis for the sense of community Jake has forged.
There is meaningful PR risk to this “outsourcing.” However, dedicated one-on-one, pay-by-the-hour models dependent on at-home regimen compliance common among competitors may not lend itself to physical therapy broadly. A typical session at Kennedy Brothers combines both therapy and gym time. It likely begins and ends with approximately 10 minutes connected to a Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field Therapy machine and is built around exercise routines that can only accommodate so much diversity. The benefits of a leveraged model, including the enthusiasm a young staff can bring, therefore outweigh the costs.
Underlying Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy’s success is a genuine commitment to giving back. Up to the ceiling, the walls are covered with photos of the “Kennedy Brothers Family,” including signed photos of world-renowned professional athletes thanking Jake for his service hung alongside photos of children opening presents as part of his non-profit, Christmas in the City. In the evenings when volume is low, Jake opens up his facilities to underprivileged student athletes and their coaches from around the Boston area. Their regular presence becomes another source of inspiration and bonding relationships.
By disregarding traditional physical therapy models, Jake Kennedy and his brother effectively turned away a sizeable portion of potential clientele. However, their model has created an incredibly loyal customer base filled entirely by referrals and word-of-mouth. Their customers come to sweat it out, heal, and become part of the family. They want to sing happy birthday for the newest intern turning 21 and eat the cake Jake’s son brought to share. No one denies the equipment is old.
“Historical Office Lease Listing – 45 Franklin St.” LoopNet. N.p., 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/17159095/45-Franklin-Street-Boston-MA/>.
“How to Choose a Physical Therapist.” Hospital for Special Surgery. N.p., 2 July 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <https://www.hss.edu/newsroom_choose-physcial-therapist-rehabilitation.asp>.
Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy. N.p., 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.kennedybrospt.com/>.
“Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy.” Yelp. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.yelp.com/biz/kennedy-brothers-physical-therapy-boston-5?sort_by=rating_desc>.