Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

Entrepreneur on the Rise - Jennifer Perno - TheraSport Physical Therapy (Class of 2002)

Posted on 12/19/2013 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News

Merchantville, NJ – When people have aches and pains and need help getting back on their feet, chances are they will visit Jennifer Perno, co-owner of TheraSport Physical Therapy. This 2002 graduate of LAEDA’s Entrepreneurial Development Training Program demonstrates the power of developing a plan and sticking with it.

Having completed her schooling at the University of the Sciences by earning a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy in 2001, Ms. Perno knew early on that she was looking for more than just working in private practice for someone else.   “The idea of being my own boss and being able to provide care to my patients that expresses my personal vision for my profession was very appealing,” said Ms. Perno.  

After just one year of working for someone else, Ms. Perno enrolled in the Entrepreneurial Development Training Program (EDTP) in 2002.  The Entrepreneurial Development Training Program, hosted by the Latin American Economic Development Association, Inc. (LAEDA), is a 9 week course held three times per year that teaches individuals best practices in business development and writing a business plan.  “I learned so much in those 9 weeks, but the one thing that stuck with me was the importance of having a business plan,” said Perno.  “Even today, ten years since I started my business, I constantly go back to that original plan to check my progress and to keep me on track to reach my business goals.”
Graduating the program in 2002, Ms. Perno jumped right in and began implementing her plan.  “I would say I was a little naïve back then and didn’t realize what I was getting myself into, but the timing was right. I didn’t have children yet and had the time to dedicate to get the business off the ground,” said Perno.  
Recognizing the need for time to both provide care to her patientsand run a business, Ms. Perno decided to take on a partner to get the business started.  “I was lucky to find a partner who cared about the business as much as me and was strong in some of the areas where I was weak.”  After initial market analysis showed Camden County as saturated with physical therapy offices, Ms. Perno and her partner opened the first location of TheraSport Physical Therapy in Washington Township, NJ in 2003.  “Since opening in 2003, we’ve really been able to become a part of the community there and have developed a brand that people recognize and look for.” said Perno.  
In 2011 , Ms. Perno turned her sights back towards Camden County and opened her second location in her hometown of Merchantville, NJ.  Financing the second location turned out to be more of a challenge than she expected.  “In 2003 the process of applying for a business loan went so smooth.  Considering we were a 10 year old business and showing great growth, we thought the loan process would have been easier, that was not the case.” she said.  After going through a more intense process, she was able to acquire the financing she needed to open a second location in Merchantville, NJ.  
Today, TheraSport Physical Therapy boasts gross sales of $600k with 12 employees staffing both of its locations.  With two locations and 12 employees to manage, Ms. Perno decided it was best to hire staff to address those responsibilities that would take away from her focus on patient care.  Each location has its own office manager who oversees the operations of each office including patient appointments, accounts payable, payroll and staffing and until recently accounts receivable.  With a growing business and client base, Ms. Perno decided to outsource the billing process to ensure the company remains focused on patient care.
When looking over the horizon, Ms. Perno sees some new opportunities and some uncertainty.  One innovation or new service TheraSport has added to its service lineup is vestibular and post concussion rehabilitation.  “As awareness has grown around brain injuries, more and more schools are mandating Impact Testing,” said Perno. “This is where young athletes are tested to establish a baseline reference point prior to having a concussion.”   TheraSport recently hired a  Vestibular Rehabilitation Specialist and has begun marketing its services to schools, youth athletic leagues and parents of children involved in sports.  
As with most businesses, the Affordable Care Act is creating some uncertainty for TheraSport.  With a client base that relies heavily on insurance and Medicare to pay for her services; Ms. Perno is concerned that the impact on employer provided insurance and the adjustments to Medicaid reimbursements could have detrimental effects on her business.  
When asked to impart some advice to current and future graduates of EDTP, Ms. Perno singled out the role of passion in ones business.  “You have to have passion for what you are doing”, she said.  “If you go into a business just thinking about making money you will only get so far.  At the end of the day, if you do not  love what you do all the money in the world will not  make you happy.”  Ms. Perno also attributes her success to a supportive husband, Anthony and children, AJ and Nicholas.
The future looks bright for Ms. Perno and TheraSport Physical Therapy.  They’ve set a goal to open a third location somewhere in the tri-county area or South Jersey in the next few years.  They also plan to rededicate themselves to their profession, community and clients by becoming more involved in professional organizations within their industry, reaching out to community organizations surrounding their locations and connecting more with their clients through new and improved services.
About TheraSport Physical Therapy
TheraSport is owned and operated by co-owners Jennifer Perno, DPT, SCS and Daniel Liss, DPT, OCS, Cert.  MDT.  TheraSport was founded on the principles of evidence-based practice, personalized care, and strong communication with other healthcare professionals and the community.
TheraSport has been able to maintain these principles and expand the practice through research, interdisciplinary communication and an ongoing commitment to exceptional care. Our participation in many local programs exemplifies our strong belief in giving back to the community. TheraSport is a regular sponsor of many athletic programs and teams as well as a participant in health fairs, fundraisers, and seminars. As owners, our goal is to deliver the highest quality of care and optimize our patient outcomes.
TheraSport has two locations:
         • WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP - 14 Parke Place - Suite D - Sewell, New Jersey 08080
                                                          P: 856.256.8393  F: 856.256.8390 – www.therasport.org    
         • MERCHANTVILLE - 30 W. Maple Avenue - Merchantville, New Jersey 08109
                                             P: 856.661.0200   F: 856.661.0204 - www.therasport.org