Don’t ask for a pay rise, justify it! [5min read]

Asking for a pay rise can be scary! It’s confronting to ask your boss for more coin.

You don’t want to come across as demanding a pay rise, but you don’t want to look like you’re over-reaching either…

It’s in the way you present your case that makes all the difference.

And if you’d like to grow your Physio salary, it’s well worth the effort.

Physio can be a hard game to earn a decent income – just check out these average salaries for 2022!

In the public system, it’s fairly straightforward – each FTE year, you get a pay rise.

The rises aren’t huge, averaging around 2-4% each year, but they’re consistent.

In the world of private Physiotherapy, it’s a different story.

Physio wages are set by the employer (with minimum National standards governing how low they can go – details towards the end of our post on Physio wages).

So you may not see a pay rise for years unless you have a good employer, a system of annual reviews or you ask for one.

The first point, having a good employer, makes the rest of it a little easier.

But you’ll still need to understand the nature and equations of business to justify your case for a pay rise.

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Understanding business

Firstly you need to understand where your revenue ends up.

Of the revenue you generate, primarily made up of session fees, part of that revenue goes to you as wages (obviously).

Another portion of your revenue covers rent, reception staff, clinic supplies (known as consumables), software and marketing.

Whatever is left over is business profit and it covers the work and investment from the owner.

(Without profit, why would they be in business, right?)

Typically all the other costs (rent, etc) add up to around 50% of your revenue.

Once you take out your super, it leaves a Physio salary of around 45% as your upper limit.

Asking for more than 45% would mean that the business owner needs to sacrifice some of their income for you or they need to fund the other expenses out of their own pocket.

So how can you ask for a bigger slice of the pie without taking it out of the pocket of your boss?

The wrong way to ask for a pay rise

The wrong way to ask is to state that you “deserve it”, that you’re “working hard” or you’ve been around a while.

All that might be true but it doesn’t pay the bills, as the saying goes.

No-one is entitled to more pay, regardless of whether you’re an awesome Physio or not.

The business only has a finite amount of revenue coming in and it still has bills to pay.

Your “awesomeness” alone can’t pay the bills, so it won’t get directly rewarded with a pay rise.

And trying really hard and putting in the effort is great, and shouldn’t go unnoticed.

But as a business owner, you can’t offer more money if that effort doesn’t correlate to revenue.

Lastly, the old “I’ve been here a while” justification.

If being there longer means you’ve got more caseload and more responsibilities, then that can get rewarded.

But time doesn’t always correlate to revenue, so time alone can’t be rewarded with a pay rise.

You can see the common thread here – a pay rise isn’t about rewarding your personal and professional qualities.

A pay rise is to reward your revenue generation and growth.

And that has to be the key theme to your justification of why your Physio salary should increase.

Which brings us to…

The right way to ask for a pay rise

You need to justify your pay rise in one of two ways – by increasing the clinic’s revenue (not just your own) or by generating less operating costs.

As we explained above in understanding the business, the equation is simple: money in vs. money out.

If you want a bigger piece of pie, you need to either get a bigger pie or make sure there’s more left for you in the end.

Increased clinic revenue

This is the clinic’s overall revenue, as opposed to your clinical revenue, as any increase in your caseload and clinical revenue will already be reflected in your Physio pay when you’re on a percentage or hourly rate.

The reason you can ask for a greater percentage is by contributing to the revenue generation of others in the clinic.

You’re more productive as a contributor to the business, not just a therapist doing their own thing.

It means that your contribution to revenue goes beyond just your caseload, and can extend into the caseload of other therapists.

Work out the number of your patients that you’ve referred to or attracted to other services within the clinic.

Send a patient per week to your in-house massage therapist?

That’s extra practice revenue, and that’s a great reason for a pay rise!

Train the new grad Physio on specific clinical skills or reasoning?

That improves their treatments per episode and improves the clinic’s revenue.

Write a blog post for the website or network with a local sporting team for Physio referrals?

That’s marketing and networking, both contributing to the clinic’s overall revenue.

More business revenue is a great justification for a pay rise!

If you help the clinic generate revenue beyond your own, you deserve a pay rise because you’re improving the productivity of others.

But remember to justify with specific numbers, not concepts.

State that “I spend 2hrs/week training the new physio and their treatments per episode has risen by 0.5“.

Avoid saying ” I networked with the local soccer team”.

Provide the WHY for your pay rise with maths, not good deeds.

Reduced operating costs

As mentioned above, your available pay is what’s left in the bucket after other costs have been removed.

So figure out how to take less out and you can justify a pay rise and a better Physio salary.

You can reduce the cost of marketing by improving word of mouth or doing your own networking.

Less cost to acquire new patients can be a surprisingly simple method of increasing your clinical revenue too.

Reception support is another big expense and provides a vital service to keep the business running effectively.

But there are times that reception support may not be as critical to operations.

Funnily enough, casual receptionists working on a weekend get a better hourly rate than a Physio working weekdays!

You may be able to offer to process your own payments for the last hour of the day, or cover the phones during your Saturday morning shift.

Reducing the requirement for reception support can save up to $40/hr on weekends so it easily justifies your pay rise.

Each of these methods not only improve your bargaining power but also show initiative and good business sense.

And that’s a fast track to moving into the senior ranks.

Getting your message right

Make sure you explain your proposed Physio salary increase in objective numerical terms and avoid emotive or entitled words.

Justifying your pay rise with numbers and business sense works well.

Objective statements – “I can help reduce operating costs by $60/day by covering payments and phone calls in the first and last hour of each day.

That would save on reception wages and, over 5 days, reduce expenses by $300/week.

I believe that would cover my requested pay rise of $150/week and still improve overall profits”.

It appeals to the business owner from a number of points of view.

You understand that business is about balancing the numbers – that’s a big tick in the box if the owner is looking for senior or managing Physios down the track.

You’ve also added $150 to the weekly bottom line at the same time as justifying $150 more in your gross wages.

It’s literally a win-win.

Then there’s the wrong way to approach it:

Emotive statement – “I’d really like to increase my clinical pay rate. I’ve been here three years and I’m trying really hard to help patients”.

Entitled statement – “It’s been a year since my last pay rise and I think I’m due for another increase”.

Hear the difference in tone and reasoning – there’s no understanding of basic business maths or where the pay rise would come from.

The owner will hear that you want more and automatically associate that with reducing business profits to cover it.

It’s a win-lose for the business and isn’t likely to be a successful pay rise negotiation.

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