At Trumble Physical Therapy, Passion and Compassion Lessen the Pains of Starting a Business
Women-Owned Business Series
As part of March's Women in History Month, Paychex celebrates the customer journey — challenges, inspiration, and successes of women entrepreneurs — in our Client Spotlight.
After 13 years in an outpatient orthopedic clinic — including one year in a tiny, out-of-the-way office where she treated women in debilitating pain — Christine Trumble decided it was time to move on.
It was 2013, and even though Trumble had been a physical therapist for 20-plus years since graduating from Ithaca College, she still had the desire to learn more about her profession. She had been seeing more and more patients with pelvic floor issues, so she approached the clinic’s owners with the possibility of growing the services they offered.
“It didn’t interest them, yet we were getting more patients, and these were women who were in pain, afraid to leave the house [because of bladder/bowel issues],” Trumble said. “The clinic gave me a small space down at the end of the hall, but they were not convinced we could build a practice around treating women.
“You push out a 10-pound baby, you believe you will never be the same. That is not true, women should be able to control their bladder and not have pain. I realized I could help. I just needed to build on the skills and knowledge I already had. Women deserve better," she said. "I felt weirdly obligated and I needed to help.”
Flash-forward to 2022: Trumble is now the owner of Trumble Physical Therapy, and is one of its five physical therapists. April marks her seventh year in business — make that businesses, including an office in Ithaca, NY, and a recent expansion to Binghamton, NY. And there is nothing weird about her passion to help; her sense of obligation comes from being the mother of three daughters.
“I guess in a way I wanted to do this for them, to maybe change the approach and make sure that should they ever need this kind of help, that it was available,” she said.
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Outside of New York City, there are only a handful of physical therapy clinics in New York state that handle pelvic floor patients. Trumble said her clientele continues to expand to all genders and ages, and at one time even to three generations of a single family.
Turning her idea into a viable business was the first hurdle, and it started with learning more about pelvic floor physical therapy.
“I would get complicated patients and have to seek out more info. The opportunity for learning never stops,” Trumble said.
Then there was simply learning how to run a business. Trumble joked that she purchased the book “Business for Dummies” but never read it. “I didn’t even know what questions to ask, so instead I polled my neighbors who were in business or who had professions related to business, and asked them what they thought was important,” she said.
She also talked to her father — a business owner himself — and her sister, who was also in the process of opening a business.
“It sounds simple, but my dad’s advice was, ‘Put your head down and do it,’” Trumble said. “I also did a lot of searches on Google, found out how to get a DBA and then focused my attention on how to hire people. Finally, I had to learn how to pay them.”
A friend suggested Paychex, and Trumble said the amount of information relayed during her first meeting with the payroll representative was everything she didn’t know about payroll.
When Trumble Physical Therapy opened in 2015, the office was “lucky” to get 20 appointments a week. Today, after expanding during the COVID-19 pandemic, they now schedule nearly 170 unique visits each week.
The success didn’t come without challenges. Trumble had to secure finances, and after many discussions she opted not to take a business loan but, rather, went with a home equity line of credit (HELOC). At times, she also doubted whether the business would work.
“I talked myself out of [opening the clinic] multiple times and there were moments where the thought of failure was intense,” Trumble said. “I also still had girls I was raising, and I was coaching youth basketball and studying for certification in pelvic floor PT. I am a wife, and I wanted to be good at all these things.”
She said that a year after the business opened, she actually apologized to her family.
“I know it was hard for them. There were tears, but they insisted they were proud of me,” Trumble said.
With opening the business behind her, she had to market it. However, limited funds were an issue, so she opted for grassroots promotion. Trumble got the word to the community through talks at local organizations and meet-and-greets. She has never bought an advertisement.
Even with the success of the clinics, Trumble and her staff still attend conferences, read research and take continuing education classes to learn more because, as she said, “Every time we think we have seen it all, someone comes in with a question that makes us seek out more information about how to help.
“And we can help. I think we’ve built one of the best clinics in New York state.”
With such success, what’s next?
“The next patient,” Trumble said. “My patients inspire me, they truly do. I also want to inspire and mentor the next generation of pelvic floor physical therapists.”
As for mentoring women who are considering a business venture, she offers this advice. “Surround yourself with smart people. You cannot do this alone. Make sure your dedication is equal to or greater than your passion. There will be tough times, things that keep you up at night.”
Then there will be that moment that reminds you what the hard work has been for. In Trumble’s case, it happened when she saw a former patient carrying a baby at the grocery store and she congratulated her.
“I could not have done this without you,” the woman said in response.
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