How PT of the City Expanded to 20 Locations in Three Years
This is a story of brick-and-mortar success for a relatively new retail chain operating in a tough market
To say that a company founded as recently as 2020 has expanded to almost 20 locations throughout the tri-state region would seem like a stretch.
Luckily, PT of the City specializes in providing a good stretch.
“I saw that the market needed a lot of physical therapy, especially after many businesses closed due to COVID. … There are needs for physical therapy, especially for low- to mid-income areas,” Mahmoud Shalaby, the CEO and co-founder of the business, told Commercial Observer in August.
Shalaby and his business partners took over two locations from an owner who was ready to shutter the company in June 2020. That was in Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
PT of the City planned at the time to establish 20 locations by the end of 2023. With another location in contract at the time of the interview with CO, Shalaby said it’s likely the company will exceed that goal.
The billing, customer service, social media and recruiting is all outsourced to a company in Egypt, making the expansion an easy focus on operations and patient care, according to Shalaby. That makes the rapid expansion possible.
“People [during lockdown] were getting sick just from staying at home, and everybody needed some physical activity and physical therapy,” Hassan Haidar, one of the co-founders, said. “Between the back-end team and the team that’s on the ground here in the U.S., that’s how we’re able to maintain and grow the way that we have so far.”
About 95 percent of the company’s revenue comes from insurance companies, meaning PT of the City manages to grow while remaining affordable to patients, according to Shalaby.
Shalaby earned a doctoral degree in physical therapy from Touro College and has been a practicing physical therapist for over 12 years. He became a manager at another clinic in 2017, where he began to cut his teeth in expanding operations. Upon starting that position, there was only one location for that clinic, and it eventually grew to four.
“We study the market demographics of these areas and try to maintain a certain distance between locations,” Haider said. “We look for underserved areas.”
Ripco Real Estate’s Sam Hartstein has been the broker helping PT of the City find locations and negotiate lease terms. Most of the recent deals have been in the Bronx.
“When it comes to searching for a space for this particular group, I think we have it down to a pretty good mix,” Hartstein said. “If you look at the locations that PT of the City currently has, most of the locations are retail driven. Now because they’re contracted with insurance companies, the business plan won’t afford for them to go, let’s say, on 181st Street or the nearest possible street to the Barclays Center. But, if we want to be in that area specifically … a block or two away is fine.”
Some recent deals that Hartstein has helped broker for the physical therapists include a 10-year lease for 3,500 square feet on the 10th floor of Olmstead Properties’ 575 Eighth Avenue in May and a 2,600-square-foot physical therapy center at 798 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx in February.
PT of the City and Hartstein will even target the second floor of very densely populated areas — but only if there’s a retail component to it where first- and second-floor signage is an option. Space within highly tenanted office buildings, for example, does not fit their picture of a solid location because of a lack of foot traffic.
“Foot traffic is important because we’re building a brand,” Hartstein added, “and, if you’re building a brand, you want to be seen everywhere.”
Mark Hallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.