SERC Partnership Story


Interview with Mark Wernsman, Vice President of Operations

1. What were the challenges in owning your own business that motivated you to explore partnering with a larger company?

First, I had incredibly long days, seeing patients and documenting that I was helping to grow the volume while being the face of the clinic. This was then followed by doing all of the behind-the-scenes work related to owning the business, including payroll, paying bills, updating QuickBooks, billing, HR, and sales/marketing. Another challenge was keeping up on changes in the industry, especially those related to insurance, coding and compliance. Finally, there was always stress related to the risk of running a small business and trying to remain successful despite a reimbursement rate that was continuing to decline.

2. What did you see the benefits to be in such a partnership?

I saw so many benefits. I would be able to get a lot of the daily tasks off my plate so I could focus on growing my clinics and supporting my team. My reimbursement rates would increase by being part of a larger group. I would gain a lot of support and expertise with opening additional clinics in my area. I knew it would provide opportunities for professional growth for me and my team. It would give me an opportunity to take some of my ownership off of the table while remaining invested for the future growth of my clinics.

3. How would you describe your experience with Upstream so far?

All of the support has been outstanding, including HR, sales, marketing, billing, purchasing, AP, accounting, facilities, compliance, clinical development. I have learned a lot over the years and have been able to grow much more quickly having the expertise and financial support to open additional clinics. This includes assessing the right location, designing the space, building the clinic, and training the leader on how to run a new clinic successfully. It has created great opportunity for so many people on my team to become partners in new clinics they open.

4. What year did your partnership begin? And how many clinics did you have at the time?

On our own, we had 15 clinics after 15 years. After we partnered in 2012, we opened an additional 45 SERC clinics in the next six years for a total of 60 clinics.

5. What advice would you have to others that may be considering a similar opportunity?

A partnership would make sense for those who are interested in lowering their risk and taking some money off the table while having the ability to retain ownership to benefit from rapid growth in the future. It would make sense for those who are no longer interested in working 14-plus hours a day in which you see patients for 10. They would no longer have to spend so much time running payroll, paying bills and updating QuickBooks. They would instead be interested in growing as a leader, supporting and developing their team, providing great opportunities to those around them, and focusing on growing their footprint in their market. It is a great feeling to watch so many on the team develop their clinical and leadership skills and become a partner in the company by owning a clinic they started from the ground up. It has been a great ride.

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