Gator100 honoree 2021

The Department of Physical Therapy is pleased to honor alumna and business owner Melissa Cere who has been named to the University of Florida’s Gator100 for 2021. The awards program recognizes the world’s fastest-growing Gator-owned businesses. We asked Dr. Cere to share some of her business insights.

Gator100 2021

Dr. Melissa (MPT '02) and Dr. Tony (MS '11) Cere

Kinetix Physical Therapy, Gainesville

Image of Dr. Melissa and Tony Cere at the Gator100 2019 event

What was the best piece of advice you received as you were launching your business?
When we were in PT school, the instructors were always saying how important it is to be involved in the APTA/FPTA. During the first 7-8 years we were practicing as PTs, before we launched our business, we were very active with both professional associations. This enabled us to meet so many other PTs who were in private practice already and grow through several service leadership opportunities. I don’t think we fully appreciated the quantity and quality of relationships we developed during that time, until we began taking the steps to open our own practice. Our deep involvement with the APTA and FPTA created relationships with amazing mentors and connections to resources we needed when starting our practice. Of course now, we also highly recommend students get involved with the APTA and FPTA, either at the state or local level!

Why do you enjoy owning your own clinic?
We love helping people! One of the best compliments we could ever receive as practice owners is having current or former patients refer their friends and family to us for PT. As clinic owners, we can intentionally assemble an A+ team to achieve our mission of helping more people get out of pain naturally and back to doing the things they love.

While we love the autonomy and flexibility of our schedules in running our own business, with those benefits also comes the responsibility of responding to and quickly adapting to the needs of a growing business. That agility in business practice has been absolutely essential to our growth as a company in the ever-changing world around us.

How have you pivoted in response to COVID-19 so you can continue to serve your patients?
While so many businesses had to close down during the pandemic, we were fortunately able to keep our doors open to service patients who were in pain and needed PT. Even though we were seeing fewer patients for the first few months of the pandemic, our amazing clinical team continued to keep in touch with past patients and those who had to go on hold because of personal health concerns. Our team also realized a tremendous opportunity to provide education and help to the community with the short, self-help videos they recorded and put on our social media pages. They created videos covering topics from ergonomics at your home computer workstation to the importance of staying active outdoors. So while there were some minor changes in how we provided services during the pandemic, we continued to create opportunities to stay true to our mission and serve our community as PTs.

How does it feel to be a Gator100 nominee again?
We’re humbled to be a part of such an awesome group of entrepreneurs. I don’t know that any of us as entrepreneurs are driven by recognition, but we certainly appreciate the honor and are grateful for the continued association we have had with UF since our graduation. Honestly, we were surprised to be honored with the Gator 100 Award in 2019. To now receive it for a second time … we’re ecstatic!

What advice would you tell current UF DPT students who may want to launch their own PT practice in the future?

Surround yourself with people who are better than you and have demonstrated success as private practice owners.  Find motivation in their successes.  Imitate their strengths and learn from their failures.  Trust me, they’re going to have had failures. Read books (besides your PT textbooks!) – it will broaden your perspective, your vocabulary for communication, and your leadership skills as a business owner. Realize what your own weaknesses are and build a team that can balance you out. My husband is the strategic visionary who drives growth, whereas I’m more analytical, detailed, and process-oriented.  Without each other, we’d either be stuck in a rut or a hot mess!