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I am a bit feed up with Athlete's Foot marketing themselves as a place to have foot troubles fixed. They undermine podiatry by saying all we have to do is walk over their machine and you get a shoe that fixes all your problems. I hate sending people there. I have seen people who were told not to go to a pod just wear this insole.
I also hate that Pod Ass seem to promote them by accepting sponsorship. I think we need to view them as the enemy, not promote them. They damage podiatry in the eyes of people who do not know better.
I find half the battle for me is to get patients into shoes I can put an insole into! Especially in an area that is so beachside...most patients wear thongs or go barefoot.
I send patients to Athletes foot all the time, but am careful to educate them that the system used which looks at pressure only and doesn't tell us anything about force, power or torque etc, nor what their foot is actually doing in a shoe.
The insoles they offer are basically for cushioning. I find they come back to me because I let them know I know more than the Athletes Foot salesperson and that the insoles I offer are more appropriate to them/activity, adaptable to footwear, corrective etc.
BTW I see patients feet multiple times a day that the Athletes Foot can't "fit", so I find it's manageable.
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The saying.... A little knowledge is dangerous.... comes to mind.
My Favourate athletes foot story from a few years ago. I was in looking at the new shoes, a salesperson came up to me and asked ´do you pronate or supinate ?`I said I do both, which they replied ´no you don´t ` ......
It reminds me of an interesting story a biomechanist friend of mine told me ... she took her daughter to the Athletes Foot and they did one of the foot print analysis on her ...... she then took her daughter into her biomechanic lab and did an analysis ..... there was no similarity between the Athlete Foot analysis and the biomehanics lab. Her conclusion was that he the foot print equipment in the Athlete Foot was not calibrated.
And don't forget this research that show you can't get it right that way anyway
I send some of my patients to athletes foot (particularly kids) when I want a specific type of shoe that athletes foot stock. But I do make sure to explain to patients that the foot print analysis machine is a marketing tool and that the sales person should not be diagnosing foot conditions. I have found that they do a good job of fitting shoes, but I do find it frustrating when they diagnose foot problems/ recommend innersoles to correct foot alignment etc.
With all of this being said the problem is common to their brand and not just the odd rogue "retail trainee foot expert". How can we as an association promote them? We need to all stand up to them, not advertise them.
How did you run into problems previously Craig?
Surely the association don't condone their behaviour?
I have had no problems with them. The opposite is the case. For my wifes clinic, she spend a 2-3hrs once a month at the local Athletes Foot (its gets advertised in the local paper) and gets a lot of new patients out of it. Coincidently, they also sell a lot of shoes when she is there.
Surely the association don't condone their behaviour?
You and I may not like what they do, but what can the Association do? What law have they broken? We do not like it when another group tells us what we should and should not be doing.
As I said previously, the concerns have been raised by APodC with the Athletes Foot. Apart from that, what can be done?
Why not build a relationship with the local Athletes Foot - help them sell shoes; educate them from within; get referrals ... it works.
Im not a fan of Athletes foot, their marketing material is very misleading.
There are other shoe shops which are worse however, in Glenferrie rd Melbourne there is a shop that goes beyond what Athletes foot do. As well as doing pressure plait analysis and video gait analysis they also make custom innersoles. All done by a person with zero official qualification in biomechanics, podiatry or orthoses.
Is there any regulation for the selling or prescription of orthoses/custom innersoles?
perhaps getting the laws changed would be too difficult.
However there are other options that could be considered. Such as strengthening public awareness about the role of Podiatrists in Health care. As compared to other professions such as Physio, chiro dentistry ect. podiatry does not hold the same clear scope of what podiatrists can and can't do. There are clear links in the eyes of the public as to what other professions do, e.g Chiro = spinal care, Dentist = tooth and gums, Podiatry = ????
The podiatry association could educate on the role of Podiatry in health care, so when a pt. does have a foot or leg injury they think podiatry not athletes foot or chemist orthotics.
In many ways public perception is a far greater driving force than rules or regulations.
Perhaps an easier cheaper way to start this process is educating the medical profession. I have and do work in a number of medical centre's. At each clinic i have to educate the GP's on the scope of problems i can manage, other clinicians don't have this hurdle.
Does the podiatry association or registration board do any continueing education of medical practitioners?
Does the podiatry association or registration board do any continueing education of medical practitioners?
Its not the role of the registration board to that. The APodA's do what they can, they have worked with Division of GP's; there have been meetings betwen the different groups; some of us have spoken at GP conferences .... there is only so much that can be done to get a message through to the GP (especially in the context of drug company sponsored information).
What more do you think they should do, given the resoruce constraints they have and the volunteer nature of those who actually do the work?
as an aside do you think optometrist get upset with a chemist selling eye glassess ?
While I think the Athletes foot does cross boundries they should not, and a little knowledge is dangerous but as a mate would say " you can´t throw a rock and hit a star "
Maybe as Craig said go into the local stores and give some education, build a base at which they will refer to you , do your own local work rather than wait for the APODA
I had this relationship with my local store a few years ago. People would go in a the staff would refer to me sometime before they sold an insole sometimes when they sold them they would give a card and say if they don´t work go and see Michael.
Not perfect, but they sold shoes to my patients and sent patients to me and the staff also came to me as patients which helped alot .
the limited resources is obviously a limitation, perhaps that should be the area addressed first. Other than lifting the membership fee the APodA could increase participation rates by explaining the value of being a member. The membership dollors will go towards protecting your industry and increasing your value as a podiatrist.
Another option could be to share the cost of GP rep's with other professions such as the physio association.
The podiatry schools could seek to do some multidisciplinary work with medical students. Start building relationships and educating GP's right from the start.
Obviously i'm looking at the problem from the outside, i dont know the workings of the APodA. I applaud anyone who works there as a volunteer. But i dont think it is unreasonable for our professional body to protect and promote the domain of its members.
Firstly, let me declare my interest as a part owner of a couple of the Athlete’s Foot Stores, I operate as a silent partner and am not active in the stores except for occasional “Podiatrist in Store” visits. Secondly let me state that The Athlete’s Foot is an international brand, but operates very differently in different countries, my comments below relate to the situation within Australia.
I refer frequently to The Athlete’s Foot, as do many podiatrists throughout Australia, the Athlete’s Foot prides itself on its strong relationship with podiatrists and strives to be a professional partner for podiatrists to entrust their patients to for correct shoe selection & fitting.
Many podiatrists regularly refer to patients to The Athlete’s Foot and many podiatrists like Craig’s wife and myself conduct regular “Podiatrist in Store” sessions. These are a fantastic way of providing community education about podiatry, educating the staff about your needs and expectations when you refer a patient in, checking out the current shoes and importantly, building a relationship with the staff at your local store.
I have had a good referring relationship with The Athlete’s Foot for about 2 decades – much longer than I have had any vested interest in the brand, indeed, my decision to become involved in the brand stemmed from my desire to have an Athlete’s Foot store in my region so I had a store with well trained staff that I could refer to.
Their staff undergo formal training to become Fit Technicians (takes about 6 weeks) and senior staff can go & do further study to become Master Fit Technicians. It is drummed into staff that they are not health professionals, they do not diagnose medical conditions and they refer to podiatrists if they have patients that need additional care.
When staff follow their training they are a fantastic partner to podiatrists however there are always going to be good & bad staff (just as there are good & bad podiatrists) and some may overstep the mark. Rudy talks about them saying customers just walk over a machine & it solves all their problems – no, not quite, but it does help staff to identify areas of high load, which helps them with shoe selection, staff are then trained to refer to podiatrists when appropriate. Rudy also talks about staff telling people to just wear an insole & not seeing a podiatrist – this is not part of the Athlete’s Foot philosophy and you should raise this with the store concerned so they can address this issue. (I am always mindful though of the Chinese whisper effect & sometimes what we here in clinic is not actually what occurred – it may have been the customer elected to trial an insole before seeking help from a podiatrist).
I am concerned by Rudy rallying podiatrist to see The Athlete’s Foot as the enemy – why would you do this when you can build a fantastic relationship with them that is beneficial for your patients with just a bit of effort as Craig & Michael have already suggested. I tend to think most problems in life are caused by lack of communication & I think if you sit down with your local store owner you will find them more than willing to listen to your concerns.
As an owner of The Athlete's Foot store in Western Australia, I too was compelled to reply to this thread. Like Jayne I became an owner due to the positive experiences I had in the past with The Athlete's Foot.
I would agree with Jayne in that there are good and bad staff in all industries, but I would be looking within our own profession to see examples of who is damaging our reputation as credible health professionals, in particular those that over prescribe orthoses.
The reality is that podiatrists are not the first port of call for people with foot problems, many people will self treat with orthotic devices from pharmacies and retail stores like The Athlete’s Foot and avoid the services of a podiatrist due to the perceived expense. Having a relationship with The Athlete’s Foot allows us to educate the mainstream on where podiatrists fit into the health professional spectrum.
As podiatrists we should be leveraging our relationship with The Athlete's Foot to gain as much exposure as possible. I know in my stores being a podiatrist gives me the opportunity to speak to customers who would never seek the services of a podiatrist.
The Athlete's Foot carries a large range of footwear from reputable brands, I am much more comfortable sending my patients to The Athlete's Foot rather than having them guess what sort of shoe is suitable or even worse purchasing a shoe from a discount department store. You can recommend particular shoes, but often the patient has it lost in translation.
I believe that your experience Rudy is the exception rather than the rule and I would encourage you to communicate with your local store - I have no doubt that the store would prefer to build a relationship with you rather than destroy it. And having you educate staff and customers in the store can only be good for our profession.
I may just vomit in my lap. Spoken like true TAF marketing machines. Partnership, mutual benefits. TAF is a retailer, they sell shoes and anything else they can get on or under a customers foot. A phrase from a training seminar comes to mind "a pair of socks and insoles for every customer is what you need to be selling" Oh thats after you've done your biomechanical assessment' Direct quotes from a training seminar by TAF.
This is not about TAF wanting to benefit Podiatry. This is about increasing the brands perceived credibility amongst the marketplace by trying to work or perceive to work hand in hand with Podiatrists to the benefit of the "TAF hip pocket" ooopps.. customer.
Perceived costs of seeing a Podiatrists, keep trotting that line out to your customers as well, that will increase your sales and customer base. Now let me see 1 pair of runners approx cost = $180 to $240 + pair of insoles $35(approx) + Socks $35(approx) = some where in the vicinity of $250(low end) and $310(high end). Now we have not actually got an exact solution to the problem but we have spent a tidy sum of money with no diagnosis or reason for the problem.
Now to visit a Podiatrist will cost somewhere b/w $60 and $100 and for that you will get a consultation with a University qualified Foot Professional with medical background, biomechanical knowledge of foot and leg function and you will be given options for treatment and diagnosis of the problem/ further tests or referral to appropriate person. Let me think which is best? Oh and they might also be told that their footwear is quite ok and they don't need a new pair of very expensive shoes. Who is driving the public perception Podiatry is expensive? Rather than letting the footwear retailer dictate what shoes the patient tries on maybe you should be giving the patient a list of shoes to try on or are you concerned they may not have them in the store room therefore lose a sale or have to order a shoe in?Or worse still go somewhere else. Do you send your patients to your TAF stores? Do you tell them you are a partner in TAF franchises? Podiatrists wanting to maintain reputation and credibility would want to disclose this I am sure.
This is not a topic that has a good outcome while TAF espouse to be the answer.
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Interesting ALC that you haven't declared your interest in selling footwear from your practice - do you fit the shoes in your clinic or do you have "qualified" sales staff fitting your recommendations?
ALC, I am not an Athlete’s Foot Marketing machine, I have declared my interest in stores that I have a part ownership in, I have no vested interest in other stores around the country. I do however get concerned about emotive bagging of a company that I believe to be fundamentally trying to do the right thing. Yes, they make mistakes at times – don’t we all? But the majority of The Athlete’s Foot stores & staff do the right thing and genuinely care about fitting the fight shoe to the right foot. I am not speaking on behalf of The Athlete’s Foot; these are my personal views and my comments.
Yes The Athlete’s Foot is a retailer, yes they have to sell shoes to cover their costs & to make a living and they work hard to make a living just like we do, no their average sale is not anything like the amounts you quote, no, they are not in any way shape of form trying to say podiatrists are expensive, as mentioned previously they are an excellent source of referrals for podiatrists. As Roger pointed out, sadly, most people with foot problems do not present to a podiatrist in the first instance, and in many cases a footwear retailer is the first port of call. Best then that we podiatrists have a good relationship with them & educate & encourage them to refer on when appropriate.
I am not quite sure why you are so critical of them being a retailer. Our patients have to go to a retailer to buy shoes, and as a podiatrist who feels correct footwear is an integral part of our patient treatment, I would much prefer they go to The Athlete’s Foot where they get a trained fit technician that has specific footwear knowledge & will measure their feet & fit a shoe correctly. The fact that I do “podiatrist in store” sessions and have educated the technicians as to my requirements when I send patients in is an added bonus, as I am partnering with them to get the absolute best result for my patient.
I am not quite sure what the point of your post is but to answer the key issues as I see them, I, like most podiatrists I am sure, give patients guidelines on what features they require in their shoes and send them off to a retailer that I feel will fit them appropriately. I do not generally recommend specific shoes as I have learnt over the years that whilst a specific shoe may have the features I know the patient requires, it may just not fit that foot well. I also know there are alternatives that have similar features in other brands/models. I advise on footwear features required & trust a good fit technician to find a shoe with those features that suits my patient’s foot & activities, lifestyle, budget etc. Yes I do refer my patients to The Athlete’s Foot, and other retailers at times if the patient requires a shoe that they don’t stock, and yes I do declare my interest in The Athletes Foot.
As I said earlier, I feel if you have an issue with a sports store (or any retailer for that matter), you will get much better results by contacting the store and discussing your issues with them, rather than having an anonymous rant on podiatry-arena. If you want to change the system, you can do it better from within than without, so build relationships with local footwear retailers and educate them as to what you need for your patients.
"Their staff undergo formal training to become Fit Technicians (takes about 6 weeks) and senior staff can go & do further study to become Master Fit Technicians."
In response to the above sentence... I was measured at an Athletes Foot store and for curiosity sake even walked on their platform... the sales assistant or rather "the formally trained or Fit Technician" brought out a pair of shoes that were way too big for me because that was the smallest size in that particular shoe they had in stock. Could have said sorry we don't have your correct size but we can order it in.
I always send my patients there with my own recommendations and suggest that they can bring the shoes back for me too check for fit etc should they wish.
I have read the associated posts with interests and must admit that i sit on the fence with this issue:
I frequently refer my patients to Athletes Foot and another specialty retailer in melbourne and while i don't always agree with the sales techniques used by AF i do educate my patients to look for specifics within shoes (dual density soles, midfoot vs rear foot control, benefits of neutral shoes etc) and find that 9/10 times the pt comes back to me with what i feel to be the right shoe for them. I have a realtionship with my local AF store in which if i'm not happy with the shoe choice my patients can return the shoes with no issues. This gives me peace of mind as i regard proper footwear a major factor in relevant treatment plans.
Until there are more specialised footwear stores out there, who can effectively compete with the amount of accesable stores as AF, i would rather my patient see's someone who has had extensive footwear training on proper fit techniques than the average joe retailer who sells a shoe just so they can win an Ipod. I feel i am making the best choice for my patients interests by referring them to an Athletes foot rather than Rebel (where there are no staff in footwear) or sportsco where they are limited in footwear knowledge or branding to offer the best service my patient needs for footwear. AS previously said i am not a 'fan'of their sales technique, but in terms of properly ''fitting'' shoes they are the most accessable store in Melbourne.
Rudy i cannot agree with you more, that protecting the reputation of our profession is vitally important, but it may just be ignorance on behalf of the salesperson (or misinterpretation of the client) in which direct education may be the solution. By making ourselves known as a podiatrist to the local stores and raising your concerns, maybe a change can be made.
I wish Podiatrists would "Harden the F..k Up" pardon the French.
If I here the generic statement "somebody should do something"(usually the Association) one more time in my career I may just have to go do something else.
Get it through your heads that you are in the same business "SALES" and they are just out selling you. OK cry if you like or Start thinking "HOW CAN I ETHICALLY SELL BETTER THAN THEM".
As a Podiatrist you have so many tools at your disposal that a large Franchise can never have. Start thinking step into the game and start playing.
This only applies if you have a "Business" mindset rather than an "Employee" mindset.
If it is not Athlete's Foot then you will find someone else to blame for your failure to succeed.
Having said all this I have great stories about AF but in the end they really don't care because they know if they are operating within the Law and making more money than you then by business standards they WIN.
This thread should be how can we make Lemonade out of Lemons rather than would you like to suck on a Lemon with me.
We do not sell any shoes in the clinic and as such I am not biased against the Athletes Foot. I am biased against any company who damages the reputation of our profession. I am concerned that Podiatrist are recommending them as trained fit technicians when we know the technology is all for show reasons. I personally think it is a technology based to give the perception of foot expert and instill the misplaced confidence in retail trainees to deliver diagnosis based on the knowledge they have (usually none). The problems with our local store is obviously not just a local problem! I accept there is not a lot we can do to change the workings of The Athletes Foot but surely as an association we do not have to promote them! I will never appear in there shop to help them. I feel it is wrong and gives credibility to there deception.
I have enjoyed reading all the comments in some detail. It appears that the overall theme portrayed by those against the AF. Is that the AF are unqualified to provide advice on footwear. This adoption of such a belief and perception of AF is beyond belief.
Does this thought process also transend to only buying cars from racing drivers, a toothbrush from a dentist.. NO
The AF stock well branded footwear by leading major brands which have spent huge financial resources developing and testing this footwear prior to launching it on the retail market.
The products do of course sell themselves for example when do you ever see Ronaldo wearing soccer boots from Target.... or an AFL player shopping in K mart for his footwear... exactly never
From my experience AF are very helpful and contry to the previous comments Do not consider themselves as Podiatrists or being able to diagnose complaints of the foot. By virtue they provide a very experienced knowledge of quality footwear.
Irrespective of the previous comments conversly I would suggest that
No knowledge is dangerous........... some knowledge is helpful
I would conclude that AF are a useful adjunct to the Podiatrist in affording patients access to quality footwear which can only be defined as enhancing the treatment of a Podiatrist.