If you’re preparing to launch a new chiropractic business, get ready to lay down some serious cash.
To start for scratch you’ll need accessible office space, renovations or remodeling, utilities and other overhead expenses, ancillary staff, equipment, and marketing. All of these add up quite quickly.
One essential item that can take a big bite out of your budget is the chiropractic table; some new models run as high as $9,000. It might be worth your while to consider shopping around for a previously owned version.
But before buying used, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. If you are dealing with an individual seller, be sure to ask questions about the usage history and carefully examine the table. When purchasing from a manufacturer, inquire about warranties, payment plans, return policy and shipping and delivery charges.
Budget minded table purchase
Randy Cybulski, DC, ATC(f), CSCS, owner of P.R.O. Sports & Spinal Rehab in Plainfield, Illinois, agrees that buying used makes sense, particularly in the beginning. “If a doctor is opening up a practice for the first time, it’s best to go inexpensive. You can always upgrade within a short period of time,” he says, noting that many startup expenses, such as first and last months rent, smaller equipment and office supplies, can squeeze finances.
Planning to buy used now then purchasing a new table a few years later can cost you more money in the long-run. For example, if you purchase used now for $2000, purchase a new table later at $4000, and can re-sell the old table for only $1000, you spend a total of $5000. That is $1000 more than if you purchased your table new in the first place. If you have the capital to purchase new up-front, you stand to save some money. If up-front capital is an issue, consider financing your table, but pay attention to how much you spend on interest.
If you make the decision to buy used, Cybulski emphasizes that the type of table you’ll need makes a difference. “Adjusting and decompression tables are usually kept up well. But rolling tables, not so much,” he says. In his practice, Cybulski uses the cervical and lumbar decompression table and the adjusting/drop table. “I use massage tables in the treatment rooms for patient comfort,” he notes.
In some cases, chiropractic schools help students out when it comes to equipping their practices. Cybulski attended the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS), which posted used tables for sale from school graduates on its website’s classified pages. At times NUHS also sold equipment it was replacing, he adds.
As with any important decision, common sense reigns when thinking of purchasing used equipment. “My advice for someone starting out in the profession is to stay within your means at first, and upgrade as soon as you can. That will be your bread and butter,” Cybulski says.
Checking construction of a used table
Before making a final decision on a used table, Cybulski examines the equipment to make sure there are no tears in the material or rust on metal parts. “I also make sure all moving parts move smoothly,” he says and reports that his practice recently acquired a pre-owned adjusting/drop table and a decompression table. “They are both in mint condition,” he says. “But those types of tables are constructed pretty well and are very robust.”
Some companies offer reconditioned tables. These tables can undergo a thorough process of checking and replacing parts, making repairs, and re-upholstering. “If a used table is actually reconditioned, that makes it more appealing,” says Cybulski. He adds that if an individual advertises a table as reconditioned, it means that he or she “took the time to keep the table looking and working tip top.”
If you prefer avoid any chances on a used table, or once your practice is established and you’re ready to trade up, you’ll want to do some homework before selecting a new table. Evaluate your practice to determine what features you might need, depending on your techniques and patient population.
You should “test drive” various models and ask for recommendations from veteran chiropractors before making a final decision. Manufacturers at trade shows will have various tables for you to try first hand. Go with a trusted brand when ever possible.
Cybulski adds, “I would look for a lifetime warranty of the table, with the exception of usage piece replacement.” Remember, too, that tables designed for easy access to patients with disabilities qualify for sizeable tax credits.1 Given the cost of new tables, some manufacturers offer the option to lease and/or to finance the purchase.
Whether you opt for new or used, this key purchase should depend on your bottom line. Either way, carefully selecting from a well-established brand name in the industry ensures you are getting a table that will best serve your needs and those of your clients for years to come.
1 Hill Laboratories Company. “Tax Credit Information.” http://www.hilllabs.com/Tax-Credit-Information.php. Published May 2015. Accessed January 2016.