Chiropractic Economics Staff Report
The franchise mode of chiropractic delivery isn’t for everyone or every market. Yet, in the right circumstances, it can be a recipe for diversification, expansion, and reliable profits.
We reached out to John Lloyd, DC, CCEP, who practices in Denver. A graduate of Logan University of Health Sciences, he spent his first 10 years in solo practice before making the decision to expand.
This story begins when Lloyd was in Tucson, Arizona for a bike race (he cycles competitively), and he went to a chiropractor beforehand for an adjustment.
“There were many people there, and they were having a great experience, and I got one of the best adjustments I’ve ever had,” he says. This was the Principled Chiropractic style, and Lloyd has always preferred this type of hand-delivered adjustment.
Impressed, he spoke with the owner, who had been involved with The Joint chiropractic franchise for several years. “It was extremely convenient, being able to get an appointment as a walk-in. And I left with an impression of amazing quality,” Lloyd says.
This got him thinking about branching out with multiple practices, and eventually he looked into becoming a franchise owner himself.
Today Lloyd is the owner of three regular practices, three massage practices, and is either the owner or part owner of 12 Joint locations. With regard to the franchises, he’s thrilled with them. “It’s a wonderful way to practice. What I enjoy about it is that there’s less administration, billing, and coding, and it’s more about deeply connecting with a patient and providing a service that they can pay for out of pocket.”
The typical client comes to these locations because of some pain or discomfort. “We don’t do accidents or workers’ compensation,” Lloyd says. “We focus on helping people reduce pain due to subluxation, then transition to wellness and maintenance care to prevent pain from recurring.”
It’s understandable that some DCs aren’t enthusiastic about the franchise model, and worry that it risks turning the art of the adjustment into a commodity. In reality, though, mainstreaming and normalizing chiropractic is one way of expanding the patient base and consumer acceptance.
“We perform a full exam in order to determine if the client is a good candidate for care,” Lloyd says. “Then we educate each patient on what living well with a healthy spine means for them.” Lloyd notes that some 20 percent of his new clients have never experienced chiropractic before.
Patients who are not a candidate for The Joint’s services are referred to specialists; in fact, Lloyd refers 20 to 30 people a month to other chiropractors.
Some patients come in and get an Activator-type adjustment, but most opt for Diversified or drop technique.
Participation in care delivery is based on the goals of the owner DC. “Some want to work six days a week, and some only want to work three or four. The majority end up working 40 hours a week and, while they work fairly hard, they don’t have to do any marketing or accounting, and they can focus on using their chiropractic skill,” Lloyd says.
The idea of going to work at a franchise might be attractive for a new graduate, but Lloyd stresses that it isn’t really a training or learning environment: “We expect our hires to be skilled and accomplished practitioners. Several are new graduates, yes, but most have two to three years’ experience.
“The main thing we look for is someone with a great work ethic, who has already invested the time to learn to adjust people. Still, our training program is incredible.” There are weekly calls for the practicing DCs, monthly training, CE credits, videos, and more.
When Lloyd decided to become a franchisee of The Joint, he flew to Arizona and met with corporate representatives before signing an agreement. Not only did he want a better look at the business model, but they also wanted to evaluate his suitability as an owner.
“They assigned a real estate broker to me and we toured sites and secured a lease. There’s a territory assigned. Depending on the real estate process, time from site selection to day one of operations ranges from four to six months,” Lloyd says.
In terms of traffic, he’s seeing amazing results. “We’re spending a decent amount on newspaper and TV advertising, but the majority of new patients are from referrals,” he says.
If you’re comfortable delivering chiropractic care but are looking for a framework that streamlines the business side of practice, this is one solution that’s working out for entrepreneurial-minded DCs.