A chiropractic table is as necessary to a DC as a saw is to a carpenter and a water hose is to a firefighter.
However, unlike various other tools of the trade, a table is one piece of office equipment that usually requires a substantial monetary investment. So what are some things you can do to help ease the burden of the cost?
Hone your technique
Brian Hughes, DC, a member of the Oklahoma Chiropractors’ Association, calls his table-purchasing process “simple yet complex,” and says that it starts with honing his technique. “Either I was going to rely on a table to try and do the work for me, which costs more up front,” Hughes says, “or continue to work on my technique. Critique it. Find confidence with it. Table or no table.”
Instead he focused more on his technique than on looking for a table that will do a majority of the work for him, Hughes was able to purchase “a lower cost, effective table.” This has made it easier for him to see a variety of patients without spending a lot of money outright, adding that the table he purchased was “one that I am able to recover and that needs little to no maintenance.”
When shopping used, look for a simple, high-quality table
Tyler Pertree, DC, an Oklahoma Chiropractors’ Association member with a practice in south Oklahoma City, says that he “wouldn’t buy used unless it’s in fantastic condition.” Having high standards for your used table can prevent you from buying one that either doesn’t work properly or is in need of costly repairs.
“At the same time, buy what you need,” Pertree says. “Many docs buy a $5,000 to $6,000 table with every drop and hydraulic lift,” adding that he chooses to use “a simple table that is well-made and costs under $2,000.” That’s a cost savings that can really add up over the lifetime of your career.
Speaking of needs…
James White, director of Taunton Health, agrees that DCs should assess their needs before purchasing a new or used chiropractic table. This means asking yourself such questions as, “If you only work at a certain table height, do you really need an adjustable one?” If not, then this will save a lot of money, White says. The same is true in regard to other table-related features like drops, lumbar decompression, and other price-raising gadgets you may not need.
By focusing on buying a table that has only the features you need and use while practicing, White says that you can take the money saved and put it toward “much more worthwhile (in my opinion) things” like X-ray machines, spinal nerve activity scans, or any other business-promoting piece of equipment or program. “These will all bring in more profit than a fancy table,” White says.
Save in other areas
Daniel Hockstra, DC, of Gentle Touch Chiropractic in McLean, VA, shares another option. Because he prefers a more expensive table, enabling him to provide more effective care to his future patients, one of the ways he has reduced the burden of the up-front cost was to buy a refurbished one. He also focused efforts on saving in other areas of his practice to help offset the cost.
“I started off by subletting a room at an established chiropractic clinic,” Hockstra says, “where I also could share staff for a flat fee (for scheduling and basic tasks).” This meant that his office and adjusting table were all in the same room. It would be five years before Hockstra would be able to purchase his own office space, but he experienced quite a few benefits from building his practice this way.
For instance, by slowly purchasing items he needed over time, his patient base has had the excitement of the practice growth with him. And though it’s been almost 12 years since he bought his refurbished table, adding that it’s been rebuilt three times, “I still use it every day!” he says.