WHETHER YOU’RE OPENING YOUR FIRST CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE, relocating your existing space or adding another location to your practice, chiropractic site selection and securing a desirable site is often a complex and daunting process.
The right location can help you grow awareness and patient acquisition. It can also influence the public’s perception of your practice. And certainly, your rent obligation will be a major expense on your monthly profit and loss statement. Lease terms often last 5-10 years, so the chiropractic site selection decision you make today can have long-term ramifications on your practice. How do you maximize the opportunity in the site selection process while avoiding the common missteps?
In my role at The Joint Chiropractic, I have access to some of the best analytical tools and platforms in the industry, yet there are some basic rules of thumb that can help any chiropractor make the right decision.
Chiropractic site selection considerations
Here are four practical tips for your consideration:
Rule #1: Get some help! Your team should include (1) a commercial real estate broker, and (2) a real estate attorney. The broker should know your desired trade area(s) along with present and future spaces available for lease. They should also understand local population growth patterns, the condition of the market and how to negotiate with landlords. As for the attorney, you will need them to review your lease and protect your interests, including rental
rate increases and co-tenant obligations. Do not overlook the criticality of these roles.
At The Joint, we have a national network of brokers who understand our model and help our franchisees obtain
desirable clinic spaces. We also contract with attorneys to review franchise leases. Our brokers and attorneys have longstanding relationships with landlords which help facilitate the negotiation process.
Rule #2: Understand your desired patient base. This has as much to do with your personal preference for the
type of practice you choose as it does with the composition of your local population. Naturally, if you want to target a particular type of patient – be they athletes, seniors or families – your site selection process needs to be guided accordingly. This may require locating your office in a trade area or city that best positions you with that specific population. Publicly available information based on U.S. Census data can help inform that decision, and your broker should have access to demographic and possibly psychographic data. Demographics are measurable attributes of the population, such as median age, income, education level and language spoken. By contrast, psychographics measure behavior and lifestyle. An example of the difference can be seen in comparing two people of the same age and income, yet one spends their money on childcare while the other devotes theirs to playing sports.
At The Joint, we use our database of over one million unique patients to maintain a proprietary mathematical model that analyzes the demographic and psychographic profile of trade areas across the country. It helps us identify chiropractic site selection and where we want to place our clinics in the future, and what our patients will look like before we open our doors.
Rule #3: Economic considerations matter. Chiropractors generally locate their practices in two distinct environments: either a medical or office park setting, or a retail center. Both have advantages and disadvantages, especially in regard to how to run your practice. The primary reasons for choosing a medical or office park are lower rents, greater flexibility in office hours and a captive patient base that is visiting for their health care. Patient acquisition in a medical park environment may require additional marketing expenses, as foot traffic is relatively low.
On the other hand, the reasons for locating within a retail center include greater foot traffic, visibility to a wider population and the ability to drive walk-in visits. While retail centers attract more populations on a daily basis, those visitors expect businesses to be open during retail business hours. Many chiropractors maintain idiosyncratic office hours, which may present a negative image to a retail customer.
Rule #4: Choose your co-tenants wisely. Your neighbors will help define the public’s perception of your practice, along with the reputation of your profession at-large. Locating in an office park amid other medical professionals may help establish the bona fides of your practice. By contrast, locating in a retail setting does not always offer the same credentials. The retail environment has been evolving for years and the pandemic has only accelerated those changes: weaker centers have become increasingly vacant, filled with less desirable co-tenants; while strong centers are able to still command higher rents and attract A-list concepts.
The Joint Chiropractic locates in top-tier retail centers that host other national brands, which aid in our mission of improving quality of life through routine and affordable chiropractic care. Our locational chiropractic site selection logic implies higher rents, but that added cost enables us to serve more patients in a convenient setting and helps promote the benefits of chiropractic care to a wider audience.
Chiropractors enjoy the freedom to locate in a wide variety of settings, but it is important to inform your site selection process based on the unique goals for your practice. Resist the urge to take short cuts. Surround yourself with experienced real estate professionals who are looking out for your best interest.
Do your homework on the data available for the centers and trade areas you are considering. The chiropractic site selection choice you make today will greatly impact your future success and peace of mind and enable you to focus your energies on building your practice and caring for your patients.
RICHARD MATTHEWS has more than 17 years of experience in corporate real estate. As the director of real estate research at The Joint Chiropractic, he has helped open 400 The Joint clinics since 2014. He has an MA and a PhD in Economic Geography and has published articles in scholarly journals and a monograph on industrial productivity. He has presented original research on the location of business at meetings of the Association of American Geographers and the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The importance of the right spot
Patrick Kolwaite, DC, multi-unit franchisee at The Joint Chiropractic, recognizes the importance of chiropractic site selection and the right location for setting up a chiropractic office. His commercial broker had the “inside track” for a new retail site at one of Memphis’ most popular intersections.
“I had been looking for a third The Joint location and my broker, who had become a friend of mine over the years, knew of a highly-visible plot of land that was going under development,” Kolwaite said. “As a result, my broker was able to secure my next retail location for me before it was even available to the market, giving me a competitive advantage.”
According to Kolwaite, the East Memphis intersection of I-240 and Popular Avenue is one of the busiest and was already anchored by a large retail center that included a Super Target.
“Visibility and the traffic patterns of a popular retail center made this site incredibly attractive,” Kolwaite said. “In addition, we were locating in a large commercial hub with corporate offices, where potential patients spend their days slumped at their desks. The site was perfect in supporting the patient base we knew we’d attract.”
Real estate knowledge
By leveraging his commercial real estate broker, the retail center’s co-tenants, and his knowledge of the surrounding population, Kolwaite had the right muscle to open a successful chiropractic office. In fact, the opening of The Joint Chiropractic – East Memphis clinic in 2017 was one of the brand’s most successful, nationally, at that time.
“I had tremendous support from The Joint corporate office for this location and I followed the brand’s site selection model. Today, this chiropractic office is thriving and I’m looking for a nearby location to help balance the flow of patients. I’d say this growth demonstrates the success I’m seeing as a result of smart site selection,” Kolwaite added.
Join the Movement
For more information on The Joint franchise opportunities visit thejointfranchise.com or call 480-405-7497 For more information on careers visit thejoint.com/careers or message firstname.lastname@example.org