Chiropractic Care & Rehabilitation
Dr. Neil Schwartz
2811 Watson Blvd., #3
Warner Robbins, GA 31088
912-971-4110 , Fax: 912-971-4072
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed for Lunch:12:30 to 2 each day
Dr. Neil Schwartz, 33, graduated from Life University in Marietta, Ga. Originally from Baltimore. Practiced as an associate for one year in Macon, Ga., before opening his own practice. Married for two years to wife Stacey. Has sons Jarrett, 9, and Taylor, 6, and daughter Elizabeth, 11 months.
Sheila Dixon, office manager
Kelly McCauley, massage therapist
Stanley Greenfield, RHU
Greenfield’s Financial Power Program
Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
April 1999-December 1999
Overhead costs: $40,500 ($4,500/month)
Total patient visits: 4,031
New patients: 315
Gross billings: $402,085
Gross collections: $146,732
2000 – Projected
Overhead costs: $66,000 ($5,500/month)
Total patient visits: 8,000
New patients: 416
Gross billings: $500,000
Gross collections: $425,000
It wasn’t too long ago that becoming a chiropractor wasn’t even in the cards for Dr. Neil Schwartz. Halfway through undergraduate school, he wasn’t even interested in the medical profession. Between a little reading and his experience as a college athlete, a career was born. Now a 15-month veteran of his own practice in Warner Robbins, Ga., Schwartz is not only a successful practitioner, but his success story was definitely – and quite literally – in the cards.
Faced with a new practitioner’s notoriously lean marketing budget, Schwartz has relied on word-of-mouth and good old-fashioned street-pounding to build Chiropractic Care & Rehabilitation. That street-pounding has included strategies as simple as handing out business cards – lots of them. He has turned a fledgling practice into one that sees an average of eight new patients a week and a total of 140 patients per week – and it’s growing every day.
Schwartz, 33, has no magic formula for drawing people to him, nor does he spend a great deal of money on advertising and marketing – he has his name in the Yellow Pages, and that’s about the extent of it. Relying instead on personal contact, friendliness and an office that promotes comfort, he saw 315 new patients in 1999 and had 4,031 total patient visits, after opening his doors on April 1. His first nine months of practice generated $402,085 in gross billings and $146,732 in gross collections. Schwartz estimates that he will see 416 new patients in 2000 and will have 8,000 total patient visits. His weekly patient visit average is on a growth pattern to reach at least 180 this year.
Schwartz is projecting gross billings of $500,000 and gross collections of $425,000 in 2000 (which will boost his collection rate from 36% – typically low for a first-year doctor – to a projected 85%). None of that revenue will be earmarked for fancy advertising ploys.
“Sometimes I’ll place an ad in the newspaper, like when they have a health section, which is about twice a year,” Schwartz says. “But I don’t really have a budget for it. I just don’t do too much.”
Financial advisor Stanley Greenfield of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., has guided Schwartz throughout his 15 months of practice, counseling him on everything from where to spend his money to where to put his furniture for optimal patient communication. The decision to keep marketing expenses down was a simple one; you can’t really spend what you don’t have.
“He is not McDonald’s that can do 60 ads on TV every week,” Greenfield says. “We watch what works and then use that. Everyone else tries something and then goes in search of something new. The search never ends and the dollars always flow in the wrong direction – out the door.”
Schwartz instead relies on his best resources: himself and his staff of two. They do all the marketing, and they do it face-to-face. He has set an office goal of handing out five to 10 business cards a day, to whomever he, office manager Sheila Dixon and massage therapist Kelly McCauley might bump into. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but you don’t realize how many people you run into during a day,” Schwartz says.
Of course, passing out cards isn’t his sole method of reeling in new business. Schwartz sees and speaks to as many people as possible, offering messages of healthy living first, then the advantages of chiropractic. That means giving talks at fitness and rehab centers, meeting with attorneys and visiting businesses – anything to come into contact with more people.
Schwartz always carries his laptop with him, loaded with a chiropractic educational program. Whether he’s meeting with lawyers or laypeople, teachers or pupils, public groups or private, he doesn’t miss a chance to tell people what chiropractic can do. That personal contact, Schwartz says, catches people’s attention more than any ad, radio spot or promotion could.
What has made Schwartz such a speedy success has not only been his knack for getting patients into the office, but also his ability to keep them coming back. He estimates 95% of his patients return for further care. Those who start out as personal injury patients, for instance, often wind up returning for basic health-care procedures. Once they come, they seem to get hooked.
Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that, but it doesn’t involve anything too far outside the realm of common sense. Schwartz makes sure his patients understand what is being done to them, how it’s being done, and, most importantly, why it’s being done.
“The definition of a doctor is a teacher,” Schwartz says. “On every visit we re-emphasize what they’re doing there. A lot of what I do (to educate patients) is because of (Greenfield). Stanley said, ‘Look, this is what a lot of other doctors aren’t doing.’ A lot of (doctors) educate, but I also know a lot of them don’t.”
Part of Schwartz’ success with patient retention also comes from his willingness to release patients from care when he feels they no longer need help, and to refer patients out when he believes it’s necessary. He strives for a doctor-patient relationship centered on trust. “People need to know the difference between someone who really cares about them and someone that just wants the money,” Schwartz says. “I think they can tell that I’m someone who’s pure and who really cares about them. I am the first doctor in the world to refer someone out, whether it’s to another chiropractor or a medical doctor, if I think there’s someone out there who can do a better job than I can do.”
Schwartz believes in creating a comfort zone for patients. That starts in the waiting room, where patients are not kept in the dark – literally. The room is bright, and office manager Dixon is even brighter. The waiting room is filled with educational posters and diagrams to help patients understand what is wrong with them and what will make them better.
With the help of Greenfield, Schwartz set up his office for patient consultations in a way that is more efficient – and patient-friendly. A simple rearrangement of office equipment and furniture makes Schwartz seem more approachable to patients because they’re no longer separated by a desk. And when he’s giving the report of findings, patients no longer have to get out of their chairs to view their X-rays. This simple change seems to have made patients less tense about receiving a diagnosis and treatment plan, and they tend to be more receptive.
The desire to create a patient-friendly environment is one reason Schwartz set out on his own after a yearlong stint as an associate doctor in Macon, Ga, following his graduation from Life University in 1997. Schwartz has also made physical therapy a focal point of his practice. Of the six rooms in which he sees patients, three are devoted to therapy and rehabilitation. He also has a main evaluation room, an X-ray room and one for adjustments.
“I’m very big on exercise,” Schwartz says. “..You have to strengthen the muscles around the spine. From a mental standpoint, you have to get (patients) to feel they’re getting stronger.”
Being able to do all this meant opening his own practice, which also meant learning to juggle. “The negative is that as an associate, you only wear one hat. On your own, you have to wear two hats,” Schwartz says. “You have to run the business side, and I’m so much more of a people’s doctor.”
That quality, however, has been Schwartz’ greatest advantage. His rapport has turned into his rap. Though he admits he’s not very good at hard-selling, especially when it comes to shelf products available to patients in the office, Schwartz has proven very adept at”selling” himself and his practice.
He believes in keeping overhead down, which explains his lean, three-person office and the fact that, were he to ever to dedicate a slice of his budget pie to advertising, anyone sampling it would go hungry. “I sort of planned it that way,” he says. “In this field it’s all contact. It’s all human contact. The only reason I’m in the Yellow Pages is because I feel I have to be, in case someone hears about me and needs to get my phone number. The main thing is getting out there. I need to get out there, and I do.”