After graduating from the National College of Chiropractic and working as an associate doctor for two years in Illinois, Dr. Scott Newquist set out on a mission. He decided he was ready to take on the responsibility of owning his own practice, and he wanted to do things right. He found the perfect clinic for sale in 1994 in Grand Rapids, Mich. He set out full-speed ahead to build an even bigger and better practice. That clinic, which saw about $395,000 in gross billings in 1994, will easily surpass the million-dollar mark this year. “I never looked back,” Newquist says.
Newquist Chiropractic Life Center, P.C. · Dr. Scott Newquist, CEO/Owner
3105 Broadmoor Ave. SE · Grand Rapids, MI 49512 · 616-956-9060
Statement of Purpose
“To educate and adjust as many families as possible toward optimal health through natural chiropractic care.”
– Dr. Scott Newquist
Newquist Chiropractic Life Center, P.C.
1999 Practice Statistics
|Thru Sept. ’99||Projected for ’99|
Preferred-Hours Policy Keeps Things Running Smoothly
The Newquist Chiropractic Life Center is a well-oiled machine when it comes to scheduling patients for certain procedures at specific times. “We have a preferred-hours policy that our patients have gotten used to,” Newquist says. “We accommodate new patient appointments, re-exams and re-evaluations during certain hours only. Other times it’s adjustments and adjustments only. The system keeps the practice running a lot more smoothly and efficiently, and patients are very compliant.”
The practice is open during the following hours:
M-T-W-F 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
TH 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
SAT 9 a.m.-noon
On a day when the practice is open from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m., the schedule is:
7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. – Adjustments
9:30 a.m.-11 a.m. – New patients/consults
11 a.m. – noon – Adjustments
Noon – 2 p.m. – Closed for lunch and to prepare X-rays, reports, etc., for afternoon appointments
2 p.m.-3 p.m. – Adjustments
3 p.m.-4 p.m. – New patients/consults
4 p.m.-6 p.m. – Adjustments
Typically, Newquist will see patients for two hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon on a day when the practice is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. He also practices on Thursdays but not on Saturdays. His associate sees patients throughout the day (as will the new associate joining the practice this month), while Newquist “wears an administrative hat” at least 50% of the time.
Newquist did his homework before buying the practice, which was one of three that Dr. Stuart Hoffman owned in Grand Rapids. “I did an 18-month search before I decided on this practice,” Newquist says. “I analyzed demographics and economic trends. Kent County, where the practice is located, is in one of the most rapidly growing areas in the state. The county has seen a 21.6% growth rate over the past two decades. There was a -4% growth rate during that same period in the area of Northern Michigan where I grew up.”
In October 1994, Newquist acquired Hoffman Chiropractic Life Center, P.C., and he recently renamed the clinic Newquist Chiropractic Life Center, P.C. The clinic is located in the Southeast quadrant of Grand Rapids.
Although Grand Rapids is a rapidly growing area, Newquist says he knew he needed to position himself solidly for success. The population is about 300,000 in Southeast Grand Rapids, but the area is saturated with chiropractic clinics. “There are easily 100 other chiropractors within a 20-mile radius,” he says.
From the very beginning, Newquist says, he knew he would need some professional guidance in order to achieve his professional goals. He says he was more than aware of the fact that chiropractic school does not teach you about the business management side of running a practice. From day one, Newquist began working with Dr. David Singer, who heads the practice management firm David Singer Enterprises in Clearwater, Fla.
“Dr. Singer taught me the words, ‘Think big,’ ” Newquist says. “His philosophy is that you should not be satisfied or content just getting by.”
Newquist also enlisted the help of a financial consultant, an attorney and a CPA, all of whom have extensive experience working with chiropractors. (See page 28 for details on the professionals who work with Newquist Chiropractic Life Center.)
Enlisting the help of professionals is one way Newquist has learned to practice smarter, not harder, he says. “It’s a myth that you have to work 70 to 80 hours per week to be successful,” he says. “That’s how people get burned out.”
In just five years, Newquist has more than exceeded his goals and expectations. His gross billings as of Sept. 30 were at about $729,500 so far for the year. He says the practice will “easily” hit the million-dollar mark before the year’s end.
Newquist’s staff has grown by leaps and bounds. The practice boasts six support staff and six technical staff, including himself, an associate who joined the practice in 1998, another associate who is scheduled to join the practice this month, an MD who came on board in 1998, a physical therapist and a massage practitioner. (For more on Newquist’s thoughts on successful staffing, see page 29).
The practice has seen a dramatic increase in office visits. In 1994, yearly patient visits were at about 8,800. As of Sept. 30, the practice has already seen 16,670 visits, with more than 27,470 visits anticipated by the end of the year.
The practice has experienced a substantial increase in new patients. In 1994, the clinic was seeing about 200 new patients per year. By 1998, that number had nearly doubled, to 392. As of Sept. 30, the practice had seen 396 new patients so far this year, with a total of more than 550 new patients expected by the end of 1999. (Newquist shares his secrets to recruiting new patients on page 32.)
A consistent focus on patient service is one way in which Newquist’s practice manages to retain a large number of new patients. “For example,” he says, “we have a policy that patients will be seen within three to 10 minutes of their appointment time; and the policy is strictly enforced. If there is an emergency, the patient is approached, we explain the situation to them, let them decide what they want to do, offer them something to drink, etc.”
In addition, the patients’ interaction with the office over the phone is closely managed. “We never let the phone ring more than twice,” Newquist says. “The patient is never left in a lurch. The doctor calls the patient back as soon as possible. If it’s important, the staff know they can even take the doctor out of a room if necessary.”
Newquist’s collection percentage has increased from 48% in 1994 to 62.1% so far this year. The collection rate for the practice may be influenced by Michigan’s fairly strict laws regarding straight chiropractic. “Everything we do in our office is consistent with the state stature regarding the practice of chiropractic in Michigan, and we do not deviate from those guidelines,” Newquist says. He adds, though, that: “Reim-bursement from procedures that are commonplace in a chiropractic practice tend to be less than in many other states nationwide.”
When Newquist purchased the practice in 1994, gross collections for the year stood at about $189,700. As of Sept. 30, the clinic had already collected about $453,100. Total projected collections for 1999 are about $625,644.
Now that the practice is on track to hit the million-dollar mark this year, Newquist says he plans to start thinking “even bigger.” In 2000, his goal for the practice is 700 office visits per week, for a yearly total of at least 36,400. Also next year, he is reaching for the goal of at least 75 new patients per month, for an annual total of 900. In no less than five years, Newquist says he would like to be at 1,000 office visits per week (52,000 per year) and 100 new patients a month (1,200 per year).
In 2000, Newquist is striving for $1,331,350 in gross billings and predicts $998,512 in gross collections. Within the next five years, his goal for gross billings is $1,998,000 and for gross collections, it’s $1,677,497.
Newquist credits his mentors – including Singer, the late Dr. Jim Parker, and his late father, Dr. George Newquist, also a chiropractor – with instilling in him a love for chiropractic. “They are the people I’ve listened to and respected, the people who taught me to have a service mentality, to serve mankind, and to heal and live.” Newquist says he will always remember attending a talk by Parker while he was still in chiropractic school. “He said, ‘The more you serve, the more you will receive.'”
Never settling for less than what you really want is a philosophy that has served Newquist well, he says. In addition, he believes that the way you react to your circumstances is much more important than the circumstances themselves. “If you say to yourself, ‘This person kept my insurance check,’ you can either let that ruin your whole afternoon, or you can move on and focus on the positive,” he says. Newquist never plans to slow down, and he says he will always keep in mind Singer’s advice to “Think big.” He quips: “I think that’s what it’s going to say on the epitaph on my tombstone: ‘He thought big.'”
Staffing For Success
Having a staff that’s prepared to deliver is key to building and maintaining a thriving practice, Dr. Scott Newquist says. “The ability to serve the needs of our patients is the most important part of practice,” he says. “The staff are trained, drilled and apprenticed. They are ready to go at the drop of a hat.”
In order to take a chiropractic practice to the most professional level possible, Newquist says, the practice must be treated like any other serious business. His practice is “run like a corporation, with a seven-division organizing board,” he says. “The structure is similar to Kraft, Boeing or 3M.” Newquist Chiropractic Life Center, P.C., has a technical staff six, as well as six support staff.
The technical staff includes:
- Scott Newquist, DC, who serves as a doctor at the practice as well as CEO/owner;
- Daniel J. Bank, DC, an associate doctor who joined the practice in 1998;
- Pamela Wright, DC, a new associate scheduled to join the practice this month;
- Donald R. VerHulst, MD, who joined the practice in 1998 and sees patients 20 hours a week, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays;
- Arkadiy Sarkisov, a full-time physical therapist, who started at the practice in 1998; and
- Garrett McRae, part-time massage practitioner, who joined the practice this year.
The support staff includes:
- Ruth Newquist, Newquist’s wife, who serves as the financial manager;
- Fawn LeVault, the office manager;
- two full-time CAs (with one dedicated to public relations/marketing); and
- two part-time CAs.
Bank and Wright concentrate on seeing patients and performing adjustments, while Newquist sees patients part time and takes care of administrative responsibilities part time. VerHulst is employed by the practice to perform consultations, nutritional counseling, preventive medicine, and also to educate patients on health and wellness. Any patients who enter the practice and are on prescription or nonprescription medication are automatically referred to VerHulst for a consultation. He performs educational workshops as well as portions of the report of findings given to the patient.
All members of the staff, including the technical staff, are employees of the practice. In accordance with laws in Michigan, VerHulst does not write prescriptions for patients, nor are any services billed through his MD license.
Newquist says in order to develop a successful and productive staff, you must first hire the right people for the job. Then you must empower them to be the best they can be.
“We hire the people who are the most willing,” he says. “Then we get them trained and up to speed as soon as possible. We let them create their own jobs and manage their own jobs.”
How To Use New Patient Recruitment Tools to Build Your Practice
Dr. Scott Newquist has mastered the art of new patient recruitment. When he acquired his practice in 1994, the clinic was seeing about 200 new patients per year. By 1998, he had nearly doubled that number, to 392. And this year, after only nine months, the practice had already seen more patients than last year – 396 so far. “This year we will see well over 500 new patients – we project a total of about 550 or more,” Newquist says.
And the growth won’t stop there. Next year, Newquist’s goal is to see at least 75 new patients a month (900 a year). And eventually – within the next five years – he would like to see that number climb to an impressive 100 new patients per month (1,200 a year).
Newquist has carefully developed his new patient recruitment plan over the past five years. He says chiropractors need to take advantage of every possible opportunity to market themselves and their practices. Newquist is the host of a weekly AM talk radio show in Grand Rapids called “Chiropractic Corner.” In addition, he says a combination of the following new patient recruitment tools can help any practice build its business:
Newquist Chiropractic Life Center offers about 50 in-office workshops per year, with plans to begin offering the workshops weekly in 2000. “Clearly, the workshops educate existing patients,” Newquist says. “Also,each patient who attends will usually refer at least one new patient – if not four or five.” He says the workshops also frequently result in leads for talks to outside groups, such as civic groups, churches and workplaces.
Typically, Newquist says, about 12 to 15 patients attend the workshops. Some of the work shop titles include:
- “Chiropractic: A Modern Natural Approach to Health”
- “Health and Stress Workshop”
- “Freedom From Headaches Workshop”
- “How to Stay Fit While You Sit”
- “A Drug-Free Approach to Treating ADD/ADHD and Hyperactivity”
The practice puts on at least a dozen outside talks per year. “We gave a talk recently to a group of apartment managers,” Newquist says. “We give talks at gyms, things like that.” The outside lectures cover the same topic areas as the in-office workshops. Workshops that are open to the public are advertised in-house, through ads in the newspaper, and on community bulletin boards.
Incentive program for new patient referrals
According to the Singer System of Success, Newquist says, 60 to 65% of new patients come from referrals from existing patients. To help tap into that resource, Newquist’s clinic offers patients who refer a new patient a “reward,” such as a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant or a donation to their favorite charity.
Newquist says one patient sent the practice so many new patients – at least 12 to 15 – that they told her she could name her reward. She asked that the practice treat her parents at no charge. “We did it, of course,” Newquist says. “You figure each patient she referred to us brought the practice at least $2,000 in revenue. We wanted to do what we could to show our appreciation.”
The practice boasts a successful and aggressive direct mail campaign. “We send people information on how they can feel better, through pressure-point therapy, for example.”
Newquist’s office boasts a CA who works on office marketing and public relations full time. “We design our own ads and do almost everything in-house,” he says.