Many students and new grads struggle when trying to find a location to start their practice or join an existing one.
One aspect that is rarely discussed is the relationship between the type of patients who use chiropractic and the places and services they frequent”” then using that information to determine a viable practice location.
Did you know that the highest documented utilization rate of chiropractic services in the world occurs in Alberta, Canada? Nearly 30 percent of people in Alberta use chiropractic care.
In addition to accessing chiropractic more than the residents of any other province in Canada, Albertans have more disposable income. They spend more on healthcare, personal care, recreation, household furnishings, transportation, clothing, newspapers, and charitable donations.
So, are all of the above sectors of industry doing an excellent job of bringing awareness and understanding of their products to Albertans””or is it simply because Albertans have more money to spend?
Naturally, with good jobs come good extended health benefits and this trend occurs in the U.S. as well. In 2010, Davis, et al., published a paper in the Health Services Research Journal that studied the economic demographics of U.S. chiropractic patients for a period of 10 years. In that time, the average American earned $37,725 and the average chiropractic patient earned $39,536 annually. Interestingly, over that time period, the residents in only 10 of 50 states (20 percent) earned more than the average and only about 15 percent of Americans visited chiropractors.
But are chiropractic services geared to the upper-middle classes? Dan Krueger, DC, agrees with this argument. He says that chiropractic utilization rates are definitely money- driven and that research indicates that people with higher discretionary income use complementary and alternative medicine with greater frequency and regularity than the general population.
Tall, Grande, Venti
When you are looking to start or move your practice, being aware of “where the money is” will definitely help you access your target market. Affluent areas are more likely to embrace alter- native products, whether it’s a $6 coffee or a chiropractic adjustment. Starbucks learned that its customers were upper- middle-class, college-educated people who lived in the suburbs or high- income areas.
Like Starbucks, do your homework on the demographics of potential locations so that they are close to those who will most likely use chiropractic.
To be or not to be (located)
One place DCs can fall short when finding a suitable practice location is learning and understanding the socioeconomics of the surrounding businesses. As chiropractic is used primarily by people with good jobs and disposable income, a practice needs to be near other businesses that attract the same demographic.
For instance, nearly 55 percent of all Costco shoppers are in the upper- middle to affluent income category. Other establishments that might cater to the same demographic are bookstores and organic markets.
At the same time, businesses that may serve lower-income demographics are laundromats, paycheck loan services, and fast-food restaurants.
But, there are some stores and organizations that contradict popular thought. For example, many think that people who shop at Wal-Mart are of lower socioeconomic status; however, 80 percent of all Americans shop at Wal-Mart.
On the other hand, gyms and health clubs require recurring monthly membership fees and often attract middle- and upper-class types. However, only about 5 percent of the population frequents a gym. Therefore, these types of business may not be the kind you want to build your practice near.
Anthony J. Lombardi, DC is the creator of the eXStore assessment system. He is a consultant and treatment provider to professional athletes in the NFL, NHL, and CFL. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through hamiltonbackclinic.com.