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Why you should consider updating your practice.

Having spent a considerable amount of time speaking with and consulting chiropractors on best business practices and revenue generating ideas, I am frequently asked, "do you think I need to upgrade my equipment?"

On the surface, understanding that MSC is a provider of new equipment, that would seem like a loaded question; one that has an easy answer.  However, it's not that easy.  I would love to say, "yes, or hell yes," but that is only self-serving.  The real answer is, "it depends."

Let's take into consideration a couple of variables:

1)  Is the practitioner looking to grow their business?

2)  Is the practice going to be sold as the exit strategy?

3)  Is your market demographics skewing older or younger?


If we ask ourselves these very simple questions the answers become increasingly clear.  Let's start with the first one, "are you looking to grow?"  If the answer is, "yes," then that implies the practice needs more clients.  More clients brings about a critical eye toward the office, the equipment, the operations--basically everything.  Consider when one walks into an attorneys office.  TV has provided a very nice expectation of what that office should look AND feel like.  If one walks into a single office and the lawyer walks out to greet the new clients wearing gym shorts, sandals and a torn t-shirt, well, that doesn't quite meet the expectation.  Now that attorney may have graduated Cum Laude from Stanford Law, however, that is not the experience of the new client.  Similarly, when one seeks help in alleviating pain or improving mobility and health for any number of reasons, there is likely an expectation that the latest and best technology is being used to aid in their recovery or progress. 

Despite what many chiropractors believe, that old looking equipment, no matter how many times you tell the client, "it works great," the client is experiencing a cognitive dissonance that suggests otherwise.  What they see is not what they expect and no words of convincing can change that feeling. 

So, getting and KEEPING new clients is critical to growth.  In consulting we have a saying for our clients, "If you are not growing--you are dying."  If you want to grow then you will definitely want to improve the look and feel of your practice. Take a critical look at the yellowing e stim unit in your office or that ancient, nearly medieval looking table with ripped upholstery and chrome parts.  If that doesn't scream 1970's I don't know what does.  Despite my love for old cars and trucks with those beautiful chrome bumpers--chrome is a thing of the past in every persons minds eye.  Updating your equipment to a more modern look and feel shows your patient that you care about how they feel and it will translate to their perception of you and the care they received.

Now, let's talk about your business.  Growth is great.  Finding and keeping clients most certainly pays the bills and provides a nice income.  We talk to a lot of chiropractors who have been practicing for 20 to 30 years.  They most often will say, "Why should I buy a new looking table or a new modality?  I'm going to retire soon."  That seems like a reasonable thought process...Not so fast.  We always ask, "are you going to just close up shop and let all of that equity you have built up with your clients just vanish into thin air?"  

When we explain to them that their book of business has value and can be sold to the young chiropractor coming out of school or a group that is looking to add a location--the light bulb above their head, "appears."  When we share with them that the new equipment adds an aesthetic value and a valuable asset whereby BOTH create a better multiple in the sale of the business--the light bulb grows brighter.  Last, of course there is the tax implications for adding the assets to the business pre-sale.  This provides a nice little payday as you ride off into the sunset. In this case, it makes perfect sense to invest in your business.

Now, let's talk about your demographics.  The population is not aging the way it did 30 years ago.  50 is the new 30.  That is real.  When my father turned 30, he was inactive; happy to be a father, husband, and earner.  Working out or taking a long walk everyday--was not on the menu for him.  By the time my father hit 50 he was effectively waiting to retire or die or both.  That was his generations attitude.  Today, I am personally 55 years old. My routine is to hit weights similar to what I did in my 20's.  We golf, ski, run, and proudly push more weight in the gym than a lot of 30 year olds.  Other than a few "use" injuries here and there, I don't plan on slowing down.  That is a different attitude than my fathers generation.

Since we need to keep being active, we need help from the health community to make it happen.  We want to be healthy, in alignment, free from aches and pains.  There are many articles that have been written about the baby boomers and activity levels.  With that said, let's take a judicial review of the earlier assertion that perception is reality.

If we put both of these data points together; couple that with the fact that most will be paying for your services, "out-of-pocket," and the best conclusion would be: you better have a nice, neat, clean and modern looking office.

On the other hand, if your patients have been with you for decades and they are trending toward a much older population, then it is reasonable to assume your equipment may pass the test with that demographic. Their expectation of your practice has been set, they are happy with your service and your relationship with them reigns supreme.  Good for you and all your efforts!  Please don't forget about the value your book of business possesses.

As one can see, there are more reasons to update your equipment than not.  Out of casual observation, if a chiropractor chooses to update their practice, we have seen many times the immediate impact of market differentiation. There are a LOT of chiropractors in the Colorado market.  The quickest way to set yourself apart from the, "herd" (so to speak) is to invest in your business, in your clients and in yourself!  We have never had a client come back to us and say, "ya know, the new look and feel wasn't worth it."  

Should you consider updating that equipment?  You tell me.