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EP65 - Operating a Practice Focusing on Soft Tissue Treatment for Athletic Performance with Kevin Christie, DC

Trisha’s guest this week is Kevin Christie, DC, owner/chiropractor at Health-Fit Chiropractic & Sports Recovery.  He takes us through the path of being an entrepreneurial clinician and how he started his private practice, purchased the real estate that he operates in, and continues to grow and expand as a business owner. 

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In this episode, we talk about…

[2:15] Kevin’s private practice

Kevin has been practicing for 16 years and he has owned his practice for 11 years.  They treat a lot of athletes, and they provide chiropractic care as well as muscle work and rehab exercises.  When a patient comes in, they get a full functional assessment and evaluation.  His practice treats musculoskeletal conditions such as overuse injuries, sprains, and strains.  If someone has a traumatic injury with structural damage, they are referred out.  

As an athlete growing up, Kevin knew he wanted to be a chiropractor by the time he was 17.  He went to Florida State University and graduated with a degree in exercise physiology.  While studying there, he was able to work with a lot of athletes in strength and conditioning.  By the time he went to Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, he knew that he wanted to work with athletes and that he wanted to own his own practice at some point.

Luckily, after about four years, he had the opportunity to invest in his private practice.  While he works well with others, Kevin knew that he wanted to do things his way.  He made sure that I went on that path and ultimately got to that point.

[4:01] Starting Health-Fit Chiropractic

Kevin graduated in 2005 and worked for another chiropractor in Florida for about a year-and-a-half.  He also got into working golf tournaments, and speaking in front of triathlon and running groups.  Another chiropractor in Miami had an opportunity to open a second office in Fort Lauderdale, inside a sports training facility.  He invited Kevin to check it out, and he walked into a big gym full of NFL players.  Kevin decided to take the risk, and build the practice himself.  The other chiropractor was more of the behind the scenes business owner, and Kevin was able to gain a lot of experience working with high-level athletes.

Ultimately, the partnership ran its course and Kevin sold his portion back.  He then opened up his own practice outside of his non-compete, in Boca Raton, FL.  Everything came full circle when his mentor, the chiropractor he worked for right out of school, mentioned that there was a really good orthopedic group that was looking to rent a room to a chiropractor.  Kevin met with them, and it went well.  Renting that space was an easy way for him to open his own practice without a lot of overhead.  He had two rooms in a nice, four thousand square foot office.  Without having to take out a business loan, he was able to ramp his business up quickly.

[7:03] The choice to focus on sports recovery and soft tissue treatment

Kevin is certified in active release techniques, allowing him to diagnose soft tissue injuries, muscle strains, and sprains.  This hands-on approach is highly sought after by a lot of different groups, including professional athletes.  Having that certification helped him to get into that training facility with the pro athletes, and he treated around 300 pro athletes in a three-year period at that facility.

He also had the opportunity to go to the NFL Combine as the clinical director for a program that trained college athletes in preparation for the Combine.  Once Kevin was known for working with NFL players, he started attracting other professional athletes to his practice.  He has also worked with golfers and had the opportunity to travel on the PGA tour in 2011.

The general population may not realize that every sports team has a chiropractor on staff.  Chiropractic has a bad reputation, and a lot of people won’t use chiropractors.  Kevin thinks that is ironic, because the most performance-based humans on the planet, professional athletes, all have chiropractors.  Chiropractic is a staple in the athletic training room and in the care of athletes.

[9:28] Focusing on recovery and repair before pushing forward with athletic training

Although athletes are in better shape than they ever have been – they’re getting more care, eating better, training in the off season – they are getting hurt more frequently.  Kevin sees this increase in injuries, specifically soft tissue injuries, as related to a confluence of factors. 

One factor is just that athletes become so big, fast, and strong, that physics takes over.  Some of the training leads to this effect as well.  There are great trainers out there, but sometimes over-training does lead to injury.   There is a fine line, because Kevin points out that trainers need to support athletes in getting as powerful as possible so they can play professionally, but it is also important to try everything possible to keep athletes healthy.

[10:49] Choosing practice locations

Kevin has an office in Boca Raton, and he recently sold his Miami office to the doctor who had been running it since 2012.  Boca Raton is a great place for him to be, as it is a very affluent and well-rounded city.  The chiropractor who had the space before had done his due diligence when purchasing the office suite, and so Kevin jumped on it.  

Kevin acquired his Miami office through his connections in the sports world. He knew someone who opened up an office, he was able to sublet out of there, and it did well out of the gate.  He hired a doctor from Chicago who wanted to get down to Florida, and that doctor now owns that particular location.  

[12:33] How Kevin wants patients to feel when they come into the office

One of the things that resonated with Kevin when it comes to a private practice is the “front stage / back stage” concept.  Just like when you go to a play and see everything that happens on the front stage, there is a backstage that supports that.  It’s no different in his business.  The front stage has to be really good.  The patient experience is key – everything from the phones being answered to having an aesthetically pleasing office space.

When he purchased his office, Kevin hired an ex-patient who happened to do design work for healthcare offices.  He told her that he wanted it to look nice, but not over-the-top.  He figured patients don’t want to see their chiropractor pulling up in the Lamborghini and statues of themselves and marble flooring in the office.  It was designed to have a good flow and a nice open concept, and that seems to work well.

[14:04] The decision to purchase real estate rather than lease an office

The orthopedic group Kevin rented from 2010-2013 was inside a two-story, two-building medical office building.  His practice ws growing, he hired another doctor, and he only had two rooms.  As they outgrew the space, Kevin wanted to make sure he was providing stability for his practice.  He was on a year-to-year lease with the ortho group, and he had a sense that at some point they may tell him that he was too busy and it was causing too many issues for their practice.

In early 2013, he started looking for space and saw an opening for a suite in the building owned by his original mentor.  Kevin knew it would be a good idea to buy the space, but he didn’t know if it was attainable.  In the early part of 2013, however, the commercial real estate market was still pretty depressed because of the 2008 crash.  Kevin was 33 years old at the time, and he knew he was going to be doing this work for a long time.  By having a mortgage rather than paying rent, he was able to stabilize costs for his business.  It was a good investment, and he pushed the envelope to make it happen.

Once he had his own 3,000 square foot space, he was able to generate more revenue and profit in the practice.  There was an ROI for the practice, and he has also been able to rent space out to a therapy group for additional monthly income.

[17:49] Kevin’s advice for fellow clinicians contemplating owning vs. leasing

Kevin suggests running through an audit of where you are at with your business.  One is, are you going to be in that area for good?  He knew he wanted to be in the Boca Raton area in practice and in life for quite a long time.  He also suggests considering buying more space than you currently need so you don’t outgrow the space.  There is a gray area – you want to buy more than you need, but not so much that you overextend yourself and can’t afford it. Finally, ask yourself if you have the liquidity to pay a down payment without sacrificing your finances.  Make sure you do not strain your practice or your personal life just to make this happen.

[20:15] Balancing the management of the real estate with patient treatment

At this point, Kevin treats patients twice a week.  By the summer of 2022, he plans to step completely out of care and focus on his marketing and business coaching company for chiropractors.  This business has really grown, and Kevin now has more freedom of location and schedule.  

Kevin also became the president of the condo association for the medical building, and he created a three-year plan with the board to modernize the building.  This upgrade has increased the value of everybody’s unit inside of it.

[21:59] Kevin’s first job(s)

Kevin’s first job was as a bag boy at age 14.  Before he could legally work, Kevin’s father bought him a squeegee and a bucket, and he would go around the neighborhood asking if people wanted their windows cleaned.  People thought it was a great idea, and his first entrepreneurial venture was born.

[23:02] What Kevin would be doing if he was not a chiropractor

Kevin really enjoys the business side of things, so he would love to be an entrepreneur or a COO.

[23:26] What Kevin is reading and listening to for news, information, and inspiration

Kevin listens to a lot of audio books and podcast.  He recently finished reading Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, and he recommends listening to it for entertainment as well as inspiration.  In the book, he talks about when he decided to put his foot down and stop acting in rom coms.  Kevin likens this to him putting his foot down and getting out of patient care.  He has made the decision, and he has to stick it out through the storm that it will be early on in that transition.

[24:54] What Kevin does every day for self-care

Every morning, Kevin goes for a walk with his son and his dog.  He doesn’t get on his phone or listen to anything.  They go for a nice walk together, and that starts his day off well.

[25:28] Whether people are born with the desire to heal or learn it through medical training

In Kevin’s opinion, some people are naturally born with it.  They have a level of empathy and bedside manner that really lends itself to healing.  Then there are others who can be trained  to do it, and they can be great doctors as well.  IN some specialities, it may be preferable to have a doctor who is very objective and almost detached.  You definitely want them to focus on what they need to do without becoming overly emotional.

[26:56] Whether leaders are born or trained

Kevin shares that he believes charisma is born, but charisma and communication can be enhanced.  He is a big believer in having a growth mindset, and people can improve in these areas if they set their minds to it.  

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