WHETHER YOU OPEN YOUR FIRST CHIROPRATIC OFFICE, moving your existing space or adding another location to your practice, choosing a chiropractic location, and securing a desired location is often a complex and daunting process.
The right location can help you increase awareness and patient acquisition. It can also affect the public’s perception of your practice. And surely, your rental obligation will be a big expense on your monthly income statement. The rental period is often 5-10 years, so the decision you make today about where to choose a chiropractic location can have long-term implications for your practice. How do you maximize the chances of choosing a location while avoiding the usual missteps?
In my role at The Joint Chiropractic, I have access to some of the best analytical tools and platforms in the industry, yet there are some basic rules of thumb that can help any chiropractor make the right decision.
Site Selection Considerations for Chiropractic Care
Here are four practical tips for your consideration:
Rule # 1: Get Help! Your team should include (1) a commercial real estate agent and (2) a real estate attorney. The realtor should know your desired commercial space (s) as well as current and future rental space. You should also understand local population growth patterns, market conditions, and negotiating with landlords. You need the lawyer to review your lease and protect your interests, including the rent
Tariff increases and co-tenant obligations. Don’t overlook the criticality of these roles.
At The Joint we have a national network of brokers who understand our model and help our franchisees
coveted clinic rooms. We also hire lawyers to review franchise leases. Our brokers and lawyers have longstanding relationships with landlords that make the negotiation process easier.
Rule # 2: Understand Your Desired Patient Base. This has just as much to do with your personal preference for that
Type of practice you choose based on the composition of your local population. If you want to target a specific type of patient – be they athletes, seniors or families – your site selection process must of course be guided accordingly. This may require that you locate your office in a business park or city that best positions you for that specific population. Publicly available information based on U.S. census data can aid in this decision, and your broker should have access to demographic and possibly psychographic data. Demographics are measurable attributes of the population, such as average age, income, level of education and the language spoken. In contrast, psychography measures behavior and lifestyle. An example of the difference is when comparing two people of the same age and income, where one spends his money on childcare and the other devotes to sports.
At The Joint, we use our database of over one million patients to maintain a proprietary mathematical model that analyzes the demographic and psychographic profile of trading areas across the country. It helps us identify the choice of location for chiropractic care and see where we want to place our clinics in the future and what our patients will look like before we open our doors.
Rule # 3: Economic considerations are important. Chiropractors generally place their practices in two different environments: either in a medical or office park, or in a retail center. Both have advantages and disadvantages, especially with regard to practical management. The main reasons for choosing a doctor or office park are lower rents, greater flexibility in office hours, and a fixed patient base visiting for their health care. Acquiring patients in a medical park setting may require additional marketing expenses because pedestrian frequency is relatively low.
On the other hand, the reasons for locating in a retail center are more pedestrian traffic, visibility to a wider population, and the ability to encourage walk-in customers. While shopping malls attract more people every day, these visitors expect stores to be open during retail business hours. Many chiropractors have idiosyncratic office hours that can create a negative image for a retail customer.
Rule # 4: Choose your roommates wisely. Your neighbors will help shape the public’s perception of your practice, as well as the reputation of your profession in general. Finding an office park surrounded by other health professionals can help establish the bona fides of your practice. In contrast, the retail location does not always offer the same references. The retail environment has been evolving for years and the pandemic has only accelerated these changes: weaker centers have become increasingly empty, filled with less desirable co-tenants; while strong centers can achieve even higher rents and attract A-list concepts.
The Joint Chiropractic is located in world class retail centers that host other national brands that support our mission to improve the quality of life through routine and affordable chiropractic care. Our chiropractic selection logic based on location implies higher rents, but these additional costs allow us to care for more patients in a convenient environment and bring the benefits of chiropractic to a wider audience.
Chiropractors enjoy the freedom to settle in a variety of settings, but it’s important to educate your site selection process based on the unique goals for your practice. Resist the urge to take short cuts. Surround yourself with seasoned real estate professionals who are searching for your best interest.
Do your homework on the data available for the centers and business parks you are considering. The choice of chiropractic location you make today will have a huge impact on your future success and safety, and will allow you to focus your energies on building your practice and caring for your patients.
RICHARD MATTHEWS has more than 17 years of experience in corporate real estate. As director of real estate research at The Joint Chiropractic, he has helped open 400 The Joint Clinics since 2014. He holds an MA and PhD in economic geography and has published articles in scientific journals and a monograph on industrial productivity. He has presented original research on business location at meetings of the Association of American Geographers and the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The importance of the right place
Patrick Kolwaite, DC, multi-unit franchisee at The Joint Chiropractic, recognizes the importance of location for chiropractic and the right location for setting up a chiropractic office. His sales agent had the “insight” into a new retail location at one of Memphis’ most popular intersections.
“I was looking for a third The Joint location and my agent, who I had been friends with over the years, knew of a prominent property that was under development,” said Kolwaite. “This enabled my agent to secure my next retail location for me before it was even available to the market, which gave me a competitive advantage.”
According to Kolwaite, the intersection between I-240 and Popular Avenues in East Memphis is one of the busiest and has already been anchored by a large retail center with a Super Target.
“The visibility and traffic behavior of a popular retail center made this location incredibly attractive,” said Kolwaite. “We were also in a large commercial center with corporate offices where potential patients spend their days slumped at their desks. The website was perfect for supporting the patient base we knew we would attract. “
Real estate knowledge
Using his commercial real estate agent, the mall’s roommates, and his knowledge of the local people, Kolwaite had the right muscles to start a successful chiropractic office. In fact, the opening of The Joint Chiropractic – East Memphis clinic in 2017 was one of the brand’s most successful nationally at the time.
“I had tremendous support from The Joint Corporate Office for this location and followed the brand’s location selection model. Today this chiropractic office is thriving and I’m looking for a location nearby to balance the flow of patients. I would say this growth shows the success I see as a result of smart site selection, ”added Kolwaite.
Join the movement
For more information on The Joint’s franchise opportunities, visit thejointfranchise.com or call 480-405-7497. For more information on careers, please visit thejoint.com/careers or send a message to [email protected]