Mentorship for Your Upper Cervical Practice
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Dr Nick Tedder of Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Georgia. Dr Tedder has built one of the largest upper cervical practices in the world and is now offering a variety of mentorship opportunities for upper cervical chiropractors and students. It was a real pleasure to speak with him and get his insight into the very important topic of mentorship. I hope you enjoy our interview below…
Dr. Nick Tedder: how it all started
Dr. Bill: I would like to get started with your chiropractic story. What first got you into chiropractic care and specifically into upper cervical?
Dr. Nick: Okay, I’ll try to condense a very long story into a short version. I was introduced to chiropractic around the age 15-ish, 16-ish in a very odd way. I was hanging out with a buddy of mine one summer and he a year or two older than me. We were out driving around one summer, messing around, doing what people do in the summertime when you’re a kid.
He says, “We got to stop by the doctor.” I didn’t know what kind of doctor I was like, I don’t want to go to a doctor and wait for three hours in a room. He was like no man it won’t take but five minutes. To make the long story short I went with him and it happened to be a chiropractor.
I didn’t know what a chiropractor was, I haven’t even heard of it to be honest with you. We walked into an office that was more of a traditional high volume principal kind of chiropractic clinic. You know huge high volume 700 to 800 visits a week, I’m kind of blown away. I was with him through the process of checking in, getting adjusted and we’re on our way.
When I got back in the car I was like, what in the heck was that? You just went in and got popped on your back and he starts off telling me the story and I was like that’s kind of cool. I always wanted to be a doctor, I didn’t know what I was going to do but I always wanted to be a doctor.
So I called the chiropractor up and asked him if I could come in and shadow him in his office and ask him some questions. He said no but you could come to my orientation class so I did. I listened to him talk about the chiropractic principle and I fell in love with it.
I was a patient and started getting under care, got my family under care. My mom, my brother, my dad, pretty much everybody under care. I didn’t have any particular problems if you will, there’s a lot of people typically who are introduced to chiropractic expecting some sort of miracle and saying they have problems. I didn’t, I was actually turned on by the principle.
I got involved and ended up going to chiropractic school. I was into the full spine model of a combination of CBP, and Thompson and Pierce techniques which were the main techniques he used. In school that’s what I gravitated towards because that’s what he told me to learn.
Went to Life College for about a year, a year and a half or so and they lost their accreditation. I ended up moving to Sherman which I think was a godsend because it eventually led me to upper cervical. I got to Sherman and did my thing there. One of the guys I met towards the end of my Sherman career is a doctor whose name is Stephen Conicello who did knee chest upper cervical. I actually gravitated towards him because he was a high volume practitioner in the student clinic.
I was like oh man I need to learn what you’re doing because he did upper cervical. He started talking about upper cervical and at the time I was like that is crap, there’s no such thing. I didn’t think two things about it until I got into practice.
We fast forward a couple of years and I’m out in practice with the doctor I met at 15, I’m in an associateship with him. You get into practice and sometimes the cover of book looks a lot better than what the contents have in it. I was getting into the office and teaching people that the body heals itself and the body, the adjustments, nerve pressure the whole thing. I started seeing even as I changed curve whether it was a CBP curve change trying to get people to near normal or Pierce types of adjustments or whatever it was, I never really saw the nerve system stabilize. I never really saw people truly get well.
There really wasn’t an objective model to seek correction. I also noticed that people really had the same problems six, seven, eight, nine years later and we were just checking it off as you just need more adjustments, or it’s something to do with your lifestyle. I started getting a little frustrated with the whole chiropractic thing.
About that time I was thinking man, I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t know if I want to continue doing this, I’m just not enjoying the whole process, it’s not what I originally signed up for, $200,000 in education. I talked to my doctor who I was working for and he gave me handful of Sigafoose tapes.
I started listening to these tapes and yeah they were tapes. They weren’t CDs they were tapes. I think it was ten hours of Sigafoose or something, I was listening to this thing day and night. I was listening in my headphones, I was listening in my car, I was listening in the gym and one thing kept coming up. They kept talking about this thing called the brain stem, he talked about getting people to hold adjustments He talked about getting people clear when they didn’t need to be adjusted.
I was like wow what it is, you got to read volume 18, the research clinic. I never really knew that stuff even though I went to life and to Sherman. Even going to a principled chiropractor never really knew that kind of stuff. I started researching it and the long end of the story was I started looking into where I could go learn this stuff.
I came across a group of KCUCS at the time which was headed up by Dr. Rob Kessinger. It was kind of a neat thing, it was a threefold process that got me into upper cervical. I started researching all this stuff and I saw the KCUCS. I ended up going to one of the seminars.
The week before I went to the seminar, I got a chiropractic advertisement for a management group at my office. On the front cover of this management advertisement was Dr. Stephen Conicello, yes I’m like wow. I went to school with this guy.
I start reading this article and it talked about how he’s taking care of MS patients, Parkinson’s patients, cancer patients all this craziness. I’m like what…this is not what we’re seeing. You’re getting them well and you’re talking about upper cervical, keep in mind I just got turned on to this whole thing through Sigafoose.
The third part of the whole thing was, at the same time my wife she wasn’t my wife at the time- I was dating her, she started getting sick. Like crazy sick female problems, migraines, headaches, sick. Our answer was let’s get you adjusted three times a day instead of once and she just started getting sick, and sick, and sick.
I’m like all right Sigafoose is talking to me, Conicello is talking to me, my wife is talking to me so really God is sitting there going wake up, pay attention. This was in the moment where I was going to quit chiropractic. To make a very long story short I ended up going to that seminar that week, KCUCS and I remember to this day the very first time it was just an amazing, life changing seminar on upper cervical.
Sure enough who was there? Dr. ConiCello, he was one of the teachers. I was like you know what, this is almost too freaky. I ended up talking to him that weekend about my wife and he’s like bring her up to my office in Greenville. I live in North Georgia so it was an hour and a half drive.
I took her up there and we took upper cervical films and basically figured out that the chiropractor that we were seeing was adjusting her number one, on the wrong side but doing it two to three times a day. It was a dislocated atlas, it was crazy. I drove my wife up there and we got checked on the weekends.
After two, three, four months she just completely turned around. She’s completely well now, I was like man I got to learn this stuff. I ended up learning it, I did about two to three weeks of Kessinger’s certification program. Believe it or not I actually asked my chiropractor, the guy I was associating with- I’d like to do this in the office. He said no.
I said well I got to leave, so I ended up opening a practice. That’s how I got into it, I opened an upper cervical practice at the time which was about 2008/2009 and hit the ground from there. That’s how I got into it all. That’s how I got into chiropractic and how I got into the upper cervical part.
Dr. Bill: Awesome that’s a great story. I had a similar experience when I was doing my associateship I came out of a full spine office and so forth and just that experience of a frustration. Is this all there is? Is it just talk or could we do something that really lasts?
Dr. Nick: Exactly.
Dr. Bill: It gets to that point where you start thinking, did God design our bodies this horribly that we have to get adjusted every day or every week for the rest of your lives? It just seems that frustration, I know what you’re feeling.
Dr. Nick: I think what got me was, the light bulb went off when Sigafoose used to say, the healing doesn’t come from the adjustment. It comes from the holding so the body can repair in between adjustments. I was like wow that’s so important. That spark really made sense to me.
My wife holds adjustments for nine months at a time now and as opposed to getting adjusted twice a day, five days a week.
Dr. Bill: That’s the fundamental difference between upper cervical philosophy and general chiropractic philosophy in many ways. In the general chiropractic philosophy basically the power comes in being adjusted.
Dr. Nick: Exactly.
Dr. Bill: In upper cervical the power comes in staying in adjustment. That fundamental difference makes all the difference in the world.
Dr. Nick: Yes, exactly. That was the missing link I think. That’s my opinion, I think that’s the missing link in the entire profession.
Dr. Bill: Yes. Absolutely.
Going out on Your Own
Dr. Bill: Let’s talk more about your practice now. You get out of the full spine office you were in, you did your own practice. Tell me the city that you went to practice in, tell me about getting started in your practice, what was it like the first few years and so forth.
Dr. Nick: I practiced full spine in a little town called Lawrenceville, Georgia which was basically about an hour north of the city. When I opened my new practice I did not want to deal with competing with the other guy or whatever, you have to sign a contract. I went a little bit more north, it’s not little anymore but it’s a town called Dacula, Georgia which is like Dracula but without the R.
We just opened up shop and working our tails off and built a very successful practice. I started off as an insurance dependent practice just because that’s all I knew and up to about two and half years we’re now 100% cash practice at this point. All we do is chiropractic, I don’t do anything else so that’s it. That’s what we do.
Dr. Bill: Excellent. You started out like you said, it’s an important thing for young doctors, doctors just starting out, students is you said when you started out you worked and you worked hard. Talk more about that.
Dr. Nick: We live in a culture now and I’m dealing with it with my kids. We live in a culture that nobody wants to work, they want to sit on their iPhone and they want the easy way out. They want to have the government do it for them.
Chiropractic there’s two ways you can go. You can go open up your own deal but you’re a business owner at that point which means you’ve got to wear many hats and the chiropractic is a very small portion of that. Whereas you have the other route where you can go join a group, or associateship, or an internship or something like that where you can be just a doctor and allow the clinic, allow the group, allow the head DC to help you out or guide you, or take care of the business side.
When I got my own practice I’m just a workaholic to be honest with you but you have to work. The energy you put in is the energy you get out. Doctors call me all the time, all the time. I might even have coached a couple of them. They don’t have any new patients…what did you do this week?
I went to Costco, and I bought some food, been sitting in my office and I’m really meditating really hard. I see the patients coming in but they’re not coming in.
When I opened my practice I had four months of build out. I didn’t sit home watching Oprah, I was out networking, I was out doing lunch and learns, I had an atlas and axis in my pocket with a James Tomasi book and everywhere I went. I went around to businesses, I went to support groups, I went to talk to business, I did everything. I was out, I was working, I was out beating the streets.
Because when I opened up I wanted to make sure, I never knock on wood, I never been in the negative. I’ve always been profitable from day one.
Dr. Bill: Wow and that comes from like you said that preparation. If you didn’t prepare those four months before you opened there’s no way you would be in that position your first month.
Dr. Nick: No, because most people are worried about what their logos look like, or how pretty the furniture is, and all that does matter on some levels. But the reality is there’s a lot of doctors out there who are killing it who basically have one room, a chair and a table.
Chiropractors especially the new docs they’re so confused when they come out of school number one. Number two, they have all these management groups throwing numbers at them so they have these expectations, they have no idea what to do. The reality is they don’t even know how to communicate chiropractic, they don’t know how to communicate.
Then they don’t want to work on top of that. This is like marketing online. How many doctors go, well hey if I don’t have two new patients next week and I’m not going to sign up. It takes preparation to make a brand and a presence, they don’t realize that.
You can’t just go through one spinal screening and get 10 new patients and you’re good for the next three months, no. You got to keep the business going. That’s one of the biggest things, when doctors get into a practice whether it’s an associateship, an IC, or their own deal you got to put work in to get the reward after.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely. You mentioned something I wanted to get into a little bit more. You said when students first come out of school they’re confused, talk more about that.
Dr. Nick: Number one everybody has an ego when they come out of school that they’re the best. I’m sure you’ve experienced this where you’ve had a guy come out of school and he’s like, I’m the best. I know how to adjust, I was the best guy at the clinic. People always sent me their sick people, blah, blah, blah.
Then they get into the office and they’re like a deer in headlights where I can’t take an x-ray, can you show me how to do an x-ray, head tilt I can’t. The adjustment was horrible. You come out of school and you’re confused number one on the technique end because in school it’s all la de da.
You’re also confused on the business end because you have this management group who tells you that you need to see 1,000 a week or you suck, or this management group says you need to make a million dollars or you’re not good. You got to do nutrition, from a business standpoint they’re confused. I think my experience with new guys that I hire and train, they’re’ some of the most amazing people in the world but when you put them in front of a patient all of a sudden they forget how to talk.
They forget how to communicate, they forget how to bond with a patient.
They just go in and they talk to a patent like they’re talking to a doctor friend, or they’re in scarcity mode. All of a sudden they’re scared to ask for money or they look at a patient like a dollar bill because they got to pay the rent. Confusion in the fact that where do I go with this thing, you know what I mean?
Dr. Bill: Right and as you said a lot of it starts in your mind. As you come out of school, you got your mind going in 50 different directions. You just don’t have any of that clarity, your purpose and what you’re focused on, on a day to day basis. All that noise in your head becomes a lack of confidence and clarity in the office which is probably the number one killer of doctors, is just not having confidence and clarity in their practice.
Dr. Nick: I’ll tell you this, I’m going to speak from an upper cervical perspective. The upper cervical crowd seems to be a little bit higher on the food chain of ego. They come out thinking they’re just the best and they probably are, most upper cervical guys are phenomenal at their techniques and that’s where they go. But when it comes to running a business I also see the opposite.
I also see a lot of upper cervical guys who are struggling more than traditional chiropractors because they’re so involved in their technique and how great their technique is that they forget that there’s this thing called compassion, and love, and communication, and business. You know what I mean.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely.
Dr. Nick: That’s the thing as well. You come out of school and you just don’t know where to begin. You start doing things that people tell you or you start spending money on all these products. The next thing you know you’re still broke.
The Importance of Marketing
Dr. Bill: Talk more about that, we are Upper Cervical Marketing and people do come here looking for marketing information. Talk more about the nuts and bolts about what you see to be successful from a marketing perspective, for you and your associates over the past seven or eight years since you’ve had your own practice.
Dr. Nick: This is what I find but I don’t know numbers, from what I hear we probably run one of the highest volume practices in the world as far as upper cervical goes. Probably even collection wise, from what I hear. I don’t study other doctors but this is what I hear from other doctors talking to me.
I have people calling me, I have three phone calls a day what are you doing, teach me what you’re doing? This is the bottom line when you come from a marketing standpoint what is the best patient in the world? A referral.
When I think of marketing and when I think of building relationships in my community and in my practice I want to develop a referral. I want a family practice or a family that comes see me refer me people. I want the disciples just like Jesus had disciples. Why do I want that? Number one because it’s a lot less work on me eventually but number two, it’s much more fun to have a referral that’s already pre-educated than somebody who is a fresh cold call.
However when you’re new in practice you don’t have that luxury so as I’ve explained to my doctors is this marketing is a lot of footwork but you’ve got to build relationships. The best way to do that is to know your truth, it goes like this if I go see a movie this weekend and one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time is I think The Lone Soldier that movie with Mark Wahlberg.
When I saw that movie I couldn’t quit talking about it, whenever I had a dinner party at my house, or whenever I’d bump into a chiropractic buddy I was like man you guys got to go see this movie. Just that passion, you’re so excited. Man you have to go see this movie.
When I got into upper cervical, my wife’s story of her getting sick and getting well how could you not get that same passion even more? Marketing is really about your passion so when you go and speak this truth to people, not even sales or anything. When you simplify the truth and go listen I’ve got to tell you about this thing because number one everybody needs this type of care but let me tell you what’s going on here.
Upper cervical in my opinion is an easy sell if you want to talk from a sales standpoint because based on this how could you say no? I think marketing is number one mental, based on the fact that you got to have a passion and a purpose for that. You got to have a reason why you’re going to do this spinal screening. People hate screenings, why? Because it feels like a sales job, it feels demeaning.
But if you could say, I got to go tell these people so the cheapest way to do it right now is to go out with a table and a spine and go tell my story. Secondarily if I teach my doctors this is your goal, a hundred new patients in the first 90 days in your practice go work your tail off. Get 100 new patients and I’m going to teach you how to take 100 and get three to four referrals each and now you have 400 new patients.
Those 400 I’m going to teach you how to get three patients out of those so 90 days and six months in the practice you should really not have to do a lot of external marketing. That’s the goal.
Dr. Bill: Excellent.
Dr. Nick: It has to come with building a tribe, it has to come with a purpose, it has to come with a unique message and upper cervical does all that. You know what I mean. It’s a simple message and simplicity is the key.
Dr. Bill: Referrals are the lifeblood of any practice, we’re online marketing experts and we help doctors with that. But if you don’t have a strong referral practice you could be doing all the online marketing in the world- it’s not going to help. You’ve got to build that referral based practice and everything else you get from an external perspective will help grow your practice.
You got to get that base, that first 100 patients for those new doctors is crucial. You got to get that in place.
Dr. Nick: There’s got to be some external branding going on because you’re building a relationship in your community. Internet marketing, lunch and learns, I’m not a spinal screen person but lunch and learns. These are things that should build high end relationships. We do lunches with doctors so you’re building a brand.
I heard of a management group that bragged that they get 150 new patients a month. I’m like whoa, that is horrible. That means you’re not keeping people. If I get 150 new patients a month I have an 18,000 a week practice. That means you’re turning people over left and right.
It makes more sense to me to do 40 or 50 new patients and 100% of those stay under my care for a lifetime than 150 and 10 do that. It’s much more expensive to bring in a brand new client that’s not a referral. Referrals from a cost perspective that’s the most inexpensive way you can go.
Mentors Are the Key to Success
Dr. Bill: Absolutely. As we’re wrapping up here doc I just want to talk a little bit about your practice. We got some students listening to this and that type of thing, new doctors coming out of school. If they’re looking for a mentor relationship which is what I highly recommend- I recommend that. I just did an interview the other day with a student group and they asked what’s your number one advice to students? I said absolutely find mentors.
Mentors are the key to success. You can have mentors through lots of different ways. Through the things that you listen to, the things that you read and those types of things but that one on one mentorship from a doctor on a daily basis for a couple of years or whatever that may be. Those formative years when you’re first coming out of school like you said when you’re so confused. It’s a great time to really build some success principles that you can have for the rest of your career.
Talk about the opportunities in your office for students and new doctors.
Dr. Nick: Great, this is what happens. We get out of school and we get lost in the mix. I’m sure I’ll probably get some backlash but I could really care less. There’s enough management groups in chiropractic that will just blow your mind. There’s good and bad to all of them but the problem is if you have these management groups that typically don’t know.
There’s just milking money out of these people and you do have one to three percent of people that succeed in this thing but overall people are still going through it. It’s a common thing, you have doctors that have been through eight different management companies. That’s embarrassing, that’s so embarrassing.
What happened like in the ‘40s and ‘50s we didn’t have management groups right, how did those guys succeed? Chiropractors who were doing it loved it so much that they took the new guys under their wings and showed them how to do it. They didn’t charge them $200,000 and 20% of their collections to let me teach you how to go market yourself, you know what I mean. How to shake a hand.
When I started getting really successful, the beautiful thing about being very successful is without even advertising I had my phone ringing off the hook daily. What are you doing, what are you doing? Out of the goodness of my heart I would start helping people. One day my wife says, hey Nick you’re spending 18 hours a week on the phone and you’re not getting paid for it.
I said, I know but I’m helping people. She’s like there’s got to be a better way that’s more clean, simple and a way to help more people. As I started getting to a certain level of my practice too I also noticed that one doctor can only see so many people, you can only do so much.
How do you see and change a community if I can only see so many people, well I got to teach more people what I do and bring them in with me. I decided to start developing associateship practices where I basically bring doctors in at any level, and actually now looking to even taking over offices that already exist and helping them out. In essence we bring you in and start you from scratch and we’re going to teach you how to run a high volume, high price, you can get paid a lot of money for what we do.
What we do is very good and chiropractors are getting underpaid big time for it. We teach you how to communicate, we teach you how to run a practice, we teach you how to see a lot of people, we teach you how to make a lot of money, we teach you how to run a 100% cash practice where insurance is not involved at all. Don’t even look at insurance, I don’t even know what that is.
We’re a family practice. I only do referrals really, 95% of referrals I see. We teach you how to do that. What we also do, if it benefits the relationship, we end up putting people into satellite clinics, helping those doctors build up a very successful clinic and if they like it they can stay in it. If they want to buy it they can buy it, if they want to move on they can move on. We allow growth opportunities for people just like we just recently changed our company direction where we’re acquiring some of these practice who call me that are struggling.
I take ownership of the practice, we quadruple their practice, their doctor’s income goes through the roof and they’re also learning how to be a business person on top of that so they have freedom. That’s really the idea of my current status in practice is to build doctors into success machines so that they can go out and be successful and hopefully mentor other people as well.
As the profession goes on, we need to get rid of the scam artists and the leeches and start teaching doctors how to be doctors, how to be successful business men and women. So that chiropractors, so upper cervical can dominate the health care market.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely. What’s the way to get in contact with you and find out more about what your office is doing?
Dr. Nick: People can always come on my website www.getwellga.com, that’s my main office website. There’s links on there that you can contact me if you’re interested in working with me or looking into some sort of mentorship. They can also go on Facebook if they want and look me up by just my name Nick Tedder.
They can even call me. I can give a cellphone number out I don’t mind if they call me. That’s probably the easiest way to do it.
Dr. Bill: Sure if you want to go ahead.
Dr. Nick: They can call me, my number is 404-202-7741. If you’re a student I’m involved in a couple of different programs where we teach knee chest, but we’re in the process of putting together some sort of mentorship business page for people to get involved in some business training. I’ll have updates on that as I go through.
They can come to the knee chest seminars if they’re interested in knee chest. We also do student nights at the practice if you go to Life College or Sherman. We do student nights where it has nothing to do with upper cervical we just work on developing students into doctors. Those are the ways you can get in touch with me.
Dr. Bill: Awesome. Doc really appreciate your time today, it’s been really helpful for our doctors and for our students that are reading this. Just as a final thought, anything that you’d like to leave with the profession at large as they read this information?
Dr. Nick: I got to tell you my last word of thought would be to dig back into your heartstrings and figure out what drives you to do what you do. Everybody’s got a story and if your story is just to make a lot of money, or just to have a high volume practice, or just to get new patients that’s a dead end road.
You got to have a vision, and a mission, and a passion. What drives you is what’s going to make you succeed. Not a marketing program, or a system, or a nice chair. You got to find that passion and turn that passion into a story, and get that story out to the masses. There’s a lot of sick people out there that need what we have.
I guess that I would say get out of your head as far as technique. I know especially in upper cervical we’re fighting the battles. You’ve got knee chest versus this guy, who cares? Let’s get people under upper cervical care and let’s get them excited about what we do.
If you really think on that level the possibilities are limitless.
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