Dr. Terry McCoskey
We recently interviewed Dr. Terry McCoskey of Fairborn Ohio who has been a practicing upper cervical chiropractor for over 25 years. Dr. McCoskey has been able to build an extremely successful upper cervical practice almost exclusively through internal marketing and referrals. Dr. McCoskey will also be one of the emcees along with Dr. Ian Bulow at the upcoming Upper Cervical Experience Event in New Orleans.
In this interview we discussed how to keep the fun in your practice, how every day is a miracle and the upcoming “rock show”. You will love it!
Introduction to Upper Cervical
Dr. Bill: Dr. Terry, good to talk to you today I am very excited to hear how you’re helping people out there in Ohio.
Dr. Terry: I’m thrilled, Bill. Thanks for having me. Glad to be a part of it.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely. So I always like to find out the back story of how you got into chiropractic. What was your driving force to become a chiropractor?
Dr. Terry: Well, it’s simple. My Mom was a staff person in a chiropractic office. She started working in a chiropractic practice when I was probably in 4th grade. And, so, part of her compensation revolved around my brother, and my Dad, and my Mom all receiving chiropractic care as part of her experience as an employee in that office.
By the time I’m in the 7th grade, I kind of already knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. I kind of started gearing everything through junior high and high school. He held me together all through junior high athletics and high school athletics. But I knew as a 7th grade person that’s what I wanted to be someday.
Dr. Bill: Interesting, so early on in life you had that light bulb moment go on where you’re saying, “I can do this too.”
Dr. Terry: Well, what’s wild is he didn’t tell me about the power that made the body is the power that heals the body. He didn’t go into an extraordinary explanation of what chiropractic is. He wasn’t even the chiropractor that put it in my head that it might be a good idea for me to become a chiropractor. But I just observed. I would walk home from school and his practice was kind of on my way home, and, so I would hang out in his reception space for the last hour and a half of my Mom’s work day.
I would sit there and do my homework or whatever, waiting for her to finish her day. You observe things as a young person. I’m watching people go in one way and they’re coming out differently. They’re coming out better, happier. I know that he is not using drugs, he’s not dealing with blood. I don’t do well with either of those things. His staff was nice, I noticed they didn’t work with everybody. If he couldn’t help people, he didn’t keep them.
He set his own hours. He seemed to be generally a happy guy and made a decent living. So, I’m thinking, “You know what? This is a thing I could do.” And then, of course, I was under care. He was a full spine segmental chiropractor. And then, probably in my early high school years, we changed. We started going to a different chiropractor. So we drove 40 minutes one way to get to that guy.
And he was actually the one who said, “Hey, Have you ever thought about, you know, becoming a chiropractor.” And I said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I’m already on track.” So it worked out really nicely.
Dr. Bill: Very cool, so, it was just sitting there seeing the whole practice in action on a day-to-day basis, as you waited for your Mom, that really put the thought in your head. More than even the mentorship or the direction from the original chiropractor.
Dr. Terry: Yes, absolutely. It was just an observational thing. I didn’t know who God was back then. I didn’t know who Jesus was back then, so that wasn’t really part of my upbringing. But once I did learn those things, and I discovered those things when I was at chiropractic school. My testimony for Jesus begins in chiropractic school as well.
At the end of the day, I can look backwards in time, even as a young person, and say that God has had a hand in my life for quite some time. And you’ll hear chiropractors also, they’ll say, “You know, I don’t feel that I picked this job. I feel that this job picked me.” And I think to ignore God’s role in that would be a mistake. For me, it’s been nothing but a blessing.
And then, we get out of school and we do our thing, and we came back to Ohio. And we just are very blessed to be able to bless other people with the power that made the body and the way that God’s engineered it. And the function follows form conversation. So, yes, I can look back in time and see that it has been well laid out for me. All I had to do was not goof it up.
Dr. Bill: It’s always interesting to look back and see the fingerprints of God on your life.
Dr. Terry: It’s extraordinary, next to my own salvation, my favorite gift, my best gift is the life that He put in front of me and the profession that He has chosen for me. And like I said, my job is to be a good steward, not goof things up, just mange them as effectively and as appropriately as possible so they can benefit as many people as we can touch.
Dr. Bill: Very cool. I know that you’re a NUCCA practitioner, when did you actually get interested in upper cervical? Or when did you start moving in that direction? Was that during school?
Dr. Terry: It was, and I don’t know how it was when you started school but in Palmer, this was in ’86-’87, freshmen or new people coming into the campus all go to one big classroom. It was one big auditorium so rather than changing classrooms to go to each different professor for their class, we stayed in one big auditorium and each professor came to us.
All of our class work was done in that one setting. And so, you kind of start figuring out where to sit in the room, and some people were up-front people, some people are middle-of-the-row people, some people are back-row people, but you start kind of accumulating a circle of friends. And people you can relate to, and you begin to study with as study partners or whatever and just socialize with.
And one of my friends, a person that became a good friend of mine was Bobby Goodman. He was coming in from Oklahoma, and he was coming from an upper cervical perspective. I didn’t know about upper cervical, I was coming from a segmental full spine perspective, that’s what I thought chiropractic was. And he thought his version is what chiropractic was.
And, so as we compared ideas and I came to respect him as a friend and as a man, you know, his ideas kind of made a lot of sense to me. And then Dr. Brooks, Bob Brooks was our adoptive class doctor, so that meant he would be at our college, at least quarterly kind of mentoring students. And as it turns out that was Bobby’s field practitioner, so they had a good relationship.
And once I started experiencing his mentorship, it was obvious to me that I had to pursue that. We started going to NUCCA’s seminars, this was probably in the 3rd quarter. By the time we’re in 3rd quarter, Bobby and I, and a group of people started driving to NUCCA seminars in Monroe, Michigan back and forth twice a year. And those were post level graduate classes. They would let students come but we weren’t their favorite people.
It was a fascinating time. Dr. Gregory was alive then, obviously. There was an old regime of guys in NUCCA, Dr. Berti and Dr. Pond, just a great group of guys. And eventually they kind of started mentoring us as well as students. Once I got into 3rd quarter NUCCA became my focus. Once I adopted that as my truth, I really didn’t divert from that the whole way through school and I’ve never done anything else.
When we graduated, I joined a guy in practice here in Fairborn who’d been in practice for 40 years and he was ready to slow way, way down. I was ready to speed way, way up. He had an upper cervical focus as well, he was a patient of Dr. Gregory’s, so he would drive to Monroe to get adjusted and see Dr. Gregory, and then after Dr. Gregory passed he would drive up to see Dr. Denton. Yes, NUCCA’s been the focus since 3rd quarter for me and I haven’t looked left or right since.
Building a Big Practice through Internal Chiropractic Marketing
Dr. Bill: Very cool. So then you went to Fairborn, Ohio and you were telling me just before we started that, it is just outside of Dayton, right?
Dr. Terry: Yes, kind of the northeast corner of Dayton, right off I-70 and 675.
Dr. Bill: So you went up in the Ohio area and I know you’ve been able to build a real nice practice up there. Tell me about your practice, I know you’ve trained associates over the years and grown your practice to a good level. Tell me about your practice and some of the success you’ve had there.
Dr. Terry: We just feel really blessed to be in this area, it’s not like a vacation wonderland. We don’t have mountains or an ocean like you guys have out there in Cali but at the end of the day we’ve got a solid base of people. Ours is a fairly blue-collar community with sprinklings of upper-middle class and lower-middle class as well.
Fairborn has about 30,000 people and near Dayton, so we’ve got a nice mix of everybody from infants and children to middle-aged people to I think my oldest guy right now is 97. We’ve built a new facility, a new clinic facility we’re there 7 years now so it doesn’t feel really new anymore. We’re kind of in the remodeling process actually, we’re freshening up paint and carpet and so forth.
We don’t take any insurance money, so everything we do is fee for service. All the people that we take care of pay their own way. We probably see somewhere between 275 to 300 patient visits a week. People come from all over Ohio, there’s not a lot NUCCA people, so we tend to have people that drive 3 and 4 hours it’s not uncommon.
We’re just blessed, we just feel very fortunate to be here. I’ve got a new associate, we’ve had a lot of precepting doctors, kids that come though college and they spend three or four months here with us. Now I have my son-in-law who just graduated from Life University in December, he did his preceptorship with us for three months. He and my daughter and my two grandchildren just moved back to our community, and he is going to be serving with us for at least the next 2 years before he decides if he either wants to stay here and join us and take over when I slow down or he’ll figure out where he wants to be in the world, because I don’t have any desire to slow down anytime soon.
My son-in-law just got his license last week, he is like the newest chiropractor in Ohio right now. He’s ready to light it up, he’s very excited. The upper cervical experience that we’re kind of talking about is coming at just the perfect time. He’ll be able to lock horns with a lot of great upper cervical people, he’ll be able to hear some motivational things and some research-oriented things, staff training, that’s going to be a rock show as well.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely, yes, I want to talk about that more in a moment. For me it’s all about the people that that need help with upper cervical. Tell me about one of your favorite patient stories from the past 25 years, just something where you really had an amazing experience with a patient.
Dr. Terry: Well everyday and you know this, but every day you get to basically hand people the keys to their life. So many people are just despondent with health challenges that they can’t explain, and they’ve tried so many different things to get them under control. And when you start talking to them about cause and effect and the intelligence in the universe and the way the body’s engineered, it’s like you’re giving them back the keys to their life.
For example today, I just got home from office hours just a short time ago and one of my favorite stories of this day was a little seven year old guy who hasn’t been able to sleep dry in his bed through the night since he was born. I think he’s probably now been under our care three or four weeks, he’s been in our office probably half a dozen times.
And today he could not get the smile off of his face because he’s been dry in his bed for the last 3 nights and that’s a brand new thing for him. But if you sat out in the front room, and you know this, if you sat out in the reception space at anybody’s office you would hear magical things from people who couldn’t get pregnant and suddenly they are. To people who’ve had chronic pain that just fades into the background. Every day you get to hear favorite stories, it’s just a matter of which one do you want to pick.
Dr. Terry: Hearing, vision, digestive things, if you sat out in the reception space all day long you would think you’d cured everything from hemorrhoids to pimples and you don’t. Really all you’re doing is liberating the body’s ability to restore order in itself. And teaching people that concept is so empowering to them and it means they’re not dependent on you, and they’re not dependent on their family doctors, and they’re not dependent on medication.
They’re dependent on the wisdom that it’s already inside of them and if you can teach them those things you can sit back and watch the magic all day long.
Dr. Bill: That’s great. Every day is a different story and every person’s story is unique and it can make just an incredible impact in their life, in their relationships with their family, their work and all these things. Sometimes you can even take for granted the miracles you see all the time.
Dr. Terry: Sure, we get to the point where we kind of expect it, and it could become mundane if you weren’t careful. One of the things that I think is critical in our office is we celebrate it with people. Yes, we expect things to improve. Of course we expect things to improve, but you don’t want to sweep that under the rug.
You want to be able to reach out to them and just celebrate it with them. Whether it’s a high-five or a tearful hug, you’ve got to get on their level and be where they’re at. And never ever minimize the impact of that. They’re looking for answers and the nice thing is in chiropractic that we have them. Yes, it’s a gift every day to watch people have their body balance restored and set the stage for getting back to their normal healthy life. It’s fabulous.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely. Let’s shift gears now, and still talking about your practice. This is obviously about upper cervical marketing, we’re focused on marketing. Marketing can take a lot of different forms. What are some of the most effective forms of marketing that you have seen work well in your practice and in your community?
Dr. Terry: Okay. Well, in my mind, and I’m sure your listeners and your readers maybe have their own opinion on what marketing is. In my mind, marketing is everything that we think, say and do. In other words, the colors on the walls in the office matters, the design of the office, the location of the office, the language that you use, the way that you dress and present yourself. These are all things that I think are important for attraction.
Whether we’d like to acknowledge that or not, we are attracting people. The question is, are we attracting those we want to serve or are we attracting something other than that? For me, marketing is everything from the things I mentioned to doing internal things in the office.
We do a lot of fun stuff. We have Opening Day, Red Day, we have recently celebrated here, and you may already now this, but the Ohio State Buckeye’s are the National Collegiate Champions. We celebrate fun things and that gives our patients and the people in our community an opportunity to experience what we do in a fun way. We’ve had Nascar Day or we’ve had just internal events that are sometimes fun days.
We do a lot of things that are community driven as well, some charity stuff that we’ll do as well such as a food drive or a coats for kids drive just to get our name out into the community, and often times there’s no expectation. We don’t necessarily do those things to attract new patients, we do those things to be an active servant in our community.
And the natural outcome of that is that the people are attracted to it. Yes, in my mind, marketing is everything that happens in and around the practice. The question is, “Is it the quality that you want, the content that you want?” Everybody has a Facebook page, and everybody has a web site, and these things are fabulous but they need to reflect your purpose and your passion and your commitment to service. And then suddenly, people are attracted to that. That’s kind of how I approached marketing for 25 years now. It’s just being of service.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely! Marketing is everything that you do and say within the practice and in the community when it comes to you representing yourself to the community around you. I think that’s absolutely true and something that is missed in a lot of offices.
It’s having that cohesive experience for the patient. Internally, everything from, like you said, the paint on the walls, to the furniture you have, and the pictures you decide to put on the walls, and the things that your front desk says, and the way they answer the phone, and every little thing within the office is all part of that experience, right?
Dr. Terry: That’s it. That’s in my opinion. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s a great strategy for marketing or not, but that’s always been the one that we use. And again, it has to revolve around what’s in it for them. Service has to be your top priority and meeting other people’s need. Somebody famous once said, “The best way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.”
So our task is just to be providing a service that people can build value around especially in a cash practice. I’m not expecting anybody else to pay their account balance, I’m expecting the person that I served to pay that exchange. That means building value into that is critical and then creating opportunities for them to refer in friends and family.
Probably 90% of the people that we serve are referred in by someone who’s already there. That’s the way we like it, so we just create those opportunities for allowing new people into the practice. It’s just the way we’ve done it for 25 years.
I don’t have any big external stuff, I don’t have an ad in the phone book, for example. Some do and some people might consider advertising to also be marketing, and I think there’s a difference there. Like I said, the law of attraction says, “What you put out is what you pull back.” We just try to create a message that is attractive to the people we enjoy serving. I don’t know if there’s any magic to that or not, but it seems to be working.
Dr. Bill: Well, yes. And what I’m hearing from you as well is that you give your patients tools to refer, as well.
Dr. Terry: Oh, absolutely.
Dr. Bill: And opportunities to refer. I was just talking to another doctor recently about that. If you just take care of people and hope they refer that’s usually not a very good strategy. You’ve got to help them refer you, correct?
Dr. Terry: Yes, in fact we think of the people in our practice become part of our mission and vision. Our mission and vision revolves around helping people understand their responsibility and their role with managing their health. I think of it no differently that if you saw somebody drowning you would throw them a rope, so when you see somebody suffering it’s your responsibility as somebody who knows the whole truth now.
It’s a responsibility that you have to say, “Hey, if I had something that could help you would you like me to tell you?” Whether it’s your spouse, a family member, or a friend that you see at church, or at the grocery store maybe a complete stranger. We coach our patients into being part of our mission and vision and to serve as many people as we can. Yes, it’s a responsibility we all have, once you know the truth you’re accountable for sharing it.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely, yes. Do you start that process right from the beginning? Do you have a healthcare class or something that you have patients go through.
Dr. Terry: Yes, we do an orientation that we do every Tuesday night, three times a month. That is usually our introduction to spinal care, we call it 60 Minutes for Living Well. Then the third Tuesday of each month, we do a special topic. It might be a condition based thing, it might be, for example women’s health issues, or men’s health issues, or something on nutrition, or something on fitness.
We’ve got a steady stream of orientations and workshops that we do in the office, and then we also take that as a presentation out into the community. We might be speaking at a Rotary Club, or a church group, or a ladies book club, so we do a lot of external messaging that gets that message out into the community as well.
The Upper Cervical Experience Event
Dr. Bill: Very cool. Wrapping it up today, Doc, what I’d like to just finish up with is, for those that are readers of our blog or our newsletter, I bet they’re going to know about the upper cervical experience event coming out hopefully. It is coming up soon, February 26th through 28th in New Orleans and that’s the inaugural upper cervical experience event mega conference. And I know I’m very excited about it and I know you are too.
Dr. Terry: Absolutely.
Dr. Bill: Can you tell everybody about your role at this event and how you’re going to be involved in this?
Dr. Terry: Well I’m bringing my staff and my associate doc. We’re coming down to get lit up, this is basically the combination of three other upper cervical events. We’re just bringing them all under one roof, so you’re going to see things on staffing and training, you’re going to see things on motivation, you’re going to see things on office procedure, you’ll see things on science and research.
We’re bringing the whole upper cervical community together to just kind of get connected with some fellowship, but more importantly learn some of the same things, be able to cross reference things, their techniques. My role in that is very simple. They contacted me and said, “Hey would you be willing to help?” And I said, “Yes, anything you want.”
Then I never heard anything back, until Ian Bulow gets in touch with me, and I know Ian just casually, but he gets in touch and says, “Hey, you know I heard we’re doing this thing together.” I said, “What do you mean we’re doing this thing together.” He says, “Well, we’re going to emcee this event.” And I said, “Oh, well I knew they were asking me to speak, but I didn’t know what they wanted me to do.”
So as it turns out, yes, he and I are going to be kind of directing traffic if you will. So that everybody can have access to the entertainment venues that are going to be available as well as, like I said, the research stuff, the practice management stuff, the fellowship stuff, all under one big umbrella for upper cervical.
It has the capacity to be an absolute rock show, I think it’s going to be really fun. If you can’t have fun in New Orleans, you can’t have fun anywhere.
Dr. Bill: I guess so, that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never been to New Orleans so my wife and I are excited about that as well. It’s kind of a no brainer, I think, for anybody that is practicing upper cervical. I mean, this is everything that you could want in a conference, all rolled up into one.
Dr. Terry: Yes, and I know there are students coming. I, in fact, got a text from one of my former students at Sherman College, down in Spartanburg, and she texted me today and says, “Guess who’s coming to the upper cervical experience?” She’s rounding up a group of students from Sherman. I know they’ll be students there also from Life University down at Atlanta.
What a great way to just get indoctrinated with solid people, reputable, nationally known speakers and all of it revolving around taking care of people in an upper cervical model.
Dr. Bill: Absolutely, very excited about it. So, doctor, before we finish up today, anything else that you would like to share with our audience. We have a whole bunch of doctors and students, and everyone who reads these interviews and loves them. Anything that you’d like to say closing up today?
Dr. Terry: Well, I would just suggest that people need to stay true to the principle. There are a lot of people politically in chiropractic who want chiropractic to be morphed into something that it is not. I would just ask from a student perspective all the way into the field doctor’s perspective that they would stay rooted in the principles of chiropractic.
It is what it is and it should always be what it is and it should never be morphed into something that it is not. That would be my message, I guess, is just stay true, stay informed, stay educated, be involved in your state associations and your local associations because we need an upper cervical voice in these meetings. And staying true to the principles will help keep us on the right track for the future service in chiropractic in America and the world.
Make sure you download our chiropractic marketing calendar below and put the upper cervical experience event on it along with all of the other marketing activities that you will be participating in 2015!
Let’s work together to bring Upper Cervical to the masses!!!!!!