At Upper Cervical Marketing our mission is to GROW YOU, YOUR PRACTICE AND UPPER CERVICAL.
Dr. Davis: Dr. Lucas and Amy Watterson are 2001 graduates of Palmer College and have built an incredibly successful Upper Cervical Practice in Morgantown, West Virginia, known as Mountain State Wellness. Their practice is all about increasing human vitality. Welcome Dr. Lucas and Dr. Amy.
Dr. Amy: Hi Bill! How are you tonight?
Dr. Davis: I’m doing great. Glad to have you guys on. And we’ve just recently met and excited to talk with you and learn more about you and your practice and how it all started and how you’ve grown to be so successful and so let’s start with … where it started.
So, you came out of Palmer College, the two of you and got started in practice. So, go ahead tell me about that transition.
Dr. Amy: Well, we actually had the opportunity Bill initially to get an associateship, and we actually felt fortunate to find a situation where an office would actually take both of us. Many times, to find an associateship with an Upper Cervical Doctor can be challenging as a new graduate. Let alone finding one office that would take two doctors. And so, we were fortunate enough to actually receive an opportunity from Dr. Brooks in Tulsa, Oklahoma to go and work as associate doctors in his practice for a period of time. And so, we made that decision to do that. And we spent about nine months in Dr. Brooks’ practice to learn what we consider to be really good adjusters. And after about nine months, we decided that we had prepared ourselves both mentally, physically and spiritually to set out on our own adventure.
And so, we left Dr. Brooks’s practice in March of 2002 and we ended up in Morgantown, West Virginia, which was due to an extensive search. Basically, for the need for Upper Cervical Care, and we opened practice June of 2002 and have been practicing now this summer 14 years in Morgantown.
Dr. Davis: Awesome! So, I know Dr. Brooks real well. I’ve actually interviewed him and known him a long time and he’s a quite a guy and his practice is pretty awesome. So, talk about I recommend to students all the time that they should do an associate position like you guys did. And so, talk about some of the things that you learned from that experience and how that helped you as you started.
Dr. Amy: Taking care of people as far as upper cervical care Bill, what we actually found was the precision of the x-rays and in the process of taking the x-rays and the analysis process and then actually the physical adjustment for NUCCA aand Dr. Brooks was an awesome teacher. He has the ability to teach us quickly and simplify the work so that it didn’t take years to become a master and so that was one of the things that we are really thankful for in that experience. And that we were able to go out on our own with confidence knowing that we’re really going to help people and influence people’s lives immediately.
Dr. Lucas: The other thing I would add is, if you find or have the opportunity to go into a practice or let me suggest this going into as many practices as you can prior to graduating and starting your own business, would be to examine the internal systems of the practice. If you find a very productive and very efficient office, examine the systems. And then, utilize the ones you think are best for you but it’s very difficult sometimes young doctors try to reinvent the wheel. And if it works already and someone has a very prosperous and very busy practice helping others. It would save you a lot of time, effort and sometimes frustration by actually going and visiting that practice and then just replicating what they’re already doing successfully in their practice in yours. And we found that to be true. There were some really good systems we learned after Dr. Brooks has been practicing for 30 years when we were there.
Now, he has been practicing for 45 years, and so he’s kind of figured things out a little bit. And we’ve changed things since we’ve been there but the idea as you get a really good foundation, the more quickly you can become efficient in systems, the more rapidly you are able to grow in your practice because there’s room and availability for you to see larger numbers of people on a daily basis.
So, examining the systems internally are just as important to me as being able to be proficient in x-ray process, analysis and then also adjusting skills.
Dr. Amy: Another thing that helped us out a lot Bill was the idea that I actually was a chiropractic assistant before I went to chiropractic school and I was the Insurance biller. And so, I was the front desk person who got to see the ins and outs of paperwork, patient management, schedules, flow, how things worked, what didn’t work, what did work. And then I recognized that I was going to school to take care of people. And I didn’t really want to take care of paperwork. So, it was at that moment in time I decided I wasn’t going to be an insurance-based practice. And so, I was very adamant about that from day one that I would be a cash practice from day one because I wanted my focus to be on people and not paperwork.
And so, when we established our practice in Morgantown, we’ve never dealt with any type of insurance in any way shape or form. And that allows us to really take care of people at a high quality, high standard of quality of care and really build a relationship with the people we care for.
So, that’s been a huge focus of what we’ve done differently. We’ve had mentors along the way that have been ahead of us in that process. So, if we’ve had questions or we’ve had concerns, we’ve always looked to other people that have had like-mindedness in that regard as well.
Dr. Davis: Excellent. Yeah! I was talking with a group of students earlier today actually. And one of the upper cervical clubs and on a Skype call, and they asked me what was the key to practice? And I said, the thing that I noticed the difference between doctors that are highly successful versus doctors that are barely making it. There’s two things. One is their mindset and the other one is the systems they have in place. Right. And so, it’s so interesting that you mentioned that Dr. Lucas, because that’s exactly what I see as well.
Dr. Lucas: Yes. I dare say to Amy that I have gone through some extensive personal development training in the past two years to help grow ourselves and therefore our business. And by doing some personality testing and some other assessments of myself, I have determined that I am what’s considered to be an optimizer. And optimizer is someone who’s always trying to actually basically put in. I would say we put in the minimal effort but put in the least effort for the greatest return. That’s the key.
And so, we have systematized our business so that we can work 25 hours a week and yet still have a very, very great return. Much greater than the average chiropractic practice.
And so, that’s an optimizing type of attitude. We’ve done that with everything in every area of our life. And we do it because we’re living intentionally living by design and not lying our circumstances inside determine our destiny.
Dr. Davis: Hmm. So, let’s back up a little bit. Go back to when you first started. So 2002, you open up in Morgantown and you didn’t know anyone in that town from what I understand. Right? I mean was you’re going there primarily because you really believe that this is an area that is desperately needs Upper Cervical Chiropractors. Right?
Dr. Lucas: That’s right!
Dr. Davis: And so, you go there, don’t know anyone. How do you get it going? How do you first start out and start to get that practice really cranked up?
Dr. Lucas: Well, when you go to open a business of course, you can’t really do that much without a banker, a lawyer, an accountant, maybe someone to do some printing for you, maybe a marketing agency a little bit. I go to the newspaper and maybe the radio. And so, you start being these relationships of people that you so much need. And before you leave their presence or if you make a deal with them or you’re doing business with them or they’re assisting you with the process, you have to take a time to introduce yourself who you are and what you do and how it’s different and what your mission is. And if you do it with passion, you’ll be attractive to people. If you don’t do it with passion, you’ll just be another commercial and they’ll forget about you as soon as you leave their presence. But if you do with passion and energy and excitement then they’re going to remember you. So, they may not be the first person to call you instantly if there’s a patient, but they’ll at least remember you. And then if they run into somebody or they need to refer somebody or whatever, they’ll remember you because the excitement you brought to the conversation. I will tell you that the very first person we actually x-rayed and took care in our practice. Dr. Amy did, was the accountant that we hired to do our accounting.
And so, it’s a really applicable story. It’s true and then we eventually took care of our banker. We eventually took care of several bankers actually and then real estate agents.
And so, we had relationships we had to pursue to start our business and we just kind of invested in those people a little bit. And then eventually they reciprocated by either coming into the practice themselves or eventually referring some other people to our practice because they simply knew about us.
Dr. Amy: Then the other tip that we would probably give to the students starting out in practice is whoever’s in front of you, you take really good care of. And so, when you take really good care of that person and you let them know that you care about them and that you want them to restore their health and their quality of life and that you care about them as a person and not just as a patient – that builds the relationship quite quickly. And then you just ask who they know that could benefit from your care. And we did that. And I mean, to be honest with you, we started in practice in the beginning of July. And we have a woman that came in through an ad in the newspaper that we had placed in September of 2002 and she is still in our practice. She’s 84 years old and she’s probably sent us over a hundred people. And she sent us someone this week.
So, you have to really take care of people. Invest in them and let them know that you care and then they just care for you just as much as you care for them.
Dr. Davis: That’s great. So, start getting things going on. Now, do you mind sharing your numbers of kind of where you are at this point. So, when people, we talked about that you guys have a successful practice. What does that mean?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah sure! So, obviously we’ve seen a lot of the interviews you’ve done in the past and we know a lot of our friends have very successful practices. Some of which are actually producing more financially than we are, but we’re not embarrassed by our numbers at all. In fact, as we came here we’ve created a business for 14 years and it’s a very prosperous business. Considering that we know with the average chiropractic practice produces the United States. We, the past two years have collected on average $50,000 per month, which is about $600,000 per year. A little bit over that one year.
We see an average a little over 700 visits per month. We do that on twenty five hours per week. I think that’s the operative thing. Some of larger practices that I know of are working more than that. Thirty to 35, 40, 45 hours a week. And so, we’re a high-volume, high-intensity for short periods of time. And that allows us to have more time for our family, which is a very core value we have with our family.
So, that’s where we’re at. Our patient visit average is about 16, I believe. The last time I checked, our office visit average for the fee is $72 a visit. That’s not just our adjustment fee, that’s everything across the board. OVA it’s called.
And so we’re at that level. Our goal is to really get closer to $750,000 a year which we’re breaking $60,000 a month. And we think that we can get that accomplished probably this year. But we’re very happy to balance we have between office and home and then other social life things that we do.
Dr. Davis: Yeah, it’s great! And I want to talk more too about obviously you’re married and you work together and for those students who maybe are in a relationship now or are married and are going through school together or new and new out of school. Talk about that dynamic and how that all works with having your husband or wife work with you every day and just talk about that dynamic.
Dr. Lucas: Well, the first thing I would mention Bill is that I believe. I mean, I really believe that our relationship is divine, really, because we both have interesting and different talents that when brought together actually produce a very successful business.
And so, even though we both adjust and both take care of people, Amy has a very, very strong business acumen. She was raised in family businesses. She knows more about how to file taxes and pay accounting and all kinds of other crazy things dealing with the numbers that I don’t really care to mess with. And then the other side for me though is I’m the one that’s about marketing. I’m the entrepreneurial spirit. I’m the one who’s thinking about a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, where are we going to go, how are we going to get there, what do we need to change?
And it really reference us back believe it or not to a book we were required to read back at Palmer called the E-myth by Michael Gerber, which I’m sure many of your listeners have heard about. Where he says there needs to be three personalities in all businesses. There needs to be a technician, an entrepreneur and a manager. And Amy and I both are technicians technically because we both adjust and take care of people but her strengths on the other side of the business are management, people management, financial management. My strengths on the other side of the business are entrepreneurial things. How we’re going to communicate our message, how we’re going to reach the people, where we’re going to go from here, where we want to be in five years and further down the road.
And so, those talents are something that’s been kind of just organic in ourselves throughout our lifetime and we’ve been brought together. So with that being said, that allows us to have a very balanced approach to how we grow our business. Amy trusts my entrepreneurial skills after 15 years and I trust her financial management and people management skills after 15 years. And so, that allows us to each make our own decisions without questioning each other. And then, therefore not creating disagreement or arguments or disharmony in our relationship. But we don’t see each other to practice anymore.
People are like, how do you work with your spouse. When you’re seeing 70 people a day Bill, you don’t sit down and stop in the hallway and talk.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Lucas: And so, in the early days of course we did but we sat in the reception area and prayed. That’s what we did because we needed people come in the door. And so, we made our we made our relationship strong first and then if that’s strong, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re in business together or not business together. It will survive and it will thrive.
Dr. Amy: I think the only other addition to that Bill would be is we’ve never known anything different. Our relationship happened in chiropractic school and then we got married right after chiropractic school. And so, we’ve never known life without each other eight hours a day or 24 hours a day almost. And so, for us to not be together is actually more weird than for us to be together. So that’s kind of strange. I mean even amongst our friends that’s strange. So on Fridays, I’m not in the office because I’m homeschooling my kids at all.
And so, that’s the day that it’s kind of weird for Lucas and I because we’re not together all day. So, for us to be together is normal. For us to be apart is abnormal.
And so, we have always just kind of really been friends and just worked our relationship with strength and just been there together through the hard times and the good times. So I don’t think that it’s ever been a real issue for us.
Dr. Lucas: The one other thing I’ll mention is that we kind of have a common life vision Bill and that’s our slogan on our practice, increasing human vitality.
And so, we’ve made our life vision to do that whether we’re in the practice or out of the practice. You see. So when we’re in the practice, we’re adjusting spines and feeding people nutrition and giving them advice and counsel on how to be healthy and well but when we’re out of practice we almost do the same thing. We just do it in our home or social events or a church and other organizations were involved with. But our common life vision is to increase human vitality and we do that multiple ways. The way the pays us the most of course is in our business.
And so, because we have such a parallel vision for our life and for our sole purpose in what we do, it creates a lot of harmony and a lot of success.
Dr. Davis: That’s great. I want to expand on that and you talked Dr. Lucas that you’re more that entrepreneurial spirit and that’s I’m right there with you and you mentioned vision a lot and I wanted you to talk about how do you communicate your vision for your practice and how do you how do you guys communicate that to your team? And also how do you communicate that to your practice members to your patients?
Dr. Lucas: Yeah. So, our core level of marketing since day one has always included what we call educational tone to it. So we don’t do newspaper ads. We don’t do yellow page ads. We don’t do billboards. You can’t get any education across in that. That’s the top of the mind awareness maybe or something but we’ve always had core education. So what we did was for 10 years we had a live talk radio show that went across the entire community and beyond. In 30 minutes, I can teach someone about their health, okay. Then we also have, always had internal educational classes in our practice since day one Dr. Rickman taught us back at Palmer. The least expensive and the most effective way to communicate to your patients is through basically classes. The one-on-one takes a lot of time. If you can get 10 people together or 20 people together or 30 people together, you can give the same message in the same story and be much more effective by having larger groups. So, we’ve had since the very beginning of our practice for 14 years for a while as every two weeks. Now it’s once a month. We do larger groups but less frequent. We always always always are teaching an educational tone. Well it’s fine. We teach people the true paradigm of health, which is the chiropractic story versus what we call the medical myth. And then you allow them to choose common-sense and practicality almost always lead them your direction. Because our story is so much more grounded in truth and it’s more applicable and it’s really a more effective way to take care of your health instead of taking care of your disease.
So, we always gear all of our marketing or our communication through an educational tone. And our website is very very laid out very nicely clearly explains what we do. We’ve done classes internally. We’ve done classes externally.
In fact this year, we’re actually doing a six-week series. It’s tuition-based series in our practice we’re teaching people six different topics over six different weeks. So, we really… Amy have really invested ourselves over the years with Toastmasters, some National Speakers Association as well as some other types of personal development, public speaking, and even body language training on how to become better communicators.
And so, if you spend time working on becoming a better communicator and then you have these sessions. These educational sessions whether in house or at a house, you can become very influential in the way people make decisions about their health care.
Dr. Davis: Awesome. So, you talked a lot about how you communicate your vision to your patients. What about to your team? What about to the people that are part of your staff and that you’re working with on a daily basis? How do you communicate your vision to them?
Dr. Lucas: Same way. Sorry. Seriously, it’s the same way, but it’s the same token. We have quarterly retreats with our staff. So, every quarter we go up and do something fun, but in that we include something educational, something learning either. Either some of that is just business skills but oftentimes it’s more about chiropractic, the clinical side of Chiropractic, the philosophical side of chiropractic. And then just helping to increase once again our staffs human vitality. If we invest in our staff, they’re going to invest in our business. And sometimes it’s difficult to find people to work for you that actually truly adapt your vision. That really happens you discover that journey interview process; and quite frankly, I would suggest not hiring someone who doesn’t adapt a natural vitalistic healthcare vision because they just won’t work out. But we do think kind of thing with them. We invest in them a lot. Also by taking them to events. We promised them one formal chiropractic event a year. Sometimes we do more than that, but aside from that we also do the quarterly retreats. And so, we just continue to invest in them in different ways and things, but also all the way along teaching them little snippets. We call it chirochat in our office, little factuates, or little opportunities for them to learn more about the power and the influence of the chiropractic adjustment on the human body. So they can communicate that over the phone when and if necessary.
Dr Amy: Everyday we have a huddle, an AM huddle and a PM huddle before we start taking care of people, and we communicate anything that needs to be communicated via the schedule and anything special that’s going on for the day, what our marketing event is that we need to be promoting that day in the office, what else could be happening in that shift. Then what we actually end with is we end with an affirmation and we end with our vision and mission statement. And so, it’s something that they learn and we teach about in those daily huddles as well to them on an ongoing basis. So they can get an idea that they didn’t go to chiropractic school but they can get an education in our office about what it is we do and why we do it in those times. There’s oftentimes that we share testimonials where they may not know all the details of a testimonial. And then they can really see the power of Upper Cervical.
Dr. Lucas: I will say this Bill. If you invest in your staff, and you can retain your staff for a long term, that is a huge huge momentum to build of your practice. Our most recent… our very first office manager just left us last summer after 12 years because she had her first child, and she wanted to stay home and raise her child. Our service manager has been with us five years now, and we just replaced our office manager last summer. This next woman, our office manager has been with us for one year, but long-term staff by investing in them and them adapting your vision, I think is a very, very effective way to help build your business.
Dr. Davis: Absolutely. Absolutely. You got to have the right people on the bus. Right? Moving in the right directions. So that’s outstanding. Well, doctors I really appreciate your time today and just a wrap up, I want to give you guys a chance, if you were sitting across the table at lunch with our listeners, whether they are a doctor or a student and you wanted to bring some encouragement and help them as sometimes you feel like you’re on an island out there practicing by yourself. And so, just for me each of you or one of you just bring some encouragement to our audience and anything that you have in your heart to share.
Dr. Lucas: I’ll start Bill because we told the story before. I’ve have to tell you that ever since chiropractic school, we’ve had a lot of naysayers in our life. That goes we have family, friends, even other chiropractic students whatever case maybe. They’re all, “Oh, you can’t do that. You can’t practice Upper Cervical only, right?”
You can practice Upper Cervical only. Well, in fact most successful practice I know in this country that are blowing out above average prosperity in chiropractic or upper cervical. So you certainly can. Okay? You can’t be cash-based practice. They would say, “You can’t just ask people to pay you for chiropractic care.”
Yeah, you certainly can; and in fact, some people told us, “You can’t go to West Virginia. You don’t know anybody there, and that’s a poor state compared to all the other states in this country. I mean that’s why I’m Kentucky and Mississippi and West Virginia. They’re not going to pay for your care.” That’s a lie Bill. That’s another naysayer.
We’ve come here. We’ve set up an upper cervical practice. We have 100% private pay. We have people come from every single area of this state every single day in our practice and we’ve accomplished it, and it’s because we did not listen to – we did not let the emotional garbage and the mental mongrel philosophy of people get into our minds to contaminate our vision, to contaminate our dream. Right? And so, I would tell people to not let that happen. If they have a dream and they have a vision in their heart it’s been imprinted upon them and someone puts poison into you through speaking it to your life, you just reject it and you just continue to march the opposite direction away from them to continue to pursue your dream.
We’ve had dreams on personal levels. We homeschool our kids. You can’t homeschool your kids. Absolutely you can. You can’t build that dream home on top of the mountain. Absolutely you can. You can have natural childbirth. Absolutely you can. We’ve had people tell us naysaying about all these different things, and we have a long list. Let me tell you and we just continue to pursue the path that’s put before us and what we believe is our sole purpose and our dream; and if we have harmony together in our marriage and relationship, it goes even better.
And so, I would tell them to not listen to the mongrel philosophy, and the people that are – people say that because oftentimes they don’t have enough courage themselves to follow their own. And I would tell people just ignore it and just follow your dream.
Dr. Amy: That’s what I would say just live your dream and go do what you want to do and where you want to do it.
Dr. Davis: Outstanding. Man, you guys are firing me up. I’m excited. I’m very excited. Thank you guys so much for your time today. I think this is really valuable for our audience and thank you so much.
Drs. Lucas And Amy: You’re welcome.