In this Upper Cervical Marketing Podcast Dr. Bill Davis interviews Dr. Kyrie Kleinfelter from St. Charles Illinois about how she has developed an extremely successful practice that combines technical excellence, high-volume while taking great care of people.
Dr. Davis: Hey everybody! It’s Dr. Bill Davis here with Dr. Kyrie Kleinfelter from St. Charles, Illinois. Hey Dr. Kleinfelter! How are you doing?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Doing great! Thank you. How are you?
Dr. Davis: I'm doing awesome. Well, I was looking forward to speaking with you today. I know you've got a great practice there in St. Charles, and I know you have a lot of value you can share with our audience, and so for those in our audience that may not know you, can you just share a little bit about yourself? Do a little introduction?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Sure. I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2001. So, I've been running my office called ‘1st Place Chiropractic’ in St. Charles, Illinois for 15 years. We're just celebrating our 15th year anniversary and we do exclusively NUCCA chiropractic, and we have a family practice from day old infants through 97 years old, I think is the oldest patient we've taken care of, and cash practice, and I'm just a lot of just a lot of fun.
Dr. Davis: Awesome, and so let's take it back to where it all started from. I know you've got some chiropractors in your family but talk about how you first got interested in being a chiropractor.
Dr. Kleinfelter: Yeah. So, I am a third generation chiropractor, the sixth in my family; however, that's not what got me into chiropractic. My grandmother was a chiropractor. So, I was adjusted when I was three days old, but I didn't grow up in the chiropractic lifestyle. She passed away when I was six years old, and I had inconsistent chiropractic care. After that, three of the family members were in her generation, and two in the next generation, one lived nearby, but he was my dad's cousin. He wasn't a really close relative. So, when things were really bad, I did gymnastics and things. If I had a headache or back pain or things like that I would go see him, but I didn't want to bother him. I really wasn't under consistent chiropractic care.
When I was 22 years old and I had just graduated with a degree in elementary education and just gotten married, I thought I was about starting my life. Suddenly, I was incapacitated. I became really ill, had so many pains and problems. I can't even begin to describe them. To make a long story short, in our little one-bedroom apartment, I couldn't walk from the bedroom to the living room. I was just in too much pain and too fatigued to do that. Sometimes I didn't get out about it all. I was basically bedridden.
Dr. Davis: Wow!
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and it was through that journey that I eventually found chiropractic, but first I spent a couple of really frustrating years in the typical medical system, seeing a lot of different doctors, and having them do all the testing and telling me everything was fine, maybe I was depressed, maybe if I slept better, maybe whatever. They gave me different drugs. I just felt drugs. There was no help. Mostly I'd go home crying in frustration.
After a couple years of doing that and they finally gave me the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, I almost felt relieved to have a diagnosis. On the other hand, there wasn't anything they could do about it.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: At that point, I was seeing my cousin who was a kind of Palmer package chiropractor regularly, and the adjustments were the only thing that helped at all with any of my pain or symptoms that gave me some relief, and it didn't have any side effects. So, I was finally seeing him as frequently as somebody could drive me there. He explained though, so the chiropractic gave me a little relief but it was temporary. I could be adjusted twice in a day even and it didn't give him my life back, but he did explain to me chiropractic philosophy. He explained even basically that your brain and your nerves control everything that your body does and if they were healthy, I wouldn't have all the problems that I had, and that made a lot of sense to me.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: I even started looking into what would it take to go to chiropractic school even though I couldn't walk from my bedroom to my living room, and through that search, through the information that your brain and nerves control your body, through understanding the chiropractic philosophy even if it wasn't helping me function yet, and doing some more research, I found Dr. Dickholtz Sr. in Chicago who had been doing a study on chronic fatigue syndrome, and heard him speak, and went to see him, and that's what really set me on the path. I would say the NUCCA technique is what fulfilled chiropractic philosophy for me.
That's what… Yeah, I was always thinking of going to Palmer even though I didn't have the capacity to do it.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and that gave me the ability to do that.
Dr. Davis: ...and where did you see Dr. Dickholtz Sr. speak?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Well, it would make it a longer story if I explained that. I'd actually even started doing prerequisites for chiropractic school because I was good at school. During the times that I felt well, I could study and start this chiropractic journey, and so my husband and I had moved to Dixon, Illinois, which is about 75 miles to Palmer in one direction at Davenport, and about 75 miles back to the suburbs of Chicago where my husband was working.
So, I was driving to pre-requisites out at Scott Community College, and I would have to take an alarm clock, and drive part of the way, and then take a nap, and wake up, and drive the rest of the way. This is how… They still was, and I saw a flyer on the bathroom mirror for Dr. Dickholtz Sr. talk at Palmer College.
Dr. Davis: No kidding. Wow! That's cool. So yeah, I mean so you mean, you really were believing in the philosophy and all that before you actually saw the results?
Dr. Kleinfelter: So much. It made so much sense.
Dr. Davis: Yeah. So, you finally got the results that you really believed that you would get, and Dr. Dickholtz Sr. introduced it upper cervical, and you go to Palmer College and are you focused on your NUCCA, the upper cervical right from the beginning?
Dr. Kleinfelter: The whole time. So, before I even actually matriculated at Palmer, I knew NUCCA was what I was going to do. It saved my life.
Dr. Davis: Absolutely. So, you go through school, you come out, you're a NUCCA chiropractor, and then what was the next step for you?
Dr. Kleinfelter: I would say, it was a journey through school too because now, I mean obviously the passion for chiropractic and then specifically the passion for NUCCA that I had, as I actually gained my life back. I started taking half course loads at Palmer and after the first year, I started taking like 40 credit hours a trimester, which is crazy. Thirty was crazy.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: I actually graduated with the class that I started with. So, I just had so much passion and all my energy that I'd finally gained back went towards this. So, during school, I visited all the chiropractic offices I could to develop my vision for my own office. I knew that I didn't want to get out and I wanted to learn as much as I could. So, that I could start right away and not spend the next few years continuing to learn, which is smart to do but I just had to do. I had to get out and do right away. So, I learned visiting other NUCCA offices.
I got the vision of my office clearly in my head through visiting other types of chiropractic offices too, not for the technique but just for how it looked or how their procedures were, and really developed my vision where I was going to be clearly. So, once I did an internship in my last semester or trimester at Palmer and with Dr. Dickholtz Jr. and that was a great experience, great place to be, and then I got everything together and started my own practice.
Dr. Davis: So, gosh! There's so much wisdom and then I've encouraged students to do that as well as visit as many offices as you can. I mean, ideally you'd love to visit a practice that wants to be or is similar to what you want to do but like you said, you can learn so much from all sorts of different practices, and even learn some things that you don't want to do, right?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Well, absolutely and in fact, I would say, I could clearly see the three offices that made the biggest impact, that it really clicked for me, and that I have made into my own office, and one is Dr. Dickholtz Sr. Nobody could beat him. Everybody who walked in his office knew that he had quality care. Everything that he did, he was the best at what he did, and nothing fancy about his office for sure, many things that could be improved if you cared about those things, right?
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: There are things that I saw I didn't want to be like my practice but I very much wanted to have that quality care, that Dr. Dickholtz Sr. provided, and I was so fortunate to have him as my doctor. He continued to adjust and take care of me for almost 20 years, and he helped me even gets just the right grid that I had to order from overseas, and costs more than all the rest, and get just the right pictures, and just the right filters, and all of those things, and the perception I think, especially for students at the time, and I still think for a long time after but maybe it's changing now, is that you've had quality care or you could have high volume. I don't think they saw it you could have both, but I definitely saw that that is possible and so, I also had to find a practice where I could see that high-volume run smoothly, still with quality care, and that came, I don't even remember the name of the doctor's office. I know it was in Kentucky. It was not a NUCCA practice but I was invited and went to see that practice run, and it was sharp. That looked clean and sharp and all this chiropractic education. No other artwork, great chiropractic posters.
Back then, I was sketching out pictures of what the posters were, so I could hunt them down and find them for my practice because we didn't have cell phones with cameras. You could just click and it really helped my vision as well, but I saw the practice was fun, busy, exciting and it wasn't NUCCA. So, that was missing NUCCA, right?
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and Dr. Brooks in Tulsa, he really, the way he takes care of people. He invited my husband and I to come and visit, and we did, and just saw such a welcoming place. Patients felt like they were just being scooped up in your hands of the office as they walked in the door and just guided through the first few visits, and just so at ease and knowing that they're in the right place, and I definitely learned that from Dr. Brooks practice, and I'm I combined all of these practices into my practice.
Dr. Davis: Wow! That's awesome. So, taking those different elements that you saw in practice and then being able to put those altogether, I mean that's like you said there's definitely challenges involved with that, right? When you when it comes to, we want to take really good care of people, we want to deliver really high quality care, and we also want to take care of a lot of people, and have a high volume, and so talk about some of the resistances between those three goals.
Dr. Kleinfelter: I don't know that there was a resistance between the goals. I think my vision was so strong and clear that it was meshed together before I even started it but there's a lot of hard work that goes behind it. There are always the challenges. If you have the strong guiding vision, you're heading in that direction but it's not that the road isn't bumpy.
Dr. Davis: Sure. Yeah, and so, but in order to deliver all three of those things, I would imagine you've got to develop the team that can support you in all those goals in that vision.
Dr. Kleinfelter: For sure, and the procedures. In fact, when I hired my first employee, I was less than, I think I was about three months into practice. I was doing everything myself starting as cheaply as I could, but again not cheating the special grid that I needed for the x-rays. Just putting my money into what needed to be put in, right? …but trying to get out of debt as fast as possible.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: So, one of my patients says, you're too busy, you need help. And then the next day, Debbie calls my office who's this patients neighbor, and Debbie says, well my neighbor says I should interview with you and here this woman has just completed her master's degree in business, she's has her daughter in junior high, and she's ready to re-enter the workforce, and she comes to meet with me pretty much as a favor to her neighbor, and I met with her pretty much as a favor to my patient because I'm thinking, she is overqualified to be my part-time front desk person.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …but I shared with her my vision of where our practice was going. How special NUCCA is, how it’s my mission to share it with the world. I didn't know about it and I was in a chiropractic family.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: It saved my life and people need to know about this, and she bought in to my vision quickly, and she could see. I mean, I pulled down my binder, my business plan. This is how she tells the story. I asked her, well, what your plan? Thinking this is my out, right? And here I pulled out this big business plan that I actually have a way to accomplish what it is I want to accomplish, and she worked for me for 13.5 years before she retired to Northern Wisconsin, and those are the people that I put into my practice are the people who bought into that vision, and then getting the right procedures to be able to accomplish high volume and quality at the same time.
Dr. Davis: Yeah, and so how far into practice did you get to the place where you needed to bring on associate?
Dr. Kleinfelter: I had a busy practice from the start but I brought in my first associate in three years.
Dr. Davis: Okay. About where were you with volume when you got to that place where you said, I need an associate?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Okay. It was probably only about 120 to 150 visits a week at that point in the three and a half days I was working at that point, but my coach said, ‘Hey! You have so much to share with another doctor. They need to learn what you're doing, and you need to have time off to have a baby,’ and I went on have my baby.
Dr. Davis: Yeah.
Dr. Kleinfelter: So, it was very mutually beneficial.
Dr. Davis: Absolutely. So, you bring in the associate like you talked about you guys have five kids, right, and I don't think we've mentioned that at this point but yeah, you have five kids, and I know that your ability to bring on good associates and train them has really helped you to enjoy your family while still having a great practice, correct?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Absolutely, and it being mutually beneficial is really the key. Not everybody works the way I did through school visits, 20 to 30 practices gets their vision down is like ready to fly out the door.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and actually, honestly had there been the opportunity to do the kinds of things that we're doing in our practice with the training and the technique but also in business and being able to see patients and things right from the start, I would have jumped at an opportunity like that, but that's not the way at least that I know of an associateship where I could find that.
So we do a really well-rounded associateship. We spend over three hours a week on planned training, structured training in technique, and in business, and in patient care going over patient cases, and helping to develop sense of leadership with the patients, and with the team right from the start. Had I found that, I would have definitely been interested in that.
Dr. Davis: Absolutely. So, frequently students come out of school and they don't know what to do next, right? They don't have the skills that they need in order to be successful, and it sounds like you have a training program in place to help with that and it's so needed, and so you've had a quite a few different associates come through the program and maybe talk about some of your experiences with associates as far as what you've seen that if has helped them to be successful and what were some of the challenges that have limited some of the associates’ success?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Sure. I think it's in in how they look at it right. If they look at it as a job, as I need someone to come and do these things, then they're not going to be happy in the scenario. If they look at it as this is further growth, and in fact my driving force behind associates is twofold but one of the big things really is that, my practice is all referrals. I've even had a waiting list for up to three months to get in as a new patient to see me, and not while I was out on maternity leave. While I was in the practice as many days as I remember in the practice.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and so, we couldn't continue to spread the message to the community. We used to do a ton of community, advance again. I didn't know about it, and I had five chiropractors in my family.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: So, it really is a driving mission to spread the work and to help the doctors stay in the work. I had colleagues in school who were interested in it and had they found the right positions, they would be doing NUCCA today, but they're not because they had to take a position doing something else, because they couldn't find what they're looking for, right?
So, I really want to help to grow NUCCA in general too, and help to keep the students who are interested in it, and able to really flourish in it, and then also to be able to have my family into we homeschool. We do a lot of traveling to be able to have the practice coverage with a really good doctor. Somebody who we've trained who does the things that we do.
So, that's why it's a win-win relationship, and when my associates who have come in and they really know what they're getting out of it, and what they're giving to it, that's when it's been the most successful, when they think of it as their launching point for their own practice, done it's great.
Dr. Davis: Got you. So, correct me if I'm wrong but majority of the associates who you've trained, who have worked in the office have gone on to do their own practices, right? And it hasn’t stayed as a long-term associate but it's been, like you said it's a launch platform.
Dr. Kleinfelter: Absolutely. That's the whole idea of it, right? In our patients, they know that too. They know that this is a training center. So, they're used to students observing. They're used to an associate coming for two or three years, and then moving on to their own practice, and then in fact they want updates. How is that doctor doing, and I know people near them, I'm going to let them know, okay there's another NUCCA practice, and it's very much a community. Our patients are on the mission with us too.
Dr. Davis: That's awesome. So, I mean, gosh! We just need more of that, right? We need more doctors who are trained and have the success principles in place to be able to go out there and just be able to repeat what you're doing, right? Where they can grow a practice and then have associates themselves, and so, I just I really appreciate that you're doing that.
So, what's some of the… because there's a lot of doctors out there who were kind of where you were when you first brought on an associate, right? There's a lot of doctors who our at that 120 to 150, maybe even 175 or 200 by themselves, and so, what were some of the things that you put in place in order to have a successful associate program for all these years now at the beginning?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Yeah. That's the main thing, right? …is make sure that your house is in order, that you have a good place for them to come into, because at the 120, 150 that I was in three and a half days a week. That wasn't busy. I thought it was, right? But now we smoothly see many more than that in less amount of time, but it is not just having the physical space but it really is having a plan, and I didn't make any of this up right even before I started my practice. I got coaching.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and I haven't had to make nearly as many mistakes as I would have had if I didn't have a great coach, who is my leader, who I respect and keeps me accountable for the things that I want to accomplish. He has helped me achieve my vision by the way, not giving me a cookie cutter vision at all either. So, through coaching with Dr. Noel Lloyd, he has taught me how to teach associates. So, right from the beginning we had a plan. Here's what they need to learn, right? Here are the procedures and the procedures are already good and they already worked, and now we're even more refined with that. So, I don't remember that's over 12 years ago, what was it like exactly then, except I know we had a plan.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: Now, what it’s like is there's even some things to do before you physically even walk into the door on your first day of an associateship. First, you're writing out your own vision and chiropractic philosophy and things like that, some prep work, some head work even before you come into the office, even learning some of the procedures that we do, so that when you come in you can learn them faster, and again we do training.
Even right now, the associate I have has been with me for more than a year, and he's certainly got all the basic procedures and things down. That's not the point though; we make sure that we're perfect on these things. So, still three hours a week, we're training on procedures in the office, technique, every morning checking to make sure that the setup for the adjustment looks good, that the triceps are warmed up, and just a checklist of here's all the things you need to do, so you don't have to think about it, so that we can do a lot of things in it in a day.
Here's how to schedule an event but a screening event or different or a Lunch and Learn or things like that. So that when they start their own practice, they'll know how to do it.
Dr. Davis: Right.
Dr. Kleinfelter: …and we also have community outreach assistants who help our associate doctors schedule those events and they go to the events with the doctor. So, really I just ask that the associate doctor schedules a couple of those events a month, just so they know how to do it. So that when they get in their practice they can do it.
Dr. Davis: Got you, awesome. So, a lot of people that may be out there, students or even doctors that may be looking for an opportunity like this, a training experience like this, and can you talk about how someone would get involved or how they would learn more about opportunities within your clinic that would be available?
Dr. Kleinfelter: Yes. You could go to our website, which is 1stplacechiropractic.com, and we have an opportunity to page there or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we could talk about the opportunities that we have available.
I do currently want to hire an associate as soon as I find the right one we're ready to hire one, but even when we aren't needing an associate, we are always interviewing because when we find just the right person for us, we have room to add them to our team. We don't want to miss out on the right person. So, we're always taking those applications, and I love to do internships into associateships because whether or not they end up being the right person for our practice or we end up being the right person for them, they'll learn a ton in the few months that they spend with us, and have and have nothing to lose, and then they'll know exactly I mean. They'll be ready to just get a great start as an associate when they start as an intern too.
Dr. Davis: Awesome, and we'll put a link in the show notes to the website, and some people can reach out to you as well, and so just wrapping up for today Dr. Kyrie, maybe share about what you see for the future of 1st Place Chiropractic and your vision for what's ahead for what you want to continue to accomplish in your community.
Dr. Kleinfelter: I think we're doing what we're going continue to do, which is help as many people as we can, help to enlist our patients to our vision of sharing NUCCA with the world. I mean once they come in and they have a NUCCA adjustment, they're under a NUCCA care, they understand how it's the foundation of their health. They bring in the rest of their family. They find chiropractors, NUCCA chiropractors in other areas of the country or wherever for their friends and their family, right? They become on the mission with us.
So, I want to help to reach the students to find NUCCA chiropractic in school and to stick with it. I want to help to arrange opportunities for them to get out into practice with great associateships like mine, but not just mine. So, I arranged the job fair at the NUCCA Conference to help match up people for NUCCA to grow in general, and I also do some student mentoring programs for free, which I probably should have said before that, but they could email me, and I could tell them more about that with several different college groups.
So, we just want to continue to grow not only in our community but just help to get NUCCA to the world, just help it to flourish.
Dr. Davis: Awesome, and that's what we're always talking about around here. It's time to take upper cervical to the world and I know that you're a big part of that in you're in your area and your part of the world, and what you're trying to do, and so thank you again for your time today Kyrie, and I appreciate you.
Dr. Kleinfelter: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you so much.