How Dr. Giancarlo Licata Built an Integrative Community of Health Professionals and How You Can Too

In this Upper Cervical Marketing Podcast, Dr. Bill Davis interviews Dr. Giancarlo Licata of Pasadena California about how he has taken his practice to a whole new level by building an integrative community of health professionals in his area and the steps you can take to do the same.

Who is Dr. Giancarlo Licata

Dr. Davis: Hello everybody! It’s Dr. Bill Davis here with Dr. Giancarlo Licata. Giancarlo, how are you doing?

Dr. Licata: Hello there! Hey Bill! I’m doing well. This is fun.

Dr. Davis: So, Dr. Giancarlo Licata, I’m excited to have you on the call today or on the podcast, and I’d love to hear you introduce yourself to our audience. A lot of people out there might not know you personally, and so just give us a little bit of background, a little bit of information about you.

Dr. Licata: Great! Yeah! I’m a NUCCA chiropractor here in Pasadena, California. We have a practice called Vital Head and Spinal Care, and we just completed our rebranding with our new name. So, let’s see. I began… I graduated in 2007 and opened up my office in 2008 about nine months later, and you and I have a lot of experience. We both opened up at similar times and went through our blood, sweat and tears together. So, that was really rough and but I went through a process of building my practice. I decided to be 100% NUCCA from the get go and even though I was only introduced to NUCCA about a few months before I graduated.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: So, it was drinking from the fire hose on every level. Also, I had not a lot of experience in business. So, that was also fun, and so you and I also began together with AMC, which was a consulting company and a coaching company, and they had a right start program, and so yeah, it was a wild and crazy beginning, but I never looked back, and I loved every second of it, and so fast forwarding now.

Gosh! Seven to eight years later, we’ll be hitting our eight year anniversary this September, and I hardly recognize it. We’re in a different place, but I’m just loving being in practice. We have an associateship practice. We have another associate here in the office. We’re looking to getting ready to hire our third doctor, second associate coming at the beginning of next year, and we’ve been just building and growing. So, it’s really fun.

How Did He Develop the Integrative Community of Health Professionals?

Dr. Davis: Awesome, and so I know one of the things that you have been able to develop in your area is a real community of alternative health care practitioners, and I want to talk a little bit about that, and find out more about how that started, and how that’s grown, and how that’s been a blessing to your practice?

Dr. Licata: Yeah, and just for context, my first probably four or five years, I didn’t have an integrative community or a professional community. We pretty much built our practice on internal referrals. I think I went to two or three spinal screenings. I did a few ads but I just developed our initial group of patients, and then just really worked on giving great care, and giving great communication, and so, up until a few years ago, I was 90% internal referrals consistently every year. That was our bread and butter, and really continues to be because it’s our community. It’s what we do. It’s who we are, but a few years ago, I also decided that I was finally starting to kind of get a bit of a handle on the technique on what I’m doing. Getting a handle on some of my own business skill, and we were developing systems in place, and so, I thought okay, I really have a deep curiosity for what other people are doing, and also, I just realized that if I’m going to give the best upper cervical care I can, I am NOT going to give other types of care in my office. So, but I do want to be able to be a trusted resource for my patients, and be able to refer them to other great practitioners, whether it’s acupuncturists, whether they needed podiatrists, you name it. We really value our patients trust as they value us, and I really wanted to have a good place to go to.

So, it started from there.  It was really kind of reversed from what I think a lot of people start integrated for our interdisciplinary practices.

Early Beginnings – Connecting with Other Practitioners

Dr. Davis: Yes, it wasn’t necessarily the focus on generating more referrals or anything like that at first. The main focus in the beginning was just that you wanted to connect with other practitioners who could provide help to your patient base as well. Is that…?

Dr. Licata: It was. I mean I tend to see things from the top down. So, I tend to see things like, okay look, if I reach out, if my patient has a need, and I reach out to find for instance we don’t do soft issue work in our office. I don’t do massage. I don’t give ART. I don’t do myofascial release, but I think all those things are great. I just don’t want to do it, and I don’t want to dedicate our resources here to have someone else do it, and so, when identify that patient either had a desire or a need for some of that work, which they’re going to have, I usually say, okay well, do you know of somebody who you like, that would be able to do this and they wouldn’t, and so, I ended up going out and trying to ask around, and ask my colleagues, until I found somebody who I thought was really, really good, but then I understood that by doing that, there would be this kind of healthy ecosystem, right? I’d refer to that practitioner and so they went.

My patients are going to be incredibly happy because I gave a great resource for them, and I’m happy because first of all I continue to give great care and that’s an extension of my care is my referral, but also I knew that person is going to eventually respect what I do. Hopefully, if I do things well when we get along, and I just knew that there’s just going to be a healthy reciprocity that’s going to occur, and so, little by little that would happen, and so, the massage therapists would start referring, and then the dentist will start referring because I was looking for someone for dentist for my patients, and so, it really began from a place of wanting to find resources for my patients.

I also understood that there would be a benefit to myself but I think that’s the heart of it really is finding not looking to just what am I going to get. Am I going to create all these relationships that I can get something from them? I think it’s what allowed it to grow and what allows it to continue to grow and it actually allows these relationships to sustain because I mean a lot of these practitioners now are actually really close friends, and we can totally go off into how many new projects, how many new things have come from just our friendships. So, yeah.

Giving Rather than Getting

Dr. Davis: Outstanding! So, that focus on giving rather than getting…

Dr. Licata: That’s huge.

Dr. Davis: …a real key for you and I’ve heard that a lot from other people I’ve talked to who had great success with professional referrals in general, not necessarily as what you’re doing and to the extent of it, but it’s not… if you’re always thinking, every time I refer somebody, they’re going to refer somebody back, that’s the wrong mindset, correct?

Dr. Licata: Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s kind of like just a friendship. I mean, there’s no sustainability in that. I mean think of a friend who’s always wanted to take every time you see them. You just don’t want to hang out with them anymore.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: So, yeah. So, there’s just common-sense aspects to it, but also, I mean, I think it also is interesting that for me and this will be just my perspective, but for me I was already established as, I was no longer in a fight-or-flight mode, and for me that really shaped my ability to develop a lot of relationships, and I think and do so in a way that was very sustainable. So, because I didn’t depend upon that a person to refer back to me, I was able to give freely, and not really feel too much horrible pain in that.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: …and so, I think that a lot of times people are talking about that they want to build a referral-based practice. I want to have an interdisciplinary practice. I think that it’s very good to do. I think it is easier to do when you’ve reached a certain level of stability where you’re not wondering how you’re going to pay the bills that much, right? …and for two ways, I mean for one, you’re playing a long game.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: I mean, it’s like any relationship, and so you have to understand that this is not going to be something that’s going to come back to you right away, and so if you need something that to come back to you right away, then you’re going to start calling a little bit too much when you shouldn’t. You’re going to start nagging somebody a little bit more than they should.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: …and also, people are going to feel that, and so, actually when I reach out and I’m communicating with other practitioners, I get to see it from the other end, and I see ahhh! This person, they’re just so needy and I mean, maybe they’re good but maybe they’re not, but I can’t see through their neediness.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Build Your Practice and Build This Dream as a Leg of Support for Your Practice

Dr. Licata: …and so, I think that if somebody, if you’re a new practitioner, I often say, build your practice and build this dream as a leg of support for your practice, but I’d say like, if it will be very hard to build your whole practice right off the bat try to just rely hardly on this.

Dr. Davis: Right.

Dr. Licata: So, I don’t know if that’d be useful for some listeners.

Dr. Davis: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean it’s the diversification of different streams coming into your practices, that’s a crucial part of business in general but definitely in practice, right? I mean, going back even into the AMC days, we talked about the Town Square, right? …of  having all the different roads that lead into your practice and…

Dr. Licata: Right.

We’re 90 Percent in Referrals. That’s How We’ve Grown.

Dr. Davis: …from what you’re saying, it sounds like, this is one road that you can focus on, but this shouldn’t be your only focus.

Dr. Licata: Yeah, I think it shouldn’t be your only (focus), and so, again a few years ago, it’s probably three years now, but I realized, gosh! We’re 90 percent in referrals. That’s how we’ve grown. We’ve been that way for months and month out, year and year outs, and I decided that I really want to develop this. I really have, it fulfills me. It’s just like, I really enjoy meeting these people. I enjoy going out to lunch with them and talking about what they’re doing. I enjoy being able to be that resource for my patients. So, when they come back and my patients see me, they come and they get checked maybe four times a year, maybe six times a year. They’re getting checked and they tell me about other things and needs and seasons of life that they’re going through, and I can be able to say, wow! Gosh! You’re going through menopause. You’re going through a big transition. Let’s make sure we keep you in alignment, so your body is able to self-heal and self-regulate as well as possible, but it looks like your MD wants to put you on these medications. Have you considered acupuncture? Have you considered naturopathy? I’ve got some g