Each article in the MILLION DOLLAR CHIROPRACTIC series (M$C) focuses on the top surveyed issues facing chiropractors today. Recruiting new patients, retention, profitability, marketing and staffing are each a determining factor in the growth, potential and success of the practice.
The subject of this issue’s profile is Dr. Mitch Mally, a 1981 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic who has practiced for the last twenty-two years in chiropractic’s fountainhead city, Davenport, Iowa.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Mally began his Pre-Medical Training (1974) at Wayne State University in the heart of Detroit. Not only did he carry a heavy class load, but also played football for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Division III Champion, assisted in biochemistry research, electron microscopy, surgical pathology, cytology and observed many autopsies at William Beaumont Hospital Pathology Department. Additionally, an avid martial artist, sprinter and weight lifter, Mally found his niche in sports chiropractic subsequent to nonsurgical (chiropractic) treatment of his traumatically injured left knee.
In an interview with The American Chiropractor, Dr. Mitch Mally answers our Million Dollar Chiropractic (M$C) questions about his incredibly successful sports and occupational injury rehab center.
M$C: Dr. Mally, what influenced you to become a chiropractor?
Mally: In retrospect, my path has always been directed. Just three courses prior to entering medical school or embarking on a career in pro football, an injury to my left knee sidelined me, resulting in a personal quandry…surgery or non-surgery?
Chiropractor, Alan Kash, and his young associate, Rick Dybowski, whose conservative treatments and rehabilitation resulted in my dramatic recovery, opened my eyes to an alternative form of health care, although my family and friends referred to it as quackery, a cult, etc. Much to the dismay of all who learned of my career plans change and against the odds, the head spinning, rapid matriculation and immediate acceptance to Palmer College in 1978 resulted in an exciting opportunity for me to experience a tremendous practice, become an author, inventor, academician and world-wide lecturer in the field of Sports and Occupational Injuries.
M$C: What type of practice do you have?
Mally: My practice is mulifaceted and highly specialized in sports and occupational injuries, workers compensation and personal injury, with an emphasis on extremity injuries, syndromes and conditions. A high volume of referrals come from chiropractors, MD’s, DO’s, dentists, attorneys and factory safety personnel for treatment of extremities including, most commonly, shoulder, elbow, TMJ, carpal tunnel syndrome and cumulative trauma disorders. Also, frequent and numerous depositions as an expert witness for the above noted specialty add to an exciting and lucrative practice.
M$C: Describe your workplace for us.
Mally: The Mally Chiropractic Clinic and Rehabilitation Center, currently undergoing a multidisciplinary practice transformation, is operating under the auspices of the newly named clinic, TRI-MED Health and Wellness Center, P.C., in Davenport, Iowa.
The spacious, contemporary, open format 4500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is equipped with an efficient floor plan and a design that comfortably incorporates various departments, including: examination, diagnostics, radiology and videofluoroscopy, treatment rooms, physical therapy, low tech and high tech rehabilitation, massage therapy, and patient orientation and education viewing area with two large flat screen TV/DVD players, administrative area and a seventy-doctor lecture hall.
M$C: What’s the income service level that you provide annually?
Mally: Our office production volume for a Davenport, Iowa, high end, expensive practice surprises many, due to what others term “competition”. My attitude is the only competition is between me, my patient and sickness/disease. I also feel that competition is healthy, in that it prevents mediocrity and practice complacency, spawning interest in continued education and practice enhancement. I have often said, if I can have one of the largest practices in a two state region (Iowa and Illinois), namely Davenport, Iowa, with the largest number of DC’s per populous, then others can be successful anywhere else on the planet.
M$C: Do you have a set profit-standard or margin formula for the business?
Mally: I believe in setting goals to achieve goals. Based on a 22-year practice and the results of quality care, I expect certain conditions to respond within an approximate timeframe. I utilize an initial twelve-visit Intensive Care Treatment Plan, followed by a re-evaluation and a prescribed Condition Specific 4-week Prehab/Rehab Program, with a subsequent re-exam and additional treatment recommendations to follow. Therefore, mandatory management by daily, weekly, monthly and yearly statistics is simplified. Interdepartmental and total office goals are plotted and appropriate stats reviewed at regular weekly staff meetings.
Practice analysis is as critical to a successful business as early detection of cancer or subluxation is to the patient’s ability to recover. Early detect…early correct!!! Day-to-day in-office motivation among doctor, staff and patients is contagious; and what a great way for each to profit, with a smile and the care that is so worthwhile!
M$C: Is there someone in particular to whom you attribute your success?
Mally: My greatest inspiration was, and still is, my father, who passed away at 49-years-young, from a medical malpractice issue following a “routine” gall bladder surgery, when I was only eighteen. Dad had an incredible and enviable work ethic others would jealously term “workaholic”. He had a genuine passion, a love for whatever he attempted—no task too difficult or menial, always giving 100% effort, even if it meant personal sacrifices. He always said, “Son, treat others the way you want to be treated, and work with that same conviction.”
My energy and leadership skills definitely stem from my mother, Nora, who, when under pressure and despair after my father’s death, raised three successful boys by herself. I will always value her dedication and belief that through any circumstances, success can be accomplished! Thank-you Mom, for making me the man I am today!
My two older brothers, supposed to be the brains (and I, the brawn) also inspired me, although with a different twist (no pun intended). Being the youngest of three boys, always one of the last picked for sports among their friends, motivated me to try harder, eventually running faster, throwing harder and lifting more; later, being the one choosing the teams for pick-up games.
There’s motivation in telling someone like me NO, or YOU CAN’T, DON’T, or YOU’LL NEVER; those are words that do not register in my gray matter. In fact, they are, rather, interpreted as entirely the opposite, motivating me as YES, I CAN, I WILL, and I’LL ALWAYS.
These people and experiences I credit with paving the way for my success as a positive, benevolent person, a chiropractor with a great practice, and they motivated me, subliminally, to be a pioneer, inventor, author, and national/international lecturer.
Incidentally, my family eventually accepted me as a Doctor of Chiropractic, upon graduation, but, in the next breath, said I could never make it (a good practice) in Davenport, Iowa, with all the practicing chiropractors there. The rest is history.
M$C: Tell us about your family?
Mally: My family is my inspiration and fuels my passion for life! I am a divorced father with three beautiful daughters, Alissa (19), Genna (16) and Shailyn (7), plus, my adorable new granddaughter, Aaliyah. But, with change comes reward, and I currently also share my life with my partner and fiancée, Jules Johanson, and her children Jacob (9), Breanna (8) and Ashleigh (7).
M$C: What marketing strategies do you use to attract new patients and to keep current patients?
Mally: We use the strategies of my twenty-two years of trial and error experiences coupled with the genius marketing campaign of marketing director, Jules Johanson, whose experience and skills in marketing are unparalleled. However, the best marketing comes from three words that I preach: RESULTS, RESULTS, RESULTS.
In-office marketing begins with the smile and positive energy from you and your staff. Telephone rule #1: Let the person on the phone hear your smile. Happiness is contagious. Remember, if disease and negativity spread quickly, why can’t health and positive attitude.
We offer patients bottled water while they’re waiting in the lobby or treatment rooms, staff assist new patients with form completion, doctors call patients the evening of the first treatment, or for any special reasons or concerns. Paperwork is often sent out and completed prior to the patient’s first visit, with an accompanying reminder-call the evening prior to the first appointment. The chiropractic patient miracle book of testimonials circulates in the lobby and staff encourage patients to interact about their positive treatment experiences. Of course, greeting, reminder, condolence and congratulation cards are sent accordingly, with doctor and staff personal signatures. The finer touches in life always impress, and keeping the patients happy is our motivating methodology.
All new patients attend Monday night one-hour health classes within the first month of care. We encourage patients and the community to attend, as we have various topics, speakers and/or vendors present. Our lobby has seating for sixteen, arranged conversationally and directed toward two flat screen TV’s recessed into the wall, providing current, flashy, eye-catching, outstanding patient educational DVD’s.
External Marketing is via newspaper, radio and cable TV. Regular newsworthy press releases and media hype are leaked strategically in an artistic fashion, utilizing Jules’ skills and experience. Banquets, screenings, event sponsors, cocktail parties, meet-the-pro, lunch-and-learn and many other secret tools of the trade have proven incredibly effective at generating outside referrals.
M$C: Obviously, every doctor, at some time or other in his practice, experiences problems with patient retention. How do you recommend handling such problems?
Mally: Ongoing in-office motivational events, gift certificates, and other marketing tools work well for patient retention, as does a good report of findings, explanation for care and, most importantly, achieving the best results in the fewest number of treatments. Confucius says, “Do, not efficiently, that which need not be done.” This implies brevity is brilliance, verbosity is ignorance. Recall my earlier philosophy, to treat others the way you want to be treated. It has worked well for me and my practice. That and the old u u cliché, If you love something, set it free and, if it was meant to be, it will return to thee. Use your verbiage wisely and timely (once the patient is responding) in promoting within your practice to those patients who are most compliant, and give them five business cards each and other referral items, requesting that they distribute them to family, friends and co-workers and not be selfish about their care or their doctor.
M$C: What are your ideas on selecting and maintaining an efficient staff?
Mally: We all know that staff are very powerful, in that they can make or break a practice. Therefore, I always look for multi-taskers, waitresses and sales personnel. The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, should be required reading for staff. In short, the book summarizes that people (apply theory to spouse, family, children, co-workers, and patients) are different, interact differently, have different desires and needs. Failure to recognize these differences will lead to certainty of failure to fulfill the needs of others. For example, if a little old man or woman presents to your office for treatment and you are a high volume, fast-talking, in-and-out doctor that doesn’t recognize that the patient needs time with you, the patient will likely discontinue care.
I also recommend that—weekly, monthly and quarterly—doctors motivate their staffs with various perks, be it picnics, boat outings, staff lunches, gift certificates, etc. A happy and healthy staff promotes a happy and healthy practice. It starts from within: Are you happy?
M$C: Do you enjoy your work?
Mally: Two words that best exemplify my work ethic, twenty-four/seven. I work well in the mornings, so I begin my day at 5:00 AM at Gold’s Gym, and I train until 6:30 AM. I see patients Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:00 AM-6:00 PM; Tuesdays and Thursdays, patient hours are 8:00 AM-12:00 PM, because I also teach private one-on-one extremity adjusting seminars for doctors from 1:00 PM-5:00 PM, and student seminars from 6:00 PM-9:00 PM. No weekend patient hours for me, as I travel to teach seminars worldwide, approximately forty weekends of the year.
I love what I do and it is my passion.
M$C: With your practice being multi-disciplinary, can you give our readers some advice about setting up and maintaining such a practice in today’s health-care system?
Mally: Practice makes perfect is not a good cliché for a multidisciplinary practice. Not to know is to guess and, in the eyes of the public, the high profile offices are under scrutiny. Therefore, they must have all the “I’s” dotted and the “T’s” crossed. This is why I chose Dr. Mark Sanna and Breakthrough Coaching to mentor my practice transformation.
The admirable, unique, private coaching from Dr. Sanna and his Breakthrough Coaching staff, namely Dr. Charlie Schuster, is preparing me and, my staff for the exciting changes forthcoming in our quest to becoming a legitimate, true multidisciplinary practice. Medico-legal issues, Stark Laws, contracts, compliance, structure, billing, treatment and interdisciplinary protocols, as well as standards of practice, etc., are among the 300-400 on-line power point and audio training modules that are required to be completed, tested and implemented by the doctors, PT’s and all staff. Individualized weekly coaching, constant analysis of practice statistics, teleconferences, chat rooms for the doctors and staff, regular national meetings and special seminars enhance the growth of the practice.
M$C: Any final words for our readers?
Mally: We’ve discussed communication and business management skills, practice styles, beliefs, attitudes, opinions, marketing strategies and various success ingredients; however, the skill level and expertise of the clinician is key to the success of the practice. Consistency and Continuity of Care are the 3-C’s I promote in my 5-Star Extremity Adjusting Seminars on Sports and Occupational Injuries, a must for the practitioner that wants documented, scientifically validated techniques supported by the medical journals, as well. Also, attend extensive hands-on technique seminars offered weekdays, weekends, one-on-one, or group, and inquire with your state board for state sponsored license renewal courses and/or conventions in your area.
Enjoy the fruits of your hard work and put your money where your mouth is and hands are…invest in yourself. Remember the 4H’s: Use your HEAD; have a compassionate HEART; sharpen the skills of your HANDS; and with balance of the HEAD, HEART and HANDS, touch the patient and watch them HEAL.
Good luck and God bless!!!
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Mally and his staff at TRI-MED Health and Wellness Center, P.C., in Davenport, Iowa.