Each article in the MILLION DOLLAR CHIROPRACTIC series (M$C) focuses on the top surveyed issues facing chiropractors today. Recruiting new patients, retention, profitability, marketing and staffing are each a determining factor in the growth, potential and success of the practice.
The subject of this issue’s profile is Dr. Timothy Weir an extremely successful chiropractor who has practiced in North Carolina, for the past twenty-two years.
Originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Tim Weir began working at a very early age in a freight salvage store owned by his parents. “That,” he says, “bred into me a good work ethic.”
As a child, he also loved music and started playing the piano at age four. When he was sixteen-years-old, he traveled the United States and Canada in a gospel singing group, subsequently cutting a solo gospel album in Nashville, Tennessee, and, touring the US giving concerts.
And this was all BEFORE he got into chiropractic!
Then, newly married at the age of eighteen, Tim and his bride, Rose, were off to Davenport, Iowa, where he proceeded to attend Palmer College of Chiropractic, graduating in 1981.
In an interview with The American Chiropractor, Dr. Tim Weir answers our Million Dollar Chiropractic (M$C) questions about his successful multidisciplinary practice where their motto is, “Get Well, Have Fun.”
M$C: What influenced you to become a chiropractor?
Weir: In 1956, my father was in a wheelchair suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. The Mayo clinic had given up on him, and sent him home with six months to live. Instead of taking him home to die, though, my mother took him to the Toftness Chiropractic Clinic in Cumberland, Wisconsin. Within weeks, he was walking; within six months he was back at work; and he lived another thirty-two years.
I had two brothers. My older brother, Mike, who now practices in Monterey, California, was the first of us to become a chiropractor. Mike has been a great mentor and friend; but it was my other brother, Kevin, who just passed away after a short battle with liver cancer, and myself who went to Palmer at the same time.
M$C: What type of practice do you have?
Weir: Our practice is a true “multi-disciplinary” practice. We are basically a medical practice, with chiropractic and physical therapy incorporated into the practice. I realized that patients needed chiropractic care, but I also realized that they needed some type of medical care at the same time. I am quick to admit that I am a big baby when it comes to pain, and that, when I had a severe back problem, I took some type of pain relief. My feeling was, if I need this, the patients in my town deserve to have the same thing: the marriage of the healing arts…medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy and massage.
M$C: Give us a physical description of your office facility.
Weir: First Choice Family Healthcare is right on one of the busiest streets in North Raleigh. We have approximately 5,700 sq. ft. We have a beautiful office and a great therapy suite, and are set up to do urgent care as well as physical medicine. You have heard that the three success points of any business are location, location, location. Well, our clinic is on the corner of two busy streets, right between Wendy’s and Burger King (great locators for people.) It is also possible to be on a street that is too busy…as is the building two doors down from ours. Our saving grace is a back entrance from a less busy street.
Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina, and is a wonderful city to live and practice in.
M$C: What’s the income service level that you provide annually?
Weir: I guess that I tend to look at our practice “pre-multidisciplinary.” We actually started the multidisciplinary practice under the direction of a consultant. But, it seemed like everything that he told us to do required some type of equipment to purchase from him. We did well, but there were a lot of chiropractic practices in town that were doing just as well.
Then we found Dr. Daniel Dahan of Practice Perfect. He was able to help us get rid of some equipment, cut overhead and increase the practice all at the same time. What I always considered a “pipedream” a couple of years ago—a million-dollar-per-year practice—is now a dream come true.
M$C: Do you have a margin formula or set profit standard for the business?
Weir: I run our practice on goals. We have an objective, and that is to be better this year than we were last year. Our goal is to provide quality service to a greater amount of people. I get our staff involved with this. Every staff member knows what our goals are, where we stand every day of the week, and how far we have left to go. Bob Proctor taught me that the important thing was to write my goal down, put it in my pocket and read it as often as I can. My staff all have these goal cards, and the front desk person will walkie-talkie everyone to read their goal cards several times per day.
M$C: Is there anyone in particular to whom you attribute your professional success?
Weir: I was raised with Judeo-Christian ethics. I practiced WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) long before bracelets.
My wife is not only the love of my life and my best friend, but also my business partner. She has believed in me, and our vision, more than anyone.
But there are two people who have helped change my life. First, in my professional career, there is my consultant, Dr. Daniel Dahan. I have never met a more caring, loving and ethical u u man than this guy. There is never a time that I have called on him that he has not helped me walk through a problem. There are so many issues involved in a multidisciplinary clinic, and he has been there every step of the way—never a question of whether something should or should not be done but, rather, is it right or wrong—end of discussion. He is filled with wisdom beyond his earthly years.
Second of all, Bob Proctor has helped me in my success education. He has helped me grasp the concepts that I needed to help me become wealthy. Gaining wealth is easy; believing that you deserve it is the hard part. He helped me realize that life is too short to waste it doing things I hate to do. One of my favorite quotes from Bob is, “Most people are tiptoeing through life, hoping they safely make it to death.” Just make the decision that you are going to have the best practice in your city, goal for that, and go for it. Don’t just look to chiropractors for mentoring. Success has nothing to do with how many patients you see, but it has to do with what thoughts go on between your ears! Most of us need mental enemas!
M$C: Tell us about your family.
Weir: My wife, Rose, and I have been married for twenty-seven years. We have three beautiful children—Wendi, Nikki and Tyler—and they all work in our office. Our daughter, Wendi, graduated from Oral Roberts University with a degree in marketing, and now has become a certified coder. Nikki has taken over our front desk area, and is doing a tremendous job. Tyler is six, and he has placed himself in as office manager. We have been blessed with a wonderful family and marriage.
M$C: What marketing strategies do you use to attract new patients and to keep current patients?
Weir: Of course, when you first start a practice, you have nothing to do but external marketing. When we first started our chiropractic practice, I went door-to-door doing surveys, mall screenings and newspaper ads. Now, most of our marketing is done internally.
As you know, our office motto is “Get Well, Have Fun.” When you realize that people give up over an hour, three-to-four times per week, it makes you appreciate them. So, we try to make their visits enjoyable. We are always looking at ways to have a party in our office.
For example, our July program was “It’s Christmas in July at First Choice.” We had our office decorated with Christmas decorations and we had our “12 Days of Christmas” Contest. Everyday, for twelve days, we gave away a present. Patients would get a ticket for keeping appointments, referring patients, etc., then, everyday, we drew a name for a prize. All month we were aiming for July 31st, our Christmas party.
We adopted the Wake County Foster Care Program. We decided these kids needed to have a little Christmas, so our patients helped us collect book bags for these kids to go back to school with. We collected over 150 book bags u u filled with supplies. On the 31st, we had games, prizes, snow cones, moonwalks and lots of food at our Christmas party. These kids had a blast, and we did, too! You would be amazed at how many people will help you reach your goal if you but ask.
Another key is to keep your name in front of your patients. A couple of years ago, a patient came in with this tremendous story of how this surgeon had literally saved his life. When I asked the surgeon’s name, the patient could not tell me. That made me realize that, if I don’t keep my name in front of them…they won’t remember my name either.
Everyday, our patients receive a positive thought e-mail from me and our clinic…it’s called the “Insight of the Day.” It is done by a service called the 3% Club and, once our patient’s name is given to them, I don’t have to do a thing! Everyday they get an uplifting positive message in a very short sentence. Then it gives my name, and the clinic name. It is an incredible marketing tool that is so inexpensive it is ludicrous!
The key is good customer service. We choose where we go to eat by their customer service. One of my favorite restaurants in Raleigh is Winston’s Grille. These people treat you like kings. So, when we shop, or go out to eat, and if the customer service is great, we emulate that.
We are known around the city as the clinic with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. We bought a little convection oven, and we go to Sam’s Club and buy bulk dough. It takes so little time and effort, but it makes a tremendous impact on patients. I got this cookie idea from Dr. Bob Lupo in Tampa. Use other people’s ideas!
We started to study the “Fish Philosphy” based on the books written about Seattle’s Pike Place Fish market. Again, it boils down to giving good customer service. It starts on day one, and ends with their release from care. At their release, it is announced over the walkie-talkies, “There’s a fish swimming away”. At this point, we give them a First Choice tee shirt, and take their picture with the staff. Within a week, they have a copy of this picture with a nice thank you card. If Nordstroms can send you a thank you card for a little $15.00 purchase, we figure that we can too!
M$C: Obviously, every doctor, at some time or other in his practice, experiences problems with patient retention. How do you handle such problems?
Weir: Our patient retention is a staff endeavor! From Day One, when they walk in the door, we are letting them know the importance of keeping up with their care. I learned from Dr. Peter Fernandez several years ago to keep missed appointments under 10%. We are very strict with our appointments. Our patients know that it is a major infraction to miss an appointment in our office; it jeopardizes their care.
We instituted something from the game of baseball, “Three strikes and you’re OUT.” On the first missed appointment, they get a big red sticker on their chart: “Missed Appointment.” Every person that they see that day, comments on the missed appointment. Honestly, if a person misses their appointment, and no one notices it or says anything, they don’t believe that you think that it is all that important for them to keep either. But, if everyone hits them with some type of remark, you can bet they are going to think twice about another miss. The second miss is not as graciously acknowledged, and number u u three is downright stern. After that, they have become more of a liability than an asset.
You must genuinely care. People can tell. If you have a fun, positive place to come to for care, it’s not hard to get people to come. Again, question yourself! Would you come to your office three times per week for twelve weeks? Make the climate in your office fun and enjoyable, and they will come.
M$C: We all know that an efficient staff is a crucial com-ponent of a successful practice. Tell us about your staff (how you find them, train them, what qualities you look for).
Weir: In a multidisciplinary team, the key has to be this: Nobody is the big cheese! We are all important to the patient’s getting well. I look for people who are friendly, people loving people. I also understand that, although I am an extrovert, not everyone is, and there are a lot of things that I don’t like to do; and so, to get those things done, I best not hire an extrovert like me! I try to surround myself with people who will balance me out.
I was once taught that I need to find my weaknesses and get stronger in those areas. What a mistake. The key is to find your strengths, get stronger in those areas, and hire other people to do your “weak areas”. Regardless of whether you are an introvert, or an extrovert, you still need to love and care for people.
We have a great team, and when I hire new people, I let them know that my main goal is to protect my team and that the rest of the team has to approve.
M$C: Do you enjoy your work? How do you feel about going to work in the morning?
Weir: I am not a morning person! I have had to learn to be a morning person. Chiropractors are special birds! They really are. It takes someone special to do what we do. We are healers, business people, entrepreneurs and in sales, all in one package. It is really amazing how much more you love going to work when you are earning a great income, seeing great patients and have a loving staff. All of those things are things you have control over! If you don’t love going to work, you need to take inventory of your life, find out what is out of sync and fix it. As Bob Proctor says, I think that the only people who are working are those people who are doing what they don’t love to do! If you go to a place and do what you love to do, that is not work! It is fulfilling your destiny and purpose. What you do should give you life…not sap life from you!
M$C: With your practice being multidisciplinary, can you give our readers your advice about setting up and maintaining such a practice in today’s healthcare system?
Weir: If you decide that you want to build a multidisciplinary practice, you must realize that you cannot do it alone. This is not the kind of practice that your great-grandfather had! You must partner with a management consultant who knows the multidisciplinary practice from A to Z. You must also have a good healthcare attorney and a good accountant. I am amazed by people who will go to stockbrokers who drive thirty-year-old cars and live in apartments over hardware stores! I also do not understand how doctors can go to other doctors who are failures in practice and ask for their advice. If you want advice on how to put in a Jacuzzi, don’t ask your mailman!
Solomon once said that there is wisdom in the council of many. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. Immerse yourself in the knowledge you need to succeed.
M$C: Other than traditional chiropractic care, do you include any other type of services or products in your clinic which further help your patients as well as bring in additional revenue to your practice?
Weir: We provide urgent care in our practice. Our MD is in the office from the early morning huddle until the door is locked at night. She loves to do sutures and injections. We are getting ready to expand into trigger point injections and possibly prolotherapy.
I wrote a book a couple of years ago on fibromyalgia, You’re Not Crazy, an Overcomers Guide to Fibromyalgia. We do a couple of things for fibromyalgia. One is nutritional counseling. We also use the Synaptic Electronic Nerve Block. Ninety-five percent of the time, if a patient comes in with a migraine, they leave without it. If you are going to treat fibromyalgia, get a “toolkit” for these patients to use. One product that you want to make sure that you include is stopain® Professional Strenght Cryotherapy Spray. This is a pain relieving spray that contains MSM. It is a part of the puzzle. We also use it for any type of muscle pain.
M$C: Any final words for our readers?
Weir: Yes. Never, never, never give up. It seems like there are so many people who are on the brink of success, and they give in to temporary defeat. Success is not based on how many times you fall, but on how many times you get up! You are a part of a great profession. People who believe that there is a power that animates the living world, and you help people come in contact with that power every day! Forget about going to an office to practice chiropractic! Turn your office into a healing center, a filling station for the power of life! Have the mind that you are going to have a blast doing the very thing that you love to do: getting sick people well—spirit, soul and body.
You may contact Dr. Weir at 919-954-0050 or visit him at www.DrTimWeir.com.
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Weir and his staff at First Choice Family Healthcare, P.C., of North Raleigh, North Carolina.
Editor’s Note: Do you have a million dollar practice that you’d like TAC to highlight in our Million Dollar Chiropractic column? Contact TAC’s editor Jaclyn Busch Touzard by phone/fax: 1-305-716-9212 or email: [email protected]. We want your inspiring story! Contact us today!