Each article in the MILLION DOLLAR CHIROPRACTIC series (M$C) focuses on the top surveyed issues facing chiropractors today. Recruiting new patients, retention, profitability, marketing and staffing are each a determining factor in the growth, potential and success of the practice.
The subject of this issue’s profile is Dr. Rick Markson, an extremely successful chiropractor who has practiced in Florida for the past 9 years.
Originally from Long Island, New York, Rick Markson began his chiropractic journey in early childhood. The son of Dr. Larry Markson, a 23-year veteran of success coaching and one of the founders of The Masters Circle, he literally grew up with a love of chiropractic and is “thrilled” to be able to offer his wife, Robyn, and eight month old son, Pryce, the same experience of living a healthy, drug free life.
One of only twelve chiropractors in the country certified to teach the Thompson Adjusting Technique, Dr. Markson also lectures at chiropractic associations and colleges throughout the country on practice building, office procedure and personal growth. He received the 2003 International Chiropractor of the Year award given by The Masters Circle, and has acted as President of the Broward County Chiropractic Society for the past two years.
In an interview with The American Chiropractor, Dr. Rick Markson answers our Million Dollar Chiropractic (M$C) questions about what he describes as his “good old fashioned family practice” where the focus is always on chiropractic care.
M$C: What influenced you to become a chiropractor?
Markson: I recall knowing that I was going to be a chiropractor since the age of six. Having a father who was so successful and well respected in the profession fueled my desire to follow in his footsteps. I have been adjusted my entire life and chiropractic care has always been the mode of health care for our family. So, it wasn’t a far stretch to imagine myself sharing what I have learned over a lifetime. I majored in sociology at Syracuse University. I chose that field, because I knew that the more I understood what makes people make the decisions that they make, the better able I’d be to assist them in making the proper health care decisions.
M$C: What type of practice do you have?
Markson: Our practice is a good, old-fashioned family practice. Before I started, nine years ago, my vision was to see fifty percent general practice, twenty-five percent personal injury and twenty-five percent pediatrics. That felt like a perfect balance to me, and that is almost exactly what we see in the practice. As I stated earlier, I grew up as a chiropractic kid. Therefore, we make sure we educate every patient on the benefits of lifetime chiropractic care for every member of their family. I am very strong with my patients on understanding the subluxation concept and I believe that has a huge impact on our success.
I have one associate doctor and another one in the works. They are instrumental in being able to provide the quality of care that we pride ourselves on. We have two massage therapists on staff at all times and I see a huge benefit in having the massage therapy on premises.
M$C: Give us a physical description of your office facility.
Markson: We started in a 1600-square-foot office with four adjusting rooms and one massage therapy room. We began to see some capacity limitations, so I purchased the massage therapy company that occupied a 750-square-foot space in the same strip center. We moved the massage over to the new space to give us another adjusting room and were able to have two massage rooms as well as rent-ing space for acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Two-and-a-half years ago, we moved down the road to a magnificent freestanding building in a professional plaza. It is a 2700 square foot space and houses everything under one roof. I believe it to be the dream office. We have decorated it in a very warm, welcoming way and it suits all our needs. We now have the capacity to see a virtually unlimited volume. Not a day goes by that a patient doesn’t comment about how beautiful our office is. Needless to say, I’m very proud of it.
M$C: What’s the income service level that you provide annually?
Markson: Our goal has always been to grow financially by twenty percent each year. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a team that understands that goal and helps me to fulfill it year after year. As the practice has grown, our income has followed as well, and we continue to see the twenty percent increase every year. Also, this past year, I purchased another practice with a partner and that has created another income stream for me.
M$C: Do you have a set profit-standard or margin formula for the business?
Markson: I believe that setting very specific goals is of the utmost importance in running the practice effectively. Second in importance is to make sure that your team knows each goal and that continuous training is done to ensure the achievement of each one. Due to the nature of our practice, our overhead tends to be a little high at approximately 55-57%. This is due to the multiple associates and the multiple massage therapists. Employing professionals may have a higher price tag, but I believe that their value makes it worthwhile. Additionally, thanks to our insurance and collections team, our accounts receivable is actually lower now than it was three years ago. Our goal is to collect 90% of services rendered, and we get closer to that goal every year.
M$C: Is there anyone in particular to whom you attribute your professional success?
Markson: On a personal note, my mother taught me to always do the right thing, regardless of what the cost. I strive to accomplish that task in every facet of my life.
On the business side, I was fortunate enough to have a father who revolutionized much of how chiropractic is now practiced around the country and the world. I learned early on that the practice of chiropractic follows a triad of personality, procedural efficiency, and clinical competence. I have been listening to my dad’s Markson Management Services cassette albums since I was a kid and I follow his procedures to the letter. The chiropractors that I know who try to “reinvent the wheel” end up struggling needlessly.
Now, as I have become involved with the The Masters Circle, the success philosophy has taken center stage. I follow their manual and CD albums lesson by lesson. With Bob Hoffman and Dennis Perman helping me work on my own weaker areas, I have become a better boss, a more confident leader, and the kind of person who can create the life and practice of my dreams.
M$C: What marketing strategies do you use to attract new patients, and to keep current patients?
Markson: I have always loved public speaking, so I have built the practice predominantly on doing outside lectures in our community. I have spoken at various companies, schools, support groups, and municipalities on the topics of stress management, back safety, raising a healthy, drug-free family and, of course, the benefits of chiropractic care. I have used Michelle Geller Vino of MGV Marketing since the day I opened my practice. She has been responsible for opening countless doors for us to educate our community and I would never practice without her in my corner.
For patient retention, we do a mandatory new patient orientation in our office that all new patients are required to attend. This has translated into a very high patient visit average and decreased our reliance on new patient volume. All patients receive a detailed report of findings, which further educates them on the three phases of chiropractic care. This eliminates the patients’ desire for the “quick fix”.
M$C: How do you handle problems with patient retention?
Markson: We work very hard on understanding the personality type of each patient. Depending on who they are, we will cater our communication skills and our procedures to the fulfillment of their needs. This translates into each and every patient feeling as though we understand them. I believe very strongly in relationship building and we work diligently, as a team, on our rapport building skills. Confrontational tolerance is something that every successful person in every field has mastered. We are able to confront patients about u ukeeping up with their appointment schedules and financial responsibilities so that they understand that it is in their best interest to do so.
M$C: We all know that an efficient staff is a crucial component of a successful practice. Tell us what you look for in a staff member.
Markson: I used to hire people out of desperation. I sounded like everyone else. “Good help is impossible to find.” Through the teachings of The Masters Circle, I have learned that attracting the right team members is no different than attracting new patients, or the perfect mate. You must work on goals, affirmations, and visualizations to manifest whatever it is you want. In this instance, I am very specific on hiring my teammates by their personality type. I believe that almost any task can be taught, but you can’t train someone to be the type of person you need for each position.
Our associate doctors are fully empowered to take the patient through consultation, examination, Report of Findings, and all aspects of care.
M$C: Do you enjoy your work?
Markson: How many people do you know who knew what they were going to do with their life since the age of six and then actually made it happen? When someone asks me what my purpose in life is, I believe it is primarily to become the best husband and father I can possibly be. Then, it is to help get chiropractic to the mountaintop…where it belongs. I really am living a dream.
M$C: Any final words for our readers?
Markson: I am flattered by the fact that I have other chiropractors visiting my office on a weekly basis. They ask many of the same questions that I have answered here. The advice I have for them and for the readers is simple. First and foremost, start having more fun. Chiropractic is an amazing healing art…enjoy it. Our patients love us. If you fuel your passion for chiropractic, patients will flock to you. Second, you must have a coach. If Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and every other superstar in any field have coaches, you should to…if you want to be a superstar! I am also flattered that you asked for my inclusion in your publication. I love chiropractic and I am honored to share what I have learned with each and every one of you.
You may contact Dr.Markson at (954) 472-7975.
Our sincere thanks to Dr.Markson and his staff at Markson Chiropractic, Plantation, Florida.