#007 How Dr. Darin threw a community event to ensure every attendee came to speak to her.
October 24, 2018
Finding ways to stand out can be one of the most difficult things that any chiropractic office can tackle, and on today’s episode of Chiro Business Builders, we’re going to talk to Dr. Christy Darin at Darin Chiropractic about how she come up with an idea for hosting a fall event for her community. Now, this fall event has bounce houses and games and food vendors and prizes and so much more, and she’s using this event to guarantee that every single person in attendance comes by and gets checked out by her. You’re going to want to steal this idea for yourself. Let’s get going on the podcast.
You’re listening to the Chiro Business Builders podcast, giving you behind-the-scenes access to the world’s top chiropractors and how they built and scaled their business. Here’s your host, Tabitha Thomas.
Tabitha Thomas: Welcome to the Chiro Business Builders podcast, where we give you an inside look into some of the most successful chiropractic businesses. I’ve got with me today Dr. Christy Darin at Granite City, Illinois. I’m so excited to have you with me. Thank you for being on the podcast.
Dr. Christy Darin: Thanks for having me.
Tabitha Thomas: All right. So, tell me a little bit about your journey to becoming a chiropractor. Everybody has a story about something the nudged them in that direction, so what’s your story?
Dr. Christy Darin: I was really good at wrecking cars when I was a kid, and that’s something you’re not really supposed to be good at. But the first accident I was in was with my mom, and I was 12 years old. We were in the back seat of a, she had a Bronco or a Blazer or something like that, and we flipped it end over end on the ice. Well back then nobody wore seat belts in the back seat, so we literally flipped within the vehicle end over end, and that started my whole fun, neck/back pain journey from there.
Dr. Christy Darin: The town I’m from is super small, so there’s one chiropractor for 20 miles and we didn’t even know anything about going to the chiropractor back then. So, we went to the medical doctor like you were supposed to do. He was like here’s some painkillers and stuff. Fast forward about five years and I’m 17 and like I said, I was really good at wrecking cars, between my own fault or people hitting me. From the time I was 12 until probably 18, I think I was in even different car accidents.
Tabitha Thomas: Oh my goodness. That is a lot. Holy moly. How are you not traumatized?
Dr. Christy Darin: I am completely traumatized. That’s why I get adjusted all the time. But yeah, so that kind of started by chiropractic journey. On that end, as I started going to see somebody and found out you could actually get to feeling better without taking medication and without having to do surgery or take drugs, I was that kid my mom used to have to chop up an aspirin and put it in jelly if I had a headache.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah.
Dr. Christy Darin: So I prefer the much natural route, so that’s kind of my why.
Tabitha Thomas: Well, cool. So you went to [inaudible 00:02:49] Chiropractic. Is that right?
Dr. Christy Darin: Correct.
Tabitha Thomas: What happened when you got out? Did you go work for somebody else? Did you open your own practice? What was that journey like?
Dr. Christy Darin: One of the guys that I graduated with, he and I were looking at heading back to the same area after graduation and we decided we’re both starting off. We’re both straight out of school with no money, why don’t we open up separately but together, basically split the overhead on one building. Then as we outgrow it, we could either decide to go our separate ways for we can stay together. we’ll figure that out three years from now sort of scenario.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah.
Dr. Christy Darin: So that’s what we did. We started off together in the same practice. Well, separate practices but-
Tabitha Thomas: Same building.
Dr. Christy Darin: things from there. It was definitely a struggle starting off.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah, but having somebody else to help share those expenses probably helped quite a bit compared to somebody else that just went out on their own. How long ago was that? How many years have you been in business now?
Dr. Christy Darin: 10 years now. It was 10 years in, I guess April, when I graduated.
Tabitha Thomas: Oh wow. That’s exciting. And the fact that you did it on your own right out the gate is, let me just commend you on that. That’s incredible because most people, almost everyone else that I’ve talked to have gone to work for somebody else. So just having the guts to go out and do it on your own I think is incredible. So congratulations. And 10 years later.
Dr. Christy Darin: Thank you. I may be a glutton for punishment, but I think to do big things, you’ve got to take big bites. Some of my best-learned lessons are expensive ones.
Dr. Christy Darin: straight into it was the way for me to go.
Tabitha Thomas: I love it. I love it. I always ask this: what is your target market? Because I feel like any time that you know exactly who your customer is, and it can be anybody because everyone needs chiropractic, I realize that. But who is the person that you would say is the one that you target the most?
Dr. Christy Darin: For the most part, I’ll say that we mainly see women. I think that’s because we care more about our health than most guys do because they have to be dying and losing a foot before they would go anywhere. But generally, we see a lot of women between the age of 30 and 55, something like that. Of course, we do see some kids and we do see Medicare patients and all that as well. But that’s the majority of our demographic I would say.
Tabitha Thomas: Gotcha. So what would you say that you do differently than any of your competitors in your area? Are you still in a small town?
Dr. Christy Darin: No. Actually, the town I grew up in I never practiced in. It literally was 450 people there.
Tabitha Thomas: Gotcha. Hey, I grew up in a small town. I love it.
Dr. Christy Darin: It was great growing up there, absolutely. But the town I’m in now is about 30,000 people.
Tabitha Thomas: Oh, okay.
Dr. Christy Darin: There are about 10 other chiropractors in the town. I’m the new kid on the block. There are doctor here that, they went to high school here. They’re from this town, took over dad’s practice, which took over grandpa’s practice kind of thing. Or practices. I’ve been in Granite City about five years. It was five years in March, so I’m pretty much the new kid, but we took the new kid thing and ran with it and went by storm. So we are a lot busier than a lot of the other practices that have been in town for a long time.
Dr. Christy Darin: I think some of that has to do with, I really think personality goes a long way. A lot of companies will tell you don’t do a personality-driven practice, but our office is, we’re very laid back. It’s a nice, comfortable environment, a place for people to be … now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any structure. We’ll get into that later, but it’s just relaxing. I don’t know if you’ve heard the dog barking in the background, but-
Tabitha Thomas: I love it.
Dr. Christy Darin:- that’s Lulu. She’s our little office dog. She’s a dachshund/beagle mix. She comes to work every day. She’s positive to everybody here, just to see her and the patients absolutely love her. So there’s part of it. Then we take each individual case literally separately. I know a lot of people say, “We do customized treatment plans,” but we do. We do a lot of rehab in office. We do digital x-ray in office. And every plan is based upon really what that patient needs. So being nice and relaxed.
Tabitha Thomas: Yes. Well, when you’re nice and relaxed and bring your dog to work, you enjoy doing what you do, which makes all the difference.
Dr. Christy Darin: Right.
Tabitha Thomas: What would you say is your most effective technique at getting business through the door? The one thing that I noticed going through some of your Facebook pages and stuff is that you’ve got a Fall Festival coming up, which I think is incredible. So talk a little bit about that one.
Dr. Christy Darin: Okay. The Fall Festival, this is the first one we’re doing of it’s type. We normally do some different ladies nights in the office, different vendor events. We do a lot of business to business marketing. We were trying to figure out what we could do to be more whole community involved that’s more, the general public can come versus we’re coming to your work. So we came up with the idea of doing this Fall Festival, got everybody kind of settled back into school by the end of September. Ours is scheduled for September 29, which is on a Saturday. We’re doing 11 to 4.
Dr. Christy Darin: We’re going to have some bounce houses. We’ve got a bounce house obstacle course. We’ve got a bounce house style, like air-filled jousting pit.
Tabitha Thomas: Oh wow.
Dr. Christy Darin: We’re going to have several different vendors set up there, kind of your direct sales people sort of vendors or craft vendors, things like that. We’re having snow cones, cotton candy, hot dogs, popcorn. That pretty much speaks to the food, just little snack things. But of course in order for us to be able to get new patients, we’re doing a screening booth. It’s not just one, we’ve done multiple. We’ve got six staff members plus myself. So there’s plenty of opportunity to have different people do these screenings.
Dr. Christy Darin: The way that we’re getting people to do the screening is in order to get their different food items, we’ll give them tickets for those food items once they get screened.
Tabitha Thomas: Aha.
Dr. Christy Darin: We’re not charging for any of those items, but you have to, in theory, pay with a ticket. How do you get a ticket? You have to go do your screening.
Tabitha Thomas: That’s ingenious.
Dr. Christy Darin: Yeah. So we’re hoping to have a pretty good turnout. We’ve got a DJ playing and everything. So I hope it’s a pretty good event. We’ve got a huge grass lot with the building that we own. It’s probably, oh gosh I don’t even know, probably 2,000 plus, 2,500 square foot back there.
Tabitha Thomas: Oh wow.
Dr. Christy Darin: So we should have plenty of room to be able to do that. We have a huge parking lot and then a church and school parking lot across the street. So it should be good, it should be fun.
Tabitha Thomas: Well I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Tell me, you talked about business to business. What is the one way that you get businesses to refer to you?
Dr. Christy Darin: As far as businesses referring to me. Do you mean more like medical doctors and lawyer?
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Christy Darin: Okay. We do a lot of personal injury cases. Out in this area, we’re basically the Illinois side of St. Louis. We’re 15 minutes from St. Louis. So we get a lot of patients from [inaudible 00:09:50], which is a huge law firm out here. They do a lot of high volume. Well, we’re one of I think it’s three now, chiropractors on the Illinois side that they refer to.
Dr. Christy Darin: So we started the relationship with them through one of their paralegals who, her sister-in-law was actually one of my first front desk girls and got that relationship set up with us. We were able to continue that and because we do get work, we don’t over bill. We get the patient better in a quick and timely manner and we’ve been able to maintain that relationship for the past five years I’ve been in Granite and they steadily send us patients.
Dr. Christy Darin: On top of that, we’ve built relationships with other attorneys locally and again, the same thing. We don’t over bill. We get their patients better faster. We have good quality notes. So when it comes to them getting paid, our notes make sense, they’re medically necessary. It presents well in front of the court system basically and whoever is going to be paying the bills.
Tabitha Thomas: Gotcha. Well you didn’t have to … I know some other doctors will go out and do lunch and learn kind of things, bring food over. You didn’t necessarily do that. You built true, honest to God relationships with these people.
Dr. Christy Darin: With those attorneys, yes. Now we do a lot of lunch and learns and business to business stuff on that end. But when it comes to the attorneys, we truly built the relationships with them.
Tabitha Thomas: That’s awesome. I love that. Is there any kind of marketing or business trick or technique that you’ve used in the 10 years that you’ve been in practice that you’ve found has just been really successful for you?
Dr. Christy Darin: One of the biggest things that we do that brings patients in the door is with the business to business end. We do, like you said with the lunch and learns, we have a harder time getting the lecture end of things set up. But we find it super easy for people to want to do chair massage even. So we’ll come out and do a chair massage style screening. We’ll come out and provide lunch. We’ll quick five, ten-minute chair massage screenings and nobody really is going to turn down a free massage. So that’s a way that a lot of the offices are scheduled. Not a lot of places close for lunch.
Dr. Christy Darin: So when you’re doing a lunch and learn, how do you give it back to back to back five, ten different times?
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah.
Dr. Christy Darin: So that’s harder, but with either a snack and relax or the massage and lunch style, depending upon the time of day, it’s easier for them to stagger the people in and out. Then you actually have your hands on people and talking to them about different things you are finding and why they would need to come in. The trick to that is just to get them in the door. You’re not trying to diagnose them out there. That’s not what that purpose is. It’s just to get them in the door and they understand why they need to get things checked out. That’s been our biggest business builder for sure.
Tabitha Thomas: Love it. Who would you say has taught you the most about how to build a successful chiropractic practice? Because the one thing I do hear a lot is that chiropractor school is great, but they don’t tell you how to run a business. They tell you how to be a chiropractor, but not how to run the business side of things. So who would you say has helped you or what is the one thing that you’ve learned about building your own business?
Dr. Christy Darin: There couldn’t be more truth to that statement. A couple different avenues on that. When I first graduated, I worked with somebody else independently for a few years. Then, I had moved my space in with another lady just for a better location. I was still independent. And I was getting busier and she was getting busier. And it was getting too hard on the office girls to be able to run two different systems, so I ended up joining her practice because she’d been in business longer.
Dr. Christy Darin: She was part of a franchise and I prefer to not say any names on that end.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah.
Dr Christy Darin: The franchise itself, they had a lot of different systems in play, which was helpful for the marketing end and more helping you set up treatment plans and different systems for how you actually manage the patient once they get in the door as far as doing treatment plans and doing different exercise protocols as well as when you should do re-exams and what actually does establish medical necessity. We think everybody should be adjusted forever and of course they should. But as far as at what point should the insurance stop paying for that? They were very helpful in that regard.
Dr. Christy Darin: I was only with her for about a year because I’m not good at working for somebody else. I was doing my own thing too long. So when I left her is when I moved to Granite.
Tabitha Thomas: Gotcha.
Dr. Christy Darin: And from there, I liked the idea of having systems. I ended up joining Integrity Management. What I liked about Integrity is, they allow you to practice however you want to practice. So they’re not trying to tell you how to do what you need to do, which the franchise that this other lady had, they very much did tell you how to practice. I liked being able to do my own thing, but just having different systems in order. Like here’s how you do report of finance, here’s how you do financial consults, here’s how you train your people to answer the phone, here’s how you handle objections if somebody wants to cancel an appointment or doesn’t want to pre-schedule their appointment.
Dr. Christy Darin: So having the systems in play not only for myself, but also for staff members was huge because training is so expensive and so hard. So having other things that other people could do to just listen to these podcasts or listen to these audios, that was completely helpful. Then there’s different marketing systems in place. Then they have coaching. I think that if you don’t have a coach, everyone should have a coach, even if it’s just a friend that holds you accountable, who knows what they’re doing. With that, we have a coaching call every two weeks.
Dr. Christy Darin: We’ve got stat sheets that we do every week. But we go through our stats with our coach and if you guys are keeping numbers, numbers don’t lie. Numbers will tell you exactly what’s going on with your practice, whether it be dollars or new patients or patient visits or where your people are dropping off, what your dollar visit average is, what your patient visit average is. You can manage an office halfway across the country just by looking at stats. That’s one of the things that they’ve taught me through that. Then many, many, many colleagues that are running successful practices, just to be able to bounce things off of. And people who’ve been doing it a lot longer than me who are a lot smarter than me.
Tabitha Thomas: -yes. Having a tribe to be able to … exactly, bounce ideas off of and just be like I’ve come across this, what the heck do I do?
Dr. Christy Darin: Right.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah. I love it, I love it. If you could talk to somebody coming right out of [inaudible 00:16:10] or any chiropractic school and you could give them one piece of advice, you could just look at them and be like, “Okay, I want you to listen to me, like listen to me really well.” What’s the one piece of advice that you would give them?
Dr. Christy Darin: I would say not necessarily joining a management company, but have some sort of coach, somebody to have a little bit of guidance through so they can walk you through that whole set up procedure. When we graduated, yeah we opened our doors, but we went in blind. We really had no idea what in the world we were doing. That’s part of why it was a struggle. We were there for three years before we went our separate ways on things. It was definitely a struggle where I see some of these doctors who are straight out of school that have done, and I’ll use Integrity specifically because I see a lot of their student doctors and immediately after graduation. So they’ve already got all of this training under their belt ahead of time.
Dr. Christy Darin: The second they graduate, they’re like all right. Whether they’re going to go work for somebody else or whether they’re going to open their own doors, here’s what I need to do to make things happen, to get people in the door and here’s how I go about finding a building or finding a doctor to work for. But I really just think having that mentor role, whether it be systems or coaching or even, as a new grad, it’s hard to be constantly learning to adjust even. The more you do things, the better off you ware, but definitely having some sort of coaching or management, some sort of support system for sure.
Tabitha Thomas: Yes. I love it, I love it. I think no matter what, in chiropractic or any industry whatsoever, even personal, having somebody there that’s accountable, that can help coach you through things is amazing.
Dr. Christy Darin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tabitha Thomas: You are speaking to my heart right now. I love hearing about what any chiropractor does to help them learn further. So is there anything right now that you’re reading that is motivating you or helping you in your journey as a business owner?
Dr. Christy Darin: I am not a huge reader. I am an audible.com girl because I drive half an hour to work every day. So half an hour there and half an hour back and any of my traveling, like airplanes and Audible is my best friend. I will pull up my Audible right here and I will tell you what I’ve got rolling because I’ve got a couple different things.
Tabitha Thomas: [inaudible 00:18:32] right now, I’m reading on Audible this morning during my walk, I was listening to You are a Bad Ass, and it’s a really, really good book.
Dr. Christy Darin: Okay. So given what you just said, I’m obviously allowed to use vulgar words.
Tabitha Thomas: Sure.
Dr. Christy Darin: The last one, I had a girl trip in Branson. On the way down I was listening to the Subtle Art of not giving a Fuck.
Tabitha Thomas: I haven’t read that one yet. Is it good?
Dr. Christy Darin: It is very good. And on Audible, I’m not sure about the book itself, but I can’t imagine it’s too much difference, the guy is hilarious. It’s not about the fact that you don’t care about things; it’s a matter of picking what it is you care about and prioritizing and what is important and the order of which things should be important and really how you’re affecting the situation, how really it comes back to you. Even if it’s a matter of I’ve decided to not make this a priority. Or, maybe I am the problem with this.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah. I’m definitely going to add that to my list.
Dr. Christy Darin: It is a good one. I’ve got that one and I’ve got You are a Bad Ass at making money.
Tabitha Thomas: I haven’t heard that one yet. That will be next.
Dr. Christy Darin: Yeah. I’m just getting started between the two of those.
Tabitha Thomas: Cool. So are you a podcast listener?
Dr. Christy Darin: Not as much on the podcasts. With my drive time, I’ve got the books going, so I kind of have to pick and choose.
Tabitha Thomas: I gotcha. I gotcha. Being a successful business owner, what does your typical day look like?
Dr. Christy Darin: It is organized chaos at it’s finest. Prioritization, again, is key. I am a total list maker. I’ve got a little paper by me all times about things I need to do for the day. Google calendar is my best friend ever, so of course my day to day I’m treating patients and doing those and all the fun things that go along with that. But there’s all the random things that they throw at you.
Dr. Christy Darin: Depending on what is on the list, what is important from day to day? Of course, my patients that are here are what’s most important. And then, my notes because those are what get me paid.
Tabitha Thomas: Exactly.
Dr. Christy Darin: Then from there, there’s different insurance things that I have to handle specifically that my office manager/billing person, she can’t handle are things I have to handle. Paying the bills for the office, which is what I’ve got in front of me as well after we get off the phone. Gotta have the lights on, all that sort of thing.
Tabitha Thomas: Yeah.
Dr. Christy Darin: practice being paid, all that fun stuff. So prioritizing your day is the single most important thing I can say. And just figuring out what can wait until tomorrow because not everything is going to get done today, but it has to get done at some point. So organized chaos.
Tabitha Thomas: I love it. You need one of those shirts that says chaos coordinator.
Dr. Christy Darin: True. Yes.
Tabitha Thomas: truth of both a mom and working and all that fun stuff. Well, thank you so, so much for taking the time to just talk to us and give us some great insight into what you do and just the advice on getting a coach. I love it. So thank you so much. I’m excited to hear how the Fall Festival goes. So we’ll talk soon.
Dr. Christy Darin: Yes. Sounds good.
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