Don’t Repeat My $1,000,000 Chiropractic Associate Lesson

“If you were really my friend you wouldn’t need me to sign the contract” she stated emphatically.

“Damn” I thought to myself. “Maybe she is right. Maybe I am being a hard ass about this associate contract. She is my long time friend so maybe I should just relax and flow with it. After all she hasn’t signed it in 6 months and things seem to be going OK.”

“Alright” I stated. “Let’s just roll with it. I guess I am being a hard ass.”


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To fast forward and to try and avoid some of the mild pangs of guilt and pain I get when I relive the story, she left 3 months later with 100 patient visits/week. At the time that was approximately $100,000/year in revenue that could have gone into my 5 daughters University education fund. Instead it went straight into her pocket.

If you look at the 10 year picture that $100,000/year turned into my $1,000,000 chiropractic associate lesson. To ensure you NEVER live through the pain of that I have chosen to share with you that lesson and give you some of my learnings in the hopes you never have to repeat it.

Here are the top 6 things you need to do to ensure you never learn this lesson firsthand.

1/ VISION CHECK – Ensure your desire to have an associate is actually in alignment with where you want your life and business to go. For certain doctors it can be a great growth and leverage step. For others it is a giant pain in the ass. Check in with your core values, look to the future years for your vision, talk to your significant other and advisors and ensure it is a congruent step for you. It is not for everyone.

2/ RECRUITDo not hire an associate, recruit one. What I mean by that is go through the process to define who is the most ideal candidate for you. Write up a psychographic and/or demographic analysis of this person so you will recognize them when you see them. Strategically plan where this person goes to school, is currently working, hangs out, plays, prays and any other data you can mine on the most likely place to attract this person from.

Design a recruiting strategy (ours has 16 steps) and activate it well in advance of when you feel you need this person in your business. It commonly takes 4 to 12 months to RECRUIT good talent so don’t expect it to happen overnight.

3/ CONTRACT – You MUST have a solid contract and it MUST be signed before this person ever gets inside your doors to touch a patient. Be sure you put a probationary period in it and ensure there are benchmarks built into the contract that they must hit in order to continue to earn the right to work in your business. In my world-view it is a huge honour to be invited to work in someone’s business and they must earn the right to be a part of the team. If they can’t cut it ……… let them go and start over.

4/ ACCOUNTABILITY – There MUST be accountability on both sides of the arrangement for it to work well. These younger docs want to know you are going to actually be there to mentor and guide them. Set up a training schedule with dates and things you will be focusing on during the training for at least the first 6 months. Hold them accountable for being in those meetings and doing the work. Allow them to hold you accountable for being there and doing the training well.

On their side of accountability they must agree to the benchmarks you have set in the contract and be willing to do all in their power to hit them. This includes an Appendix A which would be there business plan and an Appendix B which would be there marketing plan. Create rhythmic meetings to hold them accountable to fulfilling on these plans.

5/ EXCHANGE – This is the most likely place where these arrangements get screwed up. We believe an exchange model should mimic “real life” as much as possible. In other words it should be a depiction of what they would be experiencing if they opened their own practice.

Ensure you know exactly what you overhead is in your practice and ensure the contract is structured so that they NEVER take home a larger % of their income then you do. It will create guilt/resentment cycles and you will end up wanting to sell them the practice and become their associate.

Also figure out exactly how much it will cost you to have them there. There are more hidden costs than most docs realize when I consult with them on recruiting an associate. Obviously extra staff costs are the biggest cost that could be incurred but there are others. Figure this out and ensure the compensation model you create gets you that money back quickly.

I believe a sliding scale compensation model is the most accurate way to do this. Depending on their business plan and expected revenue on a monthly basis, set the % on the first X thousands of dollars of revenue they generate to be high towards the senior doc so that you get your costs covered quickly. From there it should slide towards their favour on a sliding scale based upon their production, the same as it does for you or would for them if they were on their own. We designed a tool called the Associate Doc Decision Maker that you can download off the site to help you with this calculation process. Find it here

Continuing to invest in them and all of your other human resources once you know they are in it for the long haul with you (and signed a non-compete clause) practically ensures leveraged business growth and will likely give you the best ROI of anything you will ever invest in. If you would like to explore the benefits of getting your greatest assets (your team) coached we would love to set up a call to explore that with you. Simply click here to initiate the process.

6/ CELEBRATEBe sure you build in celebrations into the process as all work and no play makes Tommy a dull boy. 🙂 Building the personal side of the relationship massively enhances the business side of the relationship so do not overlook that.

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