Aligning Bodies and Business
By: Rita Duckworth
Chiropractor Dr. Robert Rice is really good at adjusting and aligning spines. But before he ever aligned his first patient’s body, he was aligning his business strategy. Prior to getting his diploma, he formed an LLC, chose a location for his practice, hired Diel & Forguson, LLC as his accountant, and even joined the Chamber of Commerce. His ability to plan ahead and line up his resources has resulted in Shiloh Chiropractic, LLC – an extremely healthy and fast growing chiropractic practice in the Metro East.
Growing up in rural Union, Missouri with six siblings, there wasn’t a lot of talk about college in Dr. Rice’s family. “We had the essentials,” he says “but we were by no means ‘well-to-do’. My goal was to find a profession where I could do well for myself. I didn’t ever want to have to worry about money.”
In his freshman year of high school, the Rice family moved from Union to the even smaller nearby town of New Haven, Missouri. On his very first day at New Haven High School, he discovered his future profession. It was Career Day, and as a newly transferred student, he hadn’t had the opportunity to choose which career representatives to talk to. A few were randomly picked for him based on his interest in science and math. When he heard the chiropractor’s presentation, something clicked.
“He described chiropractic as a non-medical, non-surgical, holistic approach to health” remembers Dr. Rice. “He explained that you treat patients using your hands and that you treat more than just pain and symptoms, but also their underlying causes.” Dr. Rice had never been to a chiropractor so this was a new idea to him. Up to that time, he had been seriously considering a career in medicine. That day he said to himself “this is exactly what I’m looking for.”
High school was followed by a year at East Central College in Union, Missouri where he was awarded a scholarship and majored in pre-med. He then finished his Bachelors and Doctorate degrees at Logan University College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, Missouri.
While most new doctors initially join existing practices, Dr. Rice decided he wanted to open his own. He was concerned that working with a practice whose standards and philosophy didn’t mesh with his might be frustrating. Having his own practice would put the responsibility for how his patients got well completely on him, and that appealed to him. “I had been working since I was 16 years old” he says. “I was confident in my ideas and work ethic. I felt that if I could learn the business aspect of a practice, I could run a really good clinic.” So in his last year of school, he “bit the bullet” and started laying the groundwork for his future.
Starting Out With Integrity
Dr. Rice was not naïve enough to think that once he passed his board exams and got his license, starting his own practice would be as simple as just hanging a shingle and turning on the lights. He actually considered getting an MBA to fill in the gaps in his knowledge of running a business but realized he “didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.” Instead he found Integrity Management, a company that offers chiropractors coaching and mentoring for establishing a practice, along with ongoing branding and marketing. They provided Dr. Rice with a to-do list for getting started which included items such as obtaining a business license, finding a location to lease, and hiring an attorney and an accountant. With this assistance Shiloh Chiropractic opened its doors for its first patient on December 11, 2006.
Nine years later, Dr. Rice is still enthusiastic about Integrity Management. With them guiding him through some of the more routine aspects of managing his practice, he can focus more of his energy on treating his patients. They provide him with a network of experts and other chiropractors to tap into for business advice, without getting involved in how he diagnoses or treats his patients. He quickly distinguished himself and his practice within the Integrity community, becoming a member of their Top Flight group of top earners. He was honored to become a coach himself for awhile, sharing his knowledge and story of success with other doctors.
What type of growth does it take to achieve Top Flight status? When Dr. Rice saw his first patient in December 2006, he hit the ground running. Within a few years, his patient list had grown significantly. He was soon working 60 hour weeks, even after adding additional chiropractic therapy assistants to his staff. In 2012, Shiloh, Illinois native Dr. Nicholas Keim joined the practice. Three years after that, Dr. Samantha Glasco was added. The staff currently consists of the three Chiropractic Physicians, Office Manager Natalie Bosomworth, who has been with the practice for six years, and eight others. They have treated roughly 3000 patients!
Location, Location, Location
When it came to choosing a place to set up his practice, Dr. Rice says “God talks to us even when we’re not paying attention.” He got the message loud and clear when he was still a trimester away from graduation. As someone who rarely watches TV, it was by sheer chance that he saw a story about Shiloh, Illinois on a local news show while visiting his mother. Mayor James Vernier II was being interviewed and was discussing the village’s rapid commercial and residential growth. He had not been considering Illinois, but remembers thinking “I should be looking at that city.” His college roommate happened to be from Belleville, Illinois and showed him around. “The people were friendly and it felt like home.” He decided that it was where he wanted to be.
When he started, Dr. Rice leased office space of just under 1500 square feet at 1207 Frank Scott Parkway East in Shiloh, Illinois. In 2009, he doubled that space by building out into the adjacent office suite. Shiloh Chiropractic has now outgrown that space and at press time is finishing construction on its own building a few doors down at 1231 Frank Scott Parkway East. Drs. Rice, Keim, and Glasco will begin 2016 in the new space, occupying 5600 of the building’s 8500 square feet. The remainder will be leased, hopefully to someone in the healthcare field. Dr. Rice is confident that there will be plenty of candidates due to the proximity of both Memorial Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Hospitals in the near future.
The recent development of those two hospital locations is further testament to the wisdom of locating in Shiloh. Dr. Rice never could have foreseen that two major hospitals would be literally around the corner from his office. He also doesn’t foresee an end to his practice’s growth. The new office space will accommodate 20 employees, including five physicians. He expects to be at capacity in the next five to seven years, at which time he would consider opening a second office. He feels that locating in Shiloh has been one of the best decisions he’s made.
Unofficial Partners in the Practice
Helping him every step of the way has been Diel & Forguson, LLC. He found the firm through a Google search while working through his business startup to-do list. “The people I spoke with at D&F were kind, pleasant and welcoming” he says. They guided him through the process of setting up his LLC, and have continued to counsel him on various issues ever since, including the building of his new location. They handle a number of ongoing accounting duties for the practice such as financial statements, QuickBooks® support, and tax returns. “I consider D&F to be an unincorporated partner” says Dr. Rice. “Their number one priority is to see me do well.”
A Winning Team
An ongoing challenge for any business is finding a way to stand out against the competition, and there are a lot of chiropractors to choose from in the Shiloh area. Dr. Rice feels that Shiloh Chiropractic does an excellent job of distinguishing itself, starting with superb patient care. “We do a thorough evaluation and X-rays for each patient and provide a logical and reasonable recommendation for their care, addressing their underlying condition” he explains. “Just as importantly, we are a very family oriented practice. We treat patients like family, not just numbers on a page.” Their office is very comfortable, boasting a “living room” as opposed to a “waiting room.” Patients are greeted by Dr. Keim’s dog Izzie, a registered therapy dog who takes up residence at the office most days. If patients have allergies or are not “dog people,” the staff makes note of that and makes sure that Izzie stays in her room while they are there. Shiloh Chiropractic treats children as well as adults, something not all practices do. Izzie is a big hit with the kids.
“We are very, very particular about the people we hire” says Dr. Rice “and our staff helps us stand apart from the competition.” Finding people who have a good work ethic as well as being good at what they do is sometimes a challenge for businesses. “We’re very grateful that we have wonderful people of both high quality and integrity. Our only problem is that we’d like to find even more of them!” At Shiloh Chiropractic, employees never lose site of the fact that they are a team. “We never want to hire someone who says ‘that’s not part of my job.’ In this office everything is part of their job. We succeed because we have a team mentality.”
The doctors use a team approach as well. Shiloh Chiropractic is what Dr. Rice calls a “tandem office.” One doctor will do a new patient’s history and consultation, then report his or her findings and administer the patient’s first treatment. The doctor then relays that patient’s treatment plan to the other doctors. This way when the patient visits again, any of the doctors can administer subsequent treatments according to the plan. “Some patients will voice a preference for a specific doctor” explains Dr. Rice “and we are happy to accommodate them.” Those who do not have a preference benefit from easier scheduling since there are three doctors available.
An Alternative Approach
To find the best workers, Shiloh Chiropractic employs a unique approach to interviewing. Interviews are conducted in groups. The doctors and other staff members speak to all of the candidates about various
topics. “It’s very interactive” says Dr. Rice. “We see how they act with us as well as with one another. We do a tour, give them a writing assignment, and ask and answer questions.” The doctors have found it to be an effective way to assess how outgoing, courteous and pleasant a candidate is – all traits that are important to the practice.
Growing Pains are Healthy
Dr. Rice feels lucky with all of his hiring decisions, even those that ultimately didn’t work out. He even sees the uncomfortable situation of having to let someone go is an opportunity for growth. As he says, “growth happens outside of your comfort zone.”
Dr. Rice believes that regardless of the type of business you are in, you need to stay a bit uncomfortable if you want to grow. Becoming complacent and taking his success for granted are things he will never do. This philosophy is what made him take the chance at opening his own practice in the first place, and take on the construction of a brand new building instead of just moving to a larger space. He points to companies like McDonalds and Walmart: “As big as they are, they will never stop advertising because they want their growth to continue. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, you can never allow yourself to get too comfortable. If you’re comfortable, you’re probably not growing.”
Giving Back is Good Medicine
Dr. Rice is acutely aware of how blessed he is to have built such a successful practice. He shows his appreciation by sharing what he knows and giving back in any way he can. He goes back to Logan University three times a year to conduct a seminar covering the dos and don’ts of running a chiropractic office. He is very involved in the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and the community at large. The practice has also adopted The Make a Wish Foundation as its pet philanthropic project, for which they have raised roughly $20,000 a year for the past three years. Dr. Rice’s success wouldn’t mean as much to him if he didn’t share it with others.
Dr. Rice’s life has changed drastically in the past ten years. He has gone from being a student to a well respected Chiropractic Physician. He is building his own building to house his own practice. His patient list has gone from zero to 3000. In that time, he has also become a husband and father. He met his wife Nicole through his former office manager in 2008. On Christmas Day 2014, they welcomed the birth of twins Mary and Rose. The personal changes have not affected how hard he works on his practice. If anything, he has more reason than ever to grow and share his success, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Shiloh Chiropractic, LLC
Dr. Robert Rice
Dr. Nicholas Keim
Dr. Samantha Glasco
1231 Frank Scott Parkway East
Shiloh, IL 62269