“Start with the big idea and all else follows”. My wife, Ashley, and I kept this at the front of our minds as we created our practice, Our Patch Family Chiropractic, in June 2022. From the slogan, “Our Patch is a garden where humans come to grow”, to our branding, a pixar-esque pumpkin named PJ Balmer, to our overall approach– low force, honoring, and nurturing– our big idea is what frames it all.
Our journey started at a prospective student weekend at Life West. My wife and I started dating in her 2nd quarter and my 6th quarter in school. The rest, they say, is history. But that’s not the main topic of today’s article. I’ll be shedding some insight into what it’s like to work with your spouse, starting a practice while raising a newborn, and how we manage a single practice sporting two main technique styles. When Ashley and I told people that we were planning to open up a practice together, we got just about every comment, both positive and negative, you could imagine. From the entirely unhelpful and pessimistic, “bad idea, don’t do it”, to the realistic and helpful, “communicate often”, everybody seemed to have an opinion. The reality is, it works if you want it to work.
We have implemented a few systems that have helped our day-to-day run more smoothly– our office setup being the biggest piece. Ashley and I have our own adjusting and consult/report spaces. The office has a dividing wall that effectively separates the space into 2 functional locations. This allows us to retreat to our respective spaces if we get annoyed with one another (which will happen from time to time). We have a shared CLA inSight scanning room built between both spaces. I, having a NUCCA practice, use x-rays all the time while Ashley, who sees primarily the perinatal and pediatric populations, will seldom take x-rays. Thus, the x-ray room resides on my side of the practice, but is still accessible to Ashley should she need to take films. We have made it work for us! Though working together has its challenges, especially with a 5 month old now in the mix, I love being able to walk down the hall and give my wife a smooch in between patients.
It’s no surprise that when you start a practice, you are grinding 24/7 the first few years. Now, imagine the stomach drop when a pregnancy test comes back positive only a few months into said new practice. Some quick “WOW we’re still new, what are we going to do” math:
- We opened doors June 2022
- We just took two weeks off to get married
- One half of the team will now have to take maternity leave
- Paternity leave for x amount of weeks
- Find someone to cover Ashley’s patients (or cover them myself somehow)
- Simultaneously grow the business and don’t go broke
Hustle mode: ON. We took two days off during that holiday season. We invested heavily in marketing. I took over the presidency of a local networking group, was a member of another, and Ashley started a new chapter of a third. This got us in front of a lot of small business owners and kept us relevant in the community. We ultimately chose to hire a locum doctor to cover Ashley’s side of the practice. Success! Our practice remained stable during Ashley’s maternity leave!
Fast forward to October 2023. We have a 2 month old and Ashley felt ready enough to return to the office. Every day became “bring your daughter to work day”! Ashley modified her schedule to meet the demands of both her clientele and that of new motherhood. Breastfeeding breaks, later shift starts, and less work days were all a part of that modification process. And with no immediate family nearby, my schedule also saw some modifications to allow for all our new baby’s needs to be met. As time went on, and our newest addition became an office regular, our patients became more excited to see her than to see us! We weren’t offended in the slightest.
A TALE OF TWO TECHNIQUES
Many new graduates have asked us how we structure a practice with very different styles– NUCCA and Full Spine Care. Our answer: we are clear on who we each want to serve.
Ashley sees exclusively women of childbearing years and young children. I see teenagers and regular adults of all ages. What often happens is a mother and her kids will start care with one of us, and the husband chooses to sign up for care later. The husbands are then taken care of by yours truly. We were self conscious about this model in the beginning (hello, imposter syndrome) until a mentor reminded us that patients don’t care who they see as long as they receive the care they need, and it’s done well. Truthfully, our model has worked to our advantage in more ways than one! Chiropractic works 100% of the time. This is a fact. However, not all techniques work for every individual. We have collaborated care on several occasions. We have also transferred patients to one another when each other’s services have been needed. For example, when one of my patients became pregnant, I continued to adjust them with NUCCA and Ashley would supplement with extra pelvic balancing via the Webster Technique. Conversely, when Ashley had a complex patient who wasn’t efficiently responding to full spine care, she transferred them to me and together we got the patient cleared up! The trickiest part of having two different techniques under the same business is coming up with a business model that works for both approaches. This is all still a work in progress and our current model will continue to evolve.
Working with my wife has been a lot of fun! Regular check-ins both in and out of the office have been instrumental to our work and personal relationship. Our Patch Family Chiropractic is a family practice– for families; run by a family. It’s a garden where humans come to grow! That is our big idea, and the rest will continue to follow.