FLEXIBLE FOUNDATION: Tania and Eric Reavis eschewed traditional insurance models in favor of alternative payment plans.
Business Spotlight: Big Adjustment
Upon stepping foot into A Hip Joint, it’s apparent this isn’t a typical chiropractic clinic. One might begin to wonder if it has anything at all to do with back adjustments, massages or acupuncture.
But take a few more steps and the massage chairs in the waiting room suggest it is the right place.
Owned by husband and wife Drs. Eric and Tania Reavis, A Hip Joint takes a different approach to patient care in just about every aspect of the business, including its decor, which is youthful, artsy and playful.
Both have been practicing chiropractors for over 10 years and although they loved their work, they didn’t like the clinical approach some practices took with patients.
“We just saw all the complaints and when we had a new patient they would say, ‘Are you going to sign me up for a treatment plan or are you going to do all these X-rays?’ We felt like we were always defending ourselves,” Tania says.
“So, we took out almost everything we heard complaints about and said, ‘Let’s do this different.’”
Time to quit
Finding inspiration in the book “The Answer” by John Assaraf and Murray Smith, the Reavises opened their own practice, A Hip Joint, on March 3, 2016. Their modus operandi: Make this type of health care approachable, affordable, laid back and relaxed.
Originally intended as a side business while retaining their full-time jobs, the clinic soon experienced an influx of customers that went beyond simple management. It forced the doctors to quit their jobs at Wellness Concepts Clinic to focus exclusively on A Hip Joint.
They chose downtown, at 309 S. Jefferson Ave., to capture a specific clientele.
“We were targeting the college student and the working class that works within a two-mile radius of downtown or lives in the lofts or the apartments,” Tania says. “However, it turned out to be a wide variety.”
Veering from the standard insurance model, A Hip Joint offers chiropractic, massage and acupuncture services either a-la-carte or in three monthly membership packages that range in price from $35 to $100. Customers are treated to snacks, drinks and fruit that can help return blood sugar levels after treatments.
In its first year, the business generated $105,000 in revenue, acquired 1,000 regular customers, and hired two full-time employees and five massage therapists as contractors. The Reavises lease 1,400 square feet under a five-year contract with landlord Dave Bauer. They financed the startup with a $100,000 loan guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, but later refinanced it down for only $40,000 due to the rapid growth.
But there were many early struggles, Eric recalls. Working a full-time job and spending their free time doing everything from laundry and paperwork to managing employees took its toll on the couple.
“Pretty much that first year, if anything could go wrong, it did,” Tania says. “It just seemed like everything took two or three stabs at it. It was either going to stay static where it was … or we had to come and be full-time.”
Full-time receptionist Jenna Messersmith found A Hip Joint through a friend who’s a client. She was impressed with what she heard and applied for a job.
“I like that this business and Dr. Tania and Dr. Eric, especially, will listen to ideas and are so open to anything. I’ve never been afraid to bring them an idea and, if it’s a good idea, they implement it,” Messersmith says. “I don’t feel like I’m not needed or that I’m not valued. They’d do anything for their employees.”
For example, Messersmith says she shared an idea to give away an adjustment, massage and an acupuncture as a package deal on the company’s Facebook page to increase likes. When implemented, it netted over 1,100 likes.
Craig Gatten and his 10-year-old son, Cooper, come in regularly for treatments. Dad gets his back adjusted and son gets massage therapy for a condition called brachial plexus that limits the range of motion in one of his arms.
“Sometimes, after the massage, I actually can move my arm better,” Cooper says. “And after these few months I’ve been here, I’ve actually been better with my arm now.”
After construction worker Craig Gatten’s chiropractor died, he couldn’t find anyone to properly adjust his back and had given up looking. Then his sister-in-law told him about A Hip Joint. After working with Eric, Gatten says he’s finally found relief.
“He takes his time doing it,” Gatten says. “The thing I like about him is that he’s very knowledgeable about everything he does. Anything I have issues with, he knows how to address them, even if it’s digestion. I don’t know how he does it.”
The doctors expect revenue to double this year. They also intend to franchise the business, but they’re still working out the legal details and aren’t ready to take that step.
“Trying to get the legalities of that worked out is fairly large,” Eric says.