The Locus Story

Today it is the “best of times” for Doctors of Chiropractic. Numerous scientific studies over the last 10 years validate the position that Chiropractic is safe, effective and less costly. But getting started can be a real nightmare and “the worst of times.” Average student loans total $79,000. Costs for remodeling an unfinished office site can be substantial. Worst of all, managed health care plans are infiltrating the marketplace at an increasing rate. The result is narrowed choices for the Chiropractic graduate. Fifty percent become associates in 1990; today 60 percent are working for another doctor upon graduation. Twenty to 25 percent of the graduates in 1990 went into solo practice; today this figure is only 15 percent. We know after a three-year honeymoon period, a high percentage of the associates fail for either personal or business reasons. This means that approximately 30 to 35 percent of post-associate doctors, along with 15 percent of the currently graduating group, for a total of 50%, will be seeking a Chiropractic practice location. This requires new graduates to seek the high potential practice site. Modern marketing tools are now at your fingertips to find the best locations. Chiropractic-centric demographics provide the most effective tool. A practice zone or “locus” rates well in the Ten Essential Demographic Factors and indicates a high-potential market for Chiropractic services.

story.fig1The distance from the practice site is the most prominent demographic factor (see left). We know that two thirds of all patients from a practice reside in a fairly tight zone around your practice site. Density of the population will determine the size of this practice zone.

Surprisingly enough, 25 percent of your patients give you 80 percent of your practice revenue. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) indicate the average Chiropractic patient is 40.2 years old; 56 percent are female; and 50 percent are college graduates. Additionally, 83 percent are white, 11 percent are Hispanic and 4 percent are African-American. How does one find this Chiropractic ideal population profile? Those and other statistics can be sorted by county and ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs, which are similar to ZIP codes). Viewing and assesing the data this way can help you find a high potential practice site with the highest “ideal Chiropractic population profile.”

story.fig2How large of a radius around your dream location should you study? In a small town surrounded by low population, 25 miles is an acceptable radius, but in a large cosmopolitan city with a high density population a radius of 1.5 miles is ideal. The more usual suburban practice radius is three miles. Ideally your office should be located in an area in which you wish to live. It should be in a growing, active trade area with other health professionals. The people in your community should have a favorable attitude toward Chiropractic and there should be no serious geographical obstacles to block patients from reaching your office.

As you begin to understand how demographic data and practice location will affrect your Chiropactic practice’s success, there are a few questions which you should be considering:

  • Do I want to practice in a suburban, large urban or smaller rural setting?
  • Have I narrowed the search to just two specific sites? Or do I have a very general idea of the county or even a section surrounding a particular city?
  • How much of the leg work am I able to or willing to do in search of my “dream location?”

Locus Chiropractic Demographics can provide the data you need to make an informed decision.