Peak Performance Chiropractic Success Story Written by: Jackie Aaron, The Wordsmith Company
More people are standing taller and straighter in Lehigh Acres, Fla. since July 2014. This is because chiropractors Robert and Monique Wensch recently opened the doors of Peak Performance Chiropractic thanks to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
The husband and wife team graduated in 1995 from Logan University in St. Louis, Mo. They settled in Monique’s hometown of Lehigh Acres, working as independent contractors with “pretty good salaries.” As the two tell it, they started talking about starting their own practice together back in 2007 and 2008. “We would talk about it, then get complacent again [because of their salaries]. More questions led to less answers, which led to less action,” says Monique. Still, they knew that two main career paths existed for chiropractors: Work as independent contractors or open a practice.
The couple first met Suzanne Specht, assistant director at the SBDC and certified business consultant (CBC), when they attended a presentation Specht gave called “F.A.Q. About Starting a Small Business” in August 2013 at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center in Fort Myers, Fla. They realized that it was time to decide if they were going to move forward or not. After deciding “yes,” the two met with Specht in October 2013 at the SBDC.
Specht first assisted the aspiring business owners with the creation of a business plan, which helped them comb through potential pitfalls. “It [the business plan] would have been impossible without Suzanne’s help. That’s definitely not my realm,” says Monique. Specht also helped them establish realistic financial projections, including an analysis of start-up costs and the number of patients that would be needed to offset these costs. The financial analysis revealed that a loan amount of $150,000 would be needed to open the new practice.
However, as recent graduates with limited collateral and sizable student loan debt, the Wensches’ loan application with Celtic Bank was initially turned down. Confident in the financial analysis and the couple’s ability to repay the loan, Specht picked up the phone and called the bank’s underwriter directly to advocate for her clients. The underwriter, Fred Crispen, reconsidered and a small business loan for $150,000 was approved in November 2013.
With the loan approval in hand, the next step was locating a space to lease, which they found in February 2014. “Suzanne helped us with the basics of what to look for,” says Monique, adding that Specht helped them with the lease negotiations. The couple contributed $45,000 of their own money towards the build-out of their future office space because the loan approved by Celtic Bank could not be used towards lease improvements.
“The bank won’t disperse the loan until the build-out is done and you have your occupational license [O.L.],” explains Monique. The couple obtained their O.L. in June 2014, and the bank funds were released the following month. This allowed the Wensches to purchase equipment like x-ray machines in time for a July 2014 opening.
Were life so simple. While the Wensches had been busy working on the buildout, Specht was busy behind the scenes keeping the loan approval active as the loan application was good for only 60 days, explains Specht. Consequently, she kept reapplying for the couple to keep the loan active until the build-out was complete.
“It’s seriously a miracle. There’s no way they would have gotten this done without us [the SBDC]. We fought for them and helped them significantly,” says Specht.
For their part, the Wensches say they still keep their business plan close by and use it as a guide. Now that Peak Performance Chiropractic is officially open in Lehigh Acres, they hope to be able to hire a full-time receptionist in the next couple of months.
They credit Specht with her overall encouragement that they could make their dream of business ownership a reality. “She kept saying ‘You’re getting there, hang in there.’ She was positive all the way through…she’s outstanding,” says Monique. “Without her we would’ve still been mulling through the red tape of starting a business to get it all together,” adds Rob.
“We had a great experience with the SBDC. We felt we had an advocate in our corner to figure out how to help us, whatever it took,” says Monique.
Jackie Aaron, The Wordsmith Company
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