A Florida SBDC Success Story: Coast Chiropractic Centers, Inc.
Dr. Timothy Harcourt discovered that he had a unique business problem when he moved to Southwest Florida in the fall of 2011. The third-generation chiropractor had worked in his family’s successful chiropractic office in York, Pennsylvania for 25 years. His grandfather and father were chiropractors, and his two brothers are currently in practice as chiropractors. Given that the family business in Pennsylvania was started in 1952, everyone in the town of York knew his family, and consequently they had to do “zero marketing” for more than 60 years, according to Harcourt.
But then he opened Coast Chiropractic Centers, Inc. in Nov. of 2011 in Fort Myers, Florida, a place where nobody knew him. “I struggled for two years — not with the chiropractic care, but with the business end of it and [with] building the business,” says Harcourt. But his business’ trajectory changed when he attended a local chamber event and learned about the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall of 2013. “A panelist at the event recommended that any business needing assistance go to the SBDC,” explains Harcourt.
Harcourt proactively reached out to the SBDC, and completed a business plan with one of the consultants. Shortly thereafter, certified business analyst Duane Hoversten became Harcourt’s primary consultant, and the two worked together to take the action steps needed to implement the plan. “Duane brought a confidence with him because he has been very successful in business. He would talk as if ‘we’re’ going to do this versus I’m going to tell you what to do. He made me feel like I wasn’t on an island by myself,” says Harcourt.
Hoversten proposed some ideas to increase business, one of which was to put an A-frame sign in front of the Coast Chiropractic office on busy College Parkway to attract new patients. “Duane did research and found out that 29,000 cars go by the office a day. He told me ‘You’re missing 29,000 patients a day,’ ” says Harcourt. “He could see the bigger picture, and his vision expanded my vision.” Even though the sign was expensive, it has more than paid for itself, adds Harcourt.
Hoversten also encouraged the newly transplanted chiropractor to purchase a high-powered laser therapy machine as another offering in his healing toolkit. Dr. Harcourt describes himself as having been “on the fence” about the decision until he and Hoversten analyzed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that made it clear that purchasing the new technology was a good financial decision. The two then analyzed if it made sense to buy the machine outright or to finance it. “I wouldn’t have had the confidence [to do these things] without his encouragement,” says Harcourt. “I prefer not to be on the fence [about things]; I prefer proactivity.”
Digital marketing — things like social media, website development and blog development — was another area where Hoversten encouraged the chiropractor to focus, which was “really good advice,” says Harcourt. He explains that one of his employees now focuses on digital marketing 100 percent of her time, whereas in the past, it used to be only 25 percent of her job. With Hoversten’s encouragement, Coast Chiropractic Centers, Inc. has also increased its number of press releases and its level of community service.
“Duane gave me sound advice I could rely on. He gave me confidence, and encouraged me in [the] areas where I needed encouragement,” says Harcourt. “There was synergy in the way that we both thought. One plus one didn’t just equal two; sometimes it equaled three or four!” he adds. Since working with Hoversten, business has moved forward quickly and Harcourt has expanded his employees from one full-time staff person to three.
Harcourt explains that the tagline for his business is: Move Better. Feel Better. Live Better. We help patients get their life back by increasing their motion, which in turn improves how they feel, and helps them to live better lives, he says. “So in a way, Duane was our business health doctor. He gave us the confidence to move better, and that made us feel better, and that made our lives better in the practice,” says Harcourt.
“The SBDC offers an awesome program to help small businesses obtain a plan, identify action steps and implement changes for the better,” says Harcourt. “I really appreciate the fact that the SBDC assigned a consultant to me who demonstrated success in his own business before helping me with mine. That’s so big. I can’t even tell you how big that is…We have major plans for the future; there’s no way I’m going to give Duane up. We haven’t even gotten started yet.”
Story written by:
The Wordsmith Company