The Wrong Path - Part One (Back Pain Bob)

It was my very first month of practice, and I could not wait to sprint home and tell Kristina (my wife) the good news! I had just made an unreal community connection and professional partner with the Director of a local gym, and I was so certain it was going to be insanely fruitful for the growth of our new practice and a prime spot to do talks and screenings for New Patients! 

This wasn't just any gym folks, it was THEE gym in Crystal Lake. It was huge, beautiful, fancy, and always busy. It was the "Cadillac" of gyms, run by the local hospital group that dominated health care in our community. 

Which is perhaps the reason I was so insanely stoked about this connection -- not a single chiropractor had ever been able to infiltrate this premier gym, because it was medically-connected. But there was a family connection to the gym's boss lady through my wife, and also it turns out her kids were heading off to chiropractic and acupuncture school, because through their mom's firsthand experience they actually learned where true health comes from. 

BUT, while it may seem like the opening story of my blog post here is heading in a positive direction (and it was for the short term), it ended up being the complete wrong path for what I was really gunning for 😬 . 

You see, getting this connection to do a NP-generating health talk at this gym was on my Checklist just like the ones I had already made at my attorney and accountant's practices, and honestly... anywhere and everywhere else I could get into and get New Patients from. 

I had a plan alright starting my practice, and it basically looked like this - anyone with a pulse and spine was my target audience. If they were interested in their health (gyms, athletes, etc.), that was the real gold standard target. 

I had bought hook, line, and sinker the story I heard during chiro school and from my chiropractic coaching group I paid $595 a month too that 80% of adults had back pain and tons of stress - so get in anywhere you can, deliver a talk about the spine and stress, and give them a discounted exam to get them into my practice! 

Once in there it was time to check not only their spine and nervous system, but also their insurance benefits. Since I opened up in 2007 in Illinois, I still caught the back end of the "Mercedes 80s" as they called them with chiropractic insurance coverage... and most of these NPs I went out and got from the gym and lunch talks had low deductibles, and either $10 or 10% copays for thousands of dollars of chiropractic and PT type care. 

And oh man did this work beautifully. I'm easy-going, small town talk-to-everyone-easily kinda guy... so I made at least one new connection and talk per week (often more) and since it was so easy with Free or $25 Exams and accepting their insurance, off to the races 🏁 we were! 

I had a million dollar 💵 practice within 3 years and was the "Prize Start Up" example of my alma mater and management group. 


Now, I understand that at this point I don't have you crying any tears 😭 for me, not even a little bit. I also realize that for likely half or more of you, you're thinking "Awesome! He did exactly what I want to do, so now he can tell me how he did it so I can do it too!" 

And yes, we were helping a ton of people feel better, move better, and live better... and the income and take home was tremendous as well, leading to a great life for us at a young age! 

BUT, there was still a but. Actually, there's a few buts... 

  1. I couldn't stand taking care of traditional back pain and sports injury patients. 
  2. I couldn't stand having to stay in the office long past family dinner time to deal with SOAP notes and insurance company requests, and then still going in on the weekend to catch up and keep up with them as well. 
  3. I had already fallen in love with an entirely new style of practice, Prenatal and Pediatrics, but had no idea what path would get me there 

So I'll put a bow 🎁 on this first part of my Blog Series here by letting you know how I felt emotionally - wildly successful and entirely miserable at the same time. 

I felt 💯 off track when while everyone else was telling me I was on track, and then asked me to help guide them down the exact same path. 

I wanted to warn them, but I had no words to describe my frustration. 

The reason I couldn't describe and give an accurate, sane warning to any other chiropractic friends or students is this - I had no contrast. 

This was the only path I knew about in chiropractic, and the only one I had seen anyone else be successful with. I couldn't tell anyone not to take the Million Dollar Traditional Chiro Insurance Path, if I didn't have a different path to provide them with instead. 

I was in No Man's Land, and it took me a few years to first realize that... and then find and develop MY ideal, optimal, dream Path... Pediatrics, Prenatal, and Family Care. 

It took a new mentor and coach to first give me permission to unplug and move away from that back pain and insurance dependent practice, because he awesomely identified my frustration and unhappiness there and gave me permission to admit and then do something about it. And man, am I thankful for that coaching and mentorship at that pivotal point.

BUT, there was still no blueprint or formula or "binder" 📝 I could follow step-by-step to get to where I wanted to go with Pediatric Chiropractic! It was invigorating and still frustrating at the same time! I wanted the permission and the procedure manual 📂 at the same time darn it! 

Hadn't someone already crushed it in Pediatrics, Prenatal, and Family Practice while being 💯 focused on neurology and subluxation, and 💯 focused cash 💰 (NO insurance hassles) at the same time? And, hadn't they cared to jot everything down neat and orderly into a Manual or Binder that we could buy? (I really wanted that manual 😝 !) 

I spent 2 years and 200 hours of additional classroom time looking for that ONE manual... and ended up with 15 different ones instead.

I flew to Canada and California again and again looking for that manual, but instead just got another Back Pain Bob manual in one spot and a blank notebook 📓 and "Do It Your Way" recommendation in the other! 

My own way? What the heck is that? Sure seemed like that would take a long time (it did, 3+ years of trial and error) and I'm hyperactive, impatient Raging Bull! 

Now I am from Iowa and the acronym all the idiots from the states around us gave us was "Idiots Out Walking Around" - but I was tired of looking like an idiot! 😎 

Kids were struggling and subluxated like never before, and I had sorted out with absolute certainty that chiropractic helped them more than anything else on earth. But I had no idea how to build a Premier Pediatric Practice, and I had this monster of Pain-Based, Insurance-Dependent practice smack in the way. 

In Part 2 of my "The Wrong Path" Blog Series, I'll break down what happened next - the 3 years of tinkering and figuring out a successful Peds & Prenatal Formula and Blueprint for insane practice success! Part 1 here was plenty fun and really helped a lot of people, but Part 2 is where the party 🎉 really begins! 

- Dr. Tony Ebel 

PS. If you're not the story-reading type, but prefer to "listen and learn" - get on my weekly Zoom Workshop and go through the journey with me! I promise you my Path will help all Students and Start Ups get on their Ideal Peds & Prenatal Path right away, and help any established doc reading this and feeling STUCK on the Pain Path... off it as fast as possible! 

Register for that right here: Building a World Class Pediatric Practice Webinar


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