The management team that built The Joint from eight units to more than 340 over six years is now starting over with a new concept, and they believe they’ve learned a few things that will make the expansion of Modern Acupuncture go more smoothly.
“We start from scratch again,” says Chad Everts, chief development officer who held the same role in the early days of The Joint. “It’s fun. We’re entrepreneurs at heart.”
While The Joint provides chiropractic services under a clever name, Modern Acupuncture has a straightforward moniker, likely because the Eastern practice using needles isn’t mainstream in the States. But acupuncture is certainly known and gaining in popularity worldwide, says Matt Hale, co-founder and CEO.
“Acupuncture is misunderstood. It’s not approachable in a lot of areas. Even when you get on Google and try to find an acupuncturist, there are a lot of barriers to entry,” says Hale.
His plan is to put Modern Acupuncture units in what he calls daily needs centers, places with a coffeeshop and a grocery store and a gym and a hair salon. They will charge about $69 per month for a membership that allows two visits, and deliver services in 30 minutes or less with convenient, consumer-focused hours.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same model developed by John Leonesio when he founded Massage Envy in 2002 and eventually made it mainstream for people to take their clothes off in a retail center and get a massage. Leonesio was also involved in expanding The Joint, and Everts and Hale worked to develop that concept along with Leonesio starting in 2010.
In 2015 ownership changed again, and Hale and Everts decided it was time to start something new. The Joint has gone through many bumps, including several CEOs, Hale points out, and along the way he learned to identify his skill set.
“I’m really into systems. I’m really into driving as much consistency as possible, because that’s how you drive a national brand,” Hale says. “The more standards you have in place and the more procedures you have, if we can compile all those things together then the consistency piece falls in line.”
At The Joint, he says, no systems were in place at first, so they spent years catching up. He also learned about franchisee relations. “Communication and relationships with the franchisees and the regional developers is huge,” he says.
Anne and David Glover are regional developers of The Joint, with 62 clinics open in four cities in Texas. They have now signed on to open Modern Acupuncture in four states, proving they’re not afraid of getting into a brand early.
“We’ve seen it time and time again. If you don’t jump in early you’re not going to get the real estate and then all you’re going to be doing is whining for the next 10 years,” says Anne.
Adds David about Modern Acupuncture and its management team: “We liked it because it was a game-changer and a destructer, and we knew them well, liked them, have confidence in them.”
Modern Acupuncture has an open bay model with multiple chairs with patients. “The acupuncturist can go around and insert the needles,” Anne says. It’s called community acupuncture. “You’re fully clothed, but you’re elbows down, knees down and neck up.” Sheer partitions offer a measure of privacy. Centers are 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, and buildout costs will range from $200,000 to $300,000.
Anne and David met in their 20s, in the early 1980s, at Arthur Andersen, the former accounting giant. David spent 20 years in commercial real estate development and built up a $100 million company, which they sold.
Both have business degrees from the University of Texas, and Anne did commercial banking before staying home with the children. “I became a professional volunteer, over-achieving in every thing,” she says with a laugh. “So finally we were like, we need to re-direct my energy for sure. We came across franchising because I was taking the kids to eat Subway sandwiches every day after school, and I picked up a brochure and then I began to learn about it.”
David says it was “huge” that the same management team is rolling out Modern Acupuncture. “We had a mutual admiration society with Matt and Chad,” Anne says. We know them and they know us. The expectations are just so clear on both sides.” In the early days at The Joint, she adds, “they really didn’t understand the regional developer model, so they did it differently across the country. The communication chain was confusing.”
They’re also depending on their partners in the Carolinas and Colorado who will be helping them open units there., and people like Robert Doane, co-founder of Modern Acupuncture and a well-known acupuncturist. He is leading the training of all clinics. “We’re putting a lot of faith in the actual practice side of it because of him,” Anne says.
“Knowing people is huge, warts and all."
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