Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Nutty was a chiropractic student and a hockey coach in Georgia with a yen to start his own business. What better way to do that than to combine his sports experience and chiropractic education? So, three years ago, he bought into the-then new 100% Chiropractic franchise system. "Through hockey I had learned that you will always have obstacles and face adversity. It is not a question of whether you will face adversity, but when," Nutty says. He found those obstacles and adversity as he struggled to get his start in business. But, just like a great athlete, he persevered, and now he and his wife say things are so good, they're ready to expand.
Name: Steve Nutty
Franchise owned: 100% Chiropractic, in Buford, Georgia
How long have you owned a franchise?
I have been a franchise owner for just over three years now, and it has been one amazing ride!
I saw an amazing opportunity to join a team of chiropractic doctors who were literally changing the way chiropractic services were being delivered to the public. At the time I joined the 100% team, there were only five 100% chiropractic offices across the country, and my office was the seventh opened. There was a tremendous upside to joining a growing company early on, and I did not want to miss out on that opportunity.
When I met the founders of 100% as well as the doctors that were already a part of it, I realized that I had a lot in common with them, which made the decision even easier. Many of them were former athletes and coaches at various levels and people who knew what it would take to be successful. I think there is something to be said about the work ethic of former athletes, and it was exciting to find a group filled with them.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a student at Sherman College of Chiropractic and the head coach of the Clemson University men’s ice hockey team. When I was close to graduation, I decided that I was not going to go to work for anyone else, but instead put my time, money and faith into myself and open my own practice. I just had to find the best avenue to do that.
My biggest problem was that I didn’t have a lot of money put aside for startup costs, build-outs, equipment, etc. Some people looked at me before I opened my office and said, “You have no experience; how are you going to open a practice on your own and be successful?” They were partially right: I didn’t have any experience when it came to being a chiropractor, business owner or franchisee, but I did have a lot of life experiences that taught me what it took to be successful in anything I did -- much of that experience coming from the ice rink as a player and a coach.
Through hockey I had learned that you will always have obstacles and face adversity. It is not a question of whether you will face adversity, but when. The most important thing is how you respond to that adversity. Will you feel sorry for yourself and give up, or will you greet every challenge with a positive outlook and say, “Bring it on!”
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
There are so many reasons I chose 100% Chiropractic to partner with. The number one reason for me was the caliber of people who were already a part of it. The doctors who are a part of 100% are the best of the best. They are changing thousands of lives every single day, doing it with purpose and educating the public about chiropractic along the way.
It was like joining a team again. Any athlete will attest, especially hockey players, that the bond you have with your teammates is very unique. Another reason is that 100% Chiropractic wanted to help me become the best chiropractor I could be and not try to change who I was or how I wanted to practice. They allowed me the freedom to do what I love to do, take care of patients, change lives and help them experience health at levels they never thought possible. 100% allowed me to do this the way I wanted to and provided me with the vehicle to achieve everything I ever wanted.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The business model of 100% Chiropractic is a fantastic one that matches young doctors with investors to fully fund the building of a new practice. I was matched with an investor and helped by the founders to have everything I needed to open my doors. The total cost to open the office was around $200,000, which included the build-out, equipment, legal fees and so much more.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
There were a lot of places that I got advice from, as well as a lot of the experiences I was able to take from my own past. The beautiful part of joining a team like 100% Chiropractic is that every doctor is just a phone call away. At any time I could call a doc that had been open for six years, one that had been open two years or one that had been open for six months and pick their brain, ask about challenges, successes or strategies that helped them succeed.
I have been able to take a lot of my hockey background and apply it to being a business owner. Through hockey, I was able to learn how to be a leader and face adversity. I think being an effective leader is one of the biggest things that people overlook. People always think that being a leader is just a position, a title, or a role that someone puts you in. I completely disagree.
Being a leader is taking every opportunity you have to build a team, get a group of people to completely buy into a common vision, inspire them to be better and promote their development to achieve the common goal. A leader of a company, franchise, office or hockey team is no different. They all need to lead and build their team to accomplish their goals.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
There were many challenges in opening my business, but the amount of work it took to get going and grow a practice from nothing to a viable business was definitely the most unexpected for me. Being a business owner is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. When I opened my doors and went out into the community, started to market and talk to people about chiropractic, we started to grow, but so much more slowly than we ever expected.
This was new territory for me because, throughout my life, if something I was trying to do didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, I would just work harder. In the arena of sports that was easy. It meant longer hours in the gym, more sprints, watching film and out-working anyone I would go against. But when it came to business, I wasn’t sure where or what to work harder at to change the outcome that I did not like.
I learned some very valuable lessons playing hockey, one of which was that if someone tells you no, or that you’re not good enough, it is up to you to prove them wrong. I was able to apply this experience to business: market more, train more, read books, grow personally so that I could grow professionally and out-work everyone I knew until I got the results I wanted. Instead of doing sprints, it was going to networking meetings; instead of film, it was reading books that would better my business knowledge; and instead of the weight room, it was building roots in the community to make myself and 100% Chiropractic the premier chiropractic wellness center in my city.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
My biggest piece of advice is to do it with all that you have and all that you are. It will be a challenge no matter what field you are entering, how great the company is or how intelligent and experienced you are as a businessperson. There will be highs and lows, and you will face adversity. But if you are willing to put everything you have, everything that you are into your dream or vision of owning an incredibly successful business, there is nothing stopping you except you!
What’s next for you and your business?
There is so much in store for my wife and me in our business lives. We are currently looking at opening our second 100% Chiropractic office and making our original office a training office for young doctors that we decide to partner with, so they can learn the business along with what it takes to build a successful office. Our vision is so much larger than ourselves and we look forward to having many offices in many states and possibly overseas very soon. Most of all, we look forward to setting young doctors up for success in amazing offices with the knowledge and tools to change the lives of so many people.