Structural Elements Founder Doug Bertram
Structural Elements Founder Doug Bertram waited until he made a few salient points about his franchised orthopedic wellness clinic before introducing himself to the audience at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference May 6-8 in Las Vegas.
“I’m an acupuncturist,” he confessed, adding with a smile, “Chinese medical school does always look like it prepares you for a business like this.”
His background as an extreme athlete, however, does. While competing in a 100-mile run, “I was peeing blood for the last 60 miles. So I’m not adverse to a little pain,” he said to the crowd’s laughter.
The flagship unit opened in 2013, and there are currently four open, all closely held for proof of concept, he said. His original intent was to put health practitioners into business for themselves, but learned that they tend to be “terrible marketers” with even less financial acumen.
The concept is cash-based, which means they don’t take health insurance, and focuses on whole-body solutions for pain, ranging from dry needles to home exercise programs to massage, physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments. The idea is not just to treat the pain site, but to correct the source of the pain to align the whole body—basically “strengthening and lengthening.”
About 60 million people use alternative medicine in the U.S., he said, and “because we’re wellness based we never graduate a patient. They’re a patient for life, you’re never done with fitness—you’re not going to keep your beach bod for life if you only go to the gym once.”
He envisions Structural Elements as a perfect pairing with a fitness franchise since they are symbiotic but wouldn’t poach on each other’s core business.
Because of the complexity of medical businesses, they’re using a network growth model, where there are four ways to sign on—as a regional developer, an area representative, a clinic franchise or a micro franchise. “Ouch,” he said, ticking off all the separate documentation. “That’s four FDDs, four …”
In essence, they see themselves as body engineers. You don’t want to call the engineer when your car is in the water to ask what was wrong with the bridge, he says, so why not approach your workouts proactively?
“There’s a huge need for this. We want to change the world of wellness and we want to go fast,” he said.