As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Shawn Dill and Dr. Lacey Book.
Dr. Shawn and Dr. Lacey are renowned chiropractors by profession turned serial entrepreneurs and business growth and development experts. They specialize in helping service providers pivot into lucrative entrepreneurs, including sharing their expertise from how to scale a service community to leveraging your niche customer base and learning how to handle money and rejection. The dynamic entrepreneurial duo are also co-authors of Amazon’s Best-selling book, “None of Your Business.”
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Well, we are a couple and each of us took very different roads to get here.
I (Shawn) grew up in an upper middle class family with roots in the military. As such, we moved often. I was a “good kid!” I got good grades and excelled in music and soccer. You know, my biggest decision was whether I was going to play soccer for Manchester United or tour alongside Kenny G!
My cousin was a chiropractor and did very well and I really looked up to him and in the end, I realized I did not have what it takes to be a professional soccer player or musician, so I became a professional chiropractor — go figure!
I have always been very adventurous with that entrepreneurial spirit in me, so after I graduated chiropractic college, I moved to Costa Rica to start my first practice at the age of 24.
Things were rough in Costa Rica at first. I really struggled. But I never gave up.
Eventually things turned around and the business grew to four separate chiropractic offices throughout the country. That was my first taste of scaling a business and I loved it.
However, Lacey grew up in more of a lower middle class environment in Silicon Valley. She got good grades, but found her share of trouble growing up.
She had to work her way through college and grind out her success. At one point she was working three jobs to pay for her undergraduate schooling. One of those jobs was for a group of chiropractors and they encouraged her to study chiropractic.
In spite of the high cost of the education, she made it work and after she graduated our lives intersected.
I had moved back to the United States and was starting my first practice and Lacey eventually came along to work with me and help launch that business but things were not easy at all.
We viewed money very differently and had two very different relationships with money. Lacey was a saver and I had the entrepreneurial mindset that we can always “make more.”
As money is one of the top three reasons couples fight, the early years of our business was filled with more conflict than success. One of our mentors, Michael Port, often said, “most business problems are personal problems in disguise,” and we were a testament to that!
So, we did a ton of work on mindset and creating a healthy relationship with our money and finances and that only helped to strengthen our personal relationship as well as propel our business forward.
We began to scale and work in new verticals that served our primary business and today we own a franchise of chiropractic offices called The Specific Chiropractic Centers, a consulting business for service providers called The Black Diamond Club, a SaaS product that serves as a Patient Relationship Platform for healthcare providers called Katana, a public facing initiative to help people live longer better lives called Longevity Empire and host a growth conference for service providers called SummerCamp. Yes, we’ve been busy.
We are really happy and full of gratitude with what we have built and are fully committed to help other service providers reach their fullest potential as well.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Since we are in the service business, I’m not sure there was really a particular “Aha Moment” that spawned the idea.
Service based business are different than other retail type businesses in that what we are really selling is a RELATIONSHIP. Some people are just naturally lead to develop relationships and serve humanity. But this can also create a problem.
Sometimes a heart for service can cause one to almost despise the business side of a service business. We just want to serve and forget that we must have a successful business in order to serve more people better and efficiently!
I think the “Aha Moment” was actually a realization that we could not give what we did not have. In order to serve more, we had to be successful. Then from there we also realized that many of our colleagues were suffering from the same mentality.
We developed the consulting side of our business when we realized that some of the world’s most gifted healers lived in relative obscurity just because other less talented or gifted providers simply knew how to market themselves better.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Wow, that’s a tricky and tough one. One thing that comes to mind that is still funny was the time we heard of people doing “group orientations” before having their clients begin the streamline process, so we decided to give it a shot.
We told everyone who called in over the course of a week or so that we were doing this and to show up on Thursday at noon.
I was so happy when I walked into the office to see a full waiting room! I gave an inspired orientation speech and closed by letting everyone know whoever wanted to get started with me would be able to do so right away.
“So, who wants to get started right now?”
Nine people quickly raised their hands, ME! One problem, that didn’t cross my mind. It takes about an hour to process in a new client and I had no one to streamline that process faster. So they sat and waited.
The last person who was in at noon got serviced at 9 p.m. at night!!!
I was exhausted! The plan was a success from a quantitative perspective but my little oversight created a damper in the quality of service that became invaluable to how I approach rolling out new systems.
Today, we teach, “build infrastructure, then grow.” You must completely understand all of the elements of your systems and processes and have all of the infrastructure and resources in place to support them BEFORE your launch. So learn from my mistake, the “faster” route isn’t always the best.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
We strongly believe that the real reason people choose to do business with you is because of what you stand for.
For our franchise, at The Specific Chiropractic Centers we stand for empowering our communities to make smart choices relative to their health and wellness. Once we began to grow, we had our franchisees sit down and create a brand promise, “Putting the HEALTH and CARE back in Healthcare.”
In addition to that, we defined our brand, “At The Specific Chiropractic Centers we strive to provide healthcare that makes sense through long lasting solutions and life changing experiences.”
And finally, we defined our People, “We are a dedicated team of compassionate people who LOVE what they do.”
Ultimately the overriding vision driving all of this is the idea to provide every man, woman and child on the planet access to upper cervical specific chiropractic care.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
I think it is most important to communicate your values first to your employees and then have them communicate them on to your customers through their actions.
I am not a big believer in posting values on a wall. You should demonstrate values.
In our case, we have a written “Brand Bible” for our employees. From there we train our employees to demonstrate those values by building a culture within our business. When we train our employees we’re very clear that we are demonstrating our values and we expect them to demonstrate those same values to our clients.
This impacts the way we communicate, the way we act, the way we market and the way we sell.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Our number one principle would be to value relationships over revenue. We are huge believers in building relational capital. We value long term relationships. We build relationships with our clients as well as with providers in other verticals.
We have always believed that if we lost everything financially yet still conserved our relationships that we would be right back to where we are today in just a matter of time.
Revenue can go up and down but relationships, true relationships are your greatest assets.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Oh yes. Just ONE story?
The best story was one year into our practice I was stone cold broke. So broke that I had to try to return plastic bottles to the grocery store to get that deposit back. Yes, that deposit that no one ever gets.
I literally had a giant trash bag full of bottles and had to go to multiple grocery stores just to get enough money to buy one bag of rice and one bag of beans. I had to make that last for a week because it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I didn’t have anyone on the books until after the first of the year.
I considered throwing in the towel. But I’m glad I didn’t.
Entrepreneurs have a passion to press through and believe in their business so much that they make sacrifices. Champions have a passion to win. They practice day after day and sacrifice just to win that trophy. Maybe it is inborn.
What I know for sure is that someone with a clear vision and a drive to succeed literally cannot be stopped. Setbacks, failure, pain and suffering are all a part of life. They are a part of the journey. There is no daylight without darkness.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Lacey and I are blessed beyond measure. I think that our success has come from the multiple collaborative relationships we have built.
Every day we literally sit back and are in awe of the people that we get the privilege of working with. We love what we do and we have a blast doing it.
The ride to this point was not easy. We made many sacrifices as we chose investing in ourselves and our businesses over flashy clothes, fancy cars or even a house. Now we have all those things and appreciate the journey.
It is all worth it in the end. Just don’t quit!
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Know your destination. Most service-based businesses think they are in the business of serving. But that may not be the case. In fact, you won’t be in business very long if you are just serving to serve.
You need to know what your end game is.
One of the biggest dangers in a service-based business is that you may be actually creating a JOB for yourself that you cannot escape!
So what’s the end game…ask yourself these questions?
Are you are building the business to scale? Do you want multiple locations? Will you have multiple providers? Are you thinking about franchising? Do you want to sell the business at some point?
2. Know your ideal client. In a service-based business it is easy to fall prey to the notion that you need to serve everyone.
The reality is that not everyone is a good fit. And more importantly, because you provide a service, you will not necessarily do your best work with everyone.
Wouldn’t it make sense to fill your business only with people with whom you do your best work?
Set your entire business up around your ideal client. Consider them when setting your hours, establishing your fees, creating your marketing plan, hiring staff, furnishing your business and even picking what music is playing in the business.
3. Leverage relationships to create distribution channels. Most service based businesses find themselves with a distribution problem. It is easy to understand if we were in retail. In retail, we have a product and the key to financial success is to find distribution. We might distribute on a website or through a big box store.
In a service-based business we often overlook distribution. We try to get the word out to one person at a time.
If you know your ideal client, work to create relationships with the people who hold massive influence over them. If you create genuine relationships you will be able to get them to endorse you and you can leverage the relationship as a distribution center.
Don’t forget that support is conditional. In most cases, a true distribution channel is not looking for you to reciprocate with referrals. This is not a referral partner, but rather a true distribution channel.
This is why we place so much emphasis on nurturing relationships.
When I was in Costa Rica and just starting my practice, I wanted to throw in the towel after my first year. And then I struck relationship gold. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be on a morning television program, Con Asombro, with Nono Antillon.
We didn’t just go on the program and leave. We created a relationship. I ended up being a regular monthly guest on that program and with Nono’s endorsement grew our business beyond our wildest expectations.
That television program became our biggest distribution channel.
4. Create solid systems to scale. One of the most difficult things about a service based business is that the service is provided by a human being. It is easier to create systems if we are selling a thing, like clothing or a hamburger. Because when we provide a service it is harder to create systems, but not impossible.
In fact, without solid systems you will never be able to scale. You need to create systems around client acquisition, sales and referrals as well as the actual delivery of the service.
5. Learn to sell. Often times service providers allow their service heart to completely overshadow their business heart.
For some reason service providers seem to have this disdain for selling.
But here’s the deal. No one will ever know about what you can offer them unless you sell them.
The other thing to realize is that if you provide a professional service you were trained to deliver the service, but not to sell or run a business. Invest heavily in yourself to find a good mentor who can teach you how to navigate the ropes of starting a business and learn how to market and sell your service like a legitimate business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
For us today, we are very appreciative for the mentorship that Jay Abraham has provided to us. We met Jay three years ago and he has been instrumental in our growth. Jay encouraged us to write our book, None of Your Business.
Jay also taught us about expanding into new verticals. I remember Jay challenging us to start or acquire one new business per year that was related to our core business but in a different vertical.
Well, Lacey did not hear him correctly and for some reason thought he said to start or acquire THREE businesses a year. And that is exactly what she did!
I remember telling him what we had done and he almost fell out of his chair! He then clarified that he said to start or acquire ONE business a year. Needless to say, it worked out fine, with his guidance.
Jay has taught us so much about relational capital and expanding our business. We are eternally grateful.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I remember the very first time I met Chris Winfield from Super Connector Media. He told me about his discipline of meeting one person every day and getting to know someone new. At that time, I was that one person.
This resonated so much with me that I have adopted this discipline as well.
Being that we are so into relational capital and collaboration, if we could start a movement to bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people it would be somewhat of a “pay it forward” movement based on relational capital.
Imagine if you connected to someone new every day and spent 30 minutes getting to genuinely know them. Imagine then if you leveraged your contacts to connect them to someone new who you believed could provide value in their life.
So much of the world centers on financial assets. Yet we believe that relational capital has the ability to do so much more for the world. While it may seem corny, in the end, all we need is love.
Of course, we enjoy talking about business, success and money… but in the end, we are still service providers at heart and spreading love can make us all prosper in so many ways.
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