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Clinical Solutions Blog

Clinic Owner Interview Series: #1 Gordon McMorland - Take Risks and Expand

Posted by Rick Lau on Nov 25, 2015 2:00:00 PM

Success leaves clues.

So when it comes to building a successful business, why not learn directly from the experts instead of struggling blindly?

That’s exactly what we are going to do!

Over the coming weeks I’ll be interviewing expert clinic owners so we can get an inside peak into what makes them tick and what makes their business such a success. We’ll speak directly to clinic owners from coast to coast and from profession to profession - massage therapists, chiropractors, and physiotherapists.

For our first interview we have Gordon McMorland, (Calgary AB), clinic owner at the National Spinal Care  - a successful multidisciplinary clinic that offers physios, chiros, massage therapists and sports medicine physicians under the same roof. And amazingly, the clinic is currently expanding into a 4000 sf new facility!

Gordon McMorland is also involved in National Amateur Sport, currently works with the National Men’s Gymnastics Team. Gord also works as a consultant with Alberta Health Services on a project called Spine Access Alberta. This project is restructuring the provision of spine services throughout Alberta. And in clinical research collaborating with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology (Human Performance Laboratory) and Faculty of Medicine, Division of Neurosurgery (University of Calgary Spine Program).

This series is a great opportunity to learn about the habits of experts, get their advice and deconstruct their strategies for success - so we can follow in their footsteps!

Let’s dive in...

Inside the Lives of Clinic Owners

1. Tell Us About Your Practice

I started my own clinic right after graduating and moving back to Calgary following graduation 25 years ago.

I grew my practice through developing and maintaining relationships with various stakeholders including family physicians, orthopedic surgeons (University of Calgary Sports Medicine Clinic), spinal neurosurgeons (University of Calgary Spine Program) and various athletic and performance groups/teams in Calgary (Gymnastics community, Alberta Ballet, Pro Rodeo Association).

I went to CMCC and graduated in 1990. I was inspired to attend chiropractor school because of my own experience. My chiro was able to cure an injury I had while competing in gymnastics in university, which other healthcare professionals had told me was a career ending injury.

Going through school, I learned all the traditional chiropractor treatments for treating patients (manual therapy, soft tissue therapies, modalities, etc). However back then active rehab wasn’t really the standard of care. I think, given my athletic background, I naturally migrated towards an exercise-based approach so I developed a combined treatment approach of the passive treatments (manipulation, soft tissue, etc) with active rehab for providing consultations. I also recently completed my post doc training, receiving my diplomate with the American Board of Chiropractic Rehabilitation Specialists.

When I moved back to Calgary after graduating, I researched various opportunities including associateships but didn’t find any clinic that supported that treatment approach.

This is fairly common practice today, but remember that was 25 years ago. So at the time, not seeing any opportunity like that was the main reason for starting my own clinic.

2. What do you do to build culture at your clinic?

This is a weak point that I am now beginning to focus on more. In the past we have done team building events such as taking the team to the climbing centre, catered xmas parties (hire a friend of mine who is a gold medal sushi chef from Japan).

The general consensus when talking to the staff is that they aren’t that keen on regular social events together (many have small children, etc), so I am exploring ways we can make the regular work day more fun.

In the new facility, there will be a big focus on fitness and wellness so I am looking at getting some fitness challenges going as well as entering teams into various fitness events and races (e.g. tough mudder, run for the cure, etc).

3) What is your biggest business accomplishment in the past year?

I am currently building a new facility and clinic that brings our current clinical services together with an exercise physiology business (physical testing, exercise prescription and coaching for athletes such as triathlon, marathon, cycling).

The new clinic is 4000 sf joined together with the exercise rehab company that will occupy 6000 sf, for a total of 10,000 sf. I’d say that will be a pretty big accomplishment that I’ll be proud of.

I am currently working as a consultant with Alberta Health Services on a project called Spine Access Alberta. This project is restructuring the provision of spine services throughout Alberta. Within this workgroup, I am a member of the core committee as well as in a subgroup to develop a province-wide strategy for diagnosis and triaging for patients experiencing spine-related pain and disability. This includes overseeing the formation of triage teams and training of clinicians and support staff.  We just launched 3 pilot clinics (Calgary, Edmonton and Ft. McMurray) this year and this is a massive accomplishment with over 3 years of prep work.    

4) What is your biggest mistake and lessons learned in owning a clinic?

Jumping in with both feet during the early phases of an idea without having the discipline to go through the due diligence and see if that idea is actually worth pursuing.

Also, included in that due diligence would be being able to read and trust people better. Most of my set backs have been because the people involved ended up not being able to be trustworthy and would not follow through on their promises.

In the attempts to evolve my practice into a business, I did not understand early enough, the importance of developing systems to move the clinic from a proprietorship to a business.


5) What's something you've recently learned that you're really excited to implement?

Once the new facility is open, I’m excited about all the new possibilities available through the development of new programming based on the additional services we will have under one roof.

6) If you had to spend $500 marketing this month to get new patients, how would you spend it?

I would invest it in face to face meetings with existing and new referral sources - maintain existing and develop new relationships.


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7) What do you do to learn more about business and leadership?

Podcasts I listen to: Physioedge, On the other hand (used to but it is now off the air).

Blogs I read: Brian Schiff, Mike Reinold, The Sports Physio, Chris Johnson PT, Gra Cook, Eric Cressey, Better Movement, Functional Anatomy Seminars, Jeff Cubos, Craig Liebenson, Body in Mind, Know Pain.

8) What is currently your biggest waste of time and how will you fix it?

I don’t consider HR and admin/reception training a waste of time because I understand how important it is to the health of the business, however I also know that it is not my strength so I am in the process of hiring someone who rocks that area to take over that important role

9) What strategy do you have for work life balance?

Enhancing and refining our organisational board including a dashboard of metrics I can monitor so that as I have others step up to assume roles and duties I currently do, I can monitor their performance.

I am very pro-active with my schedule and have a routine every Sunday where I lay out my week’s schedule. This is how I try and keep work life time in balance.

10) What is your daily morning ritual that gets you energized to go to work?

Exercise. Either bicycle commuting or a resistance training program.

11) What is the book you’ve most often gifted to other people?

12) Best advice for yourself in your 30s

I’m in my 50’s - not sure about this question???

If I were in my 30’s again, I probably would have been more disciplined to do proper due diligence on the people involved and the soundness of the ideas around new opportunities prior to moving forward with them.

Key Takeaways

There’s some great points here from Dr McMorland that you can implement in your business starting today.

  • Focus on building relationships
  • Spend time considering any ideas before jumping in head first
  • Find people you can trust and rely on and you can always teach skills
  • Always be open to new possibilities
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks and expand

Did you learn something else?

Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to the blog for the rest of the interview series


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Why Do Patients Self Discharge From Treatment and What To Do About It?

Clinic Owner Interview Series: #2 Kim Hall - Have Coffee With Smart People

How to Use Your Monthly Financial Statements as a Benchmark for Success

Be Faster: Get More Done in Less Time


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