Family practice gains fresh perspective after 70 years

McKeon Chiropractic Clinic of Polk County

McKeon Chiropractic Clinic of Polk CountyMcKeon Chiropractic Clinic has served the Lake Wales community since 1950. Generation after generation of McKeons have kept the practice alive and well throughout the years, and Thomas McKeon, Jr. is determined to keep it that way, even through a national crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My grandfather decided to become a chiropractor after receiving chiropractic care for injuries he acquired during World War II,” McKeon explained. “He started this practice 70 years ago. My father joined in 1973, my uncle joined in 1981, and then I came here in 2005.”

After 70 years of serving the community, McKeon understood it was time for a new business outlook. That’s when he turned to local resource, the Florida SBDC at USF and certified business consultant, Carl Hadden.

“I was reluctant to hire an associate or make any big changes just out of fear of change,” McKeon explained. “Carl asked me if I was willing to let graduate students from Warner University do an analysis of our practice and see where we could maybe grow.”

Though he said the student team did a great job running a complete analysis examining the potential growth within the business, he was still hesitant to make any changes.

“I guess a lot of us [business owners] find ourselves with feelings and thoughts of, ‘Should I do this, or should I do that?’ Honestly, it wasn’t a surprise to hear them tell me, ‘Hey, you need to take the next step building your business.’ It was more of an affirmation. It helped me reaffirm with myself that my thoughts were correct.”

Two years later, after a lot of prayer and consideration, McKeon was ready to hire an associate. The new associate started in March, right before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Our growth at first was horrible, it actually tanked,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster because of Coronavirus. When it first happened and everybody was told to stay in your house for two weeks and it would go away, our practice went down about 75 percent.”

The business was considered essential, due to the fact that they were able to help patients with musculoskeletal pain, so they wouldn’t overcrowd walk-in clinics and hospitals. Within 60 days, business started returning to normal. A “new normal.” McKeon explained, “We now have to sanitize more, check temperatures, and we have different sign in procedures and half as many chairs in the waiting room.”

Due to the dip in business at the beginning of the pandemic, McKeon qualified for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, available via the U.S. Small Business Administration.

A challenging process for most who did not seek available assistance, securing the loan was easy for McKeon due to his organizational skills and local bank relationship.

“I use QuickBooks for my accounting here at the office so it didn’t take me more than probably 15 minutes to fill out paperwork. We got funded for it in the first round,” he said.

His organizational skills came in handy once again in July when he applied for PPP loan forgiveness. He received 100 percent loan forgiveness.

“After watching the news and staying abreast of the situation, I was the first one to reach out to my banker regarding the loan forgiveness program. We were actually the first [business] to get processed in the whole bank,” he said.

Though McKeon was first hesitant about taking business advice for a family practice that has been operating for more than 70 years, he is glad he did. He also encourages other business owners to seek and heed the advice of the Florida SBDC at USF.

“Anyone in business who has questions or concerns navigating growth in their business, should seek wise counsel,” he said. “The SBDC is a free resource. It was great to have something like that as a small business owner. I enjoyed working with SBDC; the students from the local university were very helpful. It was neat to see a younger, fresher look at our practice because we have been here for 70 years. They brought some fresh ideas in and confirmed some of my thoughts that I had. I absolutely encourage utilizing the services of the SBDC.”