Dr. Bradley Weiss of Performance Health Center: “Provide patients with certainty that they are in the right place”

We’ve developed a standard way to ask questions so long-time patients are never made to feel “new.” One is “When was the last time you were in the office?” so that even a receptionist who has just been hired doesn’t make a faux pas of not recognizing a loyal patient. As a part of our interview […]

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We’ve developed a standard way to ask questions so long-time patients are never made to feel “new.” One is “When was the last time you were in the office?” so that even a receptionist who has just been hired doesn’t make a faux pas of not recognizing a loyal patient.


As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bradley ‘Brad’ Weiss.

How did chiropractor Dr. Brad Weiss not only start and restart two successful practices — advanced by hundreds of patient testimonials — but also break into backstage care for international rock stars? Among other advice, he makes people feel like they’re all rock stars — and that their doctor is a star in his profession, too.

Dr. Weiss first built a solo practice in Williston, VT, served as President of the Vermont Chiropractic Association, and was eventually named Vermont Chiropractor of the Year. As his practice and reputation grew, Dr. Weiss continued to expand his treatment skills and became certified in Active Release Techniques® (ART®).

Close to 20 years later, he moved to Massachusetts and purchased his current Natick, Mass., practice, called Performance Health Center, which includes specialized Backstage Care services for musicians. The practice became energized with Dr. Weiss’ enthusiasm and grew as he attracted a patient base of active families, athletes and fitness professionals.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?

From the earliest ages, my focus was on healthcare. I idolized my childhood pediatrician and wanted to be a doctor just like him.

By high school, I was on that career track. I volunteered in a hospital one day a week for over a year, and found out quickly that I did not enjoy that kind of setting.

In college, I started on a pre-med track and then switched to a pure chemistry major as I reassessed my direction. Then, a sprained ankle in my senior year clinched everything for me. It was a very bad sprain, and I hobbled around for two months when I should have stayed off my feet.

When I went home for Thanksgiving break, my mother brought me to the family chiropractor for three days in a row and magic happened. Suddenly, my ankle was 100%. I asked the chiropractor what he had done and what his profession was like. That experience changed my life. I went to chiropractic school and 36 years later, have never looked back. I truly love what I do.

I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?

I have had several mentors. My first and most influential mentors were my parents. They were behind me 100% and encouraged me to follow my dreams, and still are my biggest cheering section.

In fact, my mother first brought me to our chiropractor when I was eight years old, when she noticed that one of my shoulders was higher than the other. The problem then was a curvature and spinal subluxation/dysfunction, and I think I internalized the value of chiropractic medicine even then.

Once I became a chiropractor, Dr. Peter Gale helped make me the practitioner I am today. He taught me how to be a highly skilled and compassionate doctor, and balance that with managing a successful practice. He demonstrated how to explain my recommendations to my patients, but more importantly, how deliver on every promise.

Lastly was Dr. John Mennell, a legendary orthopedist who unraveled the complexity of joint manipulation and took a small group of chiropractors (including Dr. Gale and myself), under his wings. For a few years, he gave small master classes which helped me refine my manipulation skills. These skills continue to set me and my practice apart from the competition.

What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?

More than 30 years ago, I was handed sour lemons twice, and finally decided to make them into limoncello!

The first piece of bad-turned-good luck: I earned my chiropractic license in Vermont, and then had to delay my Massachusetts licensing exam because of a glitch with my transcripts.Rather than twiddle my thumbs for six months to take the test, I joined a chiropractic practice up North. The founder promised me the world but the experience fell far short. I learned a lot — mostly about how I did not want to practice.

Hearing my frustration, my parents encouraged me to go off on my own in Williston, VT, where I quickly developed a following by doing things my way. I got involved in our state association and rose to the rank of President and received the Vermont Chiropractor of the Year Award.

After 18 years, my wife and I decided to move to Boston, MA to raise our family. Six months later, I was able to sell my Vermont practice and purchase another outside of Boston, and I have enjoyed steady growth ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Every day is special in my practice, with patients telling me how much I have changed their lives by enabling them to return to activities that they couldn’t do for years (and even decades).

There are three standout experiences I would like to share:

Two years ago, the drummer of a legendary band hurt his neck and didn’t think he could go on stage. The production manager called me and asked if I could help. I finished my regular office hours, got in my car (my backstage gear is always there) and drove to the arena. There was traffic and the production manager kept calling and asked when I was going to arrive. There were 19,000 fans waiting for the show to start. I finally got there, set up, met the drummer who could not move his neck without agony, evaluated and treated him. With a big smile, he went right on stage with the rest of the band to give a great performance. My goal is to help my patients perform better in their lives. That night the improved performance was literal.

When I was based in Vermont, Governor Howard Dean signed an Insurance Equality Bill in my office. I was told that my practice was chosen because it represented the highest standard of care that he wanted others to emulate.

When I was fairly new in practice, I got a call from an emergency patient who was vacationing and passing through Vermont. I told him I’d also see him the next day (which was my day off) so he could continue on his vacation. When he got home, he told his sister about the incredible, beyond-the-call-of duty service I provided. She recognized my name and called my mother to confirm. It turns out that I had helped the brother of the woman who first introduced my mother to chiropractic health care. I always treat patients just like I would want to be treated, and it was so gratifying to be able to help him — and to “pay it forward” within his family.

Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?

I was told a long time ago that my services are competing with many other wants and needs. People will find the money for what they value. That said, over the years, I have given away care for free when I knew patients couldn’t afford it and needed to get back on their feet.

Being healthy should be everyone’s number one priority. I always ask my patients why they want to be healthy. Knowing the answer helps me help them.

One example is a family I took care of who paid cash for their care early in my career. The father worked full-time at the National Guard. He came in one Monday and told me that he had worked two additional jobs that weekend, including mowing the town cemetery. Out of concern, I asked him why he was putting in so many hours and not spending more time with his family. His response in all sincerity was, “to pay for my chiropractic care.” He said it with respect, not malice. This was a wake-up call to me about how valuable my care is and to treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

When I was in solo practice, it was a little easier. I treated patients, always telling them their financial responsibilities before we started and then gave them the best care I could. My overhead was low and the formula was simple; the more patients I saw, the more money I made.

Running a group practice with three chiropractors and four staff members, a larger space and additional overhead makes it a little more challenging. The basic philosophy is the same. My associates have been trained in the Performance Health Center Chiropractic Method so that there is consistency of care. Each doctor has “their patients,” but these patients know that they will have a similar experience with whoever they see.

Especially in these times and with the many flavors of insurance coverage, patients are told in advance what their insurance will pay for and what limits they may have. Often patients exhaust their coverage before we finish their complete care, and most are willing to pay out of pocket because they understand and value the quality of care we provide.

Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?

It all comes down to trust, respect and consistency.

I try very hard to hire right, train well and make sure that my colleagues feel empowered and valued. I know how important they are and always emphasize how much I appreciate them. I let them make decisions and they know they can make mistakes — as long as they don’t repeat them.

I have also learned to delegate, but not abdicate tasks and responsibilities. Everyone knows what they are accountable for. I encourage my associate doctors to be themselves and find their own practice personality, while providing the standard of care that our patients expect.

From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?

The struggle was getting patients in the door. As opposed to other medical specialties, where referrals would routinely flow in, I had to start from scratch. I associated for six months and did not have a great experience except learning many things I did not want to do in practice.

When I finally launched my first practice, I had a well-equipped modern office, a lease to pay and overhead, but no patients. I quickly learned to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people I did not know. I would do spinal screening in the local department store once a week, and make cold calls to nearby businesses and introduce myself.

I would walk up to strangers with obvious pain based on their gait or posture and give advice and my card. Over time, I learned what strategies were most productive. I learned how to communicate better and probably most importantly, learned how to ask for referrals.

Now my practice is “mature” and most of my patients are referred by other happy patients, but I still keep my name in the community by participating in a weekly networking group, and sponsoring events that attract my ideal patient demographics.

It takes a lot of effort to push a car that is at rest, and once the car is rolling it takes much less effort to keep it going, but it still needs constant love and attention.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Offer a whole experience that’s second to none:

  1. Provide patients with certainty that they are in the right place. I pay attention to every little detail that contributes to an exciting and appealing whole. (Yes, those words can be used to describe a medical practice!) For example: When patients walk in, they immediately notice the brightly colored walls, which are uplifting.
  2. Adding to the ambience are the sounds of upbeat jazz and rock music, running ad-free. My patients and I enjoy musicians from Ricky Lee Jones to the Eagles.
  3. In the reception area, there are no glass partitions separating patients from our receptionist (except during the pandemic, when it’s been reassuring to our patients that we have a plexiglass divider). Everyone is acknowledged with an immediate greeting and smile.
  4. Enticing visuals are important, too. At Performance Health Center, these include photos of the Grammy-winning rock stars for whom I provide Backstage Care. This helps patients connect us with people they admire, and reinforces that they will get “rock star treatment” too. Almost every wall is also plastered with photos that our patients have sent us — living active lives pain free, as a result of our care!
  5. I have always valued cleanliness, which is a huge advantage when patients walk in. They’ll never see a speck of dirt.

Chiropractic care has become well established, but for many I am their first experience and there are still misconceptions about what we do. It is amazing how many patients I meet for the first time who tell me they feel they are in the right place. That is the impression we try so hard to make.

Demonstrate your differentiators without boasting.

Exclusivity and new information are powerful.

For instance, I am one of a small number of chiropractors in the state certified in Active Release Techniques® (ART®) and an even smaller number (eight) certified in Nerve Entrapment Release. That’s how I developed my Backstage Care practice — treating everyone from Justin Timberlake to Roger Daltry before Boston-area performances. It started with a phone call from a manager of The Wiggles, looking for the closest chiropractor specializing in ART®. The rest is history!

I build on this regularly — communicating about our new, leading-edge equipment, sending patients monthly email newsletters on new health findings and the latest research, and more.

Develop systems for a consistent experience; empower staff to deliver it.

There are many ways we do this. For instance, at Performance Health Center:

Receptionists pick up the phone after two rings. This communicates responsiveness without a feeling that we’re sitting around “waiting for someone to call.” Our practice is busy!

We’ve developed a standard way to ask questions so long-time patients are never made to feel “new.” One is “When was the last time you were in the office?” so that even a receptionist who has just been hired doesn’t make a faux pas of not recognizing a loyal patient.

Exams and consults are individualized but follow a predictable process no matter who does them.

Recommendations are handled in the same way by everyone (being persuasive but totally focused on individuals’ best interest) so no-one ever feels pushed to try a certain treatment.

Attract patients by involving yourself in the community — relentlessly.

The more people you know, the more patients you will eventually meet.

Ask for patient referrals, too, but at the right time. When someone says thank you, that gives you permission to say you’re welcome and to ask for the favor of a testimonial, photo, etc. Referrals are the best patients; they come in already confident that they are being treated by an expert.

Hire slowly and fire fast. You’re bringing in the people who will make critical first and last impressions.

Everyone needs to work together seamlessly, so get them all involved in hiring. Then train everyone in your unique systems/philosophy of care.

As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?

Overall, I would say that 80% of my time is patient based and 20% is spent working on my practice.

I have delegated as much of the day-to-day business of my practice to our staff as I can. I still do most of the marketing (which is minimal since demand for my services is high). I concentrate on our monthly newsletter because I was told that for every month you do not contact your database, you lose 10% of the people on the list.

I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?

I talk health all day. To me, it is very important to walk the talk. I stretch, exercise and eat healthy! I feel I am in great shape and hopefully inspire others to be the same.

When he turned 90, George Burns said, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” When I turn 90, I want to be able to say, “I knew I was going to live this long so I took great care of myself.” My goal for my patients is that they say the same, and add, “…thanks to the chiropractors at Performance Health Center.”

In 36 years of practice, I have only called in sick once. I believe in taking vacations, as Mike Gerber said, “to sharpen the blade.”

I work hard and I play hard. “Life is motion,” is the motto I reinforce with my patients, and that is the lifestyle I try to live.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

“If it is going to be, it is up to me,” is my life lesson quote.

Yes, you need a mentor and a support team made up of family and friends. At the end of the day, though, it is up to me to make it happen. I have found over the years that where I put my energy is where things flow.

Making excuses and blaming others, or the economy, is never the real problem. As long as I keep focused on providing the best chiropractic care possible, giving each office visit my 100% concentration, mastering my technical skills and being joyful, I’ll achieve success and happiness.

When I get distracted, sometimes unavoidably due to family situations or world events, it shows. I know that what I do and say in a treatment room can have short- and long- term consequences, and it is my responsibility to tell patients not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. That is not always easy.

A patient came in and told me she had just had an appointment with her dentist. I asked her who it was, and it turned out he was also my dentist. She said, ‘I like this dentist because he is a ‘Brooklyn dentist.’” “I said, “I’m from Brooklyn too; what do you mean by a Brooklyn dentist?” Her response was to the point: “Brooklyn dentists tell it like it is, and that is why I see you because you are a Brooklyn chiropractor and tell it like it is”.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I look forward to their visiting performancehealthcenter.com.

They are also welcome to contact me at [email protected].

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!

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