First-timers to Acorn Chiropractic Club in Petaluma frequently enter the office, take a look around at the toys on the floor and the decidedly casual décor, and assume they’ve somehow walked into the wrong place.
“It does look more like a daycare center than a normal chiropractic office,” laughs Dr. Jen Santos, waving an arm to take in the play equipment, the bright blue walls with décor partially adorned with children’s hand-prints, and the complete lack of receptionist table or clinical waiting-room furniture. In lieu of a front desk, there is a wall-mounted “station” where patients can check in by swiping their club card or entering their phone number, alerting Dr. Jen and Dr. Matt to their presence. “We wanted this place — which might be the only chiropractic practice to actually use the word ‘club’ in its name — to feel like a community. And it does, I think. Most days, it sounds like a daycare center, too. It can get pretty lively in here.”
Jen and Matt Santos, who both grew up in Petaluma, have taken the traditional concept of a chiropractic practice, and created something that feels as unlike a visit to a doctor’s office as possible. Not only does this create a more comfortable environment, it makes good business sense, they say. As at a health club, the Santos’ patients have the option of paying a monthly rate of $125, for which they can receive as many visits and adjustments as they wish. A family membership is $200 a month. Single visits are also available, generally for around $45 a pop.
Or a crack, as the case may be.
“We always knew that we wanted a business that was sustainable for our patients and for us, where people could get under long-term care, and where their whole families could get under long-term care,” explains Matt Santos. “The truth is, most people can’t afford that. So we said, ‘Let’s find a way to make that affordable for them, in a way that also works for us, so we can make a living, too.’ That’s where the membership model fits in.”
According to Matt, Acorn charges less for an individual visit than many other practices, but because of the way the business is structured — lean and streamlined, with minimal extra staff, an automated appointment system, and specific emphasis on treating whole families, and a side-emphasis on prenatal and pediatric chiropractic — they’ve been able to create exactly the kind of practice they dreamed of when they decided to attend Chiropractic College together, back in July of 2010.
“Basically, we’re trying to put as much of our time into actually taking care of people, rather than spending that time running all kinds of complex business things,” says Matt. “It simplifies everything, for us, and for our clientele, who generally want to come in, get taken care of in fifteen minutes or less, and then get on with their day.”
Acorn Chiropractic Club gets its name from a remark made by B.J. Palmer, considered the developer of American chiropractic.
“He said that everything within an acorn has the potential to become a mighty oak tree,” explains Jen Santos. “It just needs the right kind of encouragement. That’s why we do prenatal chiropractic, and work on kids from newborns all the way up. What we’re focused on is increasing neurological function, as opposed to just treating individual pain symptoms.”
HEALTH & FITNESS INNOVATORS
This feature story is part two of the Argus-Courier’s four-part series on individuals and organizations in our community who are using creativity and invention to utilize older health, nutrition, and fitness practices in bold new ways. The series will continue next week with a piece on Sage & Salt Nutrition, put a fresh spin on ancient approaches to food and medicine.
Acorn Chiropractic Club is at 151 2nd Street. The website is AcornChiropracticClub.com.