The man who built Massage Envy into a $300 million company is developing a similar business franchise involving chiropractors.
It's called "The Joint... the chiropractic place." Among other features, its clinics stay open on Sundays, don't require appointments, and offer a monthly membership program allowing clients to visit any location.
John Leonesio founded the massage franchise company in 2002 and grew it to more than 800 licenses in six years. He's now chief executive officer of The Joint Corp.
"Let's face it," Leonesio said. "Right now, getting quality, affordable chiropractic care is a huge hassle. With The Joint, we're going to remove all the barriers that stand between people who want and need chiropractic care as a part of their health and wellness program and actually getting it."
The Joint was established in 1999 in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Leonesio took over shortly after selling Massage Envy in 2008.
With dues deducted automatically from a bank account, The Joint's membership model resembles that of Massage Envy. There are 26 locations open across the U.S. and 62 more in development - including 22 franchises planned in San Diego.
The Joint's San Diego developer is Dennis Conklin, who also handled the franchising of Massage Envy in this area. "We think it's going to be a big home run here," Conklin said. He's scouting out locations and plans to open the first one early next year.
Each location has between one and three licensed chiropractors, often with one as the owner. Unlike many chiropractic businesses, the clinics don't rely on reimbursement from health insurance companies, which has become increasingly difficult as insurers clamp down on spending. The clinics offer only basic services, with no X-rays or muscle-stimulating devices. A monthly fee of $49 covers four visits.
"We think chiropractic care, like massage, is very much part of a wellness routine," said Leonesio.
The chiropractic industry has many similarities with the massage industry, he said. There's a lot of competition, but no dominant brand. "It is a really crowded field," he said, "but there is no brand identity, there are no leaders in the market and there is no consistency."
It costs a franchisee between $80,000 and $100,000 to open each location, he said.
Many chiropractic treatments deal specifically with the spine and the manipulation of the spine, known as "adjustments." Chiropractors must be licensed, requiring the completion of a college course and examinations. The field is based on the principle that spinal joint misalignments hurt the nervous system and interfere with good health.
According to Leonesio, several of The Joint clinics have gross revenues of more than $40,000 a month, with operating incomes of $10,000 or more per month - which would be $120,000 a year.
The average salary for employed chiropractors was $67,200 last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There aren't any federal statistics on income for self-employed chiropractors, but a trade group placed it at around $95,000.