Regenerative Medicine Takes Franchising by Storm
QC Kinetix meets consumer demand for pain relief with fast-growing medical franchise
“My knees are older than my face,” laughs 32-year-old Casey Sietsema, a physician’s assistant and QC Kinetix franchisee in San Antonio, Texas. The Army veteran and former football player says he put a lot of wear and tear on his body in his hard-charging youth and came away with early arthritis and plenty of joint pain. That’s why he was willing to try regenerative medicine injections at QC Kinetix’s first clinic in Charleston, South Carolina, back in 2017.
“Within two weeks, my knees were feeling better. Then I went back and had my ankle and shoulder done, no surgery,” said Sietsema.
The practice of using natural biologic tissues and stem cells to repair or heal damaged tissues and joints has advanced rapidly in the last 10 years and resulted in a new medical specialty that is transforming how people are treating musculoskeletal injuries, chronic pain, and degenerative conditions. Regenerative medicine treatments that elite athletes have been using for years are now available to anyone who is willing to pay for it, largely in orthopedic offices or other medical practices.
That’s where QC Kinetix President and co-founder Tyler Vail, PA-C, met and worked with his business partners, Justin Crowell, CEO, and Richard Schaffer, Jr., MD, Chief Medical Officer. Vail was the Regenerative Medicine Director at the North Carolina medical practice where they worked and saw firsthand the tremendous results patients were experiencing with cellular therapies that allowed them to bypass surgery and a lifetime of pain medications or immobility.
“All three of us really had a passion for this, and we believed there was an opportunity to create a practice that focused solely on regenerative medicine and offer it as a concierge type of service where patients pay cash and get a very high level of care and service,” said Vail. “We get to spend time with our patients, educate them, and walk with them through the treatments. In most doctor’s offices, you don’t get that kind of time.”
Testing the Water
To test their business model, in 2017, they sub-leased space from a medical practice in Charleston for one Saturday per week and operated the first QC Kinetix, offering state-of-the-art treatments, including plasma-based therapies like PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) and A2M (alpha-2-macroglobulin), and growth factor therapy with amniotic membrane tissue. Then, two years ago, they added stem cell therapy with BMAC (Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate).
“It was amazing! We had patients coming in, getting better, referring family, friends, and co-workers,” exclaimed Vail. “The ability to avoid surgery when they had been told it was their only option was such a huge draw, and it was so rewarding for me to be able to tell someone that. It was pretty special, and we thought, ‘We can do something with this.’”
In three years, they opened 11 clinics in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, all with the same great results, and the goal of rapidly bringing the concept to market took shape.
“This industry is exploding. New clinics are popping up every day. This is a space that needs to be franchised, and we are perfectly positioned to meet that need,” said Vail.
The global regenerative medicine market is currently estimated at more than $13 billion and is predicted to reach more than $172 billion by 2030, a growth rate of more than 26 percent.
The team hired a consulting franchise group out of Chicago to put together the infrastructure, FDD, training and support materials, and brought on franchise industry veteran Scott Hoots as their Chief Operating Officer. They never looked back.
Tip of the Iceberg
Even during COVID, business and sales were booming. More than 275 locations in 23 states have been sold since October 2020. Six franchises are up and running and 83 more clinics will be open by the end of 2021.
Casey Sietsema was not only one of the first QC Kinetix patients, but he was also the first franchisee. After receiving treatments, he was sold on the concept and took it back to Texas, where he operated two clinics in Austin for QC Kinetix before purchasing the first franchises. Earlier this year he opened two clinics of his own in San Antonio, with plans to keep growing.
“For me, it was a no-brainer. I am positively impacting people’s lives, which is very rewarding, personally,” explained Sietsema. “Each clinic is open one day a week and is so profitable. I’ll probably have 10 clinics open in the next year and a half. That’s where I am headed. I have purchased eight territories, and I have 10 clinics mapped out.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Sietsema was drawn to the freedom of being his own boss and not worrying whether his job was in jeopardy, especially after having his pay cut 38 percent over two years by a large physician’s staffing group. But Hoots says the system QC Kinetix has built doesn’t require owners to have a medical background.
“Eighty percent of our franchisees don’t have medical backgrounds,” explained Hoots. “Anyone with business acumen, leadership skills, or experience in marketing and advertising would be well-suited. We have seasoned corporate executives looking to get out of the rat race and successful franchise owners who are looking to diversify their portfolio, especially since we were able to weather COVID so well.”
The outcry from patients who want an option other than the traditional steroid shot or pain meds was not dampened by COVID. Although Vail is quick to point out they will always tell patients if surgery is the best option, he can see how quickly regenerative medicine will become the norm, over pain meds, NSAIDs, and surgery.
“If we can improve the quality of life for someone — get them back to running or golf — without a knee replacement, they are tremendously excited about that, and that excitement is contagious.”
The excitement over getting in early with a fast-growing medical franchise that is the leader in its space is also contagious, but that is exactly how QC Kinetix plans to bring regenerative medicine to the masses and become a household name.