Malaysian-born chiropractor finds success in Melbourne

Sally Foo: I'm a chiropractor, not a miracle healer. I show my patients how to look after themselves better and to make positive improvements in their lives/

MEETING someone you instantly click with at every level is uncommon.

But it’s uncanny when you have the same surnames, Hakka dialect (but can’t speak it), are graduates of the same university, have a common interest and yes, prominent foreheads as our main feature.

When I met Malaysian chiropractor, Sally Foo (no relation to the writer), it was like meeting a long lost sister, although it was my good friend Razleena, who introduced her to me via Facebook to interview her for this column.

Even though Melbourne has a large Malaysian community, it is a rarity to meet a person you share so many things in common with. So what was intended to be a short interview turned out to be a three hour talk-fest about everything under the sun.

In that short time, I learned that Foo is a dynamic entrepreneur and the kind of person who exudes a bright and positive aura that is simply infectious.

Perhaps, that’s why she’s almost fully booked out by her patients on a daily basis.

She has an pleasant demeanour and is a great listener so it helps put people at ease when they’re vulnerable to someone who may twist and manipulate their backs!

After 16 years in Australia, she now calls Melbourne her home although she still craves for Passembor rojak every now and then.

Born in Sabah, Foo is of Sino Kadazan descent. She grew up in Perth and six years ago, ventured to Melbourne, the most livable city in the world.

She now runs her chiropractic clinic, QV Chiropractic, in Melbourne’s busy central business district.

“I completed my degree in chiropractic in Murdoch University more than 10 years ago and after that, worked with a classmate who was also a medical doctor. He set up his chiropractic practice and I joined him for about a year. Then I did some travelling and went back to Malaysia for a while.

“In 2008, I came back to Perth and was itching to start anew in a different place so I was juggling my choices between Sydney or Melbourne. In the end, I chose Melbourne, somehow knowing that it would work out,” says Sally who arrived here with two bags and a determination to become a successful “chiro-entrepreneur”.

She knew that getting work in a new state would be challenging, so she contacted every chiropractic practice in Melbourne that she found in the Yellow Pages and on her second day, was offered a job in a neighbourhood practice.

“I worked there for a while before moving to other practices where I picked up more chiropractic skills and also how to manage your own business as my bosses were also owners of the practices. After a while, I wanted to explore the potential of the city,” she says. Again, she referred to the Yellow Pages to study her future clients and foresaw that they would be working professionals in Melbourne’s business district.

Her former boss helped her set up her practice in the city and she then took on the challenge of turning her expertise into a business.

She started with renting a room from an existing practice and now runs QV Chiropractic in Fitness First QV on Lonsdale Street.

She sees mostly corporate clients and is also the appointed chiropractor for Fitness First members.

“I love the environment here, and while it sometimes gets tough because it’s my own business and I have to be fully responsible, I genuinely care for my patients. Of course I cared about patients in the previous clinics, but because this clinic in my own, I put a 110% effort into treating and following up with them,” she explains.

Like most entrepreneurs, Foo has a love hate relationship with marketing and sales.

“It’s more hate than love but I have to do it!” she says with a chuckle.

While there’s the obvious benefit like the steady flow of clients from this central area, many companies in Melbourne are undergoing restructuring and it indirectly affects Foo’s business.

“In 2013, there were redundancies in some of the companies I consulted for so that affected my practice and this seeped into 2014 as well. But I see about 15 to 25 patients a day so that’s a good number for the moment,” she explains.

While the end of the year holidays means a slight slow down in business, it picks up around late January to early February, presumably from patients who’ve aggravated their bodies from excessive holidaying.

“Yes, some people may forget that their bodies have limits even after an injury. I’m a chiropractor, not a miracle healer. I show my patients how to look after themselves better and to make positive improvements in their lives to alleviate their pain until it does get better.

“It’s so rewarding to see my patients recover through my help and their personal care,” says Foo .

Foo has seen too many cases of chronic back problems that are usually caused by being too sedentary and having bad posture.

“We have to follow very simple rules: for every 30 minutes that you sit, get up and walk for two minutes, watch your posture at your desk so that your shoulders are not slumping over the keyboard, move around more and do some gentle stretching exercises. These won’t eliminate your pain, but it will help reduce it,” she advises.

Currently she is planning a few strategies to grow her business, but prudently stops short of revealing what these plans are. Like a savvy business woman, she will not talk about success until it happens.

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