Working As a Couple To Help Others “Live Life Well”

by M. Kitty Ryan

When the doors to Senara Health and Healing Center and Senara Spa open this November, it will be a long-held dream come true for Dr. Keith Kramer and his wife, Penny. Every inch of the building will reflect the couple’s shared vision for how they can help others “live life well.”

The energetic twosome has worked as a team since opening the first Kramer Chiropractic office in 2002. They refer to Senara as the “home” they’re building for their guests—“a home that brings together all the elements of a healthy lifestyle,” said Keith.

“Our world is crazy, hectic and stress-filled—and often detrimental to our health,” he said. “People today are seeking more healing solutions than the traditional healthcare model offers. And that’s what we give them—a place that helps them feel better, in a setting where they can relax and recharge.”  

The company’s mission statement reads: “To provide our guests with an unrivaled lifestyle experience and environment that will help keep their bodies and minds healthy, active and happy.” “We call it the Senara experience,” said Penny.

Inspiring Experience
The inspiration for bringing the Senara experience to central Illinois came to the Kramers nearly 11 years ago on their fifth wedding anniversary. To celebrate the milestone, they took a week-long trip to Canyon Ranch in Arizona, which bills itself as “the most respected and admired destination resort spa in the world, with countless awards for its innovative approach to health, wellness and holistic and integrative care.”

“That first Canyon Ranch experience changed our lives,” Keith said. “We felt completely renewed, just a fantastic feeling. We wanted everybody we know to feel that way. And since then, we’ve been on a mission with a passion to bring a similar experience home for the people here to enjoy.”

But that was a lofty goal at the time, because the Kramers were operating out of a tiny office that employed just two people—Keith and Penny. He treated patients, and she was the receptionist, greeting guests and making them feel at home. Their newborn daughter, Grace, accompanied them to work. “We kept her crib in the kitchenette,” Penny remembered, “and our guests loved seeing her there.”

As the business grew, Shirley Pierce joined them to help manage the billing and insurance, which she still does. Meanwhile, the Kramers kept researching and learning more about the healing power of holistic and natural medicines and techniques. They also made going to Canyon Ranch an annual anniversary gift to each other.

They continued to add health and healing services, from acupuncture and massage therapies to nutritional counseling and physical therapy. That led to more growth, adding staff and leasing additional space, until there was no room left, and building the spacious new center became almost a necessity. Once it moves to the new location, the business will complete the transition from operating under the Kramer name to Senara.

Sharing the Workload
Keith and Penny credit much of the business’s success to their shared vision, and the dedication each of them brings to making it a reality. “My job is to take care of our guests’ health,” said Keith. “To focus on that, I need to know that everything else is taken care of. That’s what Penny does.”

“Penny’s strengths are people and systems,” he explained. “She sees all the pieces of the puzzle, and then puts them together. That means she’s in charge of everything from human resources and training to marketing and the technology we use. She also has the primary responsibility for overseeing Senara’s construction.” 

“She understands the value of getting out from behind the desk to spend time connecting with guests,” he added. “They really are family to us. Penny insists on making them feel at home—and so do I.”

Although the Kramers head to the same office each day, they may not always run into each other there, unlike the early days. Instead, they catch up on how the day went after business hours. “But we’re careful not to bring too much of the job home,” Keith said. “That’s another job Penny excels at, making sure we get plenty of fun family time.”

The Kramers also credit their staff as a major reason for their growth. “We’ve worked really hard to establish the right culture, to make this a great place to work,” Penny said. “We’ve got a super team with over 20 members now, including other doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists and our support staff. That number will grow to around 35 at Senara.”

Penny said their culture revolves around growing leaders, promoting personal growth and making sure each team member knows how appreciated they are for their individual contributions. “We set the vision and then let our team execute,” she said. “They take personal responsibility for delivering an experience that astonishes our guests.”

Making a Difference
The Kramers “walk the talk” when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. “Working out is our meditation,” Keith said. “And eating right is a given. It absolutely fuels our bodies, and we feel great. We want that for everyone, including our staff. Two newer members of our massage team recently announced they’d each lost 25 pounds since joining us. They said they did it by following our ‘live life well’ model.”

“That means so much to Penny and me—knowing that what we do makes a difference in the quality of someone’s life,” he said. “And that’s really why we’re building Senara. It will give us the space and the right environment to offer all kinds of different services to help our guests ‘live life well.’” iBi

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