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Are you a group practice owner that wants to learn some tips on how to expand? What are some of the common mistakes that group practice owners make? How can you fix them and re-direct your group practice towards a more successful path?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Alison Pidgeon about 5 common mistakes that group practice owners make.
Meet Alison Pidgeon
Alison Pidgeon, LPC is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a group practice in Lancaster, PA and she runs a virtual assistant company, Move Forward Virtual Assistants.
Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.
She is also a business consultant for Practice of the Practice. What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.
Visit Alison’s website, listen to her podcast, or consult with Alison. Email Alison at email@example.com
In This Podcast
- Spending too much time doing and not delegating enough
- Not acting like the CEO
- Being unaware of the numbers
- Needing to be clear on your group practice niche
- Practice owners who do not have a good hiring process
1. Spending too much time doing and not delegating enough
We always tell people, especially in the virtual assistant company, like, don’t wait until you’re drowning in work to get an assistant because you’ll be so stressed out you wont even have time or you wont even have the bandwidth to think about how to train them.
As the group practice owner, delegating tasks is a vital function to perform. Without delegating, you may run the risk of bottlenecking the growth of your practice because you only have a finite amount of time on your hands. By not delegating tasks, it becomes unrealistic and nearly impossible for you to encourage the growth of your practice.
Delegating tasks that are not imperative for you to do can greatly assist growth because you can scale back on the amount of time that you are working and focus your energy on more important tasks, you can see more clients and therefore make more money.
When you delegate and hire an assistant, do it before you actually need the extra assistance because usually by that time you are already near a potential burn out from having worked hard.
Hiring assistants before you really start needing them, and training them up, will greatly assist you when you start hiring clinicians because your assistant will be settled in and ready to help them with the basic tasks and setup processes.
2. Not acting like the CEO
I think so many people get caught up in the day-to-day of like putting out fires or seeing clients or whatever it is, that they don’t take time or don’t set aside the time in their calendar to have that headspace to be able to think like ‘where do I want things to be in 3 to 6 months and what do I need to start doing now to get there?’
Once you have started delegating, you free up your energy and focus to work on the group practice itself. You are then able to sit and think about where you want your group practice to be in the future and you are then able to lay out a plan of action and set goals for your practice to achieve.
Figuring out the goals and setting out a general timeline will allow you to remain focused as the CEO for where your group practice is heading. To grow and run a successful business, you need to have your CEO hat on.
3. Being unaware of the numbers
Some practice owners do not properly monitor the flow of their income and expenses by keeping track of a profit or loss statement. These are important numbers to know when you are making business decisions because you cannot make important calls about the practice in a vacuum, as this can very quickly land you in hot water.
Have a finger on the pulse as to what is happening within the practice to catch any problems early on if necessary. This data can mean keeping track of referrals, levels of client retention and conversion rates, clients that owe the practice money, or statements that need to be sent out.
4. Needing to be clear on your group practice niche
Definitely something that I see practice owners struggle with is like coming up with a tagline or a way to sort of wrap everything up in a neat package so that they can explain what the group practice does in a clear way that’s succinct.
Seek out an ‘umbrella term’ for your practice, so that you can easily and clearly explain the ins and outs of your practice to potential clients and other business owners without listing every service that you provide.
Having this tagline will allow clients to know, generally, how you can help them. By eliminating uncertainty and ambiguity, clients know what is available to them and can contact you for assistance.
5. Practice owners who do not have a good hiring process
There is a lot that runs on the services that the clinicians are providing – they also represent your practice and your business. It is important to know which values you aspire to have in your group practice and seek those out in potential clinicians. As much as there is niche marketing for the practice, there is also niche marketing for hiring staff.
Your happiness as the boss depends on how you feel your new clinicians are doing and settling into the practice. Whitney recommends that potential clinicians take an enneagram test so that you can better understand them yourself. Since you will be working closely together with the success of the group practice at the center, it is important to get along well with your clinicians to foster that successful environment.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. And I will show you how to have an awesome faith based practice without being cheesy or fake. You can have a successful practice, make lots of money and be true to yourself.
Today’s recording, I find very timely, I have to record these intros out before the episodes released, obviously, but I did this recording with Alison Pidgeon a few weeks ago on mistakes that private practice owners make, specifically group practice owners, and it’s so funny sometimes we don’t take our own advice, right. And I look back and I think, whoa, I could have done that differently. Right? That’s all hindsight. So, as a group practice owners, we’re making decisions every day, sometimes we don’t even realize the decisions we’re making until we’ve already made them. It’s just like second nature. But then other times we have huge decisions that we’re making and we’re needing somebody to bounce ideas off. I actually, oftentimes, use Allison to bounce my ideas off and she bounces ideas off of me as we’re growing our practices together. And over the past few months, Alison and I have just been noticing that there’s lots of group practice owners needing more direction and help in their practices. Sometimes they know that they’re having a hard time, sometimes they have no idea that they need to make changes in their practice. Often I’ll be on the call with somebody and I’ll say, “Oh, you need to change this, this and this.” And they’ll say, “I had no idea.” I said, “Yes, that’s why we’re on the phone. That’s why we’re talking.” And so, Alison and I want to create a membership community to be able to help group practice owners.
So in the episode today, not only are you going to learn about these mistakes, but you’re also going to learn about that membership community. So, if you’re interested in a community where you’re going to get help growing your group practice, you’re going to get experts talking about specific ideas. We’re going to deep dive into different topics such as delegation, having the lifestyle you want, managing your finances, creating a culture for your practice, please head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss. That’s right, it’s called “Group Practice Boss” because we’re going to teach you how to be the boss of your practice. So, I know I said it was timely. Even in my own practice, I’m noticing that we’re growing. And as you grow, you have growing pains and you’ve got to figure out how do I change the culture, or change the idea, or change the staffing, or change my systems? So many things to think about to manage the growth of a practice. Up and to this point, my practice has had two assistants taking calls, but they’ve both been part time and one of them was also seeing clients. And now she’s sitting at so many clients, she can’t take any more calls and my other assistant is getting so many calls that she can’t keep up with them. And so we finally were like, “Okay, we need to hire somebody to take these calls.” Now, I’ve been thinking about this for, I don’t know, two months and we’ll even talk a little in the episode about how delegation, if you’re already thinking you need to delegate, you’ve waited too long. And I should have taken my own advice so now I’m the one taking the calls, because we’re getting so many calls and trying to get people scheduled, and realizing I should have taken my own advice and I should have hired out two months ago before we had this greater influx of calls. And so that’s my big advice to you today. Not only, well, first advice is to go on to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss and join that email list, but also, if you’re already thinking about delegating, if for sure, if you have a group practice and you don’t have an assistant, and you’re taking those calls, you need to make that change right now. It’s going to make your life so much better. But I also want to talk for just a second about this membership community again. So it’s going to be a Facebook component and a Teachable component where you have courses in different topics that are going to help you. But the really important thing I want to say here is when you go over to Group Practice Boss, you’re going to sign up for the email list. That way, you get the latest information as soon as possible. We are opening the doors to Group Practice Boss on October 6. So, if you’re listening to this right when it came out, that’s just a few days from now at 10am. So we’re going to have those doors open for two days at a discounted price of 129, or it’s really the early bird price of 129 a month and you get that for life. And you’re going to get live events every single week. When you make comments in that group community, you’re going to hear from your experts, your consultants are going to make comments, we’re not going to just leave you hanging, we’re going to be very involved in this group. So it’s going to be different than other groups that maybe you’ve been a part of, because we’re going to be super active. And I like to think this Practice of the Practice community has a really authentic feel about it that it’s a place where we can really be real about our practices together. So, we’d love for you to be a part of that. If you have questions or you’re uncertain, the lead page “Group Practice Boss” will help you answer those, or you can email me, we’d love to help you. It’s email@example.com. But, those early bird prices close at midnight on October 8, so make sure that you get in on that because then the price goes up to 149. I’m thinking we will never offer the 129 price again. And so you want to go ahead and get locked into that lower price. And like I said, you’ll have that lower price for life, we will have the doors open for two weeks so if someone does miss that early bird pricing, or maybe you’re listening to this, and it’s between October 6 and October 20, please go and sign up for the email list and get in on the experience. We’d love to have you in the group. We are super excited to be offering this. Practice of the Practice has not offered anything specifically for group practice owners to this capacity so we’re pumped. Anyway, Alison is awesome. She’s leading it with me. She’s like a group practice guru amazingness and she’s going to be on today’s podcast. She’s going to talk to you about the five biggest mistakes made by group practice owners. So let’s get started.
Today on the show, I have got Alison Pidgeon. She is a licensed professional counselor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, owns a group practice called Move Forward Counseling where she has 16 clinicians and multiple office spaces. She also is a consultant with the Practice of the Practice, and she specializes in helping people start and grow group practices. Hey, Alison, I’m glad to be having you on the show today.[ALISON]:
Yeah, thank you so much. It’s always fun to be with you. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Yeah. I guess the other thing I didn’t mention there in your bio was, you have the virtual assistants business, that’s Move Forward Virtual Assistants, correct? [ALISON]:
We specialize in helping therapy practice owners. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. So, Alison’s got this thing figured out. She’s got, like, three different businesses and she’s killing it. I know you’ve been all over the news there, didn’t you win an award? It was a year or two ago, as a businesswoman? [ALISON]:
Yeah. So, back in, actually, it was 2017, I won the Best Emerging Business of the Year award through the Central Penn Business Journal, so that was super, super exciting to be recognized by the business community as somebody who’s doing things well. [WHITNEY]:
That’s right. That’s awesome. Well, cool. Well, we could talk about a million things, and I’ll have to have you on the show again, but today, I thought it’d be really cool to talk about mistakes made by group practice owners, because I know you work with practice owners all the time and you probably see the same mistakes over and over, so we can do a show talking about how to keep people from all these mistakes that we’re seeing them do. [ALISON]:
Yeah, I think it’s such an important topic because, you know, as therapists we’re trained to sort of see patterns in our clients, and I think that translated, for me, as a business consultant, too, like, I started hearing the same kind of problems or mistakes being made over and over. And so, it’s now, you know, helpful to kind of summarize all of those for people so that they can avoid making those same mistakes. [WHITNEY]:
Awesome. Well, let’s jump right into them. What do you have for mistake number one? [ALISON]:
Yeah, so mistake number one, that I’m always amazed about, is that people who don’t delegate… I think we get into the habit, especially when we’re first billing the practice, like, we’re wearing all the hats and we’re trying to sort of bootstrap everything and we’re, you know, maybe doing that because we want to save money, or we want to really get a handle on how is everything running in the business, but at some point – and it’s probably sooner than you think it is – you really need to delegate, because you’re just becoming this huge, you know, bottleneck in growing your business, like, you have only a finite amount of time and if you don’t start to delegate, you’re not going to grow. And obviously, you know, there’s a lot of benefits to growing because you can start to scale back on the amount of time that you’re working, you can start to make more money, you can serve more clients and the community. So, I would say, yeah, I’m always amazed at the practice owners I talk to who have not delegated and are still, like, doing everything. They’re, like, cleaning the office, they’re answering the phone, they’re like… oh, man, you need to hire some people to help you with those things. [WHITNEY]:
Because they’re, you know, they’re running themselves ragged. I mean, that’s one of the reasons they’re reaching out for consulting help, because they’re just, like, working all the time, and they’re getting burned out. [WHITNEY]:
Yes, I’m gonna agree with you on this one. I see this all the time, too, and I am always amazed when someone shares it with me and I say, “You’re doing too much” and they’re like, “Really?” like, they have no idea, and then once we pull it apart and learn how to delegate it out, they’ll come back and say – you probably hear this too – they come back and they say, “Oh my gosh, like, I had no idea I was doing so much and how efficient this could be and how much more I enjoy my life”. Do you hear that from people after? [ALISON]:
Oh my gosh, yes. And they’re like, “Oh, I should have done this such a long time ago”. Like, you just get so used to doing it that you never take the time to stop and, like, take a step back and say, like, “Do I really need to be the one, like, buying the postage stamps for the office?” You know, but we just get so used to doing it that we just don’t even think about it anymore, you just keep doing it and then, yeah, then you’re, like, bogged down in all these little tasks that you don’t need to be doing. [WHITNEY]:
Oh, sure. My most hated task when I was a solo business owner, and even when I started adding clinicians, I didn’t get an assistant till I had two clinicians. I should have gotten one way earlier than that… But anyway, I would go and get the supplies. So, I would go, obviously pick up random supplies like paper and stuff, but I also would get drinks for all the clients that come in, and coffee and stuff. I absolutely hated it. I hated having to go to the store. It was the worst part of the week, and so, when I finally got an assistant, that was, like, my greatest joy was, she just picked this up and put it in the fridge. [ALISON]:
Yes, for sure. I hated, like, because our original office was on a second floor and so we had to, like, lug, like, humongous you know, crates of drinks and stuff, like, up the, you know, like, big flight of stairs and I was just like, “Oh, man, I can’t wait to be able to stop doing this”. [WHITNEY]:
So, what’s your advice for someone – because I hear this a lot, they say, “Oh, I don’t know when to delegate or when to hire an assistant” – what’s your advice on that? [ALISON]:
Yeah, I would say it’s always before you think you need to. I think a lot of times we sort of rationalize, we’re like, “Oh, like, this isn’t too much for me. I only get a few calls a week”, but as soon as you add somebody, you really underestimate how much that administrative work is really going to grow. And then also, I think people don’t think about, like, you’re in session probably all day, like, are you really going to have time to answer the phone? And if you don’t have time to answer the phone, then your new clinicians’ schedules aren’t getting filled up, so again, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot because you’re not getting your staff clients, which is the whole point of running a group practice. So, we always tell people, especially in the virtual assistant company, like, don’t wait until you’re, like, drowning in work to get an assistant, because you’ll be so stressed out, you won’t even have time or you won’t even have, like, the bandwidth to think about how to train them. And no matter if you’re hiring your own assistant or one from a company, like, you’re still going to have to do some level of training because you have, you know, a particular way you want things done and a particular way your practice runs. So, yeah, don’t wait till you’re, like, super stressed out and have, like, no time to hire an assistant. You want to make sure you get them in place ideally before you hire any clinicians, so that way, they know what they’re doing, and as soon as that new clinician comes on, they’re handling all of those additional responsibilities that come along with having that person. [WHITNEY]:
Such great advice. I totally agree with that. We usually wait way too long, not only for assistants, but clinicians and everything we hire out for, we wait too long. And you were talking about the training component – that’s a big part of what Move Forward Assistants offers, right? You’ve kind of pre-trained these people that know how to do private practice calls. [ALISON]:
Yeah, so that’s one the advantages; like, we only work with therapy private practices, so they’re familiar with, like, all of the different EHRs, and they’re familiar with, you know, how workflows typically go in a private practice with scheduling and all of that kind of thing. Everybody we hire has a healthcare background, so they’re already, I mean, we do train them, but they already understand HIPAA and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, there’s a lot of training that goes into, you know, when we hire a VA, and then obviously, depending on how you want things done in your practice, then you would sort of orient the VA to how you want things done. [WHITNEY]:
Perfect. Alright, so, after we’ve learned how to delegate, what’s the other mistake that group practice owners are making? [ALISON]:
I think one of the big mistakes I see people make is they’re not acting like a CEO, and what I mean by that is, like, the CEO is sort of the big picture visionary person, like, I realized pretty early on that I was always thinking three to six months ahead in the business, and preparing for that, and taking steps towards whatever goals I had that I wanted to accomplish in that period of time. I think so many people get caught up in the day-to-day of, like, putting out fires, or seeing clients, or whatever it is, that they don’t take that time, they don’t set aside that time in their calendar, to have that sort of, you know, headspace to be able to think, like, “Where do I want things to be in three to six months? And what do I need to start doing now to get there?” Or, like, “What is the ultimate vision of the practice?” Or, you know, “What are our values? How am I living out those values?” Those are all things that CEOs need to think about, and I think that is so important that, if you’re going to ultimately run a really successful group practice, you need to have that CEO hat on. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, that’s great. I like how the first one was delegating, because really, you’re not going to get anything done if you don’t delegate. And so, when I’m thinking about, when did I have time to finally start brainstorming more about the practice and thinking visionary? Well, that was when I handed off all the other work that was bogging me down. [ALISON]:
Yeah, that’s great. All right, what is the third one there? [ALISON]:
So, the third one is that practice owners don’t know their numbers. And when I say numbers, I mean finances but also tracking data. And I can kind of explain what those two things mean. So, finances is obviously, like, you know, you have something like QuickBooks set up, you can, you know, monitor on a regular basis, hey, how much, you know, money’s coming in this month? How much money is going out? What’s our profit and loss statement for, you know, last quarter? Like, really looking at those things and figuring out how does that relate to, again, business decisions that you’re making? Because, obviously, you know, if you’re just making financial decisions in a vacuum, then that could get you into trouble pretty quickly. And then, the other piece about tracking data is, like, you really want to have your hand on, like, what exactly is happening in the practice and are things running how they’re supposed to be running? And if not, you want to catch problems before they become really big problems. So, I’ve seen where practice owners maybe aren’t keeping a very good handle on, let’s say, an aging report related to billings, if you take insurance. We have a way in our EHR tracking, like, what claims are still outstanding? Are their balances that clients have racked up? And so, every couple weeks, we’re looking at that to see, like, “Okay, is there something we need to follow up on? We need to resubmit a claim? We need to send a statement to a client?” Like, we’re on top of making sure we collect all of that money that we’re owed. And last year, we only had less than 1% for, like, our gross revenue went uncollected for the year, which I think is excellent, but we wouldn’t have been able to do that if we hadn’t been tracking those numbers and been on top of taking care of those things. And so, that’s where, like, if we hadn’t been tracking that, you could see how quickly that could snowball and become a huge problem. I talked to so many practice owners who were like, “Oh, yeah, we’re owed $30,000 by insurance”, or “We’re owed $100,000 by insurance because our billing got messed up and we just never went back and fixed it”. Can you imagine $100,000 not coming into your practice? [WHITNEY]:
It is crazy. I hear that too, actually. Anyone that I’ve consulted with that does insurance in most situations are struggling to get those payments and having to really change things in their practice because of it. [ALISON]:
Yes, yeah. So, that’s just one example of, like, numbers that you really need to be looking at, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be you, like, my admin does all of that for me and if she gets stuck or has a question or doesn’t know what to do, she can always come to me, but like, she knows that’s part of her job and that’s really important to stay on top of. And so, I think that’s just, like I said, one example of, like, you really need to be paying attention to those numbers. [WHITNEY]:
Definitely one problem that I see a lot with individual owners and group practice owners – they are not watching their intake calls. So, they get the calls and they’ll say, “Oh, well, my EHR tracks the referrals”. But who cares if it tracks the referrals if you never go back and look, you know, or do anything about it? I actually have a way that I train people differently in taking calls because it’ll create a whole, like, pie graph on who’s referring and have out that kind of thing. But, you know, a lot of people are not tracking how many calls from getting a month? How many of those are actually converting into clients? How many aren’t? Why are they not converting in the clients? Like, I feel like those are numbers you should have right there off the top of your head or at least every month, so you can keep investing in the things that are working and so things that are not, and being able to, like, track your numbers, even with Google Analytics or different marketing things you’re trying. People just try things and they don’t really have a system for numbers to make sure it’s actually working or not working. [ALISON]:
Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up, because we have a call log in my practice, which is just, like, a simple Google spreadsheet where we track all of the calls when they come in and so, there’s so much information that I get from that. I look at it on a daily basis. One of the big reasons is because I want to see the volume of calls that are coming in, and if it seems like things have slowed down, then I can quickly react and do some other forms of marketing to try to ramp up the calls again. So, yeah, there’s just so many helpful pieces of information that come from that and, again, the admin is managing that whole process and entering that data. I can just literally look, you know, take 30 seconds and look, you know, on the computer, on my phone and just see, you know, what’s happening that day in terms of the number of calls coming in. But yeah, we track all of that stuff too, like conversion rate, like, you know, how many people actually schedule versus how many inquiries do we get, and all that kind of stuff. And just, too, if you have an insurance-based practice, you should probably be converting about 70-80% of the people who call. And I don’t know what your conversion rate is Whitney, but I’ve heard a self-pay practice would be more like 50% would be a good number. [WHITNEY]:
I’m glad you’re sharing these numbers. We’ve never talked about this. I would have to confirm but I thought something that I had heard was 30% for private pay was good, and that the average practice converts 50% insurance or cash, like insurance-based would be 50%… But it could be 70. I don’t know. I don’t even know where these numbers come from. But, yeah, our practice, our conversion is just like a snippet over 50%. [ALISON]:
And we’re all cash pay, so I’m always really happy. I’m always watching, making sure we’re staying at 50%, it’s always pretty consistent. [ALISON]:
Yeah, that’s great. [WHITNEY]:
Another number I think that people don’t monitor, as group practice owners, is number of clients their clinicians are seeing, and just making sure that you’re training your clinicians well on client retention. Because, you know, as business owners, we spend so much money getting clients into the practice, we’re watching how many came in? How many new clients? But we’re not paying attention enough to how many sessions were completed or, you know, how many clients were discharged. And a lot of times, clinicians, because they’re not business owners, they’re not understanding the importance of client retention the way that we are. [ALISON]:
Yes, for sure. And I find, too, that this is a really common problem that group practice owners face, like, typically, when I do get a new consulting client, like 9 times out of 10, that’s one of their issues, if they already have a group practice, like, one of the clinicians in the practice is having trouble retaining clients. And I think it’s not, you know, maybe it was intuitive for you as the practice owner because you’re more business-minded, but, for many people it’s not, and if they’ve never worked in a private practice before, you need to sort of do some additional coaching on, like, these are sort of the strategies to make sure, like, you’re retaining these clients. [WHITNEY]:
Yeah. All right, so what’s number four there? [ALISON]:
So, I would say one thing that I see that’s very common is that people aren’t clear about what the niche of the group practice is, and this is where it gets really tricky if you have what I call, like, a multidisciplinary group practice. So, let’s say, like, you have somebody that sees couples, and you have somebody that sees kids, and you have somebody that, you know, works with anxiety, and the sort of, like, you know, kind of runs the gamut in terms of specialties, and when I run my mastermind group for people who want to start a group practice, we always talk about, like, how do you kind of succinctly say, “This is what the practice is all about”? Like, I call it an umbrella term. So, in my practice, I have 16 providers, and so, obviously, they all are doing something a little bit different, but how I have kind of put that all together is by saying we specialize in women’s issues. So, that way, if I’m at a networking event, and somebody says, “Oh, what’s your business?” And I say, “Oh, I have a mental health private practice” and the next question always out of their mouth is, “Oh, what do you what kind of clients do you see? What do you specialize in?” And I don’t want to run down this, like, laundry list of specialties, right? Like, “Oh, well, we see people with anxiety, and we see teens, and we do infertility evaluations, and we do pregnancy postpartum adult, and, like, you know, like, 15 different specialties”. If I just say, “We specialize in women’s issues”, that’s enough of a specialty that that’s going to stick in their mind, that it still makes us memorable, it’s still, you know, niche marketing. So I think, you know, definitely, it’s something that I see practice owners kind of struggle with, like, coming up with a tagline or a way to sort of, like, wrap everything up, you know, kind of in a neat package, so that they can explain what the group practice does in a clear way but that’s succinct. [WHITNEY]:
That’s perfect. All right. And number five? [ALISON]:
Yeah. So, number five, for me, is practice owners who don’t have a good hiring process. Obviously, so much is riding on your clinicians and the service that they’re providing, and that has so much to do with your reputation in the community and word of mouth referrals, and obviously, too, your own kind of happiness as the group practice owner, right? Because if you have staff who are driving you crazy, or you’re worried because you think they’re doing a bad job, then, you know, that’s the kind of stuff that, like, wakes you up in the middle of the night. I’ve been there. I’ve been there, done that. In the beginning, I was not good at hiring. I’m much better now, the process is much more refined, and I learned a lot about what questions to ask, and also, the more clear I got about what my values are and who’s a good fit for the practice, I noticed that I started attracting people who were a better fit and repelling people who were not a good fit. And so, I think, for as much as we talk about niche marketing for clients, we also need to do niche marketing for hiring staff. Because, you know, like I said, your happiness as the boss rests so much on, you know, how you feel like your clinicians are doing and how they’re fitting in and how much time they’re taking up of yours, you know, all of that kind of stuff.
So, if you, you know, if you’ve hired a few people who didn’t work out, maybe they didn’t stay very long and they figured out pretty quickly that they, you know, it wasn’t a good fit for them, or you had to fire some people, or whatever the situation, I always tell people: you need to go back and look at your hiring process. You know, hindsight being 20/20, what could you have done differently? Typically, what I see is, again, people aren’t clear about the type of staff that’s the best fit for the practice and the culture. And then also, like, they probably didn’t do enough kind of screening or vetting up the person. So, like, I do an initial phone screening, then if it seems like a potentially good fit, we do the formal interview. If I’m kind of on the fence, I’ll actually have another staff person, my managers, do a second interview. Then I check three references. So, it’s like, quite the long process, but I feel like it’s so important because, you know, I’ve definitely had those therapists who just, it was just a bad fit, again, waking up in the middle of the night worried about what they were doing or not doing, and when you have that really great, sort of rock star clinician, and it’s like, you hardly even notice they’re there because they’re just doing an awesome job. They’re, you know, their schedule’s full, they need very little help from you… So, those are definitely the kinds of staff that I want in the practice.[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, I’m glad you’re bringing up this point cuz I see this a ton, as well. And even for myself, I feel like, my first two hires I thought at the time were great hires, and then things, you know, kind of happened. And obviously, some things we can control and some things we can’t… and figuring out the best fit is so important. You’ll love this, Alison, but I use the Enneagram when I’m hiring. You know, I ask people to take the free test online, or if they know their Enneagram, because I want to hire people that I know I can work well with and I can understand them and how to best meet their needs. And one time, I actually had someone come to the staff meeting and do a little training on the Enneagram, so we all knew each other’s Enneagram, and how we could work together as a team, and what your needs were, and things like that. It was really cool. So, yes, the Enneagram is awesome. [ALISON]:
Yeah. Did they like that training? [WHITNEY]:
Did they find it helpful? [WHITNEY]:
Oh, yeah, definitely. Definitely. Yeah, I’m hoping to actually explore some more with consulting on how I can teach people how to use the Enneagram, because I found it so helpful in my personal life, but also in my practice it’s been really great, in fact, to actually have all my consultees also do the Enneagram, because it helps me understand the way they run their business. So, their fears and the way they think is going to be different. Like, for example, I love how you talked about the CEO part, because having the visionary, like, being big picture, that’s what threes are like. They’re very good at seeing big picture and really motivating people towards a vision, and then I’m a one, so I’m a lot more detail-oriented, so, I have to really push hard past details to be able to be visionary, which I know I need to be better at, because I get so wrapped up in all the details. So, it’s cool because you want to have this balance of people on your team, so that you can all be able to bring these different giftings together, right? So, it’s good for me to have threes at my practice because they kind of help balance that oneness out, I guess. [ALISON]:
I want you to come teach that to my staff. [WHITNEY]:
Oh, well, we can talk about that. That’d be really fun, actually. [ALISON]:
Yeah. That would be fun. [WHITNEY]:
Okay. So, I also want to spend some time talking about this awesome opportunity for people for a Facebook membership community that you’re doing, if you want to kind of share some about that. [ALISON]:
Yeah, so we’re doing it together, right, Whitney? [WHITNEY]:
Yes, we are. [ALISON]:
Yeah, so we have decided to create a membership community for established group practice owners. So, if you’ve already hired a couple people and you are just wanting some extra support, and you know, obviously, as things change, or you’re starting to scale up the practice, you might encounter new challenges and so, it is going to be a place where you can come talk to other group practice owners, and obviously, Whitney and I are going to be very involved as well. So, there’s going to be two components; there’s going to be a Facebook group and a Teachable that’s going to have tons of great content in it. And one thing that Whitney and I really wanted to do for the folks in that group is to make sure we’re really taking a deep dive into various topics. So, every month, there’s going to be a different topic that’s presented. So, we can really, like, every single meeting and every single presentation is related to that topic. So, if you’re really struggling with, like, managing your staff, or hiring, or whatever it is, we are going to really get into the nitty gritty of that topic for the whole month. And so, I think it’s gonna be a lot different than other types of things that are being offered. But also, like, you know, for example, listening to this podcast, like, we really only have a half an hour to kind of scratch the surface on some of these topics. And so, we really wanted to create kind of an alternative where you’re not just getting that, like, kind of, you know, scratching the surface-type information, but we’re really talking about the details of a particular topic. So, yeah, so, that’s what it’s going to be all about. And we’re calling it Group Practice Boss, because we’re all either the boss or trying to learn how to be the boss, and so we’re going to help you with that. Anything else you wanted to say about it, Whitney? [WHITNEY]:
Oh, yeah, lots of stuff. I’m so, like, excited about doing this membership community because I think it’s so needed, you know. Within Practice of the Practice, we have a lot of good resources for people, especially new practice owners with Next Level Practice, but this is kind of, like, the next step up from Next Level Practice. It’s for group practice owners, a very similar kind of dynamic in the sense of lots of webinars, Teachable materials, classes that you can take on your own, or classes that you’re going to be able to take live, but I’m also really just excited about the community, that as group practice owners we can get really lost in what we’re doing or, you know, we need to bounce an idea off somebody, but we can’t really bounce it off with someone at the practice, sometimes, you know, because we are the employer and you can’t really do it like that. And so, now we’re gonna have this community where, if you need to bounce an idea off somebody, you have that, and you’ve got a consultant, Alison or myself, responding to your comments in the group, and really creating that sense of support, that sense of challenging one another, but also, you can post all types of things as far as like, hey, what resource are you using for this? Or what kind of questions do you do for this? Because this group is going to be for advanced practice owners, you know, group practice owners that have two or three clinicians already, so that we can really dive into those more difficult, challenging questions, as we’ve all been growing our practices. So, I’m really looking forward to that sense of community that we’re going to create.
Some other really awesome things about the group is, there’s going to be at least one live event every single week, some weeks probably two or three, where either myself or Alison will be actively involved in working with you guys, and we’re really big on, “Hey, here’s some stuff, here’s some information, but we want to use this community to really take action steps”. So, you’re going to get the information but you’re going to do it. So, when we have these deep dives, it’s not just about, “Hey, here’s a good hiring process”, it’s, “Now, you’re going to take this, and change your hiring process, and get it down this month” And a month, we felt like, was enough time to, like, really help people really work on one thing at a time, instead of “Hey, here’s this podcast”, “Hey, make this change”… This gives us a little bit more time to really dive deep into that. And we’ll provide other resources, worksheets, and books and stuff that you can do alongside. So, I wanted to run through a couple of these ideas that we’re going to be doing the deep dives on. The first one’s going to be on designing a business to fit your lifestyle. Another one is going to be on delegation – and that was the first thing we talked about here on the podcast – and then we’re going to talk also at the end of the year on creating goals for the next year. So, we really took some of the topics that we are hearing from consultees, and narrowed those down, and we’re going to offer those within this group.
So, this is going to be launching October 6th, we’re going to open the doors for this for two weeks, and so, you’re going to have a special discount for you listening right now – on the 6th and 7th of October, we’re going to open the doors for a price of $129 a month to be able to join this Facebook membership community. After that, the price will jump up to $149 and we’re going to keep the doors open to join for two weeks, so that’s going to end on October 20th. All of that information you can find in the show notes here, or you can email me or Alison. Alison’s first name is with one L, so that’s firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com, and we’d love to talk to you more. We’re also going to have some webinars surrounding this as well, so you can be looking out for those.[ALISON]:
Awesome. Yeah, I’m so excited. We’re obviously kind of positioning the launch around the virtual Killin’It Camp conference this year. So, if you’re planning to come to Killin’It Camp, we’ll be, you know, kind of presenting more information there as well. If you’re interested in signing up for that, that tickets are, I think only $95, and it’s killinitcamp.com. Yeah. And Whitney and I are both going to be speaking there as well. [WHITNEY]:
Yes. It’s gonna be awesome. I think that’s October 5th through the 7th. [ALISON]:
Yes. Yeah. [WHITNEY]:
I think. Yeah. So, cool. Cool. Well, I’m looking forward to our continued work together and looking forward to this, really looking forward to the membership community. So, yes. Go to the show notes to get more information on that. And Alison, you always blow me away with all your good information and practical steps, so thanks for coming on and going through these five mistakes with us today. And then I want to ask you what I ask everyone on the show; what do you believe that every Christian counselor needs to know? [ALISON]:
Ah, that’s such a good question. I think that, you know, obviously, one of the things that we’re taught as therapists is that we really need to have the client lead us in how they want their treatment to go, and I think that applies to Christian counselors as well, like, you know, really let the client inform you how they want that perspective to be integrated into their counseling process. And I think just being respectful of that, rather than thinking, like, there’s some, you know, thing or format or, you know, way you need to integrate it, I think it’s just important to remember to let, you know, let the client kind of decide how they want that to happen. [WHITNEY]:
That’s so important. And we have to, like, keep remembering that over and over again, either with religious talk or anything, like, just not having our own agenda with our clients, and letting it be their treatment and not our own. [ALISON]:
And well, thank you. Well, thanks again for coming on the show. It’s been awesome to be with you. [ALISON]:
Yeah. Thank you, Whitney.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together such as individualized group consulting, or just shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you.
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