5 Private Practice Trends in 2023 with Joe Sanok | GP 160

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A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

What are the current private practice trends? How are you managing your finances in 2023? What can you do to overcome the tough hiring environment at the moment?

In this podcast episode, LaToya Smith speaks about 5 private practice trends in 2023 with Joe Sanok.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

An image of Therapy Notes is captured as the sponsor on the Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Therapy Notes is the most trusted EHR for Behavioral Health.

As a therapist, I can tell you from experience that having the right EHR is an absolute lifeline. I recommend using TherapyNotes. They make billing, scheduling, notetaking, telehealth, and E-prescribe incredibly easy. Best of all, they offer live telephone support that’s available 7 days a week.

You don’t have to take my word for it – Do your own research and see for yourself – TherapyNotes is the #1 highest-rated EHR system available today, with 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot.com and on Google.

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

In This Podcast

  • Asking and answering the important money questions
  • An increase in marketing investment
  • There’s a tough hiring environment
  • Awareness and evaluation of lifestyle
  • How to level up beyond standard practice

Asking and answering the important money questions

Some money questions that most therapists are asking and need to answer include:

  • Whether you have an emergency fund for your practice?
  • How much do you pay yourself in your private practice journey?
  • What is the best amount to invest in marketing?

People are sensing that there’s a shift happening … we don’t know if there’s going to be a recession or … if there’s going to be a major downturn in the economy, but we’ve had several years that were thriving.

Joe Sanok

In general, most therapists have questions and queries about getting a handle on their numbers, what they mean, and how to work well with them.

An increase in marketing investment

Therapists and practice owners are currently putting more money into marketing efforts than they have in the past.

We’re finding that a lot of the practices that are thriving right now, in an uncertain financial environment, are the ones that are saying, “We’re going to intentionally put some money and some staff time into leveling up faster”.

Joe Sanok

What is a step outside of the box of what the average counselors are doing that you can take to set yourself apart in the best way possible?

There’s a tough hiring environment

The average job posting for a therapist used to garner multiple requests. Nowadays, it’s much fewer.

This could be because fewer therapists are looking for work, and it could be because many practices are settled in the number of clinicians that they already have.

[Recognize] that it’s a difficult hiring environment [right now] so think about what you can differentiate within your group practice that’s beyond pay.

Joe Sanok

What are the unique selling points that potential employees can enjoy through working for you, and within your business?

How can you make yourself stand out and attract your best-fit employees, beyond just offering more money?

The little things go a long way when it comes to retaining staff.

Awareness and evaluation of lifestyle

Another remnant of the pandemic is that most people have become more attuned to how they currently live.

They think about how they want to improve themselves and create a better lifestyle for mental, emotional, and physical health.

Because of that, on a personal [aspect], that’s carried over into the business world where we’re seeing a lot of clinicians and group practice owners asking the questions … on burnout prevention.

Joe Sanok

People are more inspired nowadays to integrate healthier boundaries into their working lifestyle and schedules, both for themselves and for the benefit of their clinicians too.

How to level up beyond standard practice

Many clinicians are considering how they can develop their practice so that it is not wholly dependent on them, or solely on accumulated clinical hours in sessions, to earn an income.

A lot of group practice owners are saying, “I want to get my practice … [to a place] where it’s not dependent on me to be the primary income.”

Joe Sanok

How can practice owners slowly remove themselves from direct clinical hours and expand their role as the CEO, and level up themselves and their practice as a result?

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

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Meet LaToya Smith

An image of LaToya Smith is captured. She is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling. LaToya is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcomes.

She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.

Visit LaToya’s website. Connect with her on FacebookInstagramStrong Witness Instagram, and Twitter.

Apply to work with LaToya.

Email her at [email protected]

Podcast Transcription

[LATOYA SMITH] The Grow A Group Practice Podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice Network, a network of podcast seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like the Practice of the Practice podcast, go to www.practiceofthepractice.com/network. You are listening to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast, a podcast focused on helping people start, grow, and scale a group practice. Each week you’ll hear topics that are relevant to group practice owners. I’m LaToya Smith, a practice owner, and I love hearing about people’s stories and real-life experiences. So let’s get started. Welcome back to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast. I’m your host, LaToya Smith. Today’s guest, I believe that you know very well, he is the founder, owner, visionary of the whole thing that we have here of Practice of the Practice. So I’m just happy to have him on. What’s interesting about this talk, I think every time I have Joe Sanok on, we always have a good discussion, a real and relevant discussion about private practice and anything as it relates to it so I really want you to tune in as we talk about five trends that he’s certain currently seeing in group practice. So, Joe, welcome to the Grow A Group Practice Podcast. [JOE SANOK] LaToya, I am so excited to be back on the show with you. This is awesome, and it’s so fun to see this show just keep growing as you’ve taken it over. [LATOYA] How’s it feel to be welcomed to something that you’re like already a big part of? Like, does it still go, does it still feel like you’re coming in or like — [JOE] I see you as a colleague, I don’t necessarily see you as like someone that works for me, but with me and so it feels like just another colleague saying, “Hey, welcome to my show.” Yeah, no, it feels great to be on. [LATOYA] Okay, well, I’m happy to have you on. And I know that you see, you’re around a lot of people, you’ve been in the industry for a long time and you’re always around, new trends, new things, new ideas. I love like your vision of things and how you can just cast a vision forward and make things happen. That’s why I think I love this episode, this idea of talking about just trends we see this year in group practice because things do change over time. So where do you think the direction of group practice is going? Even before we get into the trends, like what changes even have you seen, like from last year to where we’re at now? [JOE] Yeah, I see, right now I see a big difference where there is some pent up demand just in general for counseling that happened as a result of the pandemic. A lot of folks maybe got into counseling virtually when they weren’t even thinking about starting a solo practice or a group practice. So there’s a lot of just new energy in the counseling world a year ago and even two years ago when we were coming out of that first round of the pandemic, and I think the whole online counseling thing was so new to so many people that you could fail forward and have it not be a big deal. I think a lot of that’s shaking out now where we’re seeing that the folks that maybe jumped into practice in 2020 when they were home bound and said, yeah, I’m going to start a practice, they’re seeing the reality of it takes a lot to run a practice. So we’re seeing actually a lot of solo practices and even group practices start to fail that maybe didn’t have their hearts fully in it that they just in general were like, I’m going to give this a whirl. We’ll see how it goes. We actually see this in the podcasting world that in late 2021, there was a huge drop in the number of podcasts. About a year earlier there was a huge spike in the middle of lockdown in the podcasting world because people were sitting at home and they’re like, well, I might as well start a podcast. Then after a year they’re like, I’ve been doing this podcast for a year, I’m not making any money off of it, I’m just going to quit it. So I think in a lot of industries, we saw people try things during 2020, 2021, and then I’m going to give myself a year or so to see how it goes. Then by now it’s shaking out like, who are the real players that are sticking around and who are the people that are innovators or that are new to group practice that are going to stick around or that were here for a while and really did it right and managed all those rough times over the last couple years? [LATOYA] Yeah, that’s a great point that you made. I think everybody has seen that it was, especially during the pandemic, especially therapists, I mean, I think everybody had to switch, not I think, everybody had to switch from like in-person to virtual, and a lot of practices started in that season, which was the right thing to do if you needed to. But then at the other part of it was did you have the guidance or did you have the know-how to keep it afloat, which is the harder part, which is why I’m glad that there’s consultants like you. [JOE] Thank you, thank you. Well, and I think 2020 and 2021, everybody was losing their minds and the case for therapy could not have been stronger. So for a lot of the people that I work with or you work with 2020 and 2021 were some of their strongest years ever. The economy was doing great, people were getting ppp money sometimes, and so they didn’t have to really try to have a successful practice. They just said, “Hey, I’m taking clients.” I was actually just talking to Andrew, one of our consultants, and he’s in a Facebook group for some people that are local in his area and he was even just observing how recently a lot of people, when someone would say, “Hey, does anyone, would anyone see a 16-year-old female dealing with these issues?” In the past there’d be like one or two people that are like, “Oh, I have a opening in three weeks.” And now he was observing that it just seems like so many people have openings. So I think a lot of people maybe aren’t as interested in counseling as they were in the middle of the pandemic. And then also there’s a flood of these people that came in and so I think that we’re just in a big shaking out phase where with the economy and other things, and that’s some of the other trends that I’ll talk about that there’s just a shaking that’s happening right now where I think it’s a good thing for solid practices because then a lot of the competition is going to disappear, which I don’t want to see that. I think we all need tons of counselors now, but if you can’t sustain it or you set it up in a way that you’re not making money and it’s not helping your family, yeah, you probably want to recalibrate. [LATOYA] Okay, so that’s, I think that’s a good place to jump into these five trends that you see now currently in 2023. [JOE] Yeah, the first trend that I’m noticing is really big and important money questions are really happening on a level that I haven’t seen before. So when we do our ask the expert with next level practice, or we do a what’s working once a month where we bring people together and chat in small groups, tons more money questions like around, do you have an emergency fund for your practice as well as for your home? Do you, how are you paying yourself out of the money that comes in? How much are you investing in marketing? Where do you think the economy is headed? So people are really sensing that there’s a shift happening that we don’t know if there’s going to be a recession, we don’t know if there’s going to be a major downturn in the economy, but we’ve had a number of years that we’re thriving. So the money questions, I think therapists in general are just getting more aware of their numbers, a big trend of profit first within a lot of the group practices that we support where you’re pulling your profits first before you are paying everything else and having that be a big part of it. So when that’s happening I think it slows people down a little bit to really look at, okay, do I have a budget for my practice? Do I know how much I can put into marketing guilt free, or am I just saying, oh, Google said I get a $50 ad spend if I spend $100. I guess I should do that. It’s not as intentional as maybe it should be. [LATOYA] All right. So really looking at, people are now noticing that, hey, I need to pay more attention to my money instead of jumping on something shiny and flashy? [JOE] Yeah, really having those money questions, really questioning every dollar that’s being spent and saying do we need to do this now? Should we have a larger emergency fund so that if things do go down a little bit, that we can really ride that wave? We’re hearing a lot of people that in January of any year, would have a huge influx of people post holidays that aren’t necessarily seeing as many people come in. That could be because of insurance changes and deductible changes. It could be in how much people are valuing counseling. It could be how those people are marketing their practices. So we’re seeing those trends happen, but we don’t have to be stagnant. I mean, we can see these trends and say, that’s a bummer, but we don’t have to have to just sit there and take it either. [LATOYA] Right. But money’s always a big question, so I’m glad that you said that one first because that’s like probably one of the most important things with the practice to keep it afloat to keep it moving is understanding how your money moves and where it’s coming from so I’m really glad that you said that. [JOE] Which, sort of the follow up is the second trend we’re noticing, which is people actually putting more money into their marketing than they have in the past. So doing pay per click advertising on Facebook and Google, on LinkedIn, of really paying to be front and center of saying, okay, if my competitors are spending 3% of their gross revenue on marketing, we’re going to spend 10%. We’re going to advertise in the school calendar, we’re going to advertise on the back of t-shirts for the fun run. Just finding creative ways to stand out in unique ways in their community. We’re finding that a lot of the practices that are thriving right now in a very uncertain financial environment are the ones that are saying we’re going to intentionally put some money and some staff time into leveling up faster with the idea that if there are these practices that just started in 2020 or 2021 that are struggling and they don’t have their act together that this is a chance for often having lower ad dollars because a lot of these magazines or local publications, they might be struggling with getting new advertisers so you can get more ads for the same price. And then also you’re going to be more front and center than a lot of the other folks that are in your area. [LATOYA] I love that one. That’s something I always say, like, and I know, I think I spoke about it last week in the Group Practice Launch, being intentional about getting in front of your target audience and marketing in that space and finding those unique spaces you can get into. Like you said, the ad on the fun run or at the school, if you work with young people, I think that makes a huge difference and not to overlook those things and the way, that way your name can get in front of people that other people aren’t even looking at or take for granted. [JOE] Yeah. I mean, I remember when I first started my counseling practice, and I’ve used this example so many different times, I started this thing called dinner in a counseling session. So it was like — [LATOYA] Yeah, you said that. [JOE] So I had this deal with this really nice restaurant back when you could get a nice meal for 50 bucks where you’d get this $50 gift certificate. So I could buy them for like $40 from them. They looked like their regular gift certificate, so it wasn’t like it a Joe’s therapy practice on it or anything and for a hundred bucks for their first session, they could come to their first counseling session and then they got a $50 gift card that went towards going out to eat. Now I only got one couple that bought that. So someone on the surface would say, that’s really a failure. You only had one couple that bought one of these things but I got so much media around that, the Traverse City Business News, the local newspaper, the local women’s magazine. I had friends coming up to me like, “I saw that dinner in a counseling session, what a great idea.” So it positioned me if the only like KPI, or key performance indicator was did I sell sessions, then yes, it was a failure. But if I said I did this for media exposure to be seen as a creative counseling practice that does things differently, then it was a win. So even thinking through what are those things that are just a step outside of what average counselors are doing, where it’s not just crazy but it’s like, wow, that makes sense. That may get you some media for free that even if nobody buys it or signs up for it can then position you differently as a counseling practice in your area. [LATOYA] I love that. That in itself, what a way to level up. I love what you said about like, any positive exposure is a win. I know what do they say like all, what’s that say — [JOE] All news is or, no, is it all media is, even bad media is good media or bad exposure is good exposure, something like that. [LATOYA] Yeah, so maybe not that, but positive exposure is a win. But then I love what you said, a step outside of what the average practice is doing and that makes the difference. Because I think, I think going back to what you said originally, I think we were so busy during the height of the pandemic and virtual everything that we didn’t have space or time or able because of the pandemic to go out and promote face-to-face. But now getting back to that, what the, what other people may not know how to do or not be used to it is going to make a huge difference in the long run [JOE] Yeah. I was interviewing someone on my podcast and it was all around future planning and she said picture six months to a year from now, one of the worst case scenarios for your practice or your business. So thinking, yeah, what if all my new referrals just dried up? All I had was my current folks, what would you do now if you knew that was coming in six to 12 months that you’re probably the way that you’re marketing right now would just die? Then she said, now think about the best case scenario. If in 12 months you were way more full than you ever could handle, how would you position yourself right now to handle that? So just looking at that spectrum of worst case and best case and saying, what can I do now to do some future forecasting to think through that and to have some good marketing going on, to have some good infrastructure, to have some good staff members that maybe they’re only seeing one or two people a week now, but they have the capacity to see 15 or 20, but they don’t need it right now. So if you do get a bunch of people referred, then you can serve them. So just, I love that idea of future planning and forecasting too. [LATOYA] Me too. I like that example she gave. [JOE] So number three of the trends, I would say is a really tough hiring environment right now. It used to be that when group practice owners put out an ad for that they’re hiring a therapist that they’d get 20 applications that the grad school would be like, oh my gosh, like, we’ll send some people your way. It was shooting fish in a barrel. Now we’re seeing that it’s a lot more difficult on a number of fronts, one, the quantity of people applying doesn’t seem to be as pronounced as it used to be. Also when we look at some of the quality of folks, the people that have good jobs or have good practices often are already pretty settled and maybe not looking to jump in an uncertain financial environment. So some of the people that are applying aren’t necessarily the top tier people that a lot of group practice owners are looking for. Then when we also look at support staff, just the amount of changes that are going on with a lot of the support staff. We even dealt with this just a couple weeks ago where one of our staff quit and moved on without notice. We checked in with that person and it wasn’t that we had done anything wrong, they just got an offer they couldn’t refuse. It’s tough when that happens because that person was a very much the glue of Practice of the Practice, but when that happens, you can’t just sit there. So just right now, right before this, I was interviewing someone, it was her third interview and she’s going to be moving into that position, but it took a lot of work to find somebody that was a good fit. And so just recognizing it’s a hard and difficult hiring environment and to think about what can you differentiate within your group practice that’s beyond pay, because sure, like you could pay somebody $10 more an hour than everyone else locally, that might attract a different talent. But what are the unique selling points of working for you? So for example, in the interview I just did right before this, I talked through how within Practice of the Practice at least once a year, if not more, especially with the staff that aren’t the direct consultants, but even the consultants, I’m saying, what do you love doing that you want to keep doing? What do you hate doing that you want to pass on to somebody else? What’s an area that you want to grow that you need some training in that you’d like to move into? So knowing that if this person comes in and is coming in as an assistant to me and is helping with some areas, but knowing that if in a year she says I really like what Dana’s doing with Next Level Practice, I would love to step into some of that. I have some ideas around video marketing, would we be up for that to say that your role can grow with you and grow with, if your family’s growing or shrinking or whatever if your kids are going off to college and now you have a bunch more time, that changes. So finding those things that can make your business stand out that aren’t necessarily financial, it may give people extra meaning, it may give people a sense of autonomy. There may be some other areas that you can stand out in a really tough hiring environment. [THERAPY NOTES] As a therapist, I can tell you from experience that having the right EHR is an absolute lifeline. I recommend using Therapy Notes. They make billing, scheduling, note-taking, telehealth and e-prescribe incredibly easy. Best of all, they offer live telephone support that’s available seven days a week. You don’t have to take my word for it. Do your own research and see for yourself. Therapy Notes is the number one highest rated EHR system available today with a 4.9 out of 5 stars on trustpilot.com and on Google. All you have to do is click the link below or type promo code [JOE] on their website over at therapynotes.com and receive a special two-month trial absolutely free. Again, that’s therapynotes.com and use promo code [JOE] on the website. If you’re coming from another EHR, Therapy Notes will also import your demographic data quick and easy at no cost so you can get started right away. Trust me, don’t waste any more of your time. Try therapy notes. [LATOYA] Yeah, I like that part too, like, what would be, again, it’s the standing out part from everybody else, so being creative, but not like off the wall and unrealistic creative. But why would somebody want to, what’s the benefit of coming to work for you? [JOE] Yeah, I think it was Tony Robbins Tony Robbins that in the interview they ask someone, and this may not be fully accurate, it’s what I recall of the story I heard about Tony Robbins, but that they do something like, what is your like dream vacation thing? Like what’s just a dream of yours? They keep that on record and at some point they like pay for that person to go on like a dream vacation to somewhere. Or if they know that someone’s always wanted a Vitamix blender, they’ll buy it for them. It’s like, yeah, that Vitamix blender might cost $500, but to that person to be like, I didn’t even expect that and it’s the very thing that I want. It’s worth way more than $500 to that person because they feel heard, they feel seen, they feel praised for a good job and so the more that we can try to pepper in some of those things in our busy work world the more that we retain those high quality people. [LATOYA] Yeah, that’s a great point. That’s a great point because if you have good people now, you don’t want them to go. I find myself, especially in the month of January, doing those one-to-ones with everybody and hearing their not only their goals for the year what’s working, what’s not working, how can I best support you and I have it all down. I don’t want to lose sight of that. I don’t want to be something just to check off a box that I did for this year, but I want to go back and revisit it because I hate to lose these two people. So that’s a great point that you made too. I like that. I don’t know if I’m paying for some dream vacation now. [JOE] But I mean, like a little thing, like just last week, so I was, like, Sam, our chief operating officer has done an amazing job over the last six months. We’ve had so much change, turnover, like things that were not meant to be on her plate that she has just taken on. We had a discussion that was very honest about how stressed she was feeling. It was, and we actually met on Friday morning, which I usually don’t meet on Fridays, but like I had to meet with her and it was the end of her day because she’s in South Africa, the beginning of my day and she’s like, “After this my husband put a cold beer in the fridge and we’re getting pizza,” and it was her payday and I added, I don’t know, $50 or $100 to it and said, “I want to pay for the pizza and beer. Have a great weekend,” or something like that. [LATOYA] Oh, that’s nice. [JOE] It’s those little things like that that here and there to just say let me pick up the tab on this virtually/ it’s via PayPal, but to be able to say, yeah, let me pay for the pizza and the beer, you have worked so hard, there’s no way I could pay you for all the time and thought and waking up at night, but to just say, I want to join you in this in the best way that I can, those little things go a long way to retain staff. [LATOYA] Absolutely, absolutely. I see what you’re saying now. It’s the little things. It’s going to make a big difference. [JOE] So number four of of trends we’re seeing is really, I think that the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns in pandemic made people really evaluate just how they’re living their lives. So because of that, on a personal nature that’s really carried over into the business world where we’re seeing a lot of clinicians and group practice owners asking the question more so than we’ve seen in the past on burnout prevention for more themselves, but also themselves on their staff to say, okay, I was seeing 30 people a week virtually throughout the pandemic. I feel like I was losing my mind. I just can’t do that anymore. This isn’t the business that I want. So we’re seeing folks really integrate really some healthy habits into their successful group practices, whether that’s specific boundaries around how many clients they’re seeing, what types of clients they’re seeing, what types of insurances they’re seeing, where, I think that people are recognizing that maybe financially they could live on a little less than they could before, that they’re making choices to, even with inflation, to reduce what their personal spending habits are, to have a more simple life. And I think that’s just a good question for us all to evaluate is, is the way that I’m personally spending money reflective of what I want out of life or could I be a little bit more simple? So even over the last couple weeks in my own life to just look at our freezers and say there’s a lot because I have a freezer in the garage and a freezer in my house. It’s like there’s so much Costco stuff in there. I’m like, let’s just try to eat some of this food and see how long I can go without going to the grocery store other than for like fresh veggies and fruits. It’s like a fun game to be like, oh, I forgot about that wonton soup at the bottom of the freezer. Or yeah I made that Turkey broth at Thanksgiving from the Turkey and I should do something with that. To just find those little ways to be a little bit more simple and to have some burnout prevention we’re definitely hearing that in conversations and in successful group practice owners. [LATOYA] Okay, that’s a big one too, especially burnout prevention, but ways to simplify things and not always have to, I mean I’m a big thinker right now. I always have to go big. But what’s the best way that we can do this like efficient and effective to simplify it, to break it down that I’m not burning myself out doing, trying to work 40 hours in a day, not even a week, but to make it happen, but to simplify it. I like that too. [JOE] I think that’s carrying over in practices with really focusing in on doing the right things for the practice, not everything. So one exercise that Sam and I went through when we were visioning out 2023 that we eventually brainstormed and brought to the team was what are the core three building blocks that if we were successful in wit practice of the Practice that would just be a game changer in 2024? We came up with getting new people into our flow, into our email list, so just new people finding out about us.. The second one was serving practices really well, so in our Group Practice Boss and Next Level Practice and our one-on-one consulting, making sure that that’s really solid and that people are getting more than what they pay for. Then third was operationally making sure that the communication internally and the way systems flow, all of that keeps improving. Then once you have those three building blocks, you can say, okay, quarter by quarter, what are the one or two projects that I have to do to meet that need? So say someone said, yeah, I want to increase by the, end of the year, I want to have 20 sessions a week instead of the 10 I’m at right now for my two new clinicians. So you’ve brought on a couple new clinicians. We want to have them be as full as they want to be. Okay, well in quarter one what would that look like? So maybe the project is introducing them to 15 new referral sources so that they’re really well known in the community. Maybe quarter two is to do some sort of blog series with each of them around their specialty so they can rank for SEO. In the third quarter, maybe it’s having direct conversations with their current clients about how they have a couple openings and referring amongst each other. So then you have a focus for yourself and for your team to say, this is what we have to work on this quarter. Everything else we can say, let’s put that on the back burner and give ourselves permission to say, I don’t really have to do that because this quarter my main focus is networking. And when we do that, I mean that’s burnout prevention right there to just be able to know when we’re done working and be able to say, I don’t need to check my emails when the kids are in bed. I can just take a breath and enjoy my evening with my partner or with myself or however we spend our evenings to give ourselves that permission to know, okay, I’ve done what I need to do. I can say that Workday is closed and I can guilt-free, go into the evening and go have fun with my friends or do whatever I want to do. [LATOYA] No, I like that, know when to stop to, knowing when to, hey, you did the work and now take care of yourself, which is always important, which is something we all say to our clients and everybody else, but making sure we do it for ourselves. [JOE] 100% top priority. [LATOYA] Yeah. So I think, what’s the next, I think we’re at four and then five. [JOE] Yeah, number five, a lot of conversations around leveling up beyond practice. So a lot of group, group practice owners saying, okay, I want to get my practice, it’s not there yet, but I want to get it where it’s not dependent on me to be the primary income because a lot of group practice owners are still at that point where if you really look at per clinician the amount that’s coming in that they’re still one of the top two or three people bringing in money for the practice. So a lot of the conversations that we’re having are around how do I slowly pull myself out? How do I have a clinical director? How do I start doing things outside of the practice that still are part of my clinical skills? For example I want to go make e-courses someday, I want to start a podcast someday, I want to start consulting with businesses or do public speaking.” To really find those things that can help you level up well beyond the practice but then in doing that also grows the practice because if you’re known nationally now for being and doing certain things, then that’s going to mean that more people are going to want to see you or your people at your practice. [LATOYA] All right. So it’s like branching out, like stepping out into something else, other streams of income, but also, and I think this is big too, not just doing it because everybody else is doing it, you still want to enjoy the process. It’s if you don’t like to write, don’t set out to write a 50 chapter book on something you don’t have care about. So finding it in your area way to branch out or like you said, something you’ve always loved, but also including that in the work. [JOE] Yeah. I mean, I think that that’s one thing that we cover in Audience Building Academy, is how do you determine your niche in a way that you can do for five or 10 years, that you’re going to stay excited about it, that you’re going to dive in, and how do you test that niche before you go build a whole website and build a whole e-course? But how do you check in with people that know you well to say, that doesn’t sound like you, LaToya. I don’t know, I don’t really see you doing that. Or pushing back in a variety of other areas. So yeah, I think that that leveling up is just such an important question of do we want to level up? How much do we want to level up? What timeline? Because there’s timelines when you just need to really get the operations of your group practice under control so that the plate that you’re working on isn’t overflowing with work, and then you’re adding more to it. We got to look at it and say, okay, sure, you want to see 10 people a week. Are you still doing all the systems of phones and scheduling and marketing and all those things? Or do we need to start outsourcing some of that to really be able to specifically free up your time to do bigger things that you want to do? It may be that you say, I’m just going to grow an awesome group practice. There’s nothing wrong with it. For other people there’s, I want to build passive income outside of my practice. Awesome, that’s good too. You get to choose what you do and how you want to do it. [LATOYA] That’s awesome. I love these trends for like, that you’re currently seeing in 2023 for group private practice owners, number one, the money questions, looking at what’s important, two, putting more into the marketing, really targeting and staying in front of your target audience. Number three, tough hiring environment, so you talked about that right now, so making sure that you find the right people and then doing something that stands out that they’ll want to not only come work for you, but stay, that’s the key too, like when they get there, what’s going to make them want to stay there? And then really like simplifying things, so evaluating how you’re living your life and running your business together so you don’t burn out. But then also five, how to level up. Like, can somebody do all this, which I focus on all this and still level up, or is it like you got to hit the pause button on everything and concentrate on this just to run your practice? [JOE] When you say all this, do you mean the five trends, focus on all them? [LATOYA] Yeah, like focus on the five trends and grow at the same. [JOE] I mean, I would say that when I look at leveling up compared to the trends, the first four I would say are making sure the operations of your business is really, really good, so making sure you’re putting time aside each, each week to work on the business, so looking at those money questions, reinvesting in marketing and maybe even outsourcing the marketing, getting your hiring down where it’s clicking along like you want it to, and then focusing on your own burnout and your staff’s burnout. That’s all the operational maintenance of your group practice. Then the leveling up, assuming that’s clicking along pretty well we’d want to have at least probably five hours a week that you can dedicate to leveling up into things outside of that at minimum two hours a week. But if you really want to go big, I would say at least five hours a week that you can be creating content, you can be building a new website, that you can be networking, going on podcasts, and creating an email series, all those things that it takes to have the infrastructure for success to build an audience. So yeah, if someone’s putting out fires all the time and they don’t have their money down and they have a tough hiring environment they’re not addressing and they’re headed towards burnout, that’s not the time to start a podcast. That’s not the time to be like, I’m going to start doing more Instagram reels. No, you need to like get your house in order first. Then once your house or your private practice is in order, then it’s going to be a lot easier at that point to just say, okay, now I’ve got this extra creativity. I want to run full tilt towards that creativity. [LATOYA] I love it and I love these tips. I love these trends that you’re seeing. And I think for the most part some of us see them and just don’t know what to make of them or don’t know what to call it. But I think you also helped just to put a name to it and really get in front of it. I love the breakdown that you have too, like, listen, I got to put four hours back into the, is everything smooth? Just because it’s smooth once, like on January one, don’t mean to smooth on February 1st. So it’s also, that needs, you need to keep looking at to make sure it’s still smooth, not to smooth on your time for the year. [JOE] Practice of the Practice is the perfect example of that. Within just weeks we went, all right, we got our team going for the year to, oh man. [LATOYA] But now you’re back, but now, hey, it’s all right again. [JOE] We’re getting back to it. The great thing though about having someone leave, just as a side note is it forces you to go back through and say, why am I hiring somebody to do all these things? So to be in my email, I get 200 plus emails a day, to keep up with that and get to inbox zero almost daily, I’m looking to see how much of that is really important email, how much of that is spam that I should just unsubscribe from, and to like really look at that process again. It’s really helpful. So now instead of just handing over these things to the next person I can say why don’t we just like shed that thing? Like, we don’t need to be doing that anymore. So it’s good to be able to have those different ways that we re-look at our business over time. [LATOYA] Awesome. I’m just happy, jealous you’re getting zero every day. That’s pretty good. [JOE] I’ve been, it’s impressive to me. Inbox zero, it was years ago where I heard about declaring inbox bankruptcy where you just archive everything. So it’s still there if you need to search for it, but just starting at inbox zero and then trying every day to get back to it as much as possible and not having your inbox via a to-do list. So like if I have something I need to do, I put that on my calendar, then I archive that email. And I may put it in the calendar, the name of the email even to search for, but then it’s like a clean slate every day, ideally. I mean, I’m getting there, but it is tough without an assistant when you’re getting that many emails. [LATOYA] Yeah, that’s a lot of emails. [JOE] A lot of emails. That’s lot of emails [LATOYA] I love these, the five trends you told us to look out for or like I said, put a name to it for us, the tips you gave us along the way. Anything that you want to leave with group practice owners specifically about this year 2023, we’re still fresh into the new year? What do you want to leave with them to help give them that boost or keep them focused or just encouragement? [JOE] I mean, the biggest thing to me is that you get to have a group practice. And to think about just the impact on your community, even if you hire one new person, I mean, to go from 20 sessions a week from just you to then potentially 40 or 50, that’s a huge service to your community. So we can get into the operations side, we can get into the money management, the leveling up and all that’s really, really important, but at the heart of it all is that we’re helping people live better lives and overcome mental health issues and feel support when they’re depressed or anxious. We’re helping marriages be stronger and kids have better parents that aren’t off at them all the time. I mean, the things we do as therapists and in our group practices is so needed in the world. It’s helping humanity evolve to be better versions of ourselves. So sometimes when we talk money and we talk these logistics, it can be just, yeah, how do you market? How do you do this? But go back to that core of why you went into counseling. The more that you can have that heart and that that value set be front and center, the more successful your practice is going to be. [LATOYA] Awesome. Well thank you so much Joe. I appreciate chatting with you. [JOE] Yeah, it’s been awesome. And March 20th through 23rd, Practice of the Practice we’re hosting Level Up Week, which is going to be this insane week of webinars. They’re all free. We have things, like Valerie Harris was one of our biggest, most attended Killin’It Camp speakers, and she’s talking about growing a million dollar practice with interns. I’m going to be talking about five simple marketing techniques. We’ve got the Speaker Lab, so Grant Baldwin is going to be talking about getting public speaking gigs. We’re going to be covering multiple streams of income, growing a solo practice, how to pay yourself. We’ve been talking with Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, she may have something with her grandkids, but she’s a soft yes, so we’ll see. We haven’t confirmed with her at the time of this recording. If you want to come to any of those probably the best ways to be on our email list. If you just go to pillarsofpractice.com we have one for solo practitioners where you get access to all sorts of worksheets and then we have one for group practitioners or in early March, practiceofthepractice.com/levelup is going to have all of those webinars and you can register for whichever ones you want to come to. But we’re anticipating having a ton of people come to those March 20th through 23rd. Our goal is to do over 20 webinars that week that are totally free to just infuse a ton of knowledge and hope and excitement into the private practice world. [LATOYA] Awesome. It sounds, well, I’ll be there anyway, so it sounds exciting. [JOE] You’re welcome. It really sounds great, especially the one LaToya’s hosting [LATOYA] Thank you for saying that’s exciting. I hope everybody listening makes it a focus just to be there for Level Up Week. This is awesome. Joe, thank you so much again for joining me today. [JOE] LaToya, it’s always a pleasure. Anytime. [LATOYA] Thanks once again to Therapy Notes for sponsoring this episode. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three free months to try out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached and remember, telehealth is included with every subscription for free. If you love this podcast, please be sure to rate and review. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.