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How do you log your time and payroll? What type of tasks do you do? What’s the difference between a virtual and regular assistant?
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Christina Glendye, assistant at Water’s Edge Counseling, all about being an assistant, and what assistants do.
Meet Christina Glendye
Christina Glendye is the Director of Client Relations for Water’s Edge Counseling. Water’s Edge Counseling is a mental health private practice in Savannah, Georgia. (This is Whitney’s practice!) Christina is a former 4th grade teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Brain Based Learning. She is married with 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. She is passionate about helping others, and encouraging them in their life’s journey. Visit Water’s Edge Counseling Practice website or contact Christina.
How do you log your time and payroll?
I log my time in 6mintute intervals. After each call, I check the length of time of the call. I also use a timelog with columns for how much time I’ve worked as well as all the different tasks for that day.
What tasks were you doing in the beginning?
When I first started, I was answering calls and scheduling new clients with a few other administrative tasks. Now, the tasks I do range from billing, payroll for employees, scheduling new clients, managing the newsletter and emails that are sent out to clients through Aweber, to even writing the blogs and helping the therapists.
When I first started we were getting just 3 calls a week. Now, most days we’re getting 3 to 8 calls a day.
What’s the difference between a virtual assistant and regular assistant?
A virtual assistant often works through other companies and works for other people at the same time. They are usually trained by someone so they understand how to do a lot of tasks. They also sometimes have a lower rate of pay because they rely on other clients and sources of income.
Regular assistants work locally and can come into the office and do physical tasks on top of everything else they do. They’ll usually only work for you. What is really helpful for Whitney is having Christina do supply runs.
Virtual or regular assistants don’t work for everyone, and it’s important to understand what will work best for your business.
What makes your job easier? What do you need from your boss?
Good communication, good explanations and clear expectations. It’s also important to have a boss that says it’s okay to make mistakes because we’re all learning. Having a boss that is understanding and that you feel comfortable to approach is crucial.
What advice would you give an assistant?
Don’t give up too soon.
There were times where I thought it wasn’t going to work. Give yourself time to learn and enjoy the work.
What advice do you have for Christain counsellors?
I love the community at Water Edge’s Counseling. Employees care about each other on a personal and professional level. Invest some time in building a community at your work and form connections with each other. If you invest in your private it will pay off.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counsellor 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 learnt 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.
Thanks For Listening!
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Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. This is Whitney Owens, recording lab from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and a private practice consultant. Each week on the podcast, I’ll share personal stories and amazing interviews so you can learn how to start, grow and scale your private practice from a faith-based perspective. So today on the episode I am interviewing Christina Glendye. Now I have a bias because Christina is actually my assistant at my practice and I just think she’s wonderful. In fact, my husband jokes that Christina’s my work wife. So I do call her a lot for many things and my practice and my personal life would not be where it is without her. She’s not only an assistant, but she’s also a friend and a confidant in this private practice world, that can be so crazy as we run and grow our practices.
So, Christina, also is a friend from college, which is really interesting. And we’ll talk a little bit about that in the episode, but you never know where relationships are going to come back around in your life when you’ve known someone years ago, and then for whatever reason they come back and she’s just been a real gift to me. So she’s going to talk to you today all about how to be an assistant, what kind of tasks does an assistant do, how do you track their time? I get questions all the time about an assistant. And unfortunately in a lot of practices, people struggle to find an assistant that works well for their practice as far as their hours, availability or tasks that they do. And I feel like for some reason I figured this out. Well, Christina has really helped me figure it out. I’m going to jump right into the episode so that you can learn all about what it’s like to have an assistant, how to hire an assistant and the kind of things that they do.
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m super excited. Today, I’m going to be interviewing my assistant at my practice at Water’s Edge Counseling. Her name is Christina Glendye. Christina is the director of client relations for Water’s Edge Counseling. Water’s Edge Counseling is my practice in Savannah, Georgia. She is a former fourth grade teacher with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. She also has a master’s degree in brain-based learning. She’s married with four children, three boys, and one girl and is passionate about helping others and encouraging them on life’s journey. Christina, I’m excited to have you here today.
[CHRISTINA]: Yes, I’m excited to be here.
[WHITNEY]: Awesome. Awesome. So I actually ask people some questions in advance. So we’re going to kind of go through some of those, some of your current questions that you have about assistance, difference between virtual and regular, like individual assistance and talk some about tasks. So we’re going to get started with that. So Christina, why don’t you first kind of share with people a little bit about yourself, anything in the bio that I’ve missed and what is it about this job that drew you to it? How did you find out about the job and you know, why did you want to work with me?
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, thank you. I’d say you covered a lot about me. When I was in high school, psychology was my very favorite class. So, I’ve always kind of had an interest in the field of psychology and counseling and I was like the kid in high school that read like self-help books. And so that’s always been an interest and that was actually my major going into college. And then at some point I switched to education, but I’ve always been interested in that. So that’s kind of an interesting fact about me even though I didn’t pursue it as a career. What drew me to this job, I actually, I have four young children. They range right now, their ages, the oldest is nine, the youngest is three and so I think my youngest was one around the time I began this job and actually was scrolling through Facebook one night in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, which I know you’re not supposed to do. And I came across a post Whitney had on her Facebook. I think it was her personal Facebook page that just said she was looking for an assistant. This is five-ish hours a week, you know, a stay-at-home mom would be great and I thought, “Oh, I should ask her about that.” And so it kind of went from there.
[WHITNEY]: That’s awesome. I’m laughing because I’m thinking, gosh, I said five hours a week. That’s changed.
[CHRISTINA]: Yes. Totally changed.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. So that’s right. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with the load. At the time I had two contractors working with me, so I was taking the calls for three therapists, having a really hard time getting back to people, was doing a lot of administrative tasks and put better use of my time seeing clients or working on the practice. So I kind of got pushed into really hiring somebody with all the tasks that I was doing that I needed to pass off. And so, yeah, I put it on my personal page. I probably had 15 people respond, but when I saw Christina’s response that she was interested, I immediately knew she was the one that I wanted to hire. Christina and I actually know each other, we weren’t terribly close friends, but we met in college.
So, we were aware of one another and I knew she was a wonderful, wonderful person. So to know someone on a personal level and then professionally was a really great experience for me. Yeah. So anyway, so then you responded and we did an interview, and yeah, just love the fact that you kind of shared about your kids and you had a one year old at the time, but you still, I decided to take a new job. So can you tell me, what was it about the job that made you want to take it?
[CHRISTINA]: That’s a great question. You know, obviously the whole time I’ve stayed at home, I’ve always thought, “You know, it’d be nice to be able to contribute to my family’s income to kind of give us some more flexible spending.” So obviously that piqued my interest, just being able to help out my family in that way and still be at home with my children. And then also just, I’ve always been up for a challenge and I just thought, “You know, this sounds something kind of fun and something for me that gets me out of mom world for a little bit each day.” And, now I just kind of feel like, and then I prayed about it and God just confirmed that I was to do this. And so I just went for it.
[WHITNEY]: Thank goodness. For me. So how did you manage a new job and four kids and you actually kind of started right when school was starting two years ago. I guess we’ve been together for a year and a half now. So tell me a little bit about what that was like when you first started and how do you manage having four kids and taking intake calls?
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, it’s been very interesting and it’s definitely been a learning and growing process as I’ve gone along. It did bring me a lot of comfort, I guess, knowing when I first started the job, my older three kids were at least going to school, you know, for a chunk of the day. One of them was still in preschool and the other two were in regular school but, you know, so, for a lot of the day, I just had the toddler with me, which obviously that’s a challenge. But I had to just, I kind of learned how to work really good at getting my kids settled with an activity or I could run, call someone back or utilizing times when the toddler was napping, when my older kids were engaged in something.
So, I really just kind of had to learn how to manage my household well, so that it freed up some chunks of time throughout the day to do work. And when I first started, my primary role was just answering calls. So if I couldn’t answer, you know, my goal was to call people back within an hour. And so I could usually find some chunk of time in the next hour or two to call someone back when things were somewhat settled. And of course there have been times where kids have interrupted a call and I’ve had to just apologize and say, “I’m working from home,” and these people have been so gracious and they say things like, “Oh, your kids sounds so cute.” And it really hasn’t been an issue. So I’m thankful for that.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. I didn’t ask you this in advance before the show, but do you have any interesting or funny stories about when you had to answer the phone and it’s just crazy what’s going on in the background with your kids?
[CHRISTINA]: Oh, too many to count. I mean, I’ve had one time, I [coughs] excuse me. One of my kids, they were outside playing and I was on a call and got hurt and I had to end the call and call back. And, you know, there have been a few crazy moments and obviously that makes me feel stressed, but in the big scheme of things, it’s always turned out fine. And I’ve honestly never, I don’t think ever had a potential client on the phone that has acted really aggravated or annoyed. I’ve had to get out of my car in a parking lot and close the doors and stand outside of my car and take a call because the kids were being loud. So I’ve had to get creative and do some crazy things.
[WHITNEY]: Well, that’s one of the things I love about you. You’re very creative, very organized. Those were things that I was looking for in an assistance. So, to be creative at lots of different times. That’s for sure.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, so how do you track your hours? I mean, you’re taking calls and all these different times, and obviously you’re not in the office. You’re kind of working from home. So how do you track your time and do payroll?
[CHRISTINA]: That’s a great question. So the system that Whitney and I set up when I started was that I log my time in six minute increments, which I’ve told people that before and they are like, “Six minute increments?” But, it works out well when you’re thinking of, you know, the scope of an hour. And so what I do is just, I try to be aware, you know, when I end the call, I can easily see, it tells you the length of time you’re on the phone and I can go back in and look at it how long the phone call was. And then, you know, if I sit down, now my job, the things I do lead themselves more to blocking off a chunk of time. So, if I sit down at 9.30 in the morning and work till 11, then you know, I’ve worked an hour and a half. But I have a time log and I have a column where each day I have the date and then I have a column for how much time. So at the end of the day, it could be, you know, 2.1 hours or 1.8 hours or 3.5 hours. And then I have another column where I list the tasks that I worked on that day.
[WHITNEY]: That that’s great. And, yeah, I love the way that we do your time. And just to like give a little bit, in case you’re not a numbers person. The six minutes breaks up 10 times in an hour. And so when it’s 2.1, that’s two hours and six minutes, but if it’s 2.2, that’s two hours and 12 minutes. And so, you know, a lot of people will track time, I’ve seen in 15 minute increments, but I love the six minute increments because it’s a little easier to track when you’re adding, when the Google Sheet we’ll add it all up for you at the end. It’s really nice.
[WHITNEY]: So that’s kind of how we’ve done it and it’s gone really, really well. So, when you first started your job, talk a little bit about some of the tasks you were doing, and then if you could explain kind of how things have morphed, I guess over time. And I guess over time, I’ve given you more and more tasks as we’ve trusted each other and you see how it’s going. So you talk a little bit about that.
[CHRISTINA]: Well, when I first started, my main role was answering calls and scheduling new clients. That was kind of the job description when I started and then a few other administrative tasks. I also do keep up with keeping the supplies in the office stock? So that’s another thing I did when I first started and then as time went on, I can remember lots of times Whitney would call and say, I’m thinking this, and then how would you feel about doing that? And I was always, sometimes I’d feel a little hesitant, but you know, “Well, why not? I’ll give it a try.” And so, as time has gone on, and as I’ve been working with Whitney now a year and a half about, some of the jobs I do now, I keep up with the billing, if we have to send paper bills in the mail or emails to people, I keep up with that. I now do payroll for the employees at Water’s Edge Counseling.
I still answer calls and schedule new clients, send out paperwork. I manage our monthly newsletter, e-newsletter, that’s emailed out to professionals in the community that we want to update what’s going on with our practice. And then I also manage the emails that are sent out to clients. We do this through AWeber. Some people use MailChimp, but I keep up with those. I write most of the blogs and keep up with the blogging and then I also, you know, help the therapist with some of the networking and marketing things that help set up launches for those and attend those when I can. Not forgetting anything. I think those are my main responsibilities, which sounds like a lot, but I, yeah.
[WHITNEY]: You do lots of things. I’m sure we’ll think of something in a minute, “Oh, I do that too.” So, it has been kind of a gradual thing and even as a business owner, you know, it was really scary hiring an assistant. The first thing that I was hiring, that wasn’t someone bringing in money the same way a counselor brings in money. But I have to say when you have an assistant and they’re answering that phone faster than you are, and it’s really nice that they can talk about the other clinicians and sell everyone equally, because if you’re the business owner and you’re answering the phone, clients are going to want to see you. They form that relationship immediately. So having an assistant has been really awesome for that part. So I started out, like she said, I just kind of passed off one thing at a time as I grew my trust for Christina and seeing that she really could take on more and more responsibilities.
And I will say, I’m always amazed. I’m always like, “Oh my gosh, how does she do all this, and have four kids? And, you know, her kids go to a program that’s part homeschooled and part in class. And so she really does great. I love how she makes time for her family. She sets aside several hours in the afternoons and says, “This is my family time and that’s not when I’m going to work.” And I think that that’s a really great thing to do. So anyways, the tasks have really grown over time and honestly, I make decisions on handing off tasks when it’s something that I know that she’s capable of doing it. Honestly, a lot of times it’s something that she’s going to do faster and better than me, because I’m so focused on so many other parts of the business, or I’m just not really good at the organization as, or not as great as she is at it. So every time I pass off one thing at a time and she uses it. So, yeah. So could you talk a little bit about, you said you write the blogs, how do you go about deciding blogs and then how do you like repurpose this?
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I was a little intimidated by the blogging at first, although I’ve always loved to write. So, the actual writing it, but the whole, like, you know, my background is in education and not counseling. So the whole coming up with ideas and just, “Do I really know enough to write these?” And I had a lot of, I guess, fears going into, “Am I going to really do this well?” But it’s been great. So, you know, Whitney and I have had times where we’ve just kind of, you know, taken a few minutes and throw down ideas for blogs and I’ve written down or often Whitney will send me an idea, you know, just as it comes to her mind, “This would be a great blog.” We’ve worked at some ways where if it’s an area Whitney really wants to bring her expertise to, she’s made a quick two-minute video and send it to me and some of the information she would like me to include in the blog. Other blogs, I’ve just kind of done my own research and written it that way. And then the great thing about blogging is we do repurpose most of these and use them, we’ll link them to our monthly newsletter that goes out to professionals. We will use a lot of these blogs and the email series that goes out to our clients. So we do repurpose them, they go up on our website and then they’re also shared to Facebook on our Facebook page.
[WHITNEY]: That’s wonderful. You have to be pretty organized to do all that. Could you talk about, how do you stay organized and things fall through the cracks? I mean, you’re doing this stuff that you just talked about, but you’re also taking calls and, or checking on out of network benefits for people. So what are some of the systems that you have in place to kind of keep everything running smoothly?
[CHRISTINA]: Yes. Well, I do feel like I’ve had to really be very organized. So I love to make lists. So I have a weekly just paperless that I usually, like on a Friday before we kind of end the work week, or even on a Sunday evening, I’ll just take 10, 15 minutes and just make sure I’m organized for the week and I kind of know my weekly tasks, the things that need to get done that week. So, I just keep my running list, then for daily tasks, if things come up, I’ll just stick a post-it note for that day on my weekly list with things jotted down. But then I also, I love Google Sheets and they’re great because they can be shared with anyone in our practice with Whitney, with other therapists. So,, I’ll have a Google Sheet for tracking, billing, and the bills that we’re waiting to be paid.
Or I’ll have a Google Sheet, we do have a Google Sheet for potential client calls. So if somebody calls and they don’t schedule, immediately I’ll add them to the potential client sheets and a little summary of the call, the date, and then a date for when to follow back up with them, or if they need a follow up, we’ll put that in. And then after so many days, if they haven’t decided to schedule them, we’ll just log that call and take them off. But that’s one system. Again, Google Sheets are great. I feel like they’re, they have become my best friend as I’ve learned how to use them better.
[WHITNEY]: We do use it for everything. And even the therapists, they track all their stuff on a Google Sheet.
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, they are great.
[WHITNEY]: As far as our client hours, we don’t have any HR, we do everything by paper. And so we really rely heavily on the G-Suite business. And so anyway, the therapists will put all their clinical hours, administrative hours and Christina can get on there and run, she runs payroll for me, which has been such a relief. So, she does a lot. So let’s talk about when you first started, how many hours a week would you say you were working compared to what it’s like now?
[CHRISTINA]: When I first started, I’d say we probably the practice as a whole got three to five calls a week. So, the phones weren’t super busy and then I was doing a few other things like office supplies. So I’d say maybe five-ish hours a week was kind of what I was working and now I’d say the last several months, it’s more 10 to 12 hours a week, you know, somewhere in that range, ten-ish, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, less hours a week and yeah, the responsibilities have grown. And before, I felt like the job was very much sporadic throughout the day. Whereas now, and my youngest goes to preschool now, most mornings, so I really try to reserve a lot of my mornings during the week for setting aside to work on things. And then I do some work in the evenings. When the kids go to bed, I’ll do a few things if I need to do that.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. You’ll pop some popcorn and get to work, right?
[CHRISTINA]: That’s right. I love popcorn, something to munch on
[WHITNEY]: That’s right. Okay, so basically within a year and a half, you’re working two to three times the amount of hours she did at the beginning?
[CHRISTINA]: Yes, yes. Which if I had, you know, when you hired me, if you had said it was this amount, I would have said, “No way I can’t do that.” But as it’s grown, it’s really fit in so nicely with my schedule and our family schedule and it’s really been great. It’s worked out so well.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, and I remember, like, I guess it was over the summer when you took a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, which is on my bucket list for my family all out of the money you made from this job, right?
[CHRISTINA]: Yes. Yes. So we’ve really tried to be intentional about saving a lot of the money I’ve made towards vacations. Our kids are just getting to where, you know, with our oldest just turning three we’re finally, like it might actually be fun to take a vacation instead of just a whole lot of stress and work. And so, yeah, we definitely hope to be able to use this. So that’s helpful, you know, in doing a job and thinking, “I’m doing this, I’m able to help my family with it and, kind of have a goal for what we’re doing with the money I make.” So it’s great.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah, great. And so now, so when you first were getting, you said three to five calls a week at the very beginning. So that was a year and a half ago. How many calls a day would you say we get for new clients?
[CHRISTINA]: Well, this week, I think we’ve averaged about seven or eight calls a day. It’s been super busy. So, it really just depends, most of you all know in the business, it kind of ebbs and flows, but you know, I’d say most days we’re getting anywhere from three to eight calls, probably. I mean, it could be anywhere in that range, but, it’s very rare to have a day where there are no calls. We’re usually getting several calls a day. Sometimes like yesterday they seem to come all at once. You just never know.
[WHITNEY]: Yeah. So the first week when you were working, you’re getting three to five calls a week and now you’re getting, well, I guess that would be something like 15 to 20 calls a week?
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, it is. It’s really picked up, which has been fun to watch.
[WHITNEY]: So, it was last summer that things were picking up. At that point, I had hired a couple more clinicians. There were four of us. So Christina was the assistant for all four of us at the practice answering the calls for all of us. And I remember you were kind of getting overwhelmed. It was hard to manage and at that point I was thinking we need some extra help. Like Christina needs someone that’s assisting her. We kind of, I guess you and I discussed, how can we make this happen and you stay in your role because I didn’t want to lose Christina, but I needed more hours than what Christina could give. And so I also needed more therapists though, because all the clinicians were filling up.
So, this perfect opportunity came around. A girl, and this goes back to paying attention to your current connections, a girl that had been a teacher in my daughter’s preschool three years ago, Christina saw her mother one day at the Sam’s club and her mom says, “Oh, good to see you. By the way, my daughter’s moving back and she’s about to get her master’s in social work.” And Christina was like, “Oh, this is great. Let’s get her contact.” And so Christina calls me and says, “You’re not going to believe this. I just saw somebody and their daughter is coming back to town.” And she said the name and I was like, “Oh my goodness, that was one of my daughter’s teachers.” So we had this crazy [crosstalk] and just to make it even crazier, that morning, Christina and I had had the conversation of, “You’ve got too much going on. What can we do? We maybe need to hire somebody else to see clients or someone else to do admin. We need both.”
And so anyway, Amanda ended up getting hired and she has a really interesting role. So she sees clients part time and then she is under Christina for administrative roles as well. And I honestly, to tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about how this would go, somebody seeing clients and an admin, but it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And Amanda is extremely organized and really helpful. And so I’d love for Christina to share a little bit about that transition of bringing on a second assistant and how do you handle that and like the role of, you are kind of, I guess her oversteer, am I saying that right? You are her director. So talk a little bit about how you do things with Amanda.
[CHRISTINA]: So, when Amanda came on, it was honestly, as Whitney said, towards the end of the summer, I was feeling very overwhelmed. Obviously my kids had been home from school and we have kind of a downtime in the afternoon. So I had been working a solid hour and a half most afternoons, and then having to do work in the evenings. That had really become a little more than I was capable of handling, even thinking about my kids, going back to school and just how am I going to continue this workload? And, you know, right around the same time I was feeling that, and I think Whitney recognized too, the practice was booming and you know, that it was just becoming too much. And so when Amanda came on, the biggest relief for me was that she helped answer the calls because that had become one of the really stressful things to me. It was just that feeling of being on call day and then having the kids and just feeling like not being able to get people call back as quickly as I would like.
And so, Amanda helping answer the phones has been wonderful. She is probably available more than me to answer the phone. So we kind of have it set up where it rings to one of us and if that person doesn’t answer it kicks in and rings to the next person. And so it gives both of us an opportunity to answer. That way, most calls, ideally most calls are answered at the time they call and if not, we get the voicemail and one of us calls them right back. But Amanda has been wonderful for our practice. It’s been so nice to share responsibilities with her. She’s such a team player and so we’ve been able to, we communicate all throughout the day, about different things that come up. And, it’s great to just, if one of us has, you know something going on one afternoon and the other one of us can try to be available to handle calls. And Amanda has also helped, she’s a great sounding board too. As we kind of work as a team, we can kind of, you know, if an incident comes up with a client that needs troubleshooting, we can kind of talk that through. That way, Whitney doesn’t have to be involved and you know, everything that’s going on because she has so many other responsibilities, but it’s been really great.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, that has been great. I mean, at the beginning I was the backup to Christina. And so when I call would come in, if she couldn’t get it, my phone would ring and I’d be in the middle of doing something at my desk or I have a client at the door and I’m like, “Oh.” You know, so it was really hard to manage that too. So, it’s been great to have Amanda. And then like she was saying, when one of them is busy, I can call the other one. Like if I know Christina is taking a day with her family, I can call Amanda with something that I need instead of having to wait till the next day for something to get done. So, that’s been awesome. And the other great thing is Amanda can do things during the day as well, as far as running errands, if needed or dropping off flyers somewhere. If Christina doesn’t have the time to do that that day, Amanda can also help with things like that.
[WHITNEY]: And so just to kind of address this question I get from people is the difference between a virtual assistant and hiring someone individually. And so a virtual assistant will work usually through some kind of company and they work for several different counseling agencies at the same time. They’ve usually been trained by someone, so they understand how to answer phones and how to do billing or how to work with an insurance company. And at the very beginning, that was the route I was going to take. I was going to have a virtual assistant and so, for different reasons, it actually didn’t work out, not on my end, but on the end of the virtual assistant. She just realized that the tasks were too much for working for several practices and it wasn’t something she wanted to do.
And so, at that point I was like, “Oh, what am I going to do?” And I just thought, “Why am I not hiring someone locally? I should do that.” So that’s when I put out that Facebook post. And so for me personally, hiring someone locally has been really great for me. It’s not the best for everyone and whatever practice they have and you got to figure out what that is. I’ve heard lots of people have virtual assistants and they love it because they’re pre-trained in a lot of things but for us, having someone local has been great and has allowed Christina to show up at staff meetings. She actually is a local to Savannah. So a lot of people will call or they’ll hear that she works with us and they’ll want to come simply for that reason because she’s got such a great reputation in town so then they want to come or like she can do the supply runs. I absolutely hated going over to Kroger, picking up drinks, grabbing tissue boxes, and I’m just thinking, “Gosh, I could be doing something else at the office”
And so, after calls, that was the second thing I told Christina. “Please start doing supply runs.” And so she started doing the supply runs. So, that’s been really great for me to have someone individually that’s local to do things because it’s just worked better for my practice. So, anyway, that’s kind of a little bit of thinking if you want a virtual assistant or somebody local. Some of the virtual assistants, one of the other advantages is they can have a lower rate of pay sometimes depending on what you pay somebody locally, because that virtual assistant is shared among other organizations. You kind of are all paying that person instead of you being the sole provider for your assistant. So, another question that we get a lot is, you can kind of talk about this Christina, is should an assistant do everything or just some things. And you’ve kind of talked a little bit about tasks, but maybe talk a little bit about the things that you don’t do that happen at the practice that I’m not doing either.
[CHRISTINA]: Okay. So we do have another girl, Molly that works with us and she is responsible for most of the social media type stuff. So she runs our Facebook page, she uploads to our website and does the SEO stuff that needs to be done. And so she kind of works on that end of things. So that’s something I would say that neither of you are involved in. So after, for example, if I, like yesterday, I emailed Molly the latest blog and just said, “Can you upload this at some point tomorrow?” And she says, “Great.” And then she just follows up with me after she’s done it. and then, so she does a lot of that stuff, which is really helpful and, you know, boosting our internet exposure and that type of thing.
[WHITNEY]: Great. Great. And I try to meet with Molly once a month and kind of review Google analytics and calls and all those kinds of things. And so that’s been really great. Molly is actually a personal friend of mine. When I found out she could do SEO, I was like, “Oh, she’s got to work with me.” So, she does a few hours a week just working on some of the social media and doing the SEO and things like that. So, I’ve got Christina being my director, client relations, I’ve got Amanda assisting her, I’ve got Molly doing some of the website, SEO stuff. And then I have another guy, his name is Pablo who I also knew as my nanny’s husband at the time, but he does my website. And so I kind of have this, I call it the dream team, I guess, of people working on the practice things and not having one person responsible for everything.
So, when you do that, not only is that person not the most experienced in each thing, but if something happens with that person, you’re stuck. Like it would be the saddest thing Christina left, but at least I’ve got Amanda or vice versa, if Amanda left, I’ve got Christina. So, you want to be able to not put all your eggs in one basket, I guess, and be able to diversify so that when things come up, you’ve got different people doing different tasks.
[WHITNEY]: So, Christina, could you share with people, what is it that you need from your boss or what are some of the characteristics and working for me that you like about me that, in our relationship together?
[CHRISTINA]: So, one thing I would say is I feel like Whitney, you’re a great communicator. And so I never really felt just kind of thrown out there when I first started, because like I said, I was nervous because I thought, “I don’t really know anything about the counseling world.” And here I am, I feel like I’m supposed to know, but you know, it was a very much a learning curve for me. And so I felt like you were very, you explained things very well, you made the expectations very clear, but you were also very gracious and you know, when I made a mistake, you were, “That’s okay. You know, we’re all learning.” And so it was very easy to come in and to start this job, you know, and as we’ve added responsibilities, you’ve been very gracious and very helpful and I never felt afraid like I was bothering you if I had questions and that type of thing.
So, I would just say you’ve been very approachable. And I also love that you have always made me feel very comfortable coming to you, if there was ever a time I did feel overwhelmed or my life just got crazy with something and just letting you know, “This is going on.” And so I just feel like we’ve had really great communication from the start, which has made the job so much easier. Now I haven’t had to kind of carry things internally around just, you know, “Oh, I have all this going on,” but I’ve been able to share that. And you’ve been very understanding and so, it’s been really great. I’d say communication and just giving me the tools I need and then just making the expectations very clear.
[WHITNEY]: Oh, well, thank you. I, I appreciate that. I guess we learned how to communicate in grad school, so yeah. It’d be a bad counsel if it wasn’t a good communicator, I guess.
[CHRISTINA]: That’s true.
[WHITNEY]: So, the other great thing about my relationship with Christina that I think is unique is she’s also a confidant for me. You know, when I was looking to hire somebody, I thought it’d be really great if I could hire someone who’s also a believer, who I knew prayed for the practice, I knew cared about me, and cared about the clients. And Christina just genuinely cares about the Lord and getting His word out and cares about the clients, getting the help that they need. So, I love that aspect about her. And so as a practice owner, questions come up all the time and I obviously have had my own consulting and that has been super, super helpful. There a times that something comes up maybe with an employee or a decision that has to be made that I feel like I need someone to bounce it off of that understands the practice and we’ll think about what’s the best interest of the clinicians or of the practice and of the clients.
And so, it’s been really great to, I do rely on Christina a lot for the emotional side as well and business and decisions. And I remember when one of my contractors had quit few years ago, I was devastated. I really felt like it was out of the blue for me. And the first person I called was Christina and she walked me through it. Honestly, I was crying, I was upset, I took it very personally and she just really supported me through that and many other difficult times like that. As an owner where I’m like, “What are we going to do? And what is, I’d ask, “What is God doing? I think God’s wanting me to move in this direction. What are you hearing?” And so that has been really special as a business owner to have an assistant and not only as the administrative stuff, but also as a friend, and a lover of God. So, thank you.
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, it’s been great. And I do consider it, you know, I think it’s helped me to feel very invested in the practice as well, just to be able to pray for God’s work and to watch Him work in the ways He has. So thank you for, and trusting me with those things.
[CHRISTINA]: Of course, of course. And so I have a two-part question here as we’re going to close out the interview, advice that you would have for an assistant. So somebody that’s just starting on a job, like what you’re doing, what kind of advice you’d have for them? And I’ll tell you the next question after that. So go ahead and say what advice you would have for an assistant.
[CHRISTINA]: I would say one thing would just be not to give up too soon. I mean, there were definitely sometimes at the beginning where I felt pretty overwhelmed. Like, I remember one time I was having a conversation with my mom and I was just like, “I don’t know. Should I keep doing it?” You know, just, I remember just feeling a little overwhelmed, like, is this going to be too much. And, I think it was just because it was all so new and I was still figuring it out and figuring out how to manage my own children when you know this, when I was also doing the job. And so, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t quit and then I just stuck with it until, you know, now I feel much more competent in what I’m doing and really love it. And so, I would say definitely not to give up too soon, but to give yourself time to learn and to really enjoy the work. And then I would say two, I think what else I would say, well, I think, I guess that would be the main thing. Yeah, just, to stick with it and to enjoy it.
[WHITNEY]: I love that. And that’s really good advice for assistants, but also for counselors, especially starting a new practice, you’re feeling really overwhelmed. “Am I competent?” All those things you just said, therapists feel that same way when they’re starting their practice. It’s not giving up too soon and moving forward and yeah, it was rocky for a lot of times. And then sometimes I didn’t know what I was asking Christina for or what to need from her and we’ve really had to like communicate and work that out. And so now it feels like finally things are really smooth, we know what we’re doing, knock on wood.
[CHRISTINA]: Yeah, that’s it now.
[WHITNEY]: That’s right. Because in the mental health world, there’s always a turn somewhere. So, and what kind of advice, the second part of the question would you have for every Christian counselor listening to this podcast?
[CHRISTINA]: So, I would say one of the things I love most about working at Water’s Edge Counseling, is the community that we have. And I remember, you know, as being through in this process with Whitney, as she has grown her practice, one of the things she has really tried hard to create is a sense of community amongst the team that we have. And I feel like we have something very special in that and our employees truly love each other, they care about each other on a personal level and a professional level. And so I think just, she has really created a place that people love to come to work. And as an assistant, I think she has made me feel just as much valued and essential to the practice as a therapist, even though in terms of the amount of time I work, it’s very minimal, but she’s just done a great job.
So, I would say, for those listening that are wanting to grow a practice and a Christian practice is just to really, invest some time and creating community. You know, often at staff meetings, we have a time where we all can kind of share what’s going on and we’ve done some fun little team building exercises. And so just things like that. We’ve gotten together outside of work to hang out and just form those connections. And I just think that has really created a special thing that we have that probably all practices don’t have and just a place to know if I have things going on that, you know, Whitney cares and that she prays for me as well and encourages me, personally, as she does to all of her team. And so, that’s what I would say. It’s something that’s very special and unique to Water’s Edge Counseling.
[WHITNEY]: I really appreciate those words. It really means a lot because that’s something I’ve worked really hard to create. And I greatly believe that if you invest in your counselors, then you will thrive as a practice. And I make them a priority. If one of them is sending me a text I’m responding pretty immediately. One of them has said, “I can’t believe you respond so fast.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but you all are the most important part of what I’m doing. And I want you all to be valued and feel like you get the feedback that you need as soon as possible with questions.” So if you invest in your practice, it really well pay off.
So, well, thank you so much. This has just been great. I think you’ve given tons of helpful information and if somebody had a follow-up question, wanted to get in touch with you, what would be the best or maybe email for them to use?
[CHRISTINA]: They can certainly email a question. I would be happy to answer at my email address, email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for having me. It’s been great.
[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 individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear from you.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.