Do you find yourself exhausted at the end of the workweek? Do you struggle to get to everything on your plate? Are you still wearing all the hats in the practice?
In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens speak about how to delegate in your group practice.
Meet Alison Pidgeon
Alison Pidgeon, LPC is the owner of Move Forward Counseling, a group practice in Lancaster, PA and she runs a virtual assistant company, Move Forward Virtual Assistants.
Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016. She has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.
In addition, she is a private practice consultant for Practice of the Practice.
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor who 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.
Whitney has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
In This Podcast
- Overcoming the initial delegation doubts
- Let go of the urge to control
- Time management tips for group practice owners
- It is a work in progress
Overcoming the initial delegation doubts
Many practice owners struggle with hiring help.
Either they do not know which type of admin to hire, or they are not sure what needs to be done, or they struggle with letting go of something that they used to do.
To overcome this delegation struggle, change the way you think about hiring help; it’s an investment in your practice.
One of my biggest shifts was just changing my mindset around making investments in my business. Obviously in private practice, hiring people or investing in an assistant … helps you grow and become profitable but at the time I did not know that because I had never run a business before. (Alison Pidgeon)
Let go of the urge to control
Group practice owners care deeply for their businesses. Since they were the ones that built them up from scratch, it can be difficult for them to trust another person to handle the tasks that they have always done.
However, practice owners need to let go of their urge to control and manage all the tasks within the practice because it is not the best use of their time.
I have to remind people that my [assistant] now converts clients better than I do, so, I let her answer the phone. (Whitney Owens)
Time management tips for group practice owners
1 – Make a detailed list of everything you do in your practice, from answering the phone to buying stationery.
2 – Start identifying all the things that you do that could be done by someone else.
3 – Group these tasks into different skillsets and market them as a job description and hire an admin specifically suited for this position.
4 – Put boundaries around your time. Be strict with yourself to work during work hours and rest when you are not working.
As we level up, we have to understand that self-care and boundaries become more and more important because if the boss is struggling, that’s going to filter down onto the team. (Whitney Owens)
It is a work in progress
Delegating happens over time as you learn more about your practice and what can be done differently.
Every time you level up or every time you come into a new challenge you have to reassess … it’s always an ongoing conversation that we have, especially in the Group Practice Boss community. (Alison Pidgeon)
Do not feel daunted by doing it all now. Each day make a small change to help you and your practice work effectively and smoothly.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Sign up with Brighter Vision before April 30th and you’ll get $10/month off of your first year of website service with the Brighter Vision team. Visit brightervision.com/joe.
- Free Webinar 3rd May: How to Delegate in Your Practice while Working Less and Making More
- Group Practice Boss
- Visit Alison’s website, listen to her podcast, or consult with Alison
- Email Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit Whitney’s website and listen to her podcast here
- Connect on Instagram or join the Faith in Practice Facebook group
- Email her at email@example.com
Check out these additional resources:
- The Best Sex: How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Sex Life with Dr. Laurie Watson | POP 702
- Apply to work together
- Next Level Practice – next cohort opens in March 2022
- Sign up for Next Level Practice — Cohort Open!
- Events – click on the event’s dropdown
- Sign up to join the free webinars and events here
- Podcast Launch School
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Free resources to help you start, grow, and scale
- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
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.
Thanks For Listening!
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast, episode number 703. This is a podcast takeover with Whitney Owens and Alison Pidgeon.
[WHITNEY OWENS] Before we get started in the episode today, Alison and I wanted you to know about a wonderful offer. We will be hosting a free webinar on May 3rd at noon, Eastern time, ‘How to delegate in your group practice while working less and making more.’ You’ll find out how to, like I said, work less and make more and enjoy being a practice boss. We’ll teach you about delegating and time management and all the tips that we have, and that we’re giving to hundreds of group practice owners. So to join that webinar, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/delegate.
[ALISON] So Whitney that’s actually what we are going to talk about today. We’re going to give people a little bit of a preview of our best tips for delegating and time management as a group practice owner. So how are you doing today?
[WHITNEY] I’m doing good. How are you, girl?
[ALISON] I’m good. I’m getting excited to come to Florida and Georgia to see you. I know we’re recording this several weeks before your conference, but your conference is coming up and I’m looking forward to the warm weather because it’s like 29 degrees here right now.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. Well before we got on air, we were talking about trips to DC because you went last week and it was warm. I went, I actually got back last night and it was cold there, but I remember being in DC thinking to myself, dang, I love owning a group practice because I just went to DC with my daughter and people are at work right now while I am sight-seeing and relaxing and not feeling that pressure that I’m not going to make an income or I have to see clients or any of that stuff. That’s like the best part about owning a group practice.
[ALISON] Yes, I agree. Took two days off and didn’t think twice about it. Nice. So what do you think are the biggest sort of hurdles you came across as a group practice owner when you knew you had to delegate or maybe you didn’t know you needed to delegate? Like what was that process like for you earlier in your business?
[WHITNEY] Yes, I would say for me it was feeling inadequate. Like I didn’t know what I was doing. So even though I wanted an assistant, how do you find an assistant? How do you post about that and how do you get that person up and going or as I’ve gone further into being a Group Practice Boss and my practice has grown it’s how do I delegate these things? What person do I hire? If it’s social media or do I need a second assistant to help more with billing or to help more with scheduling or to get the office put together? Like those kinds of questions? I would say the big picture of what does this look like? What do I need is I would say me personally, what I struggle with as a group practice boss. How about you?
[ALISON] So I would say one of my biggest shifts was just changing my mindset around making investments in my business and obviously in a private practice, like hiring people or investing in an assistant or something like that helps you really grow and become profitable. But at the time I did not know that because I’d never run a business before. I see this in our Group Practice Launch community too. So the folks who are just starting group practices there’s a chunk of money that they have to invest upfront to get the group practice up and going and they’re freaking out about it because they don’t know how it’s all going to pay off and because they’ve never done it, they don’t see how it’s really helping them grow to the next level in terms of like their income, their impact on the community, all of those kinds of things. So yes, for me it was like that mindset shift of, okay, even though I’m spending this money to hire this person or maybe to rent this bigger office or whatever, it was an investment in leveling up. That took me a while to wrap my mind around that.
[WHITNEY] Well I was thinking about the people in our communities with Group Practice Boss, which that’s our membership community for people who have a group practice, some of the things that I hear from them is just the difficulty of letting go of control. So that could be someone answering the phones. It could be the clinicians doing good clinical work, fear that I’m going to hire a clinician and they’re going to take down the practice because of a bad reputation. Or just one group practice center we were talking about their new office space feeling like they have to pick everything out and they have to go in and paint it because it has to be exactly the way they want it. Just thinking through the sacrifice that we make to control things causes a lot of anxiety. So I see that a lot with group practice owners.
[ALISON] Yes. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had where the practice owner insists that they’re the ones who would do the best at something or they’re the only ones who can take the intake calls and they have a million reasons why. They don’t believe me that they’re probably not the best person to take the intake calls because that’s not the best use of their time, but it’s so hard for them to get used to that concept and let go of that control like you said. I see that a lot.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. I have to remind people that my admin converts clients now better than I do. So I let her answer the phone.
[ALISON] Yes, I agree. My admin does a much better job of scheduling and doing all of that stuff than I do. So it’s good that I don’t use the phone anymore. So what do you think about time management? I think that a lot of people are surprised to hear that we’re not working like 60, 70 hours a week. What does that look like for you in terms of like the time you actually spent working on your practice?
[WHITNEY] We could talk about what that looks like and then maybe talk a little bit about how we create those boundaries. Currently I do my group practice and then I do the consulting, I would say in my group practice, I probably work 10, maybe sometimes 12 or 13 hours a week. I see about three or four hours of clients and then spend the rest of my time managing my practice. The question I always ask myself is what could someone else do that I’m spending my time doing? If someone else can do what I’m doing, they’re going to be doing it, not me. So how about you? How much time do you spend a week managing your practice?
[ALISON] I would say probably about 10 to 15, but really a lot of that time is spent because of expansion, like we’ve been expanding a lot. Like in 2021 we doubled in size. We’re opening up a new location this year so there’s a lot of going to look at spaces and talking to realtors and talking to the bank and all of that stuff. I think if we weren’t expanding, it probably would be maybe half of that amount of time.
[WHITNEY] The things that only you can do. I love it.
[ALISON] Yes. I pay a lot of attention to the financial pieces. I have a great accountant who helps me and sort of looks at my stuff as the CFO, but as in terms of the practice and who’s looking at that stuff, it’s just me. So I’m the one who’s paying attention to are we saving enough money and are we on track with the budget and all of those kinds of things?
[WHITNEY] So what do you think are the most important tips either for yourself or that you give to others to manage time?
[ALISON] What I do and what I’ve taught people is really make a very detailed list of all the things that you do in your practice down to, oh, while I’m at Target buying stuff from my family, I’m also buying supplies for the office or whatever. Even if it’s something small that you think only takes five or 10 minutes as a practice owner, you have a zillion things and only take five or 10 minutes. Then it’s just like, you don’t have the bandwidth then to do what’s really important, which is probably looking at the practice as the CEO and marketing and hiring and all of those kinds of things. So I tell people make a list and then start to identify what’s something that could be done by somebody else.
You don’t need to be the one running to the store to buy supplies. Somebody else can do that. Then I have them look to see how can you group those things together in sort of like skill sets so that you can identify who would be the best person to do those tasks. Because I think a lot of times practice owners make the mistake of thinking like, oh, I’m going to find one person who’s going to answer the phone and do my bookkeeping and do my social media. It’s like, okay, one person does not have all those skill sets. So you may need multiple people to do all the things that you do, contractors or hire other companies to do it or whatever you need to do. That’s what I do and I continually do that. So I’m continually looking at like, what can I get off my list that I don’t necessarily need to be doing?
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[WHITNEY] The other good point about having multiple people to do multiple jobs is if you put all your eggs in one basket with one person and they get sick or something happens, boy, then you’re stuck with a lot of work.
[ALISON] Yes. I think it’s good to have people who are cross trained or people who are job sharing, because like you said, if one person is out, then the other person can take over.
[WHITNEY] I always say that it’s good to have two people that can do everything or like certain things. So like two people that can run payroll, two people who can do billing or whatever the case may be. Or two people, especially at answer phones, like the practice owner should not have to take up answering phones. I mean, once you’ve got four or five people the group practice owner doesn’t need to do that when your admin takes a day off.
[ALISON] Right. Yep, so you just need to set up a system, but that will allow you to do that. Yes, absolutely.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. And a big question that we get, so someone might be listening, thinking, oh yes, I would love to delegate, but I can’t. I mean, everyone says I don’t have the money for that or they don’t bring in the money for that. So how do you respond to that?
[ALISON] I think that’s where I give people the illustration of when you spend money on something, there’s things you spend money on that are just you’re sort of treating money for a product or service, like I pay for my cell phone and I get to use my cell phone, but it’s not really like making me money over the long term versus if I take some money and put it in the stock market over a period of time, historically, it’s going to earn about 10% interest. So I’m taking money now to make money later. So it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing in your business. That’s what I was saying before. It’s really hard to imagine like, oh, I’m going to hire this assistant. I’m going to pay them $30,000 a year but is that really just sort of like then cutting into my profits.
What we find is that no, it really doesn’t because what they’re able to do, which is keep people schedules full and handle when people call in to reschedule and follow up on problem with insurance claims or chase people down that have a balance, all of those things, they will end up bringing in over and above their salary to the practice. So that is actually an investment. I’m just making up numbers here, but let’s say you’re paying them $30,000. Because they’re there doing all those things, they’re bringing in $60,000 to the practice. So there’s a net $30,000 a year that otherwise you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t hired that assistant. Again, a really hard concept to wrap your mind around. There is that period of time for in the beginning where you’re sort of like putting a lot of money into getting the practice started up and not necessarily seeing the return right away, but that’s, I guess where you have to have that leap of faith.
[WHITNEY] Yep. I feel like that happens over time, like as you grow. So it’s like you do it at the beginning. You’re taking that leap of faith, putting a lot of money and time into your business. Then it starts to get to a good place. You’re like four or five people in, clinicians and it’s like, oh crap, all this other stuff’s coming up, I got to invest more money and do more systems and create more processes because for further growth you do it again. Then you get to 10 or 15 and then you’re doing it again. It’s always this leveling up. It tends to be that when we level up, we’re putting more in time and energy money into it so that we can get to that better place.
[ALISON] I wanted to talk too about setting boundaries around your time, because I think that’s such an important concept, especially for people who maybe have lots of family responsibilities like you and I do Whitney. So how do you handle that?
[WHITNEY] I put boundaries on my calendar. I mean, I work from nine until three every day and that’s it. I’m off on Friday. So Monday through Thursday and if a client reaches out or an employee reaches out and they want to like schedule something, then you’re going to have to schedule during my work hours. Obviously, if it’s an emergency or whatever, that’s a separate situation, but trying to put those perimeter down saying, I’m not going to check my email when I get home and I’m not going to, it might be see a client at a different time just to make it easy for them because ultimately it’s not going to help me. As we level up, we have to understand that self-care boundaries become more and more important because if the boss is struggling, that’s going to filter down onto the team. You’re going to end up having a nasty conversation and not being patient or whatever the case may be.
I talked to another group practice center, not too long ago who had a lot of stressors going on and then just snapped at an employee and was so regretful afterwards and apologized of course, but it really made an impact on the business, this one thing. So it’s so important that we’re taking care of ourselves so the business can grow. All these people, our employees, they depend on us for their paychecks. You better take care of yourself and set boundaries say you can be creative, have better solution focused stuff. It’s so important. How do you manage that Alison with your time?
[ALISON] I would say I do something very similar, especially with my weekends. In the beginning, when I started my practice, it was very all over the place. I was part of the time at home with my kids because they were really little and then part of the time I was working and so then I would end up sort of working whenever they were like taking a nap or didn’t matter if it was a weekend or a weekday. But I realized that over time and obviously as they’ve gotten older and they’re in school and that thing, I don’t work on the weekends at all now. I think I used to feel bad about it and I don’t feel bad about it anymore.
[WHITNEY] Good. You’ve grown into a boss there.
[WHITNEY] Any other thoughts or tips about time management and delegation?
[ALISON] Yes, I think that it definitely is a work in progress like you were saying, like every time you level up or every time you come into a new challenge you have to reassess and look at, okay, do I need to be delegating this? Am I having good time boundaries and that thing? So I think it’s always an ongoing conversation that we have, especially in the Group Practice Boss community. So it’s not like a once and done thing. You’re always going to have to be monitoring it. What about you?
[WHITNEY] I was thinking also about your own sanity, that if I don’t delegate out to, maybe I want to save some money and not a special assistant for whatever the case may be, then I’m thinking about it all the time. I’m working on it. Yes, maybe it’s not something that necessarily proves to make a lot of money, but my sanity’s important. So I’m willing to take a little bit less money if it means enjoying my job more or not having to work outside my hours more. So maybe it’s, you’re hiring somebody to do your blogging simply because I just don’t want to blog. Like, it’s okay to just say, I just don’t like doing this and I’m going to get someone else to do it.
[ALISON] I’m really glad you brought that up because I think for me, I think about people use that word bandwidth, like you can only hold so many things in your brain at once. I think that giving those things away to other people that I don’t need to be doing, I’m entrusting them to do it. So I’m setting up obviously systems of checks and balances to make sure it’s getting done, but I’m not micromanaging them or like looking over their shoulder. I’m basically saying I trust you to get it done. If you run into a really big problem, you can come ask me, but otherwise I’m not going to think about it anymore. Just not having to think about all those little details has freed me up to grow my business and think about what’s really important, like taking really good care of my staff and buying office buildings and things like that.
[WHITNEY] Or creating other alternative businesses like, if you can get your group practice rolling well, and there’s people that you’re delegating to, you can go start another business and make money off that too.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, we want to make sure that everyone knows that we have a webinar it’s going to be on May 3rd at noon Eastern time. It’s more about this topic, more on working, less, making more. We’re going to go into more depth on some tips and we’ll be there to answer your questions, which is always a plus. So to register for that webinar, go to practiceofthepractice.com/delegate. Thanks, Alison for hanging out with me today.
[ALISON] It’s great talking to you as always, Whitney.
[WHITNEY] Then we’re going to be recording two more episodes over the next two days to make sure that you’re close to your podcast listener so that you can check those out.
[BRIGHTER VISION] You know, we couldn’t do this without having our sponsors, Brighter Vision is another thing you can outsource to. They do websites for therapists. You can head on over to brightervision.com/joe. They’re going to give you some months for free. They have full it support. They have Social Genie that’s going to help you with your social media. It’s a great program. So head it over to brightervision.com/joe to sign up with them. That way they also know that you came through the podcast as well.
Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for that intro music. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers or guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.