In this episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks about how to know whether a group practice is right for you.
In This Podcast
Alison Pidgeon kicks off her podcast takeover with episode one of five on how to determine whether a group practice is right for you. She covers the pros and cons associated with running a group practice as well as what she plans to cover in this series aimed at owning a group private practice.
Sometimes, we need to just ask for things in order for something to happen. Don’t be afraid to take risks or be afraid of rejection. I built up the courage to ask Joe if I could consult on behalf of Practice of the Practice and look where I am now!
What We Will Be Covering In This Series
- The pros and cons of running a group practice
- The nuts and bolts of how to set up a group practice
- The hiring process
- Marketing a group practice
- How I manage my employees / contractors
The Pros and Cons of Starting a Group Practice
- You stand to make more money
- You don’t have to worry about losing money if you are sick / on vacation
- You can help more people in your community
- You have greater freedom with your time, i.e.: building passive income
- You can spend more time focusing on the business side of the practice
- You can grow your influence as an expert
- Growing a group practice takes up more of your time (especially in the start-up phase)
- The buck stops with you
- Starting a group practice is going to take some start-up money
- More of your time is going to be spent managing your employees / contractors and the business side of things and less time spent doing therapy
Starting a business tends to bring up a lot of our own ‘stuff’. As you become aware of them, you need to address them.
- How To Grow a Group Practice E-Book
- John Bowen Discovered 6 Key Drivers of Success | PoP 251
- TheraNest: Practice Management Software for Behavioral Health
Meet Alison Pidgeon
Alison is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Pennsylvania. In 18 months she went from starting a solo private practice to building a insurance-based group practice. She now employs 3 clinicians and a virtual assistant. In her spare time she is often seen running after her two small children and her therapy is cooking.
Thanks For Listening!
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File: POP-252: How do you know if starting a group practice is right for you?
[START OF PODCAST 00:00:00.20]
Alison Pidgeon: If you have been thinking about starting a group practice, but have no idea where to start. Download our free e-book at www.practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticebook.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast takeover with Alison Pidgeon.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. I am Alison Pidgeon, your host. For the next five episodes, I am going to be taking over the podcast to tell you all about how to start a group practice. You might be wondering why you are hearing my voice instead of Joe’s. He graciously allowed me to take over the podcast and I am super excited to talk to you guys all about group practices. I have been working with Joe for the past year as a business consultant and I have been having such a great time helping people build their businesses. It’s so fun to watch people learn and grow and reach their dreams, and I am just so glad that Joe gave me the opportunity to work for him and I am going to tell you little bit more about that story in a minute. But I first I wanted to tell you a little bit more about me. So I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where we are probably best known for the Amish. But recently the New York Post called us the new Brooklyn which I think is kind of a cool designation. Our little city has undergone quite the renaissance and it’s cool to see all of the art galleries and the high-end restaurants and things that have opened in the past 10 years. So I live in the suburbs outside of the city and I have a group practice where I have all my staff or contractors. I have five therapists that work for me and I have two assistants. So one is a virtual assistant who is in Chicago and answers the phone and one is an assistant that actually comes into the office. She runs errands for me and scans papers and does various things like that. So we bring about $30,000 a month gross into the business and it’s just been so cool to see it grow. I started in 2015. So [Inaudible 00:02:28.11] amount of time it’s really taken off and I love telling other people what I have learned about growing my practice. So in addition to having my practice and the business consulting for Practice of the Practice, I also have two little boys at home. They are three and five years old. So I really identify with that term hashtag mom entrepreneur. I was definitely the mom who is trying to get as much work done during nap time as possible. So I really also love talking to moms and parents about, you know, how to be really efficient with growing their business because obviously you are really busy when you have two little kids at home.
[“JUST ASK”: A STORY YOU MAY BENEFIT FROM]
So today I wanted to tell you the story about how I became a business consultant with Joe from Practice of the Practice because I feel like there is some good lessons in hearing that any business owner could take and use them in their own journey. Last year, I attended [Inaudible 00:03:26.12] practice, an event that Joe hosted in Traverse City and it lasted over two days. So in the morning we had consulting and in the afternoon we went wine tasting. It was so fun. And the consulting piece of the day was the Mastermind type format. And for those of you who don’t know how that usually goes, someone is on the hot seat so to speak and comes to the group with a problem or a challenge that they are having and asks the group for a feedback or advice. And so part of that is when they initially talk about the problem that they are having, we as the group get to ask clarifying questions. And so as we were going through this process and people were asking questions, I was already starting to kind of formulate the answer in my head, like, oh, this is how I would answer this question. And then eventually people started answering the question and then eventually – you know, Joe usually at the last point would answer a part of the question as well. I recognized that Joe and I had a lot of the same answers. I didn’t think much of it. I just thought, oh, well, like, I probably know lot more than I thought I did because when you are starting your business, you’re kind of in a vacuum and if no one else is around who is doing the same thing at a similar time, you sort of don’t know how you are doing. So we went out that afternoon. We went wine tasting and went out to dinner and had a great time and I didn’t think too much [Inaudible 00:05:00.21] about it and went to bed that night in my [Inaudible 00:05:03.18]. And I don’t know if you have ever had this experience, but I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning like a bolt of lightning had hit me. And I just thought I have to ask Joe if I can be a business consultant for Practice of the Practice. It was like my brain was thinking about it while I was sleeping and I didn’t realize it. And the more I thought about it, the more excited I got and I couldn’t get back to sleep, and mind you I had no experience then at being a business consultant. So that seemed like kind of a crazy idea to ask him. But I just couldn’t get out of my head. So we went early, took early breakfast, and then I showed up where we were meeting to do the consulting little bit early to talk to Joe about it. And I don’t know how I got the nerve to ask him, but somehow I did. He said, he would consider it. So after I went home, we talked about it a little bit more and he said, sure, let’s try and see what happens. And I am so grateful to Joe for giving me the opportunity to take me on as a consultant and, you know, one of the lessons that I want impart to you is that there is so many examples not just this one, but many others where I just asked for something and it happened, you know. Like as a business owner, I think we are afraid to take risks or even afraid to ask because we are afraid that we are going to get rejected or be told no and be disappointed or whatever it is that is happening. But there is so many amazing examples I have of times that I just asked and people were like yes. I would really encourage you if there is something that you want in your business, don’t be afraid to ask for it because really the worst thing that they can do is say no, and then you have to figure out some other option. You never know when your dreams are going to come true just by asking.
[WHAT WE WILL BE COVERING IN THIS SERIES]
Let’s switch gears now and talk about what we are going to cover in these five podcasts all about group practice. So day one, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of running a group practice, like how do you figure out if it’s really the right thing for you. Day two, we are going to talk about the nuts and bolt of how to set up a group practice and how that differs from a solo practice. Day three, we are going to cover the hiring process. How do you find people to hire? What do you ask them in the interview? How do you decide between a W2 and a 1099? Day four, we are going to talk all about marketing a group practice and the differences between marketing a solo practice versus a group and how also to create a brand. And then day five, I am going to talk about how I manage my employees/contractors and the process I use to make sure that we are communicating well and everything is running efficiently.
Let’s jump into day number one, which is talking all about the pros and cons of starting a group practice.
[THE PROS OF STARTING A GROUP PRACTICE]
The number one pro that I could think of is that you are potentially going to be able to make more money. So I definitely make more money now than I did when I was in solo private practice. The other reason I really like owning a group is because I don’t have to worry about losing a significant chunk of my income if I am sick, if I go on vacation because my contractors are still bringing in money even if I am not in the office seeing clients. Pro number two for starting a group practice is think about how many more people you will be able to help in your community. I am sure you could probably think of practices in your community that don’t have good reputations and think about what an asset you will be if you hire high quality providers who you know are going to deliver excellent clinical care to your clients. Think about what kind of reputation you could build and how many people would be grateful for the wonderful services your staff provides. Pro number three is you are going to have greater freedom with your time because less of your time is going to be what they call treating hours for dollars. So this also could be called building passive income. So, obviously it’s not totally passive. I still have to have my hand in running the business, but I am not locked into seeing clients 25 hours plus a week. In fact, it wouldn’t be helping my practice if I was spending that much client seeing clients and not focusing on the business side of the practice. So I really love the flexibility that it affords me because if I want to leave at 10 a.m. to go get a haircut, I can certainly do that because I am the boss. Pro number four is that you are going to be able to spend more time focusing on the business side of the private practice. And I realize this is a pro for me and may not be a pro for everyone. But I really love running the business and it’s always fun and challenging for me and I am always looking for ways I can improve things. And I actually like being the boss and talking with my staff and helping them out. Obviously not everyone is cut out for this and we’re going to talk more in another episode about being the boss and how you think [Inaudible 00:10:11.28] the stage to have that go. Well, but this is where knowing yourself is really important because if this isn’t appealing to you, kind of focusing more on the business aspect, then running a group practice may not be a good choice for you. So now, we are on to our final pro, number five. This is all about growing your influence as an expert. So what I really like is that the local media and I have developed a relationship now where if they want to qu0te about mental health, they call me and I am happy to be on camera or be quoted in an article because obviously that’s good marketing for my practice, but it also helps break down stereotypes and stigma of mental health in the community which is something that I am really passionate about. So what’s cool is that now as the group practice owner, I can be that face for the local media and also with your expertise you may be able to grow your counseling or business experience into another stream of income which would give you some more freedom to explore other things that interest you, and make money from them.
[THE CONS OF STARTING A GROUP PRACTICE]
So now we are going to move on to the cons. So the first one I thought of is that growing a group practice is definitely going to take more of your time, especially in the start-up phase, and if you are familiar with the famous entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. He says building a business is all about hustle. I know some people like that term and some people don’t, but I really identify with that because I feel like that’s definitely part of being a business owner and when you are starting out you are going to have to be putting all the building blocks in place and it’s just going to take some time, especially if you want to do it right. On an ongoing basis then, you need to be aware of the tasks that can be delegated to other people so that you are not single-handedly running the business yourself, but we will talk more about that in few minutes. So the second con is what I call the buck stops at you. So if there’s an urgent problem in the office, if a therapist needs help or something, or something even as small the toilet clogs, if you don’t have an on-call maintenance man, you may be the one unclogging the toilet which I have done before. And that’s perfectly okay because that’s what needed to be done. So if you don’t want to deal with these kinds of occasional hassles, then maybe running a group practice is not for you. So, we are on to con number three. Starting a group practice is going to take some startup money. Not only it’s going to take time, but money as well, because you are going to have to potentially furnish an office or maybe hire an assistant. If your current practice isn’t making enough money to have a little nest egg for start-up funds, you may need to find some cash somewhere whether that’s taking on a loan or maybe borrowing money from savings. I fortunately didn’t go into debt to start my practice, but I know some people that do. There are definitely some smart ways to grow and… you know, there’s ways that you can save money by maybe buying second-hand furniture or something like that, but it’s definitely going to take some money upfront. So the last con I have, number four, is kind of similar to one of the pros actually, which is more of your time is going to be spent managing your employees/contractors and running the business and less time doing therapy. And for some people that sounds great, and other people they really like doing therapy and don’t necessarily want to give that up. It also means that you might have to do something that are out of your comfort zone, like having hard conversations with employees if they are not doing their job or putting yourself out there. You get media interviews for the practice. You might have to say no to people who you think are great and want to support, but you know saying yes would hurt your business. We are kind of put in these positions where we have to make hard choices. And I think unfortunately that’s just part of the job and something that knowing upfront would be helpful.
[ANOTHER POINT – A PRO AND A CON]
So I have one more that I wanted to talk about is kind of a combination of a pro and a con, and what I call it is starting your own business tends to bring up a lot of our stuff. And by stuff I mean maybe you struggle with time management or setting boundaries or maybe you avoid conflict. If these are issues in your personal life, they most surely are going to show up in your business. And these are things that as you become aware of them, you really have to address them, and I realize how much this really has come up for me. Instead of looking at it in a negative way, I look at it like a challenge, like oh this is self-improvement, something I need to work on. Even though it’s hard, it’s important. So I think it’s really important that you decided to go proactive approach and to figure out how to improve these areas because it’s going to affect your business and your business is going to be better, run more efficiently, be more profitable if you kind of address these problems head on rather than try to ignore them.
[CONCLUSION AND LINKS]
So that’s my list of pros and cons. Obviously, it’s not an exhaustive list, but maybe [Inaudible 00:15:42.03] something to get you started thinking about what it would really be like to own a group practice and I would be curious if you could come up with your own pros and cons. And I think there are ways in our businesses that we can structure things to sort of minimize the cons. So for example, there are certain things that I don’t really like doing in my business, like I don’t like building websites. And so I sort of minimize that con by hiring someone else to build my website for me.
So that wraps up day one where we talked all about the pros and cons of starting a group practice. Next episode, we are going to talk all about the “nuts and bolts” of how to set up a group practice and how that’s different from a solo practice.
I wanted to take a minute to tell you all about the awesome e-book that we are giving away for free. I just saw the final copy of it. Sam, Joe’s assistant put it together and it looks beautiful. And there’s tons more information in that book than there is in this podcast. So definitely take a look at that. It’s a great resource and I am really hoping that it’s helpful if you’re interested in setting up your own practice. So if you want to download that, it’s at www.practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticebook.
So you know how Joe, he says the same thing at the end of the podcast where he says thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. So I am not going to copy after Joe. I actually kind of keep my [Inaudible 00:17:23.13] my own thing that I wanted to share with you. I really like quotes. Quotes that are something that’s [Inaudible 00:17:28.17] branding for my practice which we will talk about in another episode, but the quote I wanted to share with you today is the distance between your dreams and reality is called action. So I see so many people who have amazing ideas and dreams and they want to reach big goals, and I have just found that very few people are putting those things into action. And so think about even one small thing you can do to move the needle forward on taking some action in your business and watching it grow. And we will talk to you next episode. Bye.
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 publisher or the guest are rendering any legal, accounting, clinical or other information. If you need a professional, you should find one.
[END OF PODCAST 00:19:11.09]