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What does the journey from solo to group practice ownership look like for a seasoned practice owner? What are some of the mistakes that many new business owners make that you can learn from? Do you know what type of culture you want to create in your practice?
In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about her group practice journey.
Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision
When you’re in private practice it can be tough to find the time to even review your marketing efforts, let alone to make improvements where needed.
Whether you are a seasoned clinician with an existing website in need of a refresh, or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution.
By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers are then able to create you a beautiful website that will attract your ideal clients and get them to contact you. Better yet, they also provide unlimited tech support to make sure it’s always up-to-date, and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches – all at no additional cost.
But best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for Faith in Practice listeners. Get your first 3 months of website service completely FREE. To take advantage of this amazing deal, head to brightervision.com/joe.
In This Podcast
- Becoming a solo practice owner
- Starting a group practice
- Fully take the reins of your practice
Becoming a solo practice owner
Whitney moved to Georgia from Colorado with her husband due to his job and searched for places to join practices.
I ended up not finding a job. I reached out to any and all kinds of connections that I had and those weren’t going anywhere, and I was feeling [quite] discouraged. (Whitney Owens)
Whitney ended up connecting with an old counseling friend and started working with them.
She had to renew her license to keep working in Georgia, and with her new license she could open up a cash-pay practice.
Starting a group practice
While listening to the Practice of the Practice podcast, Whitney took part in a competition where the prize was a free consultation with Joe Sanok.
At the time I was thinking about starting a group, [I] wasn’t sure … I told my husband, “If I win this consult call with Joe, that’s going to be my sign that I’m supposed to start a group practice”. And you know what happened, I won that call. (Whitney Owens)
At the end of the consultation call, Whitney was inspired to join the Mastermind group and committed to starting her group practice.
Whitney knew that if group practice ownership was not for her she could go back to being a solo practitioner, so she gave it a shot, succeeded, and found her calling.
Fully take the reins of your practice
Consider what type of culture you want for your practice.
What do you want to be known for in your community? What kinds of clients do you want to work with? What is the kind of work relationship that you want to encourage between yourself and your clinicians?
I made some mistakes upfront and you’re going to make some mistakes upfront, and all of it is a journey and a learning process of figuring out what works for you and what works for your culture. (Whitney Owens)
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Get your first 3 months of website service completely FREE with brightervision.com/joe.
- Check out the Group Practice Launch — door closes on March 10th, 2022
- Join the Faith in Practice Conference from April 21st to 24th
- Take Faith in Practice further with the Mastermind Course
- Join the Faith in Practice Facebook Group and subscribe to the email list
- Email Whitney: [email protected]
Check out these additional resources:
- Should I start a Group Practice with Nate Page | FP 127
- Next Level Practice
- Practice of the Practice Podcast Network
- Group Practice Boss
Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.
Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.
Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram or join the Faith in Practice Facebook group. Email her at [email protected]
Thanks For Listening!
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Hello, welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. It’s Whitney Owens hanging out with you today. This is a different kind of episode for a plethora of reasons. One, I am at my house because I am in quarantine with my daughter. We’re almost completed on this quarantine time so hopefully by the time this episode comes out, not only will I be out of quarantine, but hopefully the world will be improving and there will be less quarantining going on. So I am at home today and looking out my beautiful window, looking at the Oak trees here in Savannah, Georgia, watching the cars go by, have my candle here, relaxing.
The other reason I’m jumping on is we have opened the doors to Group Practice Launch. Group Practice Launch is our membership community with Practice of the Practice where we help people start and grow a group practice. If there’s any time you’re going to invest in consulting, please do it when you think about starting a group practice. I cannot tell you how many people I talked to after they’ve started a group, they didn’t know what they were doing, they didn’t get consulting and they made a lot of mistakes along the way. It can be consulting with me, consulting with someone else. What I just don’t want is for you to have mistakes and have to go back and make changes. I mean, we’re all going to make mistakes anyway, but let’s prevent the number that you’re going to make.
So we do have the doors open right now to Group Practice Launch. Those will close on March 10th. If you’re listening to this episode, when it goes live or the day after I encourage you, if you’re thinking about starting a group practice to go to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch, and go ahead and join our community. We do a six-month membership program. We walk you step by step through the process of starting a group practice. We have weekly live events. We have a workbook that you go through that you’ll able to keep when you’re done and all the forms that you need to review with your attorney to get you going in the right direction.
It saves you tons of time and money in the long run. The cost of that program is $1,500 and that’s for six full months of consulting. I mean you really can’t beat a price like that for getting all the information that you’re going to get it, plus it really doesn’t take all that long to start making an income. Once you start the group practice, like making more of a profit, it’ll pay itself back. Most people that I talk to that I help start group practices, in fact, all of them knock on wood so far have said it was totally worth it. No one has come back and said, I wish I hadn’t started a group practice. If you’re thinking about doing it head on ever practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. We’d love to work with you in that program.
I thought that it would be fitting today to talk about my group practice journey. On the podcast I talk a lot about spirituality. I talk a lot with other guests about different things going on in their practice or different things that they’re marketing, promoting to help you with your practice. But I also think it’s important that I share more about what I’m going through and who I am. Since you are listening to me on a regular basis, I felt like it was important to tell you more about my journey in private practice. I’m going to go from my solo journey into a group practice and talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, and what life is like now.
I started my solo practice here in Savannah, Georgia back in 2014. Prior to that, I had been out in Colorado doing a practice out there, moved here for my husband’s job, he’s in ministry here in Savannah. In 2014, I applied, applied, applied to things in the area because starting a solo practice just didn’t seem very easy with moving at the same time and getting to know a new area. I ended up not finding a job. I reached out to any and every connection that I had, those weren’t really going anywhere, I was feeling pretty discouraged, and then someone reached out for me from graduate school and was like, “Oh gosh, I’m from Savannah. You should connect with my good friend Jimbo. His name is Jimbo and he’s a therapist, but he is so awesome.”
Anyway, connected with Jimbo and it was through that relationship that he was like, “Hey, I want to get some space. Let’s rent some space together. Let’s do private practice.” I was like, sure. So I rented some space with him. We each had our own practices collaborated amongst the two of us. It was during that time that I grew my practice. Long story short, I couldn’t get licensed in Georgia, even though I was licensed in Colorado because you know how licensing can work in different places. So all that to say is I had to go back into another year supervision, which was a gift in disguise because then I had to start a cash pay practice.
I’ve always loved the cash pay model. Don’t know if I would’ve done it in starting a practice or not, but I was forced into it and it worked. By the time a year was over, I had a full solo practice with cash pay. I just kept going in that direction. Then I had my second baby while I had my solo practice and I returned in 2016, towards the end of that year, kept growing the practice and was following different podcasts about growing practices and started having this thought, what if I started a group practice? Maybe you’ve had that thought and you’ve brushed away. I mean, I brushed it away for many, many, much time and was scared. I thought this would never work. I thought, how do I know how to be a boss?
In fact, somebody asked me a few months ago, were you a boss of something else before you had your own group practice? I was like, “No, I don’t know how to be a boss. I’ve had to learn it along the way.” So I was thinking about it and then through lots of different experiences, I did little tests waiting to see if I needed to move forward and doing the whole running away. Even though God’s telling you, you should probably do something, that’s exactly what I was doing. Then I was listening to the Practice of the Practice podcast at the time and there was a competition going on through a Facebook group. So I joined that competition and one of the things that was a prize was a consulting call with Joe.
At the time I was thinking about starting a group, wasn’t really sure, and I told my husband the night before, if I win this consult call with Joe, that’s going to be my sign that I’m supposed to start a group practice. You know what happened? I won that call. I did a free consult call and at the end of the call, and he gave me tons of advice, but one of the things he said was join the mastermind group. I just knew that if I joined this mastermind group, that meant I was going to be starting a group practice. Like I’m not going to put all that time and money into it and not do the very thing that I feel called to do.
So I went home, I prayed about it, I talked to my husband about it. He was like, “Let’s do it. You should do it.” I did, and I tell this to people all the time, when they’re thinking about starting programs to start a group practice, like, what’s the worst that can happen? You start a group practice and you decide you don’t like it. Then you can just not do the group practice anymore. You could always go back and be a solo practice owner. So I went into it with that mindset. o I started that mastermind group and within four months I had two clinicians hired and they were already seeing clients. I was already in such a short amount of time.
[BRIGHTER VISION] When you’re in private practice, it can be tough to find time to even review your marketing efforts, let alone make improvements where needed. Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with an existing website in need of a refresh or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers are then able to create a beautiful website that will attract your ideal clients and get them to contact you. Better yet they will also provide unlimited tech support to make sure it’s always up to date and professional search engine optimization to make sure that you rank high on online searches at no additional class. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for Faith in Practice listeners. Get your first three months of website service, completely free. To take advantage of this amazing deal, head on over to brightervision.com/joe.
[WHITNEY OWENS] Now, when I was doing this, I don’t know if I really had thought a lot about the culture I wanted or a lot about what I wanted the practice to look like. I honestly was just doing whatever everybody else was doing, because that seemed like the right thing to do. So I encourage you, as you’re thinking about starting group practice, really consider what type of culture do you want, what do you want to be known for in your community? What types of clients do you want to work with? I mean, I knew that I wanted to have a faith-based approach because that’s what I’d always had.
When I made my first hire, which is a good recommendation to you for your first hire, hire someone that sees the same types of clients you see, because that’s what you already market for. That’s what you’re already busy with and so that’s exactly what I did. I hired a contractor. She was somebody that had a faith-based background, was new to private practice, she was getting supervision as well and I met her before I did all the things, having an attorney, an accountant and making sure I’m following steps. Then I hired her and it went pretty well.
She did well with her clients and then she was getting full within two months. Then I brought on somebody else and that person also a college student, but did a little bit of different approach, offered some DBT things like that. I was excited. I had started a group practice, but also at the same time, it was not what I thought it was going to be. Like. I was hoping for more closeness with my clinicians, I was hoping more collaboration going on between us, more support among us and just really wasn’t what I was hoping for because honestly I hadn’t really thought enough about the culture I wanted in my practice.
The other problem I had here at this phase was I didn’t have an assistant. It was me and I was seeing a full caseload. For me full was like 15 to 18 clients because I was working part-time because I had children at home. But then I was also answering calls and scheduling for two other clinicians. It was madness. Anyway, it was at about month seven, which was way too long I finally hired an assistant and things began to improve. We went along for a few months and then unfortunately my first hire ended up getting offered a job somewhere out. Actually she did didn’t even tell me. I just walked into my office one day and there was a letter on my desk of someone wanting a recommendation for her for a job.
I said, “Hey you are looking for another job?” Little humorous. We ended up parting ways because it was a better situation for her and her family. Then my other clinician, as soon as she was full, she ended up leaving the practice and going somewhere else. I don’t do a non-compete. I let people take their clients with them because I think clients should have a right to see the types of clinicians they want to see. That’s how I handle it. But all that to say is I made some mistakes up front and you’re going to make some mistakes up front. All of it is a journey and a learning process of figuring out what works for you, what works for your culture. It was also just a Testament of my growth, my faith.
I remember really getting a smack laid on me when this girl left. I mean, when I said, please tell me why you’re leaving, she didn’t want to tell me. She didn’t want to tell me. I said I need to know and then she did tell me, and it was crushing for me as a boss for who I am as a person. Not that we should always take what everybody says and take it as honest, but we should take what they say and consider and pray through and think about what people are saying. That’s exactly what I did. To be real with you guys, I balled my eyes out. It was really difficult. It was hard. I have definitely seen a lot of people as I’ve helped them grow their practices. You’re going to have some ups and downs like that. It’s really important that you have a consultant or close friends that will walk you through that because like immediately when this happened, I called my assistant. I was like, “I need you help me through this.”
All that just says you’re going to have some ups and downs. It was, when I look back at my practice and the timeline, it was a change. It was in that moment that I knew this is not what I want. This is not the type of culture I want. They say make lemonade with lemons. That’s pretty much what I did. It was so crazy thinking about the Lord’s hand. It was that very day that she gave me her notice that I had three interviews scheduled for another therapist. So another real big mistake that I made is don’t ever get down to one therapist where if they quit, you’re it.
That was how it happened. She quit and that was it. Then I started taking on clients that I probably shouldn’t have taken on because they were calling and needed help. I was in the process of hiring. But anyway, that day I ended up interview one of my faith clinicians. Of course I love all my clinicians and she’s still with me today. Fantastic woman. She does all the supervision. She’s just a phenomenal therapist, just so kind and compassionate. Oh, I was so grateful that the Lord brought her in on that day, even though I was a mess feeling like I was the worst boss at ever.
God just gave me a little gift right there on that day and since then things changed. I actually changed to a W2 model realizing that was more of a culture I wanted to create, more of a family where we share things, we help one another. I can give them health insurance and bonuses and really just more comradery amongst us. Now I know that contractor practices can have that and you can create that. When I tried that way, it was not working and so I changed my model. Then just two months later I hired two more clinicians and then about eight months after that, I hired two more. So we were at six clinicians at that point and I had a W2 model going and we were doing really well, really growing as a practice, helping one another out.
I’ve had some other ups and downs along the way. I had another employee who ended up leaving the practice. A lot of circumstances went into that. That was a very difficult process for me again. Honestly, it was another time I go back and say, here’s a turning point in the practice because the team came together. It’s through those moments of pain and suffering that we come together as a team and we help one another out.
Now I look at my practice and I am a grateful I’ve had other people come and go. I’ve had a lot of challenges I’ve had to face. I can’t express enough the importance of a good team around you as you grow your group practice. When I say a team, I mean, it could be the consultants or the attorneys, the accountants, the actual clinicians that are your team, all those things.
Now I have a group practice of nine clinicians. I have an assistant that is extremely supportive. She’ll do anything I ask her to do to help me along the way. I have a team that allows me to do consulting. It allows me to spend time with you guys and help you grow your practices because they come together and they do the work. They understand that what I do is important. And I support them in their work too.
So it’s through having this team that I’m able to have a more flexible schedule to do these things. It’s awesome. I can be at home with my kids. I have the flexibility to travel and spend more time with my husband. The other bonus, it’s the income. That there is greater income and I’m seeing less clients and doing more of the work that I love. Honestly, I feel like the clinicians enjoy it too. They, as a group practice, they have good work. We have fun together. We do fun events. We did a murder mystery night. That’ll be our annual Halloween get together. We did a great Christmas party this year, where we went to a fancy restaurant and dressed up and had like a three to four hour dinner, a big girl adult. That was so cool.
So I have this amazing community. I can do the work I want. They can see the types of clients they want. They have community amongst one another. They have good pay and health insurance and all the things that sometimes clinicians don’t ever get. So by having a group practice benefits me, benefits them and it does good work in the community. When we come together, we can offer a lot more to people than when we’re separate. So that’s important to me too. We all have a faith-based background to be able to help one another in that way that I can share a prayer request or something that I need with the team, knowing that they care for me and we can support one another.
We’re actually in the process of hiring more clinicians, which I’ll tell you, I still have imposter syndromes sometimes. Sometimes I can’t believe that I have a group practice and that this is what’s going on. We also are expanding. We’re getting more office space and hiring more people. It’s just such a gift. More than anything though, what I love about having a group practice is my relationship with God that I feel close to Him. I feel like I’m doing what has been my passion, what I feel my calling, I guess you could say about, and I’m able to move forward in that.
It helps me in needing God more because I think it’s easy for us to get content. When we have challenges in front of us, we have to constantly look to God for help with those. So I can definitely say that my life is totally different because I have a group practice. I mean, I’ve been able to help so many people clinically and in the work environment, since I started a group practice and I’m so happy and grateful for it.
So if you are listening and you can relate or you’re thinking you wish this was what you were doing, or maybe you already have a group practice and you’re just looking for a community to relate to know that there is a community that we have through Practice of the Practice. If you’re looking for other group practice owners called Group Practice Boss, you can go to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticeboss. Join that community. If you’re thinking about starting a group practice, please join Group Practice Launch. We would love to have you.
I am so grateful for the consulting that I got when I started my group practice. I still am in a mastermind group with other group practice owners where I get feedback and help because I’m always wanting to make changes and improve the group practice. But I love it. It’s my community. These are my friends. These are also my coworkers and I am proudly grateful.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. I would love to hear your stories of your group practice, or maybe you’re thinking about starting one. Feel free to email me, [email protected] I always love hearing from you and thank you for being a part of the podcast journey with me.
We want to thank our sponsor Brighter Vision for this episode. If you want to get three months of website service, completely free head on over to brightervision.com/joe.
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 in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, [email protected] We’d 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.
Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.