5 Mistakes Made When Starting a Group Practice with Alison Pidgeon | FP 99

A photo of Alison Pidgeon is captured. 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 Pidgeon is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

What are the main elements of a group practice to get right from the start so that it can flourish? Which systems should you have in place that are essential to growing a practice? When should you start delegating in your group practice?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Alison Pidgeon about their membership, Group Practice Launch, and the 5 mistakes to avoid when starting a group practice.

Meet Alison Pidgeon, Group Practice Owner and Consultant

An image of Alison Pidgeon is displayed. She is a successful group practice owner and offers private practice consultation for private practice owners to assist in how to grow a group practice. She is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast. 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.

Transformation From A Private Practice To Group Practice

In addition, she is a private practice consultant for Practice of the Practice. Allison’s private practice ‘grew up.’ What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.

Visit Alison’s website, listen to her podcast, or consult with Alison. Email Alison at alison@practiceofthepractice.com

In This Podcast: 5 mistakes when starting a group practice

  1. Failing to set up systems that support multiple providers
  2. Lack of knowledge when it comes to hiring
  3. Overpaying your clinicians
  4. Group practice owners seeing too many clients
  5. Delegating too late

1. Failing to set up systems that support multiple providers

It is not possible to set up systems that favor a solo practice and then increase the workload over time using those same systems. To support the growth of your practice, it is necessary to set up flexible systems that will encourage growth and not only support the practice when it is still new. For example, consider having:

  • A phone system with multiple extensions,

Because you cannot keep answering the business phone in the form of your personal cellphone when you have new clinicians coming on board.

Have flexible systems of tracking:

  • In a solo practice, money comes in and goes out in a way that is easy to keep track of. However, when your practice begins to grow and your transactions increase in both occurrence and value, you need to set up a bank account and an assistant who can monitor your cash flow so that you do not have any financial leaks or lost capital.

Obviously it can become a runaway train pretty quickly if you start hiring people and you haven’t thought through all of these things. (Alison Pidgeon)

2. Lack of knowledge when it comes to hiring

If you have never hired before and have never had that experience, what I find a lot is people don’t have a good system or structure set up to really weed out who’s a good fit and who’s not. (Alison Pidgeon)

It helps your hiring process if you have a structure laid out that will assist you in telling who is a good fit in your practice and who might not be.

Consider having a three-month onboarding period wherein both you and the new clinician can see whether this is a good fit and if the clinician gels well with the company culture and the mission of your practice.

Have multiple steps in your structure to access your potential new clinician, and consider:

  • Asking your candidate to submit an application,
  • Having a phone interview,
  • Conduct a second interview if the first goes well,
  • Giving them a case study to review to access their clinician skills,
  • Check their references.

All these steps will tell you about the candidate, whether they are invested in landing the job, what their organizational skills are and how they handle multiple-step processes.

3. Overpaying your clinicians

Some group practice owners that after a few months they are working harder than their clinicians but are earning less money at the end of each month. If you find yourself in this position, you may be paying your clinicians too much.

The general rule of thumb is, after running your own numbers and calculating your overhead expenses:

Insurance-based:

With 1099 contractors there is generally a 60/40 split, 60% to the clinician, and 40% to you because there is a cap on how much income you can collect if you are taking insurance.

Self-pay:

You can be a little more generous than 60/40, depending on how you set your fee.

Remember that you can pay more over time, instead of paying less, so start low and build up as the practice grows instead of starting too high and having to lower their payment later.

With W2 employees:

The general rule is 45% to 50% of the average reimbursement rate is what you should be paying your employees and remember that you are paying their benefits.

In any case, my recommendation would be, if you are looking to hire, it would definitely be worthwhile to hire an accountant to help you figure out, based on your own expenses, what your average reimbursement rate is and what you can afford to pay staff that you bring on. (Alison Pidgeon)

4. Group practice owners seeing too many clients

Many practice owners get burned out because they have a large caseload that they do not feel comfortable giving out to the clinicians that they are hiring. Do not feel like you have to rush this process, it is not an overnight process, however, it does need to happen.

Over time you can and will reduce your caseload, and as your patients finish up you refrain from taking on more and instead focus on filling up your clinician’s caseload.

Remember that you are the CEO. Your time is valuable, and you can charge more for it. It is not sustainable for you to run a large, successful group practice while seeing a big caseload. You can level out your caseload and focus more on growing the practice while your clinicians see to the clients of the practice.

5. Delegating too late

Your time is better spent:

  • Marketing the practice,
  • Hiring new clinicians,
  • Seeing your own clients,

Focus on your tasks as the CEO of the practice. There is only one of you, and you can hire assistants who can handle the other tasks while you concentrate on the roles that only you can fill.

Do not wait to hire an assistant, because often once you need one, it is already too late. Hire one when you can afford it and let them help you so that you can grow your practice more quickly and with more of your focus on it.

Group Practice Launch Details:

www.practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch  sign up September 7th and 8th for early bird price $1350 for 6 months, if you sign up after September 9th it will be $1500

Over a period of six months, two group practice owners and business consultants, Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens, will lead you through the step-by-step process to start your own group therapy practice. By the end, you will have established a solid foundation for your growing business as well as hired at least one clinician. You will have access to an e-course, private Facebook Group, live webinars, and tons of other resources to help you!

Here’s what to expect:

  • Systems: Phones, Email, EHR, Payroll, Liability Insurance
  • Hiring First Clinician
  • Onboarding and Hiring and Assistant
  • Branding and Marketing
  • Creating a Positive Workplace Culture
  • Managing Your Numbers: Finances, KPIs

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!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 and email her at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

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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.

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