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.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Hello again, and thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. You have so many options out there and you choose to hang out with me. That means a lot to me. I love hear from you guys. So if you’ve got thoughts about the podcast, want to connect with me, shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. It fills my heart with so much joy when I get an email and someone says, “Oh, I listened to your show.” And I’m like, wow, someone listens to my show. But I love it. So connect with me please. I’m excited about this episode because I got to hang out with Alison pigeon. She’s one of the other consultants with Practice of the Practice, and we are doing some exciting stuff that I want to share with you. We are going to be launching our second cohort of Group Practice Launch. Yes, Group Practice Launch, and it is a community to help you start your group practice. I cannot emphasize enough when you’re thinking about starting your group practice, please don’t do it solo. We would love to help you. This is a community that can help you start a group practice, but if you choose to work with us or with somebody else, please work with somebody so that you don’t make the mistakes that we talk about on the show today.

Because all too often, we get calls from people years down the road after starting their group practice and they’ve made some really simple mistakes at the very beginning that could have been avoided. So this podcast episode will help you avoid those mistakes. But even more than that Group Practice Launch will really help you avoid those mistakes. Let me talk to you a few minutes about what Group Practice Launch is. It’s a membership community through Practice of the Practice. It lasts six months. It has an opening and a closing because it’s a structured program that you can’t just join in the middle of or you’ll miss out on a lot. We also have a community. So you will be able to connect with other people around the country or possibly in other countries that are working on starting group practices. So you won’t be alone in doing this.

So often people are alone in starting their group practice, and that can be so challenging. So this way you can find accountability partners or however you want to do to connect with people. Now during the program, you will have a community where you can ask questions, get feedback. Alison are very involved in that. We have videos that you’ll watch every single week and we will walk you step by step on how to start your group practice. You’ll have all the paperwork you need. You can take it to your attorney, get them to review it. We’ll walk you through pay scales and foundational pieces, how to onboard, checklist for onboarding. We’ve done it all. Alison and I have years and years of experience in helping people start group practices. We’ve helped over hundreds of people start group practices. So most things we’ve heard or we’ve created a worksheet for, we have it available for you in Group Practice Launch.

We do have meetings every Thursday at one o’clock Eastern time every week for the six month period. So you’re going to watch videos, you’re going to learn different components and you’re going to come to the lab meetings and then we answer your questions. We also have what’s called learn from a boss. So we have a group practice owner from our Group Practice Boss community step in once a month and answer your questions, tell their story about starting growing their group practice. So we really help you hear from people who’ve actually done this. So if you’re interested in starting a group practice, please head over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. There is a little orange button there to join the wait list. Please join the wait list. We will have an early bird special the first two days that we open the door. So I don’t want you to miss out on that discounted rate.

So the doors to the second cohort of Group Practice Launch are going to open in September. So make sure that you sign up for that link. The cost is going to be $1350 for the six months of consulting. And then if you end up joining after the early bird special it’s $1,500. Let’s say you can save a little bit. So click the link so you can get that early bird special and you’ll get an email that’ll tell you about that and make it super easy for you to join. So if you have questions, feel free to send me an email, happy to answer those, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. I love the membership communities. It’s so cool to see people grow their practices together.

From our first cohort, I just wanted to read a quick testimony from Michelle Croley. She has a practice in Pennsylvania. She says “Whitney and Alison provide a simple practical step-by-step process for learning and implementing each step of the group practice journey so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Encouraging and down to earth, this program has helped me to envision and plan, set my group practice on a solid foundation of systems for both my practice vision and purpose, as well as its profit.” Thank you Michelle, for doing that. We’ve loved having you in the group. Now let’s go ahead, because I know you’re anxious to hear about the five mistakes. So let’s jump into the episode with myself and Alison Pigeon on the five mistakes made in starting a group practice.
[WHITNEY] Hello and welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m excited to have my friend and colleague Alison Pigeon here on the show. I know you’ve heard her on my podcast before, and hopefully you’ve been listening to hers, the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Today we’re going to be tackling the five mistakes that are made by people when they’re starting their group practice. So how are you doing today, Alison?
[ALISON PIDGEON] I’m great. How are you doing Whitney?
[WHITNEY] Doing good. All right. We’ve got some things here that we want to share. But do you want to tell people a little bit about you and your podcast and kind of your work as a consultant?
[ALISON] Sure. Yes. So as Whitney said, I have a podcast called Grow a Group Practice. So we really focus on all things group practice, whether you’re just thinking about starting, you’ve just gotten started or you’re more of an established veteran group practice owner, and we try to feature a variety of content related to all of those things. So I do work as a business consultant for Practice of the Practice, and I’ve been doing that since 2016. So really have developed a specialty of helping people go from a solo to a group practice and now we also have a pretty large cohort of people who are in our Group Practice Boss membership community, where we help establish group practice owners continue to level up and work less and make more money and streamline their systems and all of that good stuff.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And what Alison didn’t tell you is that she owns an amazing group practice in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You have three locations, about 24 people?
[ALISON] Yes. So we have about 25 employees and actually we are now down to one location because of COVID because mostly everybody’s working from home. So yes, that’s been in existence since 2015. So it’s almost six years now.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Cool. And she also has a couple of other companies, Move Forward Virtual Assistants. If you’re looking for a VA to help with lots of different things, phones or other tasks in your practice. And you got another venture. Do you want to say what it is?
[ALISON] I do. No, I haven’t launched it yet. So I’m going to keep that under wraps right now.
[WHITNEY] Well, save it for another episode.
[ALISON] I haven’t decided the name of it.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Okay. Well, let’s talk about the five mistakes that people make when they’re starting a group practice. The first one I have down here is they fail to set up their systems for multiple parameters. Can you talk about that?
[ALISON] Yes. So what we see happen a lot is that people who have established a solo practice and kind of like figured out how to set it up on their own, maybe they listen to a bunch of podcasts or just found resources on the internet and were able to set up a solo practice on their own, they think, “Oh, I can just do the same thing to set up a group practice.” But it is like a very different animal. And I think a lot of people don’t anticipate how to set up systems that are going to accommodate an increased volume of clients along with multiple providers. So like even something as simple as having a phone system that has a phone tree with extensions is something people don’t think about. They’re just like, “Oh, well I just have my cell phone and it rings to me. So can I just keep doing that?” And I’m like, “No, you can’t keep answering the phone for like 10 other clinicians. You need an assistant. Everybody needs to have their own extension.”

So there’s things that you don’t realize. And also with an increased volume comes a different set of tracking. You know like even when I went from myself to myself and maybe a couple of providers, like my financial tracking and like the number of transactions going in and out of the bank account really increased very dramatically. And I realized very quickly that you can’t just keep track of that on a spreadsheet anymore. You need to get QuickBooks, you need a bookkeeper, all of those kinds of things. So obviously it can become a runaway train pretty quickly if you start hiring people and you haven’t thought through all of these things.
[WHITNEY] I love that you’re basically pointing out all the problems I had before I started a group practice. I think I had a consultant before I hired. But yes, I had like a little checkbook pad and I was writing everything down and I was using my own phone. And other common things we see practices that have names that just aren’t set up for a group. Like they’re just for themselves or you’d be surprised how many practices haven’t made an LLC, you know needing to do some of those basic things. And we here, I mean, as you probably would agree with me, I have a lot of people who will say to me, no, my systems are in place. I’m ready to hire. And then when I say, well, let’s just review those real quick. Usually I bring up like 10 things and two or three of them they haven’t done yet and they’re surprised. So it’s really important that you get someone to kind of help look at that with you.
[ALISON] For sure.
[WHITNEY] Cool. All right. The second one we find is lack of knowledge on hiring and kind of the differences between the 1099, W2 model.
[ALISON] Yes. So I think that if you’ve never hired before or 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. I made this very same mistake. So like the first few people that I hired I’m like, “Oh, they seem really nice. They have a license. Great come on board.” And I had no clue that, you know I already had a vision and a culture and values associated with the practice and how important it was to make sure that they fit in with that and how important it was to make sure that they were organized and stayed on top of their notes. Because they could be a great clinician, but if I have to chase you down every week, because you haven’t gotten your notes done and all that, it’s going to make my life miserable as the boss.

So it was all these things I learned along the way and then learned like, oh, you really got to set up a process that is going to help you to see person’s true colors before you even hire them. So that means there’s got to be multiple steps. Like we do a phone screening, we do an initial interview, we do a second interview. I know some practice owners who will have them do almost like a case study. They’ll give them fake client details and say write out a case conceptualization of how you would treat this client to just make sure they have really good clinical skills. We check three professional references. It’s a multi-step process and I find that it really tells us a lot about the candidate and how they’re going to be as an employee. Even something as simple as we have everyone fill out an application because that was what was recommended to us by an HR consultant that we worked with just to show that we’re treating everybody equally.

And sometimes they don’t fill out the application until after they’ve already turned in the resume and the cover letter. So it’s always interesting to see, well, how quickly did you fill out this application? And when I get back to you, how soon do you respond? Because it’s like if I reach out to you and I don’t hear back from you for like a week, then I start wondering, are you disorganized? Are you really not that invested in getting this job? That tells me a lot right about the candidate. So it’s just like things that you really need to pay attention to in the hiring process that I think like if you’ve never done before you just don’t know.
[WHITNEY] Yes, totally. And I’m curious, I find that when people call me for consulting, we’re doing the pre-consulting call, or even if we start consulting, a lot of them are three to four clinicians in and they realize their first hire is the one that’s causing all the problems in the practice. Do you see that too?
[ALISON] Oh yes. Yes. Everybody seems to make like, even, even if they get some help and work with a consultant, you still just, from inexperience, make a bad hire there in the beginning. It’s just part of the process.
[WHITNEY] Yes. And a big thing that Alison and I do and teach is the difference between a 1099 ended up W2 practice. It would be a lot for us to go into, but I did do a podcast episode, I think a little while back about W2’s and why I’ve kind of gone with that model. But a lot of people lack understanding about the differences. So that’s a big part of the consulting that we do, helping you understand which model works best for you. And a lot of people don’t take the time to understand it. They usually do the contractor model because that seems to be the easy way or that seems to be what people are doing and that’s not always what’s best for you.
[ALISON] Yes. And I think too, what I see is practice owners don’t think, “Oh, maybe I should check with a lawyer who’s familiar with the laws in my state to see if I even have a choice when it comes to picking contractors or W2 employees.” Because like in states like California, you can’t have contractors. There’s very clear laws that is just almost impossible to hire a contractor. So that’s the thing too. And then recognizing like depending on which one you go with, you have to treat them differently because there’s so many stories I’ve heard of where people maybe have worked in a group practice and they realize, “Oh, I’m considered a contractor, but I’m really being treated like a W2 employee.” So obviously as the practice owner, you can get in a lot of trouble if you ever get audited and it comes back like, oh, even though you said these people were contractors, you were really treating them like employees, and now you owe me all these like back taxes.

So it’s just like one of those things that like, you’re leveling up to start this group practice and you really need to make sure you have all of these things buttoned up because you don’t want to find out just because your friend down the street told you that it was okay to hire contractors and then find out later it’s not okay. Which I think other people, that’s the other thing I hear practice owners are like, “Well, there’s all the practices in my area.” Or, “My colleague down the street owns a practice. She has contractors. So it must be fine.” You know what I mean? Like maybe it’s not even legal in your state and you don’t know that until you ask a lawyer.
[WHITNEY] That’s right. Well, the third one that I have here, mistakes that people make when they’re starting their group practices is overpaying their clinicians.
[ALISON] Yes. This is another big one, unfortunately, that we, I’m sure you get a lot of calls about this, too, Whitney is that they hire three or four clinicians and then they’re like calling us, like I’m working harder and making less money than I did when I was in solo practice. And then we dig a little bit further and find out like, oh, they’re paying their folks like a 70/30 split. Of course, you’re not making any money because you’re paying your therapist too much. So the general rule of thumb that I’ve come across, and obviously, too, these are rules of thumb, so these aren’t necessarily set in stone or are true for everybody, but you have to run your own numbers and figure out your own expenses, overhead, all of that kind of stuff. But with an insurance-based practice, if you do a split typically with contractors, you can’t really be any more generous than 60/40. So the clinician is getting 60%, because you’re just, you’re capped at the amount of money you can collect because you’re taking insurance. If you’re a self-pay practice, you may be able to be a little bit more generous than that. I don’t know what you’ve seen in terms of that, if like 65/35 is appropriate, depending on how you set your fee.
[ALISON] Well, it depends on if you want to make money as a boss or not. I mean, the more generous I am to my employees, who’s going to be the one missing out on that financial part? It’s going to be me and I’m going to be hustling harder. So I always encourage people to start low. You can always give raises and change percentages later, but what’s really difficult, and we see this in consulting, people come to us, they’re not making money and then they’ve got to make these changes and their employees or clinicians are not happy about it. And it makes it very difficult. So you want to make sure that you can pay yourself and that you’re not having to see clients to keep your own salary going because as your group grows, you’re going to have to step back from seeing clients and make money off the clinicians.
[ALISON] Right. So that’s the other thing that people don’t realize is like, it’s not just about the clinician bringing in enough money to cover the overhead. It also needs to contribute to your salary and also turn a profit. So that percentage of the budget could be anywhere between 20 to 35% or 15 to 35%. So with W2 employees, the general rule of thumb is 45 to 50% of the average kind of reimbursement rate for a session is about what you should be paying your W2 employees. But that also includes like PTO time and other benefits that you’re paying to them. So yes, in any case, my recommendation would be, if you’re 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, what you could afford to pay staff that you bring on.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. And they can run those projections, which is usually nice. Great. Okay. Well, so number four, which kind of ties into what we were just talking about is group practice owners are seeing too many clients when they start their practice and when they make their first hires.
[ALISON] Yes. So I think that we see a lot of practice owners get like burned out because they feel like, oh, well I have this big caseload of clients and I see that’s where the majority of my salary is coming from. And they don’t feel comfortable reducing the number of clients they’re seeing, because they’re not quite sure how what the therapists are bringing in is going to somehow make up for that. So I think that a good way to think about it is it’s not an overnight process that needs to happen over a period of time. You know, I’m not just going to go from seeing 25 clients one week and then next week I’m only going to see 10. Like it’s going to be a process that maybe takes a few months to sort of whittle down the number of people I’m seeing while I’m also hiring and building up the other clinicians who are seeing more and more clients. So now they are turning a profit that is helping to pay my salary. So I think practice owners forget that they need to be starting that process at some point. And again, a lot of factors depend on when exactly you would start to whittle down your caseload, but yes, you can’t run a big group practice and keep seeing like a full case load of clients. It’s just like a recipe for burnout, for sure.
[WHITNEY] And then really group practice owners get in the way of growth. Like they are the only ones that can be the CEO of the business and really see that vision and mission. So when you’re so consumed with all the little fires and seeing all the clients, you really can’t take the practice to the next level, which actually you’re going to serve more clients by being a CEO than just seeing your own client load. So people miss that.
[ALISON] Yes, you definitely become a bottleneck, especially if you’re not delegating or you’re not spending an adequate amount of time, making sure the practice is running well and doing the things only that you can do
[WHITNEY] So delegating, you hit number five there.
[ALISON] Yes. Delegate. Too late. So as Whitney said, I own a virtual assistant company and we see this happen all the time. People think, oh, I don’t need an assistant yet. Or I can still answer the phones. It’s not too much for me, but then as soon as you hire one or two people, the administrative work really increases pretty dramatically. And if you’re the one answering the phone and like entering data into your EHR, you’re like the most overpaid assistant in the history of the world. Like your time would be so much better spent marketing the practice, hiring new clinicians, seeing your own clients. Because if you can hire somebody for 20 bucks an hour, then that’s a great situation for you to be in because now you’re doing work that only you can do that may bring in a hundred dollars or more an hour. So don’t wait to hire an assistant because once you realize you’re drowning in administrative work what we see is people don’t even have like the bandwidth to hire and train the new assistant. Like they’re so stressed out that they can’t even put together the materials they need to train the assistant.
[WHITNEY] Totally. Yes, and we didn’t even like touch on the whole phones idea. Like, if you’re seeing clients you can’t possibly answer the phones to schedule for your group practice. So then you’re really missing out, you’re doing all this marketing and putting all this money into it and then you’re losing all this money by not scheduling them clients.
[ALISON] Yes. It always amazes me when I, sometimes I’ll call a practice because it’s like a consulting client and I’ll call the business number and I get the voicemail and it’s like, “We’ll return your call within 48 hours.” And I’m like, “What? 48 hours? Like, by the time you return their call, they moved on. They found another place to go. You’ve lost that client.” So having somebody even just available to answer the phone during the day and answer emails quickly is huge.
[WHITNEY] Yes, totally. Well, this has been really helpful and I think these are some of the biggest problems that we see. So Alison and I had come together and thought, you know we see so many of these problems. We want to help people resolve all the issues that come up and really walk them through the process of starting a group practice in a really structured program so that they don’t make the mistakes that a lot of us make in starting a group practice. So we created a program called Group Practice Launch. You want to talk about that, Alison?
[ALISON] Yes. So I actually had a mastermind group for many years where we would lead people through the whole process of starting a group practice. And then, because I had run the course so many times eventually created a whole e-course with materials to kind of walk people through the process as well. And then there’s like a work book and there’s paperwork packages and all, basically it’s step-by-step like, here’s the roadmap for how to start a group practice. So Whitney and I have been working together and just thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could sort of combine both of our knowledge bases. Obviously, Whitney runs a self-pay practice that’s faith-based. Mine is more insurance-based and secular, I guess if that’s the thing. So we kind of took all of my materials and all of Whitney’s materials and me combined it into this membership community called Group Practice Launch so folks can access all of these materials and resources through Teachable.

Again, it’s very, step-by-step like month one is what you should do first, month two is what you do second, all that kind of stuff. So it’s over a six month period and the participants work through the materials and all the videos. And then we have weekly webinars where Whitney and I take turns answering questions and just helping people see how they can kind of mold the information they’re learning to their particular circumstances. So the first time we did the group was this past March when we started and we had a lot of people joining, which I was really excited about for our first time. And now they’re, I guess almost halfway through and I feel like it’s been going great and we’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from the participants about how helpful it is and how much they like being in a group of their peers who are going through the same thing and they can help each other. What’s been your experience Whitney with the group?
[WHITNEY] I agree with everything you’re saying and I was just thinking about where they are at right now. Like some of them have already hired their first person in the first three months of being in the group. Some of them have hired an assistant that’s kind of what we’re working on with them currently and teaching them the things that we just went through. Like we have a whole section on how do you pay your clinicians? We show them how we do it. We have scales, things that they can go look at so that they have something that kind of can lead them through setting the rates for their own practice, instead of it just being, “Hey, here’s a video you watch.” We actually give you the material and then we answer all your questions about it.

So what I also just really love about Group Practice Launch is when you’re starting a group practice, I remember it’s so scary and it’s expensive and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I can do this and keep seeing my clients. So Group Practice Launch gives you all the things that you need, but it’s a lower price point than doing individual consulting or a mastermind group. So we wanted to offer that to be able to make it easier for people. I think we have 30 to 35 people currently that are all starting group practices. So it is really cool and exciting to see that happen. So if you’re listening and you’re thinking, “Gosh, I am thinking about hiring my first clinician and I really want help in that process,” please don’t just go do it on your own like we talked about because you know what, if you do, you’re probably going to call us two years from now and tell us you need help. Let’s just get it done right the first time or as well as we possibly can and take the course and walk through the material and make sure that you feel comfortable about the decision.

So we’re launching our next cohort in just a couple of weeks. So that’s going to be on September 7th. Early access is going to be the 7th and 8th, and then we’ll have a price increase on the 9th. We will keep the doors up until the 13th, but like we said, it’s a very structured six month program. So you can’t just enter it any time. We do close those doors because we want you to gain the most you possibly can. Also with that early access, if you do join early, you do get access to an extra webinar. So just make sure you don’t wait until the 13th. If you want to join, go ahead and join. Or if you’re listening before then, and you’re thinking, I just want to get on the list so I get the email so I know when to join, you go to practiceofthepractice.com\grouppracticelaunch, get more information, get on the wait list, and then we can help you get your first hires. And then hopefully by next March, you’ll have at least two clinicians in your practice. I think that’d be so exciting and you’d be making more money than you’re making now.
[ALISON] One thing I wanted to say to Whitney was that people often ask us what they can expect from going through the program. And what I tell people is our expectation is you will have hired at least one clinician and also set up a really good foundation for your group practice by the time you’re done with the six months. And a lot of people, like you said, actually surpass that. Sometimes they’ve hired a handful of people and an assistant and they’re moving into a bigger office space and once people kind of see the roadmap and get the step by step instructions, they just like hit the ground running and just start executing the steps. And it’s amazing how quickly you can build the group practice. I think too, the other thing that I wanted to mention is that you could certainly try to cobble together like some resources or maybe talk to some friends who’ve already started group practices and try to figure it out on your own.

But I think what is so powerful about working with a consultant and somebody who’s really done it before you and has walked the walk is that they’re going to teach you all of the shortcuts and they’re also going to help you avoid all of the mistakes, which is obviously what we just spent the first 20 minutes talking about. Because we see that so often that you just don’t know what you don’t know. And obviously we all have good intentions and we want to do what’s best, but if you’ve never run a business before with staff, it’s a whole different thing. So I think it’s definitely worth the investment to have it set up correctly from the beginning. Obviously I’m doing business consulting for other people, but I always have some kind of business consultant or coaching for myself and my own practice and my businesses, because I find that it’s so valuable and I have seen over and over how much it’s helped my businesses grow faster. It’s helped me make sure I’m doing things correctly and not making a ton of mistakes. So not only am I providing the consulting, but I’m also always a student and always seeing how that investment has been so valuable in my businesses.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Thanks for saying that. And you really do live it out. You don’t just say, “Hey, come get consulting,” but like that, you know that it’s real and that it helps because you do it. And I even think about stories of people who’ve started group practices with consulting and some of them make three or four times what they made a year prior once they start that group practice. It’s really amazing to see, just to get to be a part of that and see people’s lives grow and change and serve clients.
[ALISON] Yes. And my very last mastermind group, actually, I had a woman who was very sort of financially savvy and wanted to be on top of like, okay, how much am I actually putting into this, getting this group practice started versus how much am I making back? And she paid, she invested in the mastermind group and all of the things that came along with getting the group practice up and running and she said that she had already made back all her money within like the first six weeks of starting the group practice. So yes, it’s a very, obviously with a service based business, you’re not having to put in a ton of upfront money to get it going and you can make your investment back very quickly. And then obviously you’re then actually making money and turning a profit after that point.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Thank you for sharing that story. Well, Alison, I ask everyone on the show, and I forgot to preface it for you, so take a second if you need to, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[ALISON] Oh, that’s a good question. I think my personal belief is that I really let the client kind of let me know what they want in terms of how much spirituality or their religious preferences or thoughts or whatever you want to call it, gets incorporated into the counseling process. So I’m not a Christian counselor but I did work in an organization that was founded by a religious group. So there was some of that infused into the work that we did and I always just allowed the client to tell me how they wanted that incorporated into their treatment, if at all. And that was, I felt like that was the most respectful way to go about it.
[WHITNEY] That’s also the most ethical way to go about it. Well, I appreciate you saying that because I think it is important, religious or other agendas that we have with our clients, the importance of us letting them lead the sessions and not putting our own agendas on them. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show. I’m excited about cohort two. So that’s practiceofthepractice.com\grouppracticelaunch. We’ll have that in the show notes. If it’s before September 7th, you can get on the wait list. If we’ve already closed the doors, you can still get on a wait list for our next cohort. We launch those every six months. So we’d love to have you. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to email me at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. All right, I’ll talk to you later, Alison.
[ALISON] Thanks Whitney.
[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 in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. 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.

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