Have you ever thought about going into business with your partner? How could you work together as a team without clashing? Is it possible to work together and live together and still run a practice successfully?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Andy and Carrie Sears about how they started their group practice working side by side as a couple.
TherapyNotes facilitates the workflow of mental health professionals through robust, secure, and streamlined software, accessible wherever and whenever you need it. With fully-integrated scheduling, notes, billing, electronic claims, and more, you’ll have more time for what matters most: your patients.
To get 2 free months of TherapyNotes click on www.therapynotes.com and enter the promo code: Joe
Meet Andy and Carrie Sears
Andy and Carrie Sears are a husband and wife team who own and operate Blue Boat Counseling, a group practice in Worthington Ohio. Andy’s the counselor and Carrie’s the marketer.
They specialize in depression and anxiety treatment for adults and teens, family and couples counseling, and PTSD treatment, we help people who are feeling lost. Lost in life, lost in relationships, lost in a sea of parenting struggles, lost in society following military service.
Their Columbus therapists are located in Worthington, Ohio, and their mission is to provide an upscale counseling experience to help you find the freedom to be your true self and ultimately live the life you want to live. Seeking navigation when you’re feeling lost is a strong and healthy approach to life. They can be your guide and help you BE YOU.
In This Podcast
- Life as a counselor pre-consulting
- A lightbulb moment about private pay and group practice
- Growing the group practice
- Working together as a couple
- The experience at Slow Down School
Life a counselor pre-consulting
I took it as far as I could in terms of the amount of income, clients I was seeing and stress level.
Andy was in a solo practice, wearing all the hats and was on as many insurance panels as he could be. At the same time, Carrie had been listening to Joe’s podcast and was feeling inspired. She could see that Andy was doing as much as he could, but she could also see the potential there was in trying to grow what he was doing.
A lightbulb moment about private pay and group practice
At the time Carrie was also listening to Perry Rosenbloom’s podcast and after listening to the series on private pay she convinced Andy to listen to it as well. This was the moment he realized that he could change course in his business and go the private pay route so as to not feel like he is working for someone else.
Growing the group practice
It was about pushing through the fear. You either get scared and stop. Or you get scared and keep going.
Andy started to work with Joe in one-on-one consulting and in within a few months Carrie lost her job. Shocked and unexpected they made a decision to push through this and really make it work. Carrie started working alongside Andy to grow group practice.
The transition from leaving insurance panels to moving into private pay slowly started to happen. Andy interviewed a few clinicians, hired his first person to join his team and it worked. From there on Andy started realizing that this could work and started focusing on how big the business could grow.
Working together as a couple
I don’t think you can be partners and business owners without talking about not only today, but where you’re going and where you want to go
Carrie and Andy work side by side, with Carrie focusing on the marketing aspect of the business while Andy focuses on counseling. They have realized that wearing all these hats in business they are not always the best at communicating what. Outsourcing some tasks have helped lighten this load now and will continue to do so going forward.
The experience at Slow Down School
To get away from the hustle and bustle and not think about work for a couple of days, and then be able to have some time to create plans and write it all down was great. Being around other therapists and being able to bounce ideas around was very valuable.
Advice from Carrie and Andy
Carrie: ‘Don’t wait, be ready to do the work. Don’t sit around thinking that the right time will come because there’s never necessarily a right time. If it’s on your mind and it excites you, just go for it!’
Andy: ‘It can be done! If you’re doubting that it can happen, we’re evidence of it and I’m evidence of it. Your vision can become a reality.’
Books mentioned in this episode
- What’s Working in Private Practice?
- Mike Michalowicz Wants You To Focus on Profit First and Running Your Business Like Clockwork | PoP 350
- Joe Sanok being interviewed by Mike Michalowicz
- Slow Down School
- Free resources to help you start, grow and scale
- Join Next Level Practice
- Apply to work with us
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!
[JOE]: This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok. Session number 441.
When it comes to keeping your practice organized, you want software that’s not only simple but the best. I recommend Therapy Notes. Their platform lets you manage notes, claims, scheduling, and more. Plus, they offer amazing unlimited phone and email support so when you have a question, they’re there to help. You get two months free of Therapy Notes today just by using the promo code [JOE], that’s [J O E] when you sign up for a free trial. Go on over to therapynotes.com and use promo code Joe.
Well, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am so darn glad you’re here. Boy, the early bird tickets for Slow Down School have been awesome. Holy cow. We have such a great group of people coming, we’ve got several multi-six figure practices that are, the owners are coming in. They’re also launching big ideas, people doing podcasts and eBooks and speaking and e-courses as well as wanting to optimize their practice. Even though we are outside of the early bird tickets, want to make sure that you go grab your ticket today over at slowdownonschool.com. We are going to have a great group of people that I just know are going to help you get to that next level. So, if you’re interested in that, you can still schedule an interview with me. It is the regular ticket prices though now over there at slowdownschool.com.
And I bring that up because today’s guests, Carrie and Andy Sears came as a couple last year which was so awesome and they’re going to talk about that experience, but they run their group practice together. And actually, when we were at Killin’It Camp, there were three couples, so six people that were kind of in the private practice world together and came to Killin’It Camp together. And it was great because I was able to connect Carrie and Andy with those couples and you know, one of those couples, Billy and Brandy are launching a podcast together with our Done For You services. Another one of the couples is going to be speaking at Killin’It Camp. So, it’s just so cool to see people that you know, come as a participant and then they say, I want to give back and I want to be more involved. And so, Andy and Carrie, I’m so glad they did this interview because there are unique issues in different ways and their story is so awesome. So, without any further ado, I give you Andy and Carrie Sears.
[JOE]: Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Carrie and Andy Sears. Carrie and Andy are a husband and wife team who own and operate Blue Boat Counseling, a group practice in Worthington, Ohio. Andy is the counselor and Carrie is the marketer. They’re working hard to grow their team of bad-ass and winning the Google name and branding game of content and SEO. Andy’s worked with Joe in a one-on-one consulting and in next level mastermind and they also both came to Slow Down School. Welcome, Carrie and Andy. Great to see you guys again.
[ANDY]: Thanks, Joe. Thanks for having us.
[ANDY]: Oh, it’s always so fun to hang out with people on the podcast that I’ve met in person. It’s just like, you know, you meet these people online and then you never realize just how tall Andy Sears is and then you meet him. The whole time he’s been sitting in this chair and I never knew how tall he was and then boom, he’s like seven feet tall.
[CARRIE]: Our children have his high. I’m going to be the shortest in the family real soon?
[JOE]: Oh man. Let’s go back, Andy. I still remember the moment we were doing our pre-consulting call and as we started to talk about you potentially doing consulting with me, take us through maybe the year or two before that. What was life like as a counselor? How is the practice going? And then when you reached out to me, we can kind of talk about what’s helped you grow your practice. And I’d love to really get into the kind of husband and wife dynamic. Andy, why don’t you kick it off for us and sketch out what life was like kind of a couple of years before we started working together?
[ANDY]: Yeah, sure. So, I was in a solo practice, and I was doing everything, so, and I was taken about every insurance on the planet that you can take in this area. I’m thinking that was kind of the way that it’s supposed to go. You know, that’s kind of what they told us in school, you know, “Get your license and then get on as many insurances as you can.” And it was fine. I mean, it was a lot of work, and you can only go so far. I think I took it as far as I could, as far as income, the number of clients I was seeing and stress level. And then, you know, Carrie, I guess at the same time you had been listening to Joe, you had kind of discovered Joe and she mentioned, she brought you up a couple of times. I’m like, “Whatever, I’m going to work. Like I know what I’m doing.”
[JOE]: Carrie, so, when you were in the private practice world, what was your kind of occupation at that time?
[CARRIE]: So, I have been, well I’ve had a couple of hats. I was a food scientist first, for several years and then, I realized I loved understanding consumers and kind of more of the marketing asset aspect. I’ve worked in the food industry and so I went back and got a marketing degree and I had been hanging out working in what we called consumer insights, for a decade. And, but I could see that Andy was maxed out, but I could also see the potential that there was in trying to grow what he was doing. And I also was feeling pretty maxed out and not like I was adding a lot of value in what I was doing and that there was kind of white space here that we could explore.
So, for probably a solid year I was listening to podcasts and doing my homework, doing a lot of research but it was just on the side. You know, Andy was doing his thing, I was doing my thing and, but you were definitely the first podcast I found. I was listening to it. I was like addicted and I was coming home telling him, I’m like, “Well you got to listen to this podcast I’m telling you. And he has a group practice in Michigan, okay, so not far from us and it’s private pay,” and he’s like, Huh, I don’t know —”
[JOE]: It’s so funny because usually, it’s the therapist. It’s like Joe says we should do this. And then the spouse is like, “I am so sick of hearing about Joe.”
[CARRIE]: Totally [crosstalk].
[ANDY]: Yeah, it was totally different for us.
[JOE]: Cool. Before we go too far down that path, I have some food scientist questions. So, I’ve had this idea, —
[CARRIE]: I’m out of the game a while, Joe [crosstalk].
[JOE]: I want you to tell me if this is even something that could happen or if it’s a magical idea. So, here’s my idea; that there’s like, you know the four-hour energy drink, like that little kind of shot thing or something like that that someone could put into a really cheap beer. So, it’s like a PBR but it makes it taste like an IPA or it makes it taste like a stout. Is that even possible?
[CARRIE]: No, I think it’s a great idea but those things are going to work against you because you have this downer that is beer and this upper, that is energy. I don’t know [crosstalk] [JOE]: Not even an energy drink, just that it makes it taste new like that you could get a cheap beer and it could taste like an IPA.
[CARRIE]: Oh, oh, oh. Well, that’s a lot of flavor work, which was my first world. I used to work in the flavor industry, but I used to apply the flavors into the beer that the flavor chemists made. So, we would need a good flavor chemist on your practice.
[JOE]: Maybe that’s a fun side project for us to work on.
[CARRIE]: Yes, for sure. I know some of those people.
[JOE]: Okay. I was just thinking about that recently and now it has come up in this conversation. I might as well ask you for some free consulting.
[CARRIE]: Sure, yeah.
[JOE]: All right. So, you’re listening to the podcast and when does Andy finally cave and he’s like, “Okay, I’ll listen to this.”
[ANDY]: When she said —
[CARRIE]: I’ll talk in the time. I know it now. I know the answer.
[ANDY]: Okay, go ahead.
[CARRIE]: Well, so through, and I’m going to bring up another podcast here. I hope that is all right, Joe.
[JOE]: That’s okay.
[CARRIE]: But through listening to you, I also, discovered Perry Rosenbloom. So, I always occasionally listen to his podcast. Well, he did a private pay series that you were on, right?
[JOE]: Yeah, he is awesome.
[CARRIE]: Yeah, so I listened to that whole series and there was one podcast in particular in there. I believe the man’s name was Eddie Reese, I think, I want to say. But anyway, he, there was a podcast in particular where he was very hardcore about this private pay. And when you basically, you don’t own your own business if you take insurance because you’re a contractor to insurance companies and you don’t work for insurance companies. And I told Andy he needed to listen to that whole series, but that podcast, in particular, was like a light bulb. And knowing Andy the way I do, I knew that one would hit home because he’s so independent and that was, that’s the goal. Like he’s never been a person who could really have a boss. Well or like he just needed to do his own thing and so when I heard that and it was like taking that spin on and explaining it in that way, I knew he would be like, “Oh my, I cannot believe I’ve never thought about it this way. I can’t work for insurance companies.” And that’s when, for me, that’s when I saw the light bulb come on for him. But maybe you have a different moment. I don’t know. But that’s what I remember.
[ANDY]: No, I remember that. I can see us in the kitchen right now talking about it. And when you told me about after I listened to him, then her and I had another conversation and I, well, when I heard it and when I heard him explaining things, I was like, “Shit, now I have to,” because I’ll never stop thinking about that and I’ll always, I’ll never feel, I’ll always feel like I’m under someone else or working for the man, I guess.
[JOE]: I feel like that’s a very handy thing that I’ve noticed. It’s like when you realize something, and I’ve seen it in the mastermind group, I saw it at Slow Down School, it’s like when you see a new way of seeing, you really are that. Like once you see you can’t unsee and you run towards it and you put in the work. So, what were some things that once you were like, “Wait, there’s a new way of doing this? I could do a group practice. I can leave those cruddy insurances.” What were the first steps that you took?
[CARRIE]: So, I said, “Now that you have this, you’ve come to this same realization that I have, Joe can help us. I know we can but we have to like reach out, apply, see if we can see if he has room to take us on as consulting clients.” And at the time I was just like, take for Andy to do it. I wanted Andy to be all at, I was still working all day. We have two young kids like, and I said this would be the next step if you’re all in, like if you want to do it.
[ANDY]: Yeah, and, that’s something that I wouldn’t have, I would’ve wanted to try to do it by myself, basically. I would have said, “Okay, that’s cool. There’s the Joe guy. That means it’s possible. So, I’ll just go do it.” But I would, for some reason I was okay with not trying to do it on my own. I think part of it was being 40 and something changed and I hit a milestone in my solo practice income-wise that I never thought I would ever hit, which was six digits and I thought, I felt accomplished as far as in a solo practice. And I used to tell Carrie like, “I don’t feel like I’ve got to find my way through the forest here. I mean Joe has already been through the forest, he’s standing on the other side. He can come through and just show me the path to take and bring me over to his side.” So then, that’s what we went for.
[JOE]: Now maybe what were some of the big things that you worked on maybe in those six months of consulting? Like, because I think that there are still those people that say, “You know what, I’m going to just do it on my own,” and I want them to get value out of this podcast, whether or not they work with us. So, what are some of the big mindset shifts or things that either you did or Carrie that you saw that really sped things up for you?
[CARRIE]: I mean, I think the fact that we, he was doing it and he was the one working with you, but at the same time I was still on the side doing my other research. So, not that it can’t be done with one person, for sure it can, but I think us as a team, you know, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about SEO because I knew that we, you know, we live in a suburb of Columbus, which is a big city. I knew that in order for us to really make a go at this where there are a lot of other counseling practices, we had to differentiate ourselves and I saw that wearing my marketing hat that was going to be with a website that blew other websites around here away.
[JOE]: I just want your website template and [inaudible 00:13:01] like resell it. It is so beautiful. I mean wait, when you guys pulled it up at Slow Down School, everyone like gasped. Like they had [crosstalk] and it was amazing. Like those of you that are listening, you have to go to blueboatcounseling.com to check it out. Now, when you guys, because I know that Blue Boat, we had a decision point where you had to decide, am I going to do like columbuscounseling.com or am I going to do something unique? Andy, share a little bit on that decision of do you go the unique route and not care as much about the SEO for the actual URL or you go the kind of traditional like columbuscounseling.com.
[ANDY]: So, we’re in, our suburb or little city here within Columbus in Worthington. So, everything around us was Worthington wellness, Worthington counseling or it was like horizons, reflections, directions, connections, every, all the [crosstalk] [CARRIE]: Or things that are very, I thought that if you could forget those easily because they blend together like I don’t remember which is which. So, what would be different and not get blended into that mix?
[ANDY]: So, and then you and I had a conversation, Joe in one of our sessions and you said, “Well, you know, it’s a bold move,” but I’ve had people go pick like an object or something abstract or color or both. And we had talked about that and somehow tying in some meaning to it that also tied into counseling somehow. So, then Carrie and I had a conversation about it and, which is usually me walking or pacing back and forth in a room free-associating into the air and her writing things down and translating it.
[JOE]: So, Blue Boat. I know the story, but maybe tell us the story of how you landed on that.
[ANDY]: So, we thought, okay, let’s go with like an object and a color. We knew for sure the color would be blue because of my affinity for the color blue. For all, ever since I was a little kid, just everything had to be blue or if it was any kind of color choice, I wanted blue and then we picked boat because we would take trips every summer with cousins to an amusement park here in Ohio. And when I was little, waiting in line for these rides it was, well I’m the next one to get on the ride, you know, the boat or the plane or whatever would come around or the car. If it wasn’t blue then I didn’t want to get in it. So, I would usually just step out of the way and let the next kid get in it and then would just count until the blue one came up, then I would jump in that one. So, then, okay, now we’ve got that. Well how do we tie that into counseling? Because I’m already thinking of these cool logos and stuff, you know, with this boat and so, we kind of tied it into a feeling, I guess. Like you want, you know, striving to be happy and it’s okay to have to take steps in your life to make yourself happy. So, for me, in a small version of that was, you know, five-year-old me waiting on a blue boat. If I was in a different color then I wasn’t mad, but I just wasn’t as happy.
[CARRIE]: And you were being yourself and that’s what this was all about was like he was always himself. He didn’t get in the yellow boat because he was like supposed to, because it was the next one. He waited for the blue because he was being his true self. And so that’s also what Andy has talked about for years; is that that’s where you get them. He gets the most out of counseling when he can help somebody, like realize who they’re really supposed to be on this planet and be that person. And so that’s why our tagline is ‘Be you,’ because it’s really just about being who you are and what he was doing in the blue boat was being himself.
[JOE]: I love that story. I feel like it’s so, like we all have those things as kids that we were super into for whatever reason we were into it. And the idea of naming your practice after some of those things, it’s like, yeah, that just feels so much more authentic and it’s not going to blend in but Blue Boat, what’s the story there? It’s a great way, you know, at a networking meeting or something else to just be able to kind of share a story that ties into counseling.
[JOE]: So then, Carrie, you joined the practice. Andy, you both get this group practice going. Take us through some of the adding clinicians to your practice, adding Carrie, that story of how and why she joined the practice.
[CARRIE]: Yes. So, I think that’s a big piece of our story. So, you know, we left off the story saying that Andy started to work with you in one-on-one consulting and we knew we wanted to grow it. We made that decision. He was working with you and then probably two months later, I was in a meeting and looked up in an org chart and my position was gone. So, I met this corporate giant of a food company, and you feel like you’re on this safe barge. I always thought, Andy he’s out doing his own thing, being his own boss, his piece is the risk, right? Mine’s the safe one. And then one day you realize that doesn’t really mean that you’re never really, you know, it’s never really as safe as you think it is. You know, you’re always having to prepare, I just I guess you just, you don’t know what if it’s going to happen to you and then it does. And so, I think a take-away from me was just like, don’t wait on these things because the timing actually works for us.
And I have said multiple times to my colleagues I used to work with. You know, I was so angry in the beginning because nobody had a conversation with me before I saw that org chart. I just saw it and it was gone and I was so mad. But then I was there for months after that because I stayed on for a while and when I left, I actually left in this huge place of gratitude because it opened a door for us. But I think it would have taken us a long time to open on our own for me to actually step off of that corporate barge. But then I was actually kind of being pushed off. So that was basically when that happened and we knew that I was going to have less than a year until I was out of a corporate job. Can we do this? Can we make this work, grow it enough to sustain our family? So, I don’t need another corporate job because I can tell you after seeing that org chart, I was ready to be done with the corporate for a while.
[JOE]: I remember Andy kind of saying, “Carrie’s losing her job. She has a severance for this period of time. I want to have the practice at this point so that she can join.” And what a great motivator. I want to go back to that point of Andy’s job feeling like the risky one, but actually the corporate job being the risky one because I feel like that’s such an important insight. I’ve never heard it framed that way but I remember when I was leaving the community college and, every Monday my friend Taylor and I walk and we still walk every Monday, and talk through all sorts of things and you know, the year or so that I was hashing through should I leave, should I stay as podcasting’s taking off and, but you know, I have, you know, great pension benefits and all these things through the college. And when I looked at it every year, you know, with inflation being 2-3%, depending on the year, we never got a 2-3% raise. And so, every year I was making less, unless I moved into a management position where then worked 50 hours a week.
And you know, to think that every year I’m making less and that my future is totally based on someone else’s decisions, my friend Taylor said to me, he said, “Well, do you trust your ability to make money, more than the community college’s ability to give you a raise?” And it was just like, yeah, like if I want to make an extra thousand dollars next month, like I could just see more counseling clients at the time or I could get a couple more consulting clients or, you know, now it’s like I see these visions of what I want to do and I get our team to do it. And so, it’s crazy to think about the risky thing being the typical corporate 40-hour a week job. But I love that point. Andy, what did you do during that kind of interim phase? So, Carrie’s losing her job, she’s still working there, there’s a little severance that’s going to give you a buffer. But I mean for most families that would be like a Holy hell kind of moment. Like what are we going to do? How did you put the pedal to the metal and get things going in the practice?
[ANDY]: I mean, I remember a lot of conversations of you and I on the phone and me pacing around my office stricken with anxiety, but vowing that I’m going to do the next step, even if you pushed a little bit or we pushed together to make it a bigger step than maybe I had forecasted. So, it was about, you know, I guess it was when I think of it in a feeling sense, I guess it was about pushing through the fear. You know, when I look back on it, I was fearful. So, it was just about, well, what do, either like get scared and stop or you get scared and just keep going, you know? And in the whole scheme of things, what I kept telling myself was, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, then Carrie is very intelligent and has multiple college degrees and could go get on another big ship.” So, I don’t know the answer there is I guess [crosstalk] [JOE]: I think that’s an important point that you know, a lot of times people feel like, “Oh if this fails, like we’re going to be homeless.” It’s like really? If you saw the ship going down, you’re saying you wouldn’t go get a job at Starbucks to at least have some like health insurance, like worst-case
scenario. Like really. And so, I think people think that they’re always like on this brink of disaster when the reality is if things start getting really rough, there’s probably someone that will hire you out there. [crosstalk] It’s like, take those risks and, like what’s the reward versus the risk? Usually, the reward or the potential reward is way bigger than what the actual real-life risk is.
[ANDY]: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s funny you say that because I would, I’d go on these rants sometimes in the midst of this whole thing. And I’d tell Carrie like, “I don’t want to move.” I just kept saying like, “I don’t want to move.” Like we’d have to move out of our house. We don’t live in like this giant house that’s super expensive or anything. I want to move to like an apartment and you know, because this thing didn’t happen. Well the other thing that I should, I want to mention that after what you just said, Joe, is time and how big of a factor time is in this whole thing. The rug doesn’t get pulled out from under you in a split second. I mean, if you see the things starting to go down, which we didn’t and we’re very thankful for, and I think that’s a testament to our relationship and the caliber of our teamwork together. But if you see the thing just start to go down, then you put the parachute on and jump out. Do you know what I mean? And then you’re fine. So, it’s not like, I remember having to put that through my head. Like, it’s not all going to happen in a day. So, as you said, you start seeing it, “Okay, well then,” then you go work at Starbucks, or you do whatever you have to do, right?
[JOE]: So, you start to add clinicians to the practice, you start kind of onboarding. Carrie, take us through that period of going beyond Andy because that’s a big jump for most people to go from a solopreneur to now a group practice in mindset and taking off hats and kind of setting culture when you’ve just been able to show up. What were some helpful kind of steps during that phase of bringing people on to the practice?
[ANDY]: Well, you know, again, I think it was just the, it was so different because I was so used to doing everything on my own, but I just went through the steps; I interviewed people and it was at the same time I was transitioning off of insurance to private pay myself. So, it was like everyone I bring on, it’s going to be private pay. And you know, the thought was like, well, who’s going to want to work for me or who’s going to want to work with me? I’m like, I don’t know. I think we kind of tend to have these negative thought processes sometimes with this stuff, but, and it’s usually the opposite of what we’re thinking. But it was nice to have other people. It started to feel nice to have someone else on board, no pun intended and then when I saw that work and I saw that, you know, our first person we hired was Julia. I saw that she was happy and she liked coming in, she liked seeing her clients, she liked that she was private pay, she liked that she made her own hours, she liked me but I thought, “Okay, well, if one did it, then that means probably a whole bunch would do it.” You know, and let’s, how big can we make this, you know?
[JOE]: Yeah. Well, I want to spend kind of the rest of the interview talking about your relationship inside of the practice and things that have gone well, things that have totally blown up because when we were at Killin’It Camp, there were three couples, so six people that had come to Killin’It Camp as couples and they were like carbon copies of you two where one’s a therapist and one was like a support, but they were working in the practice. And we started a text string with your permission to connect with those people because I feel like there are unique needs in regards to, you know, partners that are partners outside of the practice but also partners within the practice. Maybe take us through some disasters, like what were times that you guys fought or got in each other’s way or just didn’t recognize each other’s skills that you’re like, “I think couples should probably think about this before they jump into this sort of kind of relationship, this professional relationship.”
[CARRIE]: I can start if you want.
[ANDY]: Go ahead.
[CARRIE]: I wouldn’t, to be totally honest, I would not say we’ve had huge disasters and I’m not just sugarcoating it. Like we just, we’ve also been like head down. Like Andy said, we were on a time crunch that a lot of people aren’t forced to be on. Like if we were going to make this work and I was not going to go back into the corporate world, we were on a timeframe. So, it was kind of like put your head down and do it. But you know, we wear very different hats. I do not have a clue what it’s like to be a counselor other than being married to one. So, you know, that’s never a territory I stepped in or step over. And I do, you know, I have a marketing background, marketing history plus I’ve read a ton of books and done a lot of research.
We worked with Jessica Tappana on our SEO from Simplified SEO consulting. She’s amazing. So even though I’d read all these books and I have a marketing degree, I still needed somebody to like kind of hold my hand over the edge to really make it happen and she was awesome for that. So, it was like I was living in this digital marketing world and Andy’s living in his counseling world, but I also do wear all these other little hats, right? So, I am the bookkeeper and I’m the stock person, you know, these are all things that as we expand and grow are going to go away and we’ll outsource but I think probably where we’ve fallen short, which is ironic because we are like great communicators in our marriage, but for some reason in this business wearing these separate hats and being so busy with it, we’re not always the best at communicating about what the other one is doing.
So, in terms of like Andy, you know, helping with like managing, we have contractors, so that’s a loose area, but like working with clinicians on their schedule and doing the admin part of that and me doing the marketing. Actually, communicating about what each other’s doing, it’s probably where we fall in short and low. But, you know, like I said, it’s heads down, do it and then we’re like, we realize this and as we start to outsource more and gain more time where we’re going to get better at those things. I think
[JOE]: So, like you guys did a big sponsorship at kind of football games, which is kind of marketing, but then Andy and the mastermind group was like how should I do this? So how did you guys navigate something that’s marketing which is more Carrie’s domain and Andy having kind of this idea of like let’s sponsor sports. Like something like that. It’s very practical like did you guy, were you guys on the same page with that or was that kind of you had to figure out who’s kind of in charge of what? Like how do you negotiate that?
[ANDY]: Gosh, I don’t know.
[CARRIE]: Well, I’d say —
[ANDY]: How well did we negotiate that?
[CARRIE]: I am, Andy is social one of the two of us which I think puts him in —
[JOE]: Which I would not guess based on Slow Down School and hanging out on the camp fire. I think you guys are, at least from my perspective, it seems like you’re pretty equal but, —
[CARRIE]: Well thank you. It actually —
[JOE]: I would agree with that, actually.
[CARRIE]: It takes work for me and not work like in a bad way. Just after I’ve had like a lot of social things, especially with new people, I feel very drained by it whereas Andy feels pretty energized by it —
[JOE]: That’s like me and Christina too. Like everyone is like, “She must be an extrovert,” but she’s so like drained by it. But you would never guess it. Like at Slow Down School, you know, people would be like, “What are you’re talking about like?” You’d never know. She just jumps right in but totally same thing.
[CARRIE]: Yeah. So, I think I love being in my marketing cave with my screens and like doing my digital marketing —
[JOE]: Did you say screens? How many screens do you have?
[CARRIE]: Well, just two but, [crosstalk]. A small one and a big one that always [crosstalk]. I like being in here and so the community stuff is actually where I am not so good. Like they actually, Andy’s the one who goes out and you know, if he’s going to go to a doctor’s office or whatever or a school. He’s the one who does those things. As far as community marketing I would actually say it’s more Andy than me, but with, so with that it was always, you know, we are very, we live in our hometown and so the high school that we sponsored the game for recently is actually our high school that we went to. And it was like really one of his things that he was, really wanted to have our logo on the scoreboard and just thought that would really feel like you’ve come full circle if you now have your company sponsoring a high school where we are helping those students. So that was actually just a really big goal that he had and then I kind of stepped in to help make it happen but the, it was definitely a goal of his from that standpoint. But he’s more of the community leader whereas I’m more of a digital cave girl.
[JOE]: It sounds like you kind of have an idea of who is going to do what and like almost who’s the lead on a project. Is that accurate or is it more familiar than that?
[ANDY]: No, I think you’re right. I think if you could present a random project and without even us, I think we’d both be thinking the same thing. Well that’s our thing or that’s definitely her thing.
[JOE]: I know that me and Christina work better when we kind of know who the lead is on something. So, for example, a couple, a year or two ago, she wanted to have like, I just wanted this fire pit that was just like one of those metal rings. Like not a big deal and just put it out there, we got a campfire whereas she wanted this whole like brick built-in kind of thing and I just said to her, “If you want to pick it out, I’ll help you move the stones. I’ll be your general contractor. You just tell me what to do.” So, she’s like, “I need you to dig down six inches here,” and then she figured out the pea gravel and got it all kind of situated and cocked and everything. But it’s like we know who’s in charge. Like she is in charge, I can keep my mouth shut and just say, “You tell me what to do.” For us, that works way better for kind of bigger projects than you know, us both trying to be in charge.
[JOE]: What are kind of quick kind of tips for people that are working with a partner in this type of arrangement.
[ANDY]: Communication, I guess. I mean obviously you know,
[JOE]: Do you like have like regular sit downs that are scheduled or is it just kind of as needed?
[CARRIE]: So that’s where we fell short. We started doing that and then we got crazy busy and then we stopped and we’re starting again. So, but I —
[JOE]: You are announcing it publicly on the podcast that thousands of people listen to you.
[CARRIE]: We are [crosstalk]. But I do think it’s, I think that is huge to really, I don’t think you can be partners and business owners without talking about not only what you’re doing today, but where you’re going and where you want it to go. You know, I am a big Mike Michalowicz’s fan, so we implement profit first. But I’ve also, I wasn’t sure if we were there yet, but I recently started reading Clockwork and I think in order to design, to be in that designing phase of your business and you know, really plan where you, the visions you have and where you wanted to go, if you’re doing it together, you have to talk about it and figure all that out together and what it looks like and plan it and so [crosstalk] [JOE]: And if you guys aren’t familiar with clockwork, I had an interview with Mike Michalowicz earlier this year. We’ll put that in the show notes and then also I talked about private practice on Mike Michalowicz’s podcast as well. So, we’ll put both of those things in the show notes. Well I want to hear a little bit about Slow Down School because we’ve had a few couples come to Slow Down School. We’re, you know, the tickets open for that in mid-January, but maybe walk people through the experience of Slow Down School for you because I think it’s hard to really understand what Slow Down School is, how it works. I can talk about it all day long on the podcast, but you know, I think until you fully experience it, it’s hard to know. But maybe walk us through what was your experience at Slow Down School and, we can talk a little bit about what that experience was like and what the impact was for you.
[ANDY]: Yeah, so the idea, I feel like the idea is just what you say; you slow down for a couple of days and then it kind of opens your mind and lets all these ideas come in to get away from the hustle and bustle, not think about work for a couple of days and then the ideas come in for what you want to do and you have time to think about it, write it down, create plans; was awesome. I mean that’s, it was great for us. We had a little different setup, we weren’t, we didn’t stay on site, but just being around, you know, I think that formula and then also being around other people in the same place in their career or practices is always just so valuable. Because you just, the idea is you can bounce off each other and, “Oh, I remember when I was there and this is what I did.” Or oh, you know, someone else saying that to you like, “Oh, I was where you are a year ago and this is what I did. Maybe that’ll work for you,” type thing.
[CARRIE]: And I think for me, if I can like add in a piece of advice here from like those couples, you know, for the spouse who’s not the therapist, I was super excited to go, but honestly I was a little hesitant knowing that in this case I would be the only one who wasn’t a therapist and I wasn’t sure what that would feel like. And I guess when you step back and think of it, think about it, it is a group of therapists. Like everybody’s so like kind and welcoming and you know, I honestly, I just, I never felt like an outsider. I thought I might feel different because my background is so different and I’m not a therapist I can’t really have those conversations, but because you know, this Slow Down School’s really about, you know, the slowing down to have ideas for about your business. So, it’s not like it’s focused on being a therapist. I was intimidated by that going in. I’m being transparent but it wasn’t, it was such a non-factor. So I would say like if you are a couple and you have a spouse who’s not a therapist, but is working in the business, it was so valuable for me to be there, even as someone who wasn’t a therapist, but who’s working on this business because, the learning from each other, you know, obviously from Joe and from the other consultants there, but just from each other group practice owners and feeling like I had things to give. Like, you know, there were people picking my brain while we were there and just having people in your world doing what you’re doing was amazing.
[JOE]: Now for the slow down days, so Sunday we kind of set the vision, it’s slowing down and kind of focusing on kind of retreat for a couple of days. For that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, what were things that stood out to you that felt really helpful in helping you slow down?
[ANDY]: The hikes we took. The hikes, when I think about Slow Down School, that’s the first place my brain goes, hiking through the dunes and really the ones where we would hike up through the woods and then you’d come to the clearing through the trees and you could see the water and that you’re on this, you know, you’re a feet up in the air on the sand dune. And when you and I, Joe kind of went off to, we jumped ahead a couple of hundred yards to kind of scout something out, then go back and tell the rest of the group, that was really neat because I was kind of behind you. I mean, I’m a lot taller than you, but I was behind you now and you’re like showing me, yeah, I’m following you through these narrow passages through the woods and we’re checking out where they lead and then going back and showing them and my head, I’m like, “Well, damn, he is doing it. He’s showing me through the woods, just like I thought he was going to do in the first place.”
[JOE]: Well, I think there is something just fun about being an adult that’s just exploring. You know, when you’re kids, you go do that. You make fourths. At least our kids still do. I don’t know how common that is these days, but you know, to find new things and find new trails and where does this go and you know, to just not think about business or your family or all that life stuff. You just say, “Okay, I’m going to have an adventure right now.” It’s so fun, you know, to do with people and especially when people aren’t from Michigan, which most of the Slow Down Schoolers aren’t and they see Lake Michigan for the first time and they’re like, “This is like an ocean.” It’s like, “Yeah, you can’t see Wisconsin.”
[JOE]: The California people were my favorite in regards to like their reaction. Like, “What, we didn’t know that there was water this big” and we’re like, “Yeah, right. It’s Lake Michigan.”
[JOE]: So, what about workdays? So, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning, so we do some sprints and we do some kind of individual exercises, group exercises. What stood out to the two of you, and Carrie, why don’t you kick this one off for us? What was helpful for you during those days?
[JOE]: I loved the sprints. I think from a couple’s stand point it was, “Okay, let’s go off and do a couple of individual sprints,” and then as we get more into it, we actually started doing ours together because we almost found it easier to like to bounce it off of each other because we’re both in it, you know? So that’s what worked the best for us from a couple standpoint. But it’s amazing what your brain does when it’s like pushed to have 20 minutes to like accomplish free thinking, where’s this going to go? So yeah. And plus, you know, being for us together, it was like we walk out of it like, “Wow, like that’s, now let’s go do that now.”
[JOE]: Yeah. So, Friday afternoon we kind of land the plane for the week and I want to ask your advice if we should do the same thing, we did last year. So last year we did chocolate tasting over at Grocer’s daughter, then we went to Cherry Republic and tasted all these different cherry products and cherry wines and things like that and then we went down to fish town to see this crazy like fishing town. Would you say that that would be a good thing to do each year or should we change it up every year?
[ANDY]: Oh, I thought it was awesome.
[CARRIE]: Yeah, that’s hard to top. I think it was awesome.
[JOE]: Yeah, I mean even just tasting cacao juice? Like the juice of the like plant that makes chocolate, I mean it was like this weird sour juice. It was so interesting. So yeah, I had never had that before either. Cool. Well, for people that are considering Slow Down School mastermind groups, one-on-one consulting, like what would you say that they should consider before they apply for it?
[CARRIE]: I think like really do your own soul searching to know that you’re ready to do the work because when you go in to this, I think that’s what I love about seeking out consultants and the help we’ve gotten from Joe and is that if you’re ready and prepared to go in and do the work, you can fast forward this thing. You really can, because like Andy said, like you’ve been through the woods, you’ve taken the path, you can advise on the way to go and so you can really put this thing into high gear, but you’ve got to be ready to do the work when you go in. So really make sure that’s where you are in your life and your family and everything that you’re ready to do it. And then just jump all in.
[JOE]: Andy, what about you? What do you think?
[ANDY]: I would agree with that. I mean, you know, I feel like if you’re hungry and you’re, and there was a little bit of, not a code red or a crisis, but it’s there some sense of urgency there and you want it bad enough and you can envision what you want your life to look like, but that also energizes your teacher. You know, I feel like that energize you Joe, when I work with you individually and since we’ve worked with you in mastermind, you know, our story probably helped out a little bit, like, “Oh, there’s like the clock’s ticking,” you know, with this severance and it was like a clock ticking down in the game, you know? Yeah, I mean, if I think what Carrie said rings true to be all in and ready to do the work and want to do the work because you want to change your life.
[CARRIE]: And it has changed ours.
[JOE]: Ah, I love hearing that. That never gets old for me. Oh my gosh. Well, Carrie, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[CARRIE]: Well, I think it’s probably kind of cliché and I’ve already been saying it, but don’t wait. Like we just said, be ready to do the work, but if you are ready to do the work don’t sit around thinking that the right time will come because there’s never necessarily. So just, if it’s on your mind and it excites you, just go for it.
[JOE]: Awesome. And Andy, what about you? If every practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[ANDY]: I guess that it can be done. You know, if you’re doubting that it can happen or that it can, you know, we’re evidence of it and I’m evidence of it, specifically because I’m resistant. I’m resistant to doing things, you know, I want to do things all by myself but I had a vision, you know, we had this vision and you know, be open to it and it can happen. Your vision can become reality and really it can get better than what you even envisioned, which is kind of, I think we’re starting to knock on that door a little bit where we’re at.
[JOE]: One thing I was going to ask you, that we’d kind of go along with that are there any numbers that you feel comfortable sharing? So, it could be, I used to see this many people and now our practice sees this many. If there’s any financials or things like that that for you, you feel comfortable sharing. I went from here to here over this period of time.
[CARRIE]: I mean, I think a huge one is client numbers. I mean we’re still growing; we’re still doing this thing. I mean, we have four other clinicians other than the MD, we have two who are part time, but, and one we just hired, she’s going to be full time, but just some of those numbers are, you know, Andy used to see, I don’t know, there were weeks where you’re pushing 30 clients, you know, high twenties for sure. Now our practice, just a few weeks ago broke 50 clients in a week and Andy saw like 15 of those, maybe. So that was a huge, being able to scale him back to be able to work on the business more and have these other clinicians doing their thing in our practice. So, you know, and financially we’ve had way bigger number, say probably $25,000 a month, we’ve hit, I think?
[ANDY]: October was our highest.
[CARRIE]: Yeah. That was almost 30, I think.
[ANDY]: It was 32, I think.
[JOE]: I always like getting your texts Andy, like, and you’re like, “We just broke this.”
[ANDY]: I did. That’s why I did shoot you that text.
[CARRIE]: And we probably get with our, we probably get at least about 10 or 10 to 12 new client calls a week. You know, we don’t convert all of those since we’re private pay but I mean, that’s pretty huge. Goes as Testament to our website. Once we get people there our website does convert people pretty well. So, yeah, it’s an amazing ride and word on the upswing stealth.
[JOE]: That’s so awesome. Well if people want to connect with you, if they want to look at your awesome, beautiful website that they will feel terrible about their own, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
[CARRIE]: Just go to blueboatcounseling.com. That’s our, we have to say our heart and soul is in that website. My blood, sweat and tears are in all the words. Like, we worked really hard on that website and I continue to tweak it and work on it every week. I think so, but yeah, that’s probably the best place you can find any way to contact us there. Most of the things about our practice and everything are on that site.
[JOE]: Awesome. Well, I’m so proud of all the work that you two have put into the practice and all that you’re doing for people in the Columbus area. Those of you that are listening, if you’re considering doing one on one consulting mastermind group or Slow Down School, you can head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply or slowdownschool.com, and then I will personally interview you before you come to Slow Down School because we want everyone to be a really good fit and to get a great return on investment for that time and money. Carrie and Andy, thanks so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[ANDY]: Thanks for having us Joe.
[CARRIE]: And one last ‘Thank you’ to you Joe, because I really believe that we wouldn’t be where we are at this time without your help. So, thank you for everything.
[JOE]: Thank you so much.
[ANDY]: Thank you buddy.
[JOE]: Well, so many takeaways from that interview with Andy and Carrie. They’re just such wonderful, good people that want to just help the world and there’s just incredible. So, it’s so fun to have friends from Slow Down School on the podcast and connecting and you know, getting to that next level. If you want to come to the 2020 Slow Down School, tickets are going to close for regular prices at the end of May. And so, you’re going to want to get that soon. It’s a smaller group. It’s around 20 people, we hang out Sunday through Saturday from July 26th until August 1st, we spend a couple of days slowing down, going for hikes. These aren’t crazy hikes. They’re hikes that show great views of Northern Michigan for us to take some time in nature. We get massages, have yoga teacher come, and then we’ve run full tilt towards your business on Wednesday, Thursday and then Friday morning to really get a lot done on your practice and your big ideas.
Over and over we hear people say that it was just a game-changer for them and for their career and more importantly for their family that they have more time with their kids, more time with their spouse, in the evenings they’re not checking email unless they want to. And over and over, it just happens and so we’d love to have you there. If that sounds good to you, slowdownschool.com would be incredible for you to go over there. And we also want to thank Therapy Notes, who has been such a great sponsor with this podcast, with Killin’It Camp. It’s the best electronic health records. If you use promo code [JOE], you get two months for free, and if you’re in Next Level Practice and sign up, you get six months free. You just have to email us and we’ll connect you. They actually don’t give us a promo code for that six months because it’s just so valuable they don’t want it to like get out in the world.
So, if you’re a Next Level Practice person, which is our membership community, make sure that you take advantage of that. We try to negotiate really awesome deals for you for things like that, for Social Genie, for Brighter Vision, all sorts of things. So, if you haven’t joined that, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/invite and you’ll get your invite for that. Actually, maybe another cohort launching I think not by when this goes live. It’s open right now. So, make sure you get that as well. We have a lot of great episodes coming up including, we’re doing a series all on psychedelics and kind of the therapeutic nature of it. It’s a big topic of discussion now and no matter where you fall on that, I want you to be educated. So, we have some interviews with people that have been trained through maps, we’ve got some facilitators, it’s really trying to dive deep. We’ve reached out to Stanford, haven’t heard from them because they have their new psychedelics wing of their, I think it’s the psychiatry department. So, something that is important for us to be knowledgeable about. And that series is coming up in just a couple of weeks here. So, look forward to that and thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.