As I start the beginning of a new school year, my work load really begins to increase. I’m so thankful that I spent time at the end of last school year thinking about ways to expand my business. While I have one other behavior analyst who works for me now, I have not been able to find another behavior analyst who has a background in special education to be able to hire. But I wanted to continue to expand my business. At the end of the last school year, I wanted to figure out how to add more billable client hours within my current work hours in order to try to maintain a healthy family and work life balance.
In order to increase my billable hours to clients, I had to evaluate what I could decrease. It became clear to me that I was spending too much time on paperwork! Who could help me with all the paperwork? An administrative assistant!
When I was trying to determine if I needed to hire an administrative assistant, I listened to Practice of the Practice Podcast 54: How to hire a virtual assistant and realized that I could expand my client’s access to me if I had someone else to help me with all of the paperwork. But was it really time to hire someone for administrative work?
I decided to make a data-based decision by following these steps:
- Define what I could have someone else do. I called this “office/administrative work” and defined it as saving, printing, or filing paperwork. Inputting billable hours into spreadsheet. Emailing/calling clients about contracts, release of information forms, intake forms, or other paperwork.
- Keep track of all the office/administrative work that I did over the course of two weeks.
- Determine if I could afford the cost of an administrative assistant based on an approximate $20/hr rate.
What I found:
- I spent almost 7 hours per week on administrative tasks. This was stuff that someone else could easily do that did not take any behavior analysis expertise! That is losing way too many billable hours each week.
- As I went through each task, I wrote down exactly where I saved the documents and how to file it in the client’s binder. Voila! This was my first training manual! I also realized that I would need to create HIPAA secure ways to communicate with a new assistant.
- I had enough client work to fill the hours per week that were no longer spent on administrative tasks. In turn I was able to afford to hire an administrative assistant.
I used 7 Steps for Working Effectively with Virtual Assistants to help outline my expectations for the administrative assistant who would come into the office. Many steps are similar between the virtual and in person assistant. As I looked at what my business needed I decided to hire an assistant who could work 5-10 hours per week. The assistant would need to come into the office because a lot of what need to be done is to create binders with client documents in them, so I can bring those documents to the school meetings.
Next would be to write a good job description, post the job in the right place, interview and hire a wonderful, flexible, independent, and empathetic (with families) person. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Annie McLaughlin is a behavior analyst consultant who helps families navigate the special education world. She helps parents understand the process of special education, write IEPs, behavior intervention plans, and conduct observations in schools, homes, and communities. Annie also works with other behavior analysts who want to add educational consulting to their repertoire of expertise.