You know only a fool refuses to take good advice. At least at this point, I won’t be acknowledging myself as being a fool, but I sure will say I made a foolish mistake. It’s the whole separation thing that Brene Brown talks about that is helping me cope. You know the thing where she says “you had bad actions but you are not a bad person.”
So what am I talking about? Some time ago, I received very clear information about why it was never too soon to start hiring a 1099 contractor to see my clients. I was in my Next Level Practice group at the time, and I heard the words loud and clear. But even though I thoroughly trusted the individuals who made the recommendations, I have to truly say, I never thought that I would be in the position where I needed a contractor.
At the time, I was fairly new to private practice, and I may have seen 10 clients or less a week. I had serious doubts about whether or not I would have enough clients to fill my personal caseload – let alone enough clients to hire a 1099 contractor. Because of my lack of belief concerning my capabilities, I did not make the move, and boy am I paying for it.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late To Hire
I have been blessed, and my private practice is really growing. I have over 40 clients on my waiting list. At this point, I have hired two 1099 clinicians whom I am waiting to be credentialed. The problem is, from a business perspective, I have done way too little too late. Don’t get me wrong, my problem is not a bad one to have. As clinicians we know to avoid “could have” statements. Yet, there are thousands of dollars that I “could have made“ if I had only listened and started hiring sooner. Ok so technically I haven’t lost money but it sure feels like it!
Keep Tracking Your Referrals
As your practice grows, many times things can get sloppy around the office. We have always documented our referrals in detail, but documentation is often no good if it hasn’t been posted in a database. The referrals have been coming in so fast and keeping us so busy that we failed to make the needed entries.
Here is why this was a mistake. Had I been keeping up with the referrals appropriately, I would’ve been able to recognize that a stronger number of my clients were private pay. I would have also understood that I received more referrals for individual counseling sessions than I was aware of.
These details were very important because the contractor I was intending to hire preferred individual counseling as opposed to couples counseling – which is my speciality. At the time, I didn’t realize I was receiving a significant number of private pay referrals who were requesting individual counseling. Had I known this information, I would have hired my 1099 contractor sooner. Much of my delay was due to the lack of understanding of the details of what was going on in my business.
Don’t Wait For Credentialing To Hire a 1099 Contractor
As much as we all love private pay clients, what good is it to your practice if you are receiving private pay referrals but you can’t get to them because you have not hired?
If your caseload is getting full, or even 60% to 70% full, and you have a good clinician who is ready to contract, hire them! There is no need to wait for them to be credentialed. Credentialing can sometimes take an eternity. By the time you get credentialed, you may determine that you want to stick with private pay due to your caseload exploding. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it is often true. A great deal of change can occur in a matter of 3 to 6 months. Take it from me, start planning and hiring like you are about to be full.
I’m Not Sure I Can Give A Contractor Enough Work
This was a thought that I often had early on. But I have learned that it is better to be safe than sorry – even in Private Practice. Just be straight up with whomever you hire. Avoid setting high expectations concerning the work that you expect to give them. Worst case, if you don’t have enough work for them, you can always press pause, and pick back up with them once you are rolling. This actually happened to me with one of the clinicians that I hired. They will appreciate you in the long run once you start stacking up their caseload.
What If My Contractor Screws Up
Let them go! This thought didn’t show up to me fast enough, but better late than never. If you find out that you have a contractor that is screwing up your practice, stop sending them clients. Remember, set your expectations with your 1099 contractor at the start of the relationship.
Everybody is not going to be a good fit, and we all learn how to make better hiring decisions as we go. But if you don’t take the necessary steps to scale your practice, you may miss out on opportunities to serve clients and make a chunk of profit.
Choya Wise, LICSW, PIP is the owner of Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services in Huntsville, Alabama. Choya specializes in relationship counseling and hosts Online Social Work Clinical Supervision Groups in Alabama.