What trap should business owners be aware of when it comes to having 1099 employees? What is the significance behind changing the “I”s to “we”s? How can working in collaboration with your 1099’s help you grow your group practice and bring in more clients?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok does a live consulting call with Keely Rodriguez about how to transition from a solo to group practice while collaborating with her 1099’s.
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Meet Keely Rodriguez
At forty years old Keely Rodriguez left her corporate job and returned to school to pursue a counseling career. As a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Rio Grande Valley of deep South Texas, she opened a successful solo practice helping men and women struggling with anxiety and personal trauma. Keely’s community lacks sufficient mental health resources for the size of the population and she is one of two certified EMDR therapists in the area. In 2021, Keely is hoping to expand her group to help support the mental health needs of her community, especially in the area of trauma recovery.
In This Podcast
- How to start the switch from the “I” to the “we”
- Consider it a collaboration
- Get your virtual assistant on board
How to start the switch from the “I” to the “we”
- Go through the website: Scan through your website with a professional to find all the times you have used the word “I” and switch that over to “we”.
If throughout the practice [thus far] it really references you … we want to switch that to be more practice-centric, have the practice branding on things and all of that more than being focused on you. (Joe Sanok)
- “About us” instead of “about me”: Under the header on your website, you can make a big shift and show that you are a group practice by changing the information to “us” instead of “me”.
You can break this down in two ways:
1 – have categories in your “about us” that are specific to each clinician that works in your group practice, so that potential clients can see all the different therapists that are available and the specialties they offer.
2 – break it down into issues that your group practice can help potential clients overcome, then have each issue link to the therapist or therapists that work with clients regarding that subject.
- Take more expensive insurance yourself: If you are insurance-based, consider charging the higher rate for your hourly and make the hourly rate for your clinicians more affordable. In this way, your clinicians will fill up faster and you can therefore grow your practice steadily, instead of only your schedule being full.
- Think of your clinicians as having superpowers: What are the specialty superpowers that your clinicians have, and how can a virtual assistant that works for your group practice speak to those superpowers when they are trying to help a potential client choose their best-suited therapist.
Consider it a collaboration
The mindset that I encourage people to have with a 1099 is to say to them: “this is a collaboration. I’m here to make the practice look as great as possible … your job as the clinician is to make sure people know you work here, and you can do that in a variety of ways.” (Joe Sanok)
You can give your clinicians’ contributors access to the Instagram and Facebook pages of the practice so that they can take initiative in marketing themselves as therapists in the group practice. Encourage them to write blogposts to hyperlink to their pages on the practice’s website and so forth.
In this way, you are offering them opportunities, not managing them as employees. Work with a good accountant and a good lawyer to make sure that the work you set out and up for your 1099s is compliant with the regulations of the IRS and the state you are licensed in.
You are constantly encouraging your 1099s to grow their own client list and while you market them and the group practice. It is a collaborative effort where they bring resources to the table and you organize it in a way that is best.
The trap that a lot of business owners can get in, especially with 1099s, is “you’re the owner, you’re supposed to fill up my schedule while I just show up and do counseling” and that’s a dynamic you really don’t want to have at your practice. You want it to be a collaboration throughout … because you want them to have some ownership in getting their own clients as well. (Joe Sanok)
Get your virtual assistant on board
Have your virtual assistant set up a monthly email list and reach out to your clinicians for them to send through some short posts around a certain topic pertaining to that month.
In this way, you know that every month there is marketing going out to your clients with work and advice coming from each clinician so that marketing stays constant and people become familiar with the different services and specialties your clinicians provide.
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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.
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok session 538.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe Sanok your host and I am so excited to be here from Practice of the Practice world headquarters in our camper here in, where are we, Escondido, California? So we’ve been on the road since September, 2020, just living life on the road while keeping the business going and helping people. So, excited to have you here. Hey, if you want to listen to our family’s kind of behind-the-scenes, in regards to this big adventure, we have the Leave to Find podcast, which our six-year-old and nine-year-old Lucia and Laken helped lead. They ask questions. It’s really just fun to be able to dive into kind of things behind-the-scenes that aren’t Practical of the Practice business stuff, just kind of family living on the road.
[JOE]: Well, today we have Keely Rodriguez. At 40 years old Keely Rodriguez left her corporate job and returned to school to pursue a counseling career. As a licensed professional counselor in the Rio Grande Valley of deep South Texas, she opened a successful solo practice, helping men and women struggling with anxiety and personal trauma. Keely, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[KEELY RODRIGUEZ]: Hey, thanks, Joe.
[JOE]: I am so excited to have you on the show today and I would love to hear what’s your question.
[KEELY]: So my question is, I am expanding my practice from a solo practice over to group practice with the encouragement of all of the resources that you’ve put into Practice of the Practice, by the way. And I brought on some 1099 counselors and I’m really trying to figure out, I finally got to where I understood how to market myself as a solo practitioner, but now I’ve got four different 1099s. They have different niches and different people that they would like to work with. So how do I market the group practice differently than how I’ve been marketing my solo practice?
[JOE]: Oh, I love this question. I think it’s so unexpected for a lot of people that, you know, they get their solo practice going. It’s going really well and then it’s like, “Wow, I could expand into a group practice.” And it’s such unknown territory for so many of us. It’s just like, “Wow, how did I get here?”
[JOE]: So it’s not saying that you’ve worked so hard and, it’s super natural to be like, “I need some guidance here.” Well first tell me a little bit about your 1099s. What are some of their specialties? Why did you choose them and that specialty to bring them into the practice?
[KEELY]: Yes, so the 1099s that I’m bringing on are women that I was actually in graduate school with. So I kept up with them as we all kind of went our separate ways. And some of them specialize with children, some of them love working with men and couples. A few of them are really good at working with Spanish speaking clients because I live in a predominantly Latin X population down here. And so that’s something that with my like very silly broken Spanish, I wasn’t able to offer that to clients. And so now I get to expand. I also am in an area that’s very rural. We have about 300,000 people in my area and based on Psychology Today, and I know there are a few other extra practitioners out there, we have about 15 practitioners to help support that 300,000 person population. So we need to get one more practitioners into the area. And so that’s the reason why I said, “Hey, girls, let’s get on board. We all need to work together.”
[JOE]: And are you insurance-based or private pay?
[KEELY]: So we’re predominantly insurance-based.
[JOE]: And I think that’s pretty normal, especially in rural populations, that, yes, and so when you think of calls per week or inquiries how many calls or inquiries are you getting per week from people that want counseling?
[KEELY]: So in terms of calls per week, just on my numbers alone, I’m getting about 15 to 20 calls per week right now. Now we’re having this conversation in the heart of the pandemic and so all those numbers have gone up pretty significantly, but that’s been pretty steady for a while now. So, and a lot of those people, I just, I don’t have this face anymore to help them, or I’m not the best fit for them.
[JOE]: Yes, yes. And if you had kind of all the 1099s on board, would most of those calls, do you think convert to working with one of those counselors?
[KEELY]: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
[JOE]: Yes. So, when we’re looking at things like this Keely, it’s important to kind of know some of those numbers to really figure out where to spend your time, because if it was a marketing thing where you weren’t getting the calls, and yet you were on these insurances, then we’d want to look at, well, how do we market differently? But you’re getting the calls and really it’s a matter of, well, how do we just position it to have people not see you and to really make that shift from being a solo practice to a group practice? Because a lot of people, they won’t have kind of that need. They’ll have a lot more than 15 clinicians that they’re kind of competing with, I don’t actually believe in competition, but competing with in your area. So it sounds like there’s an immense need and just an underserved population.
So I have no doubt that you’re going to be able to continue to add clinicians to the practice. So really it’s about how do we market each clinician? What are things that we do to switch from kind of the I, to the we within the practice. So a couple of things that I would say to do is either you or an it professional, have them go through your website and look at all the times that just you use the pronoun I; that you say, “You know, I do this, I do that.” instead, we want to just switch that over to a we. I would say, if throughout the practice it really kind of references you and it’s very kind of Keely-centric, we want to switch that to be kind of the practice name-centric. We want to have the practice branding on things. You want to have all of that more than it being focused on you.
As well, I would say, make sure it’s About Us instead of about me in your header in your website. Under that, what I usually recommend is under the, About Us, that you break down per clinician, that each clinician has their own page, but then also you break it down by issue. And so how that would look from a dropdown is, you hover over About Us, it would drop down and then say something like ‘Issues We Help’ or ‘People We Help’ or it’s just issues. Then that would expand into all the different issues you deal with. So it could be depression, men’s issues, women’s issues, divorce. Just list them all out. And then you want it to go to the person that addresses that. So say everybody helps with depression. Well, you hover over depression and then it goes to the five clinicians that help with depression.
If it goes to divorce recovery, maybe there’s only two people that have that as a specialty. Because you think about the average consumer, they don’t know the difference between you and one of the other clinicians. And they don’t want to have to go through every single person’s page just to find the person that helps with, you know, divorce recovery. So that makes it easier from kind of the user standpoint. I would say also since you’re not seeing as many people, we really want to have you be at the bottom of everything. So when there’s a list of about us, like usually a forward slash ‘Us Page’ to have all of the clinicians on, put yourself at the bottom. It’s natural to want to be at the top because you’re the owner, but people usually go with the owner, they go with the person that started the practice, and we’re trying to have fewer people see you.
As well, I’d say you want to look at the insurances that you’re on. Are there insurances that you personally could drop, but the practice stays on? Every state is different, every contract is different. So you want to look at your contracts with that because ideally we want you to be the highest paid per hour of clinical time. And so if Blue Cross pays 125 a session and all the rest pay 78, looking at whether or not you can personally just take Blue Cross and then everyone else takes Priority Health and Aetna and all the other ones. And so making sure that your hourly is continuing to go up. And then, then I would say the last kind of big thing I would say is thinking about each of your clinicians as kind of having their own superpowers. So what is each of their superpowers and how can a virtual assistant kind of speak to that when they’re trying to help someone decide which clinician to work with?
[KEELY]: Okay. That makes sense. That’s really helpful.
[JOE]: What follow up questions from kind of that big old soliloquy do you have in regards to how to do some of that or next steps?
[KEELY]: So my other question kind of along that lines is social media. And so I get like, those are great ideas in terms of the website and stuff like that. Do you have, like, let’s just say, for example, Instagram, are you, would you have a group counseling Instagram account that everybody feeds, all the clinicians kind of feed content to or different ones based on the different clinicians? Any suggestions there?
[JOE]: Yes. So when you have 1099s, you really want to think of them in the same way you would think about someone that mows your lawn. You know, you’re not going to tell them what to wear while they mow your lawn. You’re going to tell them the outcome you want along that mode. And so getting 1099s to work on social media, write blog posts, all of that can be very hard and it’s very frustrating for a lot of practice owners. And so the mindset that I encourage people to have with a 1099 is to say to them, “This is a collaboration I’m here to make the practice look as great as possible to be the leading place that people think of when they think of mental health in our area, that they want to call our practice. So I’m going to be working on branding, I want to be working media exposure. I’m going to be working on Facebook ads,” or all the things that you’re going to be doing. “Your job as a clinician is to make sure people know you work here. And so you can do that in a variety of ways. You can post on your own personal social media. I can give you admin access or contributor access to our Instagram or our Facebook. You can write blog posts.”
But you really want to view it as here are things that I’m offering to you versus saying, you need to do this because that’s moving kind of into employee territory and if the IRS ever reclassifies people through an audit and says, “You’ve treated these people like employees. You bought them computers, you bought their business cards, you did all these things.” That really, you know, the back taxes alone can just ruin a business. And so make sure you’re working with a good accountant, a good lawyer to make sure that you’re doing it properly for the state of Texas, because you really don’t want that misclassification at any point.
[KEELY]: Yes, certainly not. And it sounds like, what I hear you saying is that I’m promoting the counseling group as a whole, as a one stop sort of shop for a bunch of distinct counselors. And then they’ve got to work on that additional bringing in specifics in terms of their own population that they like to work with, getting their name out. All of that sort of stuff.
[JOE]: Yes. So I mean, one conversation you’ll probably have at some point is someone comes to you and says, “I really want, I want to have five more clients a week.” And it could be that their schedule opened up, they want to make more money, they want to build a deck on their house. Who knows why they want five more clients a week? The conversation then that’s usually the most healthy is okay, on my side as the practice owner, here’s what I can do to support you. I can make sure that our administrative assistant knows that you have five more openings. I can promote some of your feed or your blog posts. I’ll do some paid advertising on Facebook. I’ll do some paid targeting.
What I think you can do is you could write a couple of extra blog posts. You could contribute a few different times in different ways. You can go network with different people. So you’re constantly guiding them and pushing them to go do their own work for growing a client list as well as you, because the trap that a lot of business owners can get in, especially with 1099s is you’re the owner, you’re supposed to fill up my schedule, I just show up and do counseling. And that’s a dynamic you really don’t want to have at your practice. You want it to be a collaboration throughout for your own time, but also because you want them to have some ownership in getting their own clients as well.
[KEELY]: Absolutely. And also in our area, these people that I know so well, they have different networks. They have different groups of people that they come in contact with daily that I don’t have access to. So that’s the only way we can spread ourselves out; is by them engaging their own networks that are different than mine.
[JOE]: A hundred percent. And even when you’re doing, whether it’s social media speaking, or if you’re speaking, once we’re out of the pandemic, I would recommend bringing those counselors with you. And so what I would frequently do, like I think about, there’s a private school I spoke at about kind of teens and what they’re going through. And it was, I don’t know, an hour, hour and a half kind of facilitated experience for these parents where I did some talking and did some activities. My therapists were there. They pretty much watched the whole thing. But then the last 15 minutes, I said, “I want to just point out these other experts we have in the room. You may have seen them kind of in the back. Steve, over there is great with families that are dealing with toxic family members. So maybe there’s an uncle or a grandma or some past trauma. He’s a great person to pick his brain around that and substance abuse. Nicole, over there, she is amazing at teen girls.”
And just to kind of point out these experts in the room and then people could go up and say, “Hey Steve, can I get your card? I want to follow up with you.” So it’s a way that you’re constantly promoting them instead of just kind of your own individual practice.
[KEELY]: Yes, absolutely. Which is exciting to me because I came to this profession a little bit later in life, which is not a bad idea, but I want to make sure that I’m leaving a good legacy, so that as I transition into other things and grow older, there’s still going to be people out there that are out practicing and helping our community that we need so desperately with mental health resources.
[JOE]: Yes. And Kelly, do you have an administrative assistant or virtual assistants that kind of help with that flow?
[KEELY]: Yes, I sure do. So I’ve got somebody who has been like my right-hand girl completely, especially during the pandemic who handles all of my phone calls and schedules and all that sort of stuff. So she’s going to be handling everybody else as these new counselors get up and running.
[JOE]: Awesome. So knowing you have that, I would continue to add things to that person’s kind of task list. So one thing might be, I want to have a monthly roundup blog post, and I want you to talk to each of the clinicians and get one paragraph emailed from each of them around the topic that I tell you. And so you might say the question is five best practices around depression or five ways to naturally work on your depression. And so then that admin will email the team and say, “All right, this month’s blog post is your best tips on depression.” And so, they all send back three to five lines and say, “Get some good sunlight, get some, you know.” So they give you the tips and then you can link to each of those persons pages and then you have a blog post every single month that the admin has written by just bringing together just some short tips from the counselors.
And so those 1099s are usually more likely to respond to that than to say, “Hey, I need you to write a blog post.” They’ll write back some quick tips on something. So I would add things like that. I would say have that person schedule networking events or reach out to people, really view it as that they’re helping be an extension of you with marketing within their skillset. I mean, you want them to do things that they enjoy doing or get trained in things that they want to start doing.
[KEELY]: That sounds great. Yes. That would make life a lot easier for both me and the 1099s.
[JOE]: Oh yes.
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I mean, you want to be, really with your time, you always want to be asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?” And so, if you’re taking out the trash, like, of course, it’s great to have a leader that doesn’t mind taking out the trash once in a while. Like, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we want to say, if we’re going to be moving this practice forward, and we know there’s this big of a need, that means that we need to have this be a well-oiled machine where everyone’s doing things that help with that bottom line, that helps with seeing more clients, that help it to be easy for those clinicians to get clients, and that you’re that big picture person moving out of kind of you doing everything. Up to where you’re at now, it’s usually putting as many hats on as you can. You know, you’re the bookkeeper, you’re the marketer, you’re the social media person, you’re the blogger. You’re everything, right?
And then you might add an assistant who can start to help and then you start to add 1099s. And this shift for you is how do I aggressively take hats off as rapidly as possible. Now within that, you need to make sure that you have some checks and balances that, you know, you’re paying attention to the money or that you have different people pay attention to different things. That feedback is an ongoing thing that you’re doing that it’s not just you sit down and give feedback, but that you’re always giving feedback on how things can be adjusted. But aggressively say, “How do I take as many hats off as possible? Why am I doing this?” That’s the big challenge of kind of this next phase that’s in front of you?
[KEELY]: Yes, it definitely seems like it has been. And I’ve been really encouraged. I’ve been working with Alison and her group mastermind and it has been really, really helpful to start to take those hats off, to have somebody behind the group say, “Look, this is going to make your life easier in the end.” So that’s been really helpful in this process as well.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. And are you in Group Practice Boss as well?
[KEELY]: We did ‘Starting a Group.’ So we weren’t like ready for the Group Practice Boss, but the second level. Yes.
[JOE]: Got you. Yes. And they’re right now, actually this afternoon, we’re going to be talking about it. They’re looking at kind of a membership community specifically for people that are starting a group practice, so kind of right before Group Practice Boss. And so some of that’s going to, you’ll probably be outgrown. It sounds like you’re well on your way to starting the group practice and getting that going, but for future people we’re going to have a lot of resources for people making that jump from solo to group coming out soon.
So Kelly, this has been awesome. It sounds like you have some kind of very clear things to do moving forward. Is there anything that you think might stand in the way or any questions that you think, “Oh, I got to ask that question before I really know what to do,” or any other things that you can think of?
[KEELY]: I think that you’ve hit on so many of the things that I need to do. I just, the next step is going to be really tackling the website and starting to change that language and stuff like that. And you know, taking a big, deep breath and realizing it doesn’t all have to be done overnight. But, I think you’ve put me and pointed me in the right direction and I really appreciate that for sure.
[JOE]: Awesome. Well, if you’re like Keely and you’re listening to this and saying, “You know what, I have a solo practice. I’m doing pretty well. My community needs more clinicians and I just can’t do any more client sessions,” and you’re ready to start a group practice, we would love to talk with you. Alison and Whitney are putting together some really amazing things with Group Practice Boss. They’re putting together a curriculum specifically for going from a solo practice to a group practice. Any other information that you want to talk about, you can go over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply and we will talk with you about kind of where you’re at, what you need, the best return on investment for your time and money.
Whether that’s individual consulting, a mastermind, one of our communities, we have a lot of stuff we offer but we want to make sure that it’s the single best fit for you for your time and money. We know that you work really hard to earn that money. And so we never upsell you into something we don’t think that you actually need. We just want to say, “Here’s what’s going to save you some time and save you some money by doing this and being in a community.” So again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/apply. Keely, thank you so much for joining me and thank you all of you for letting us into your ears and into your brain. Having an amazing day. We’ll talk to you soon.
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Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
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 regard 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.