How can you optimize your client conversion by simplifying and broadening your website dropdowns? Is there a way to boost your Facebook Live professionality? How can you fill up your most recent clinician?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok does a live consulting call with Laurie Groh about what to do now that her group practice is growing.
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Meet Laurie Groh
Co-owner of Shoreside therapies. I work with individuals that want to improve their relationships, not just significant others but parent/child, friendships & coworkers.
I tend to see women that are business owners, perfectionists, people learning to be more vulnerable into learning how to be more vulnerable. I’m married with 4 little kids, so I also like working with moms that are trying to juggle it all!
In This Podcast
- Simplify the search navigation on your website
- Spotlight your clinicians
Simplify the search navigation on your website
As the group practice grows and new clinicians are added with different specialties, it is important to make your website properly navigable to allow patients to access all the services that your clinicians provide.
For each clinician, consider having a dropdown bar that explains everything they focus on and what their specialty is.
One thing that a lot of people don’t do is on their website even just to have a dropdown that says staff or people we help, to have ‘issues we help’ and have that go and list every issue that you can help with … have that issue go to the page for that individual clinician. (Joe Sanok)
This allows the client to search within your dropdowns based on topic, not just on the provider. Even if two or more clinicians share a similar specialty, make sure that they are still within their range of work but are not competing with one another over a potential client.
Spotlight your clinicians
If you are doing a Q&A Facebook Live about a particular topic, have your clinician that specializes in that topic come on to also be a part of the event.
Just for a few minutes, have them discuss their specialty and converse with you about the topic so that any potential clients who are watching will know which clinician to contact in your group practice.
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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 number 529.
Well, welcome today to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I hope you are doing so awesome. If you are new to this podcast, welcome, I’m really glad that you’re here. Make sure you rate, review, and subscribe so that you don’t ever miss an episode. And also those reviews really help new people to see, you know, what people are learning from the podcast. And, you know, this is a series that we’re doing with a lot of our Next Level Practice members where they’re coming and they’re presenting questions to me. We’re working through it, doing some live consulting so that you can hear what that’s like and learn from them and all sorts of things like that. Today we have Lourie Groh, who is the co-owner of her practice. I’m so excited to have you on the show today, Lourie. You have Shoreside Therapies. Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[LOURIE GROH]: Thanks, Joe. I’m so excited to be here today. Thank you for having me.
[JOE]: Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit about your practice. Where is it located, what’s it like, and then we’ll kind of dig into your question.
[LOURIE]: Sure. So, at Shoreside Therapies, we are right in between Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin and Shorewood, Wisconsin. So, right in between, right next to the Lake, it’s a beautiful, beautiful area. Our practice …
[JOE]: Is that kind of close to Door County?
[LOURIE]: No, no, that’s, it’s about two and a half hours away, but it does have like a beautiful feel to it. The area is just breathtaking.
[JOE]: Oh, that’s awesome. I love Lake Michigan and all that. We miss that being here on the road.
[LOURIE]: Yeah, yeah. You’re pretty close to being on that, too, in Michigan, right?
[JOE]: Yeah. So, at Traverse City, we’re in an inland bay off of Lake Michigan. And so, if we want it to be right on Lake Michigan, it was about 40 minutes away from where I lived.
[JOE]: And tell me more about the practice. What else is going on with the practice?
[LOURIE]: So, at Shoreside, I have a partner, Brandon Wells, and we’ve been working together for about eight, nine years now, and we’re a small practice. We have three, currently, therapists and a nurse practitioner. Our real focus is on making people feel comfortable especially at that beginning part of trying to find a therapist. So, we are, you know, we really focus in on making sure that someone is feeling comfortable coming in and if we’re not the right fit, we help them through that process. I mean, I will help them till they find someone. So, somebody is coming to see me or thinks that they want to see me and it doesn’t work out, I will make sure that they find somebody. So, I think that that’s one of the most important things that we like to do, is not drop the ball for a client.
When they’re looking to find a therapist, I want to make sure that they find one, even if it’s not us. And so, the other parts of our practice, we really want to make sure people are feeling at home when they’re there, they’re treated as if they’re coming in almost to someone else’s home and, you know, offer them something to drink, have them get comfortable. Obviously right now in the pandemic, people are virtual, but that is something that we really find to be very important that, especially on that first initial meeting that they’re feeling comfortable and welcome.
[JOE]: Tell me a little bit about how you’ve structured the partnership with Brandon. Usually when someone’s new and they say, “Hey, I want to do a partnership.” I say, “Well, why?” Because then you’re splitting half the profits and you know, one person may want to work more and the other wants to work less. Tell me about that partnership, how you structured it legally, and yeah, I want to hear about that a little bit too.
[LOURIE]: So, I was actually really lucky. Brandon sought me out and, his partner moved to Atlanta, so, he needed somebody really just to be there in that same space with him. And then from there, we decided that we wanted to expand the practice. And so, our partnership is one of the best I’ve ever been in. We compromise really easily. He takes care of more of networking and getting people to meet other individuals in the community. So, his focus is on more on that. That’s his specialty. I feel like he’s way, way better at that than I am. And I take over more of the technical side or website, doing live Facebook, Q&A’s, helping people with the technology. And I kind of take over more of that. He’s more of the one that goes out and finds connections and makes connections that are more real time, face-to-face.
[JOE]: Awesome. So, where’s the practice now and where do you hope that it’ll go in say the next year or so?
[LOURIE]: Good question. So, right now we are in a place of wanting to grow. We just actually opened up a couple more offices downstairs from our building. The opportunity just made sense. Despite the pandemic, we thought we can wait this out for a while and it’ll be great to be able to offer some additional space for people. So, right now we’re looking to hire a few more people and so, that’s where my big question comes up because Brandon and I typically don’t have too much issue bringing people in. Some of our senior staff, same thing, but wanting to find some ways to get new therapists filled up. My other question related to that is how to build an audience and how to make sure that people are coming in to see us that really want to be there and that they’re going to find the right fit.
[JOE]: So, that kind of find the right fit mindset, I think, is really strong for a client perspective, because you obviously want people to find the best fit for a therapist. When you’re saying that you’re referring people out, what percentage of phone calls do you think you’re referring out of your practice?
[LOURIE]: I would say it maybe 15%, and it’s just a rough estimate. Usually when someone finds or someone that reaches out to me personally tends to have had someone that referred them to me somehow some way, but sometimes we will get people from Psychology Today that might not be aware that we are an ODA network work provider. And so, at those times when it becomes a cost issue or an insurance issue, those tend to be the ones that we refer out. And also we don’t tend to work a ton with eating disorders. So, that might be an area where we refer out. So, sometimes people might reach out to us in that area and we want to find someone that specializes in eating disorders.
[JOE]: So, are most of the referrals out, are those mostly people that want to use their insurance and you aren’t directly billing insurance?
[LOURIE]: Yes. The ones that tend to get referred out the most tend to be ones that want to stay in network and didn’t necessarily realize that we ODA network just due to the cost. I mean, if it’s $20 for a co-pay, that’s, you know, sometimes hard to compete with.
[LOURIE]: For someone that’s looking for the cheapest, I mean, I hate to say it, but looking for the cheapest option.
[JOE]: Yeah. No, that makes sense. So, I wanted to just make sure that 15% wasn’t something you could bring in house. And so if we could bring some of that in-house you know, the Eating Recovery Podcast, that’s a podcast that we’re supporting through the Practice of the Practice podcast network, that’s a great podcast that’s aimed at helping to train kind of regular average therapists to be competent enough to work with eating issues. So, that actually is one that based on what you said, if there was someone that was interested within your practice to take some training with Kate Fisch, who is one of those podcasts, she’s the podcaster behind it? She has a really large group practice down in, I want to say Indiana, maybe it’s Ohio, South of Michigan somewhere. But that would be a training that if you were getting enough eating issues and you wanted to keep it in-house, could have someone go through some training.
[LOURIE]: That’s a great idea.
[JOE]: So, right now are your clinicians… Yeah. Yeah. Are your clinicians full right now? The ones that work at your practice?
[LOURIE]: They are all mostly full. We did just hire someone new and we’re trying to get her full as well. And so, that area is maybe where we’re struggling with a little bit more because the area she works in is more addictions and that wasn’t really our primary focus for a long time, so that’s kind of a new space to go into. So, we’re doing live Q&A’s to focus more for people that are coming in for addictions. Usually, previously, somebody that might be there for addictions, it was more of a secondary issue, or it wasn’t as extreme, but she’s wonderful. She works primarily with drug and alcohol addictions. So, that would be a great area to focus in on getting more people in the door.
[JOE]: All right. That gives me a lot of good information. So, I’m going to go through kind of some standard things that when you’re kind of leveling up are usually helpful, and then we can kind of drill into the ones that you want to drill into. So a couple of things to think about is the shift from just, you know, a couple people to then having three people to then having, you know, a 10 to 20 person group practice each has its own unique challenges. So, the big thing when you have a group practice that you’re starting to grow beyond your original specialty is you want to make it really easy for the user to search by topic.
And so, one thing that a lot of people don’t do is on their website, even just to have a dropdown under whether it’s a staff or people we help that have issues we help and then have that go and list every issue that you can help with. So, it might be divorce, it might be play therapy, it might be addictions. And then for that to then go to that individual page for that clinician. So, for example what’s your clinician’s name who does the addictions work?
[LOURIE]: Laila Wickman.
[JOE]: Laila. Okay. So, we have a page for Laila, it talks about all the things that Laila does, treatment modalities, the types of clients that Laila works with, and then we would want on that main page to then have, you know, if she works also with people that are dealing with depression, that you have the depression dropdown, and then it would have all the therapists that work with people that have depression. You’d have all the therapists that work people that have anxiety. So, then the client can search within your dropdowns based on topic, not just on provider, because oftentimes it’ll say, “Here’s all eight of our staff,” but then it’s like, well, I don’t know if Steve or Laila or Brandon helps with addictions. Like I don’t have any clue. Why would I read every single person’s profile?
So, that’s a really quick thing that you can do. You also want to do some good SEO around like treatment, around that. So, let’s stick with Laila as an example. If there’s a blog post that’s about, you know, seven addiction triggers during the holidays then you would want to have a kind of anchor text, which means you’re taking the actual text to hyperlink to her page. So, Laila’s page might have addiction counseling, and then that goes to her actual page. So, that would be something that I’d want to work out with her. Also thinking about different modalities of treatment. So, for addictions, we think there’s residential treatment, there’s kind of step-down programs. Sometimes a hospital has a day treatment type program, but, and we did this at Mental Wellness Counseling.
I mean, imagine the mayor gets a DUI over new year’s. The mayor’s probably not going to want to go to the hospital and do a day treatment program. And so, if you’re a private pay practice, what would be the replacement for that? It could be sort of a day treatment program where they come in every day for a 45-minute session, or maybe it’s a 90-minute session for five days in a row. And so, then you can have an intensive outpatient treatment program that you sketch out and you create that obviously follows, you know, all the best practices and all of that too. But you could offer that and then that person only needs one or two or three clients that are coming every day for a week for two weeks to have a full case load.
[LOURIE]: Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, actually, all three of them. And, you know, I was actually thinking about that too, with the first one with the dropdown box. That does make it a lot easier for someone to say, “Okay, this is the reason I’m coming in.” And then they don’t have to go through every single therapist just to find one. And sometimes in our bios, it’s not exactly clear that that’s, I mean, it’s in there that you work with addictions and this is what you do, but reading through it, sometimes you might not necessarily pick that out as quickly.
[JOE]: Yeah. And I mean, when you start to add people to your practice, you really want to think about what’s this person’s super power. So, instead of having, I mean, it’s one thing, if you say, “Okay, we are going to be a center that helps people with this specialty.” That’s one model of a group practice, that you’re very specialty oriented, whereas other group practices, they may continue to get more and more broad based on who they add as clinicians. And so, the challenge there is to be known for something and to make sure that you can say, if you are a woman in transition in the middle of her life and you just got divorced, Nicole is the person that you need to work with. If you have a toxic family and you are dealing with addiction issues, Steve’s the person to work with. So, you want to be able to really kind of say, here’s the person that has that super power. And two people can help the same population, but you want to make sure no one’s really competing with each other as best as you can.
[LOURIE]: Yeah. And that makes sense. That makes sense.
[JOE]: I’d say the other things in filling up clinicians is you know, if you’re doing some of these Q&A’s on Facebook Live or doing some webinars, things like that, make sure you’re putting a spotlight on those people. So, even if they come in for the first five minutes of a Facebook Live using something like Streamyard for your Facebook Lives can take it up a notch. Streamyard I think is like 10 bucks a month or something like that. You can then have kind of side-by-side panels. It looks more like a TV show than it does just a regular Facebook Live. So, if you’re doing that regularly and you want to put a spotlight on some of your clinicians, something like Streamyard would help you do that and look even more professional than it probably already looks.
So, even back when, you know, before the pandemic when I would do public speaking with Mental Illness Counseling, I would invite my clinicians to come with me and then at the end, I would just say, you know, “Steve is our specialist in this. Nicole is our specialist in this.” And so, then they weren’t necessarily speaking, but at the end of it, if people just wanted to go pick their brains and talk to them, they would know who is the specialist on what topics. So, kind of letting them ride your coattails when there’s networking or public speaking is really important as well.
[LOURIE]: Yeah. I love that idea of making it look more professional too, because that I’m working on it. That’s a work in progress and yeah, I didn’t know that there was such a thing that did that, so that’s awesome.
[JOE]: Yeah, what’s great is, so, and you can even have prerecorded videos as part of it. You can have all sorts of different things. You can have your logo in the corner, you can have little kind of tickers at the bottom that say, “Call this number if you want to get started.” So that’s something that would be helpful. Do you have a virtual assistant that’s answering your calls or returning inquiries?
[LOURIE]: Ah, great question. I’m totally on the spot now. That is definitely what I’ve been working on with Group Practice Boss.
[JOE]: Oh, awesome.
[LOURIE]: Yeah. I’ve been working hard at trying to figure out exactly what I want the VA to do, talking to my partner about that, and some of the things that would be really helpful to do. And so, that would be an extra thing that they could do. Sounds like.
[JOE]: Yeah. I think that having somebody that is kind of the frontline decision maker, like who goes where, you know, where does a new client go, that doesn’t need to be you. I mean, you’re one of the most overpaid virtual assistants right now, if you’re doing those phone calls or if one of your clinicians is because you know, every hour you’re spending, even if it’s 10 minutes here, five minutes here, that’s draining energy, that’s draining time that you could be seeing clients, you could be making your hourly. So even if that person is $20 or $30 an hour, you know, if you’re charging a hundred or 150, you’re buying yourself like five hours of time by just seeing that one client during that time, instead of returning calls. Also, I think the missed opportunity, you’ll notice a change where, you know, when someone actually answers the phone every single time, you’ll probably see your numbers go up significantly as well.
[LOURIE]: Yeah, and that’s what Whitney’s been telling me. So, yes, I have to get on that. That’s definitely my goal for the end of the year. I’m going to do it by the end.
[JOE]: All right. Also you got just a little bit of time till the end at the time of this recording. So, that’s good. That’s good. I think it’s good to set deadlines for yourself. I recommend whenever you have a virtual assistant or anybody new, really to even just have a quick 10 or 15-minute check-in every week for a while, until you say, “You know what, I don’t think we really need this check-in,” so that feedback is a part of your discussion that it’s not just when something goes wrong. So, for example, we have Dana who just came on as our accountability coach with Next Level Practice. So, we have a weekly 15-minute call just to check in, how’s it going? Like, what are you noticing? What’s happening? Where do you need support? And I imagine pretty soon we’re going to go to every other week or we might just do a monthly half-hour session to check in.
But when someone’s new, making sure feedback is part of that loop is really important. I would also say, obviously, you’re going to have fires you have to put out. Like that happens and you’re letting go of control of something that you’ve done very well and just expect things to happen. So you want to put out the fire, but then look up kind of upstream and say, “Why did this happen? What system can we put into place to make sure this doesn’t happen?” And so, as long as you go into it with that mindset, instead of ‘this person’s going to be perfect from day one and if they’re not, I’m going to be frustrated,’ you’ll probably be successful with a virtual assistant.
[LOURIE]: Yeah. I’m glad you said that because I would air on that idea that they’re are going to just be perfect right at the get go. So, it’s good that I, you know, that I would have that beginning process already set in place. So that’s really cool.
[JOE]: And the more that you can put it in their hands to say, “Here are the outcomes that I want. I want you to answer the phone whenever it rings between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM or whatever your period of time is. I want you to be able to answer any common questions and I want you to have a library of answers somewhere in Google drive. I want to be able to have confidence that you can put these people, these clients in with the person that they know or that they would work well with.” And then, so you say those outcomes, and then you say, “Next week, I want you to give me the plan for how you’re going to make that happen.” So, then if they create the plan and they say, “Well, I’m going to interview each of the clinicians and get a sense of who they are as a person.” You might say, “Wow, I was just going to have a decision-making tree, but if you’re going to go interview each of them, that’s worth it to pay you for a couple hours of time to get to know the clinicians.” “Well, I’m going to make this whole library of answers in a Google drive document and give access to the team for them to edit it.” “Oh, I wouldn’t have thought of that.” So, then they’re part of that co-creation and they feel empowered to then have that autonomy to make it work for themselves.
[LOURIE]: Yeah. Yeah. I could imagine that the autonomy makes a huge difference in productivity too, of just like, I’m owning this. This is my idea. This is how I want it to do, you know how to go, and that I’d be supportive of that. I think that’s a great idea.
[JOE]: Yeah. And then when they’re training your second virtual assistant, they created it. And if that person says, “Well, why do we do it that way?” They can say, “Well, here was my idea of why we do it this way,” rather than, “Well, Lourie told me to do it.” And like that doesn’t have the same power as you know, “I created this system. I have some ownership of the system.”
[LOURIE]: Yeah. It doesn’t work with my kids either to say, “Hey, I told you to do this.” They don’t tend to [crosstalk] it out in that same way.
[JOE]: That’s so true. There are some parallels between being a parent and being a business owner. So, well Lourie, we’ve got just about a minute left. Any questions that we didn’t hit on that you want to make sure that we hit on before we end this interview?
[LOURIE]: You know, I think you answered everything, I guess the one thing is, you know, we probably don’t have a ton of time to dive into it, but I am going to take your podcasting course. I just signed up and you know, my question would be on gearing, I guess it’s hopefully a quick question, gearing in that podcast to all those different areas tends to be a little bit overwhelming of, you know, I’m not just picking eating disorders, for example. That it would be more broad. Is that okay? Does that seem like that would bring in listeners?
[JOE]: Yeah. So, I think that with podcasting, we really want to have everything kind of cleaned up within your practice first because that’s where the easy money is. That’s where it’s easy. So, make sure everything’s optimized in the group practice before you dive in. In the first couple modules, it actually will walk you through kind of how to best pick your topic, but in Podcast Launch School, kind of one of the big things we teach is you’re going to grow the people well before you grow the product. And so, having a basic vision of where you’re headed, I think is really important, but if you’re just doing this to grow your group practice, then a podcast probably won’t be the best thing for that. But if you’re saying to yourself, “You know what, I want to grow an e-course or a membership community or something that’s nationwide scalable,” that’s really where a podcast can be helpful. Unless you have a very state specific, like if it’s a Wisconsin specific podcast, well, then that’s great because you know, most of your people are probably only licensed in Wisconsin. So, I would say, make sure you go through those first couple of modules and then reach out if you get stuck at all.
[LOURIE]: Okay. That’s great just to have an order for myself, because sometimes it feels like there’s a hundred things to do, and they all should be done at exactly the same time. So, I like that, that this would be the most important thing would be to get the website in order, to get the Q&A’s in order, and start from there
[JOE]: And hire that virtual assistant.
[LOURIE]: Yes, yes.
[JOE]: So, you can put that energy into something else. So, well, Laurie, thank you so much for being on the show today. If you are listening to this and you’re saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m a group practice owner. I want to be a part of Group Practice Boss, or I want to be a part of Next Level Practice, any of that, you can just go to practiceofthepractice.com and in the bottom right, you’ll see a Chat With Us. We actually have our assistant. Our director of details, Jess is there all day long, every day, except for the weekends. And if you’re stuck, if you want to search for something, if you want help, just go there and say, “Hey, Jess, I have a question.” And Jess is an actual person, not a robot that will say, “Hey, here’s how you sign up for group practice spots. Here’s how you get on the list for Next Level Practice. Here’s how we can help you more.” So, reach out to us. That’s a great way for you to get that extra help. Thanks so much for letting us into your ears and into your brain. Lourie, have an awesome day.
[LOURIE]: Thank you. You too.
[JOE]: Last thing before we say goodbye. If you have not checked out Gusto and you want help with your payroll, your benefits, onboarding and HR tools, all in one place, if you want to automatically file and pay all of your state, local and federal payroll taxes, have simple time tracking and time off requests and more, head on over to gusto.com/Joe. Again, that’s gusto.com/Joe. You’re going to get three months to check out Gusto. It is an amazing solution that I use for my own payroll. You’ve got to check it out over at gusto.com/Joe.
Special thanks for 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.