In my prior blog, I discussed why you should outsource tasks when starting a group practice, the cost-benefit of outsourcing, and the different things you can outsource. At this point, you’re convinced that you need to outsource some tasks as you expand your practice, but you’re not sure when or how to do so. It never seems like it’s the right time to give away some of your work, and besides, you don’t have any time to hire or train someone anyways. And where do you find people that can do the same high level of work that you do, in the same way, that you do it? Read on to find my perspectives on these topics.
When to Outsource
When I moved from a solo to a group practice, I waited too long to outsource. I found myself in a chaotic, swirling mess of trying to do everything in a very limited amount of time. And when I finally did start outsourcing, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders and I decided that it was the best choice I had ever made in group practice ownership. I suggest that you start outsourcing before you even hire your first clinician. Sounds a bit indulgent, not to mention expensive, right? Hiring someone before you’re even making money off your new clinicians? If you do so, I promise that you will start making money from your new clinician(s) even sooner by freeing yourself up to do those tasks, training, and planning that only you can do.
How to Outsource
After you’ve identified what tasks you are ready to outsource, what you need to do now is figure out how you’d like to do the outsourcing. What type of person do you want to hire? Would you like to hire someone that you already know and trust, but that might need extra training, to do the work? Or do you prefer to hire a professional who is already mostly trained but might be more expensive? There are pros and cons to both. Having friends work for you can be a double-edged sword at times, and it might threaten your friendship. But then it could also be a spectacular working relationship because you already know and trust that person. Hiring a professional, such as an already-established independent contractor or someone from a larger company, can be beneficial in that their skills have already been demonstrated through their past work, requiring less up-front training. You need to decide what type of person or company you want to support your foray into group practice ownership.
Realities of Outsourcing
The idea of giving someone else tasks to do for you sounds heavenly. However, there are some challenging realities involved in outsourcing. The time spent of your end in creating processes and systems that an administrative assistant can follow, not to mention the front-end training involved, can be unexpectedly difficult. When I hired my virtual assistant, I thought I had systems and processes in place, but when I went to train her on these systems the sheer amount of questions that she had made me realize that I really hadn’t created solid systems first. Training an assistant is not a one-and-done type deal. There’s the initial training, then the day-to-day communication, and figuring out how to assign and check on task completion, and finally moving to the point where you start trusting your assistant to suggest better options on how to become more efficient or new ideas on how to complete given tasks.
For sure, the long-term benefits of outsourcing far outweigh the short-term work you need to put into getting someone up and running. Deciding when and how to outsource is perhaps easier than the realities of actual outsourcing. I communicate daily with my virtual assistant and social media manager, which is more often than I communicate with my clinicians. For me, though, it’s worth it to not have to do the things that I don’t enjoy doing (to put it mildly), and I actually like my assistant, so it’s a joy working with her. Knowing the effort that you’ll need to put into outsourcing upfront may help you make better decisions about who, what, when, how, and why to give important tasks to someone who can help make your life easier.
Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She owns the private-pay group practice Catalyss Counseling in the Denver metro area, focusing on helping adults manage their anxiety, grief, and trauma. Shannon is also an experienced clinical supervisor and manager and is just starting to offer business consultation services to other therapists. She balances working with raising her two young children.