Whitney Owens on Myths about Starting a Group Practice | POP 600

A photo of Whitney Owens is captured. Whitney Owens is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast where she talks about Myths About Starting a Group Practice.

Is your schedule too full and keeping you from working on your practice as a business owner? Are you not sure when is a good time to hire clinicians into your practice? How much money do you need to start a group practice?

In this podcast takeover episode, Whitney Owens addresses myths about starting a group practice.

Podcast Sponsor

An image of Brighter Vision Web Solutions is featured as the sponsor on The Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Brighter Vision builds all in one websites for therapists.

When you’re in private practice it can be tough to find the time to review your marketing efforts and make improvements where needed.

Whether you are a seasoned clinician whose current website needs to be revamped, or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is here to help.

By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers will create a custom website catered to your specific marketing goals. Better yet, they provide unlimited technical support to make sure it stays updated, and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches – all at no additional cost.

To get started for $100 off, head to brightervision.com/joe.

In This Podcast

  • “I need a steady referral stream to start my group practice”
  • “My caseload needs to be full before I can fill somebody else”
  • “I need to have a lot of money to start a group practice”
  • “You need to have it all together”

“I need a steady referral stream to start my group practice”

Yes you do need some referrals, that would be nice, but ultimately the more people you hire to your practice the more clients that will come. (Whitney)

The more clinicians you hire the more clients will come through the door, and that is because you are:

  • Marketing more people with different skillsets,
  • Advertising new specialties in your practice,
  • Bringing people into the practice that know more people in the town.

With hiring clinicians, instead of being worried about not having enough referrals, the more clinicians you hire the more clients you will have to work with.

You can start a group practice without a steady stream of referrals coming in because as long as you have some already, you can grow that number with the more therapists you hire.

“My caseload needs to be full before I can fill somebody else”

This is not true. If your caseload is full, as the group practice owner, you will not have enough time to work on your business and to grow your practice, you need that time to put the energy and effort in.

Put aside two or three hours a week to be able to focus on and work on your group practice.

If your [caseload is full] you’re constantly managing crises and dealing with your clients. You can’t ever be a visionary for your practice and you’re the one that keeps your practice from growing. I encourage people when they’re 75% full and they think they want to start a group practice, that is the time to start. (Whitney)

Work with the 75% mentality:

  • When your caseload is 75% full, hire a new clinician,
  • When their caseload is 75% full, hire a third clinician,
  • If the therapists who deal with specialties are 75% full, consider hiring another therapist that works with that same specialty.

“I need to have a lot of money to start a group practice”

You do not need a huge amount of money to start your group practice, however, having some savings will help you on the front end with regards to paying fees and so forth.

Consider hiring an attorney, even though it is an expensive investment because it will greatly help your business to get that expert advice early on:

  • Employment law in your state,
  • Hiring contractors or employees,
  • To help you get your offer letters set up,
  • Get contracts and paperwork ready.

You will also need some money to help you:

  • Organize phone lines and emails,
  • Add a payroll service,
  • Pay an accountant,
  • Work with a consultant.

In the beginning, you only really need to spend on average between $100 to $200 a month on marketing and paying for the services of your clinicians. However, they will quickly make that money back through seeing clients, so your expense to income will even out.

I spoke to an accountant that specializes in private practice and she said to me that at the end of the year she finds those who invest in consulting make 30% more at the end of the year than those that don’t invest in consulting. (Whitney Owens)

You do not need a lot of money, but it will help you to have a few thousand dollars saved to get you going in the process a little more quickly.

“You need to have it all together”

Many therapists suffer from impostor syndrome, and think that even if they have a practice, why would someone go to see them specifically?

You can do it because you have a valuable skill set that you can use to help someone make meaningful changes in their life. If you achieved your Masters, you can run the business.

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Brighter Vision – All-in-One Websites for Therapists
  • Group Practice Launch:  6-month focused program. Sign up on September 7th and 8th to receive the early bird special of a total cost of $1350 for 6-months of consulting. After September 9th the price is $1500.

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram and email her at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] This is the Practice of the Practice podcast, episode 600.

Welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am doing a podcast takeover today. My name is Whitney Owens and I am one of the consultants with Practice of the Practice. Joe asked me to come on and do an episode and talk a little bit about my story, but also share with you about group practice ownership and some of the myths that come along with starting a group practice. So I want to take you back a few years to 2017. It’s fun when I think about going back in time. It always reminds me of my absolute fav movie, Back to the Future. I’m sure I have some fans out there. I love Michael J. Fox, the DeLorean, everything it stands for and I love when summer’s coming. I’m recording this episode on the beginning of the summer. So when I think about, I love it because it’s in the summer that they go and show all the old movies that I love and Back to the Future is one of those.

So as I think about going back in time, I remember what my life was like in 2017. So I want to take you there, share with you what that was like and how my life changed moving forward. So back in the end of 2017, it was in the fall. I had an influx of clients. I was a solo practice owner. I’d had my practice for a few years. I actually had been on maternity leave in 2016 and so had come back at the end of 2016 and there was a little bit of starting a fresh with that and really rebuilding my caseload and then it really grew. And by the summer it dipped a little, but still grew and by September of 2017, I was feeling overwhelmed as I’m sure some of you listening probably do right now where I could not keep up with the call volume. I was seeing clients, worried about the next call coming in, worried about setting up new appointments. Where could I squeeze people in?

I just didn’t know how to level up. Where do I go from here? I felt really stuck where I was, and it was at that moment I listened to lots of podcasts as you’re doing now. So good for you. And Practice of the Practice of course, was at the top of my list and I’m listening to the podcast. I’m learning more about what Joe’s work is like and how he helps practice owners and I thought, I need this. I need this in my life. And through multiple steps, I joined a Facebook group that he was running at the time that was free and helping people write an eBook actually, which unfortunately I never did finish, but I will go back, don’t worry and write my book. But it was through this course that I took with him that I basically won a consult call with Joe.

It’s was so funny, like thinking back on it. I was sitting with my husband really nervous about what steps to take next, having no idea what to do in my practice, but I was also in this odd little group where I’m learning how to write an eBook because I just always wanted to write an eBook and while I’m doing that, I’m talking to my husband and I’m feeling super overwhelmed with everything. And I said, “Honey, I do not know what to do next.” But there was this little voice in the back of me that was like, maybe I should start a group practice. I don’t know. I said to myself, “Well, if I win this consult call with Joe, those are kind of expensive and kind of special, so if I win that, maybe that’ll be my sign to start a group practice.”

Of course I won that consult call with Joe and that led to us jumping on a call and he said the things that he tells many of us to do, which is really great advice. And that advice was hire an assistant, because dang I, and I still waited too long on that, by the way, hire an assistant, raise your rates, which in fact, I raised my rates on the next person that called and it was spectacular. And he said, join my mastermind group. At the time I didn’t know what a mastermind group was. Even though I’m sure he had talked about it until he was blue in the face on his podcast, I still didn’t know what a mastermind group was. And I said, “What’s that? Tell me more.” He said, “Let me give you a call later.” I had a client coming in, of course, because I was so inundated with clients. I didn’t have time to build my practice and he let’s jump on a call later. So he jumped on a call and he told me about a mastermind group and I thought a lot about it and I knew that was my next step because that’s what I needed to start a group practice.

Now, what I want to point out here is that oftentimes people want to start a group practice, but they think that they’re not ready for it yet. They have all these re reasons as to why they shouldn’t start a group practice and this is exactly how I felt when I was on this call with Joe and he is saying, “Whitney, you need to join my mastermind group.” And I’m like, “What? Joe thinks I need to join a mastermind group? I am not up for this. Like I don’t think he knows me. If he really knew me, he wouldn’t be telling me to start a group practice. He wouldn’t be telling me to join a mastermind group.” And I can tell you hands down, when I get on the phone with people and talk to them about their practice, this is exactly what they tell me. They say, “I’m not ready.” And I am going to get a little biblical here. There is a passage where Jesus is talking to and He says, it’s not the people that are well that need a healer. It’s the sick people.

I just think about that passage and how often people will say that when really you don’t have to have your act together to need help. You just need to go get the help. So what I hear from practice owners is I need to have everything in check before I can hire clinicians to my practice. And that is simply not true. So I want to debunk some myths right now about where you have to be to start your practice because this is where I was at the end of 2017.

People say I have to have a steady stream of referral sources to start a group practice. How in the world am I going to fill my clinicians? So this is a myth number one, because yes, you do need some referrals. That would be nice. But ultimately the more people you hire to your practice, the more clients that will come. And I say that to say, you are marketing more people, more specialties. These people know people in your town, so that’s going to bring more people into the practice. So a lot of people think I can’t hire more clinicians because there’s not enough to go around. But the truth is the more clinicians you hire, the more they’re is to go around.

I actually advise people when they’re starting their practice group or even when they already have a group to always hire in twos because of all these reasons. And to be true, sometimes people don’t last. We wish they all did and I’m going to help people grow group practices where people last, but the truth is sometimes people move on. So you want to have that other person available. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. So you can start a group practice without a steady stream of referral sources. As long as you have some coming in, that is good.

Another big mistake people make is they think their caseload has full before they can fill somebody else. And that is a terrible mistake. If your caseload is full, like mine was in 2017, you don’t have time to work on your business. And if you’re going to start a group practice, you’ve got to be ready to work on your business. You’ve got to make the time and the energy to do that. I encourage people to put aside, even if it’s two hours a week, preferably three, to be able to really work on their group practice. If you’re full in your caseload, you’re constantly managing crisis, dealing with your clients. You can’t ever be a visionary for your practice and you’re the one that keeps your practice from growing.

I encourage people when they’re 75% full and they think they want to start a group practice that is the time to start a group practice. And when you have a group practice and you’re wondering to yourself, when should I hire another clinician? I love to follow that 75% full mentality. So when my whole practice is 75% full that’s when I start thinking about hiring another clinician. Or maybe there’s a niche in your area that only you offer, maybe your specified eating disorders and your practices in eating disorder practice, or maybe you have two clinicians of the 10 that are eating disorders and they’re 75% full that’s when you should think about hiring another ED therapist.

The other myth here is that you don’t have to have a full caseload, be 75, 80% full, and that’s a good time to start adding clinicians to your practice.

The other thing I hear is I need to have a lot of money. Well, money is a great thing to have. Don’t get me wrong, but don’t have to have thousands and thousands of extra dollars to start a group practice. Now I do encourage you to have some extra money to start a group practice because there are some things you’re going to have to do on the front end to invest your time into. So you might want to save for that. That’s going to be attorney fees. A lot of people try to skip out on this one. Please don’t skip out on hiring an attorney when you start a group practice because this person only knows the laws in your state. You can talk to other practice owners, but they don’t know everything. Their practice is different. They’re in a different state, whatever the case may be.

So you’re going to need an attorney to talk to you about employment law, contractors versus employees, getting your contracts in or your offer letters in place and other minutia that’s important within your state. And you need to review that with an attorney. Usually you only have to do one meeting for that, but you want to have that money set aside for that meeting. And then you need to make sure you have an accountant. So you’ll need to pay that person. Honestly, an accountant you probably already have. And there’s a few systems you’ll have to set up to put your money into. So that would adding them to your platforms like your EHR, your phone line emails, and then adding a payroll service.

So when you really think about the fees monthly to add somebody to your practice, oh, and they also need to of course have rent. Now there’s some other things that go into this depending on contractors or employees, in which way you go. But legitimately, you really only need to spend one to $200 a month on their expenses. But then they’re going to be bringing in money. So a lot of times, even if you can get ’em a few clients a week at the beginning, they end up buying themselves. Like they end up paying for their own income and you break even if you can get ’em a few clients. And then you will need to have those finances in place on the front end to cover your attorney fees and other things like that.

I also want you to consider a consultant because we find that people make a lot of mistakes on the front end and starting their group practice and they could have saved a lot of time and money if they had just hired a consultant. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with, say, after they’re done working with a consultant, they have made more money than what they invested in it. Also, I spoke to an accountant who specializes with private practices and she said to me, at the end of the year, she finds those that invest in consulting make 30% more at the end of the year than those that don’t invest in consulting. Wow. So the numbers prove themselves that it’s worth putting your money in time into consulting.

I know it feels like a lot, but it brings you greater success on the back end. And there’s nothing like saving time and energy when you’re a busy practice owner. So the myth that you need, a lot of money is just simply not true. You do need some, I encourage you to have a few thousand dollars, but you don’t need to have five or $10,000. Some people feel that that’s the case and it’s not. So if you know you want to start a group practice, just go ahead and start putting some money aside as you go or start the consulting process and then pay for the things as you make the money to pay for them.
[JOE SANOK] When you’re in private practice, it can be tough to find the time to review your marketing efforts and make improvements where needed. Whether you are a seasoned clinician whose current website needs to be revamped or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is here to help. By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers will create you a custom website catered to your specific marketing goals. Better yet, they provide unlimited technical support to make sure it stays updated and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches, all at no additional cost. To get started for a hundred dollars off, head over to brightervision.com/Joe. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.
[WHITNEY OWENS] And the other thing I want to speak to another myth is that you have to have it all together. And that was kind of what I was talking about earlier. It’s the sick people that need the doctor, not the well. That you can’t expect to know everything. That sometimes you have to dive into it and you are a capable therapist. You have a master’s degree. Some of you probably have doctorate degrees. You know your stuff. Now, yes, we didn’t go to business school, no therapist really did. Maybe a few of ’em, but not very many. So you do have the knowledge that it takes. And that’s also part of hiring consultant to be able to help you in your business because we know the business side and we can tell you that part and you can do the clinical part, which you’re really good at.

A lot of therapists have imposter syndrome and they think, why would people come see me? Why am I good enough? And I’m here to tell you that you can do it. And when I go back and I think about 2017, when I was on that call with Joe and he said, you need to do my mastermind group, I thought I don’t have what it takes. I don’t think he knows me. I don’t think I’m capable and have the knowledge that I need to do this. But the truth is I did. Somebody saw that in me and believed in me and now I have eight clinicians and a cash practice. It is awesome. And not only do I love the money that I’m making and the time that I have with my family, I love the people I work with. Like I got to hire every single one of them and they are spectacular. And it’s through starting a group practice that I have now been able to start consulting.

It was through joining that group and getting to know Joe, that I got the relationship with Practice of the Practice that now I get to work for them. And that has been such a gift in my life. So you never know when you start a group practice where it is going to lead you to.

If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking I totally relate to Whitney. I feel this way right now, like I can’t handle all the calls, I don’t know what to do, or I need more time in my life, I’m so overwhelmed with the practice, I want you to think about joining Group Practice Launch. So Alison pigeon, another consultant with Practice of the Practice, she has a practice in Pennsylvania. She has a lot of clinicians. In fact, I can never keep up. It’s something like 24, I think, or 22 or in the twenties.

She has an insurance based business. She’s been working with Practice of the Practice for a very long time. I don’t know how many years and she really specializes in helping people start and grow group practices. So when I came on board at Practice of the Practice, she gave me this great idea about launching Group Practice Launch. It is a community to specifically help people start a group practice. We found that people were calling us for individual consulting. Not that we don’t love that, but if we joined forces and offer a membership community, everyone is going to win. So within the membership community, you get consulting with us at a much lower price point than individual consulting and you get all the information you need to grow a group practice.

So let me tell you a little bit about this program. It is a six month very focused grogram. You’ll be taking classes every single week, learning all the steps by step processes. And because it is a step by step process, that’s why we only launch one cohort every six months and once we launch it, you can’t get in until the next one. So we launch in September and March. So this year’s cohort is going to be launching September 7th, but let me tell you more about the program. So during that six month period, you will be in a membership community where we’ll have access to ask those questions, to be able to share wins, to share anything you want to about your process. You have all the paperwork that you need, we give that to you, you can alter it, you can take it to your attorney. You can alter job descriptions, whatever that is. So that saves you tons of time and energy.

Every week you watch a video related to your steps and then you attend a live webinar led by myself or Alison every week where we answer all your questions related to starting and growing a group practice. Now, the courses are set up in phases, three phases of group practice growth. The first one is the foundation and the setup of your group practice. So we look back at, do you have everything in place to really start hiring people? And then we do the process of hiring. We figure out what kind of clinician you want to hire. We really the difference between W2 and 1099, and which is best for your business, discuss your brand, help you write job posts, help you through the interview process, the screening process, how to do references on people, and then after hiring, we go back and look at, did this work?

What are the KPIs, those key performance indicators. Are you getting calls? Are you filling the clinician? Did you pay them an amount that works for you? That is one of the biggest mistakes we see from practice owners. They pay their clinicians too much and then they can’t pay themselves. So we help you with all these things on the front end and then we look at ’em at the end and everything’s running smoothly. And we talk about how to market your clinicians as a group practice, because you have to do a few things differently than when you were a solo practice owner.

So there you go. It’s called Group Practice Launch. Our next cohort is launching on September 7th. It’ll be open for a week. We do an early bird special. So the first two days, September 7th and eighth, this is the time to sign up if you want to save some money. The total cost for all of that is $1350, $1,350 for six months of consulting, all the paperwork you need, people to ask questions to. I feel like you really can’t beat that. Now after the early birds, the price will go up to $1,500. So please try to get in on that early bird special. And like I said, the doors are open for cohort two from September 7th to the 13th.

To get more information, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. You can see some more information. You can sign up for the email list if you’re listening to this before that opens. Or if you’re listening to this episode and we’ve already closed the doors, that’s okay, go join the wait list. That way you’ll get first access when we open our next cohort.

So to go back and tell you about my experience back in 2017, I signed up for a mastermind with Joe and I was scared as mess. I didn’t think I had what it took. I definitely thought I didn’t have the money to invest in consulting, but I knew that I had to do something. So I joined that mastermind group and within the first six months I had to hire two clinicians to work at my practice and then I continued in that mastermind group. I actually did it for two years because I found it so valuable. And then within a few months after that first six months, I hired my first assistant, which by the way, I should have hired earlier and now I’m sitting at eight clinicians. I’m actually in the process of hiring again for a cash pay practice down here in Savannah and I couldn’t be happier. So don’t delay. If you want to start a group practice, get involved, go to practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch.

I appreciate each one of you taking the time to let me take over the podcast today. Loved chatting with you and sharing with you about these myths that come up in starting a group practice and I look forward to hanging out with you in group practice launch.
[JOE SANOK] If you don’t absolutely love your website, you’ve got to do an update. And doing an update can be complex, it can be frustrating, but brighter vision makes it so easy. Head over to brightervision.com/joe and they’ve got a deal that is going to help you be able to maximize the image that you have for yourself, connect with your ideal clients and be able to really make a difference in your community. If you don’t love your website, there’s no reason to keep it. So switch over to a Brighter Vision website today, over at brightervision.com/Joe.

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.

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