Sep 28, 2020
In this episode, Alison explains what it is like to run a group practice, like a boss! Alison is into tracking data; she likes to make her decisions based on numbers. You’ll hear loads of tips about having a group practice. For instance, don’t wait to delegate for when you’re stressed out and on the verge of burn out – it’s probably time to delegate today! Stay tuned as Alison explains how she finds the best clinicians for her practice, the ways that she compensates her staff, and why she utilizes an employee model rather than an independent contractor model.
Alison Pidgeon, MA, LPC is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling LLC. What started out as a solo private practice in early 2015 quickly grew into a group practice and has been expanding ever since.
Alison has been working in the mental health field since 2003. She graduated from Immaculata University with a master's degree in counseling psychology in 2007. She earned her license as a professional counselor (LPC) in 2009. Her time spent working in community mental health helped to shape her as a leader and made her aware of the problems which exist in the mental health system.
Taking what she learned from the traditional model of mental health care, Alison set out to create something different when she started her private practice. Her attention to detail to the whole client experience and treating her staff exceptionally well have created a reputation of excellence that is recognized by the community.
Practice owners get caught in the trap of bootstrapping everything like answering the phone and cleaning the office. Why? Because they want to save money. However, you are putting a hard cap on how large you can grow your business. There’s a way to make sure you’re hiring trustworthy people who will do good work and be reliable. It’s possible to delegate sooner than you need to. People wait too long to start delegating. Don’t wait until your drowning at work.
When starting a group practice, it’s essential to find the best clinicians. However, whenever clinicians wanted to join Alison, they said they couldn’t because they needed health insurance. That’s why Alison decided to switch from an independent contracting model to an employee model. That way, Alison can offer her employees the opportunity to have health insurance. This has been a total game-changer for Alison. Her turnover rate is a lot lower. Plus, she gets so many more applications with the employee model.
Look at your systems. This will have to change when you hire people. Most likely, your systems will only work for a private practice rather than group practice. For instance, you may need multiple phone extensions. Plus, you’ll need to change up your website. Change your wording from “I” to “we.” Also, think about whether or not you want to be a boss. Managing people is a significant aspect of group practice. If that sounds terrible, then group practice may not be right for you. Think long and hard about what you love to do.
It would help if you were clear about your mission, vision, and values. Your values will speak a lot about the culture of your practice. You can even print these things out and have your potential clinicians look it over. The clearer you are about what you want will help you attract the right people and repel the wrong people. Having a problem employee is a nightmare and not worth the stress. That’s why Alison is picky about who she hires. Alison wants her clinicians to be organized, timely, and self-sufficient. If a clinician isn’t organized enough to manage themselves, it will not be a good fit. Also, Alison values boundaries – you can’t teach good judgment. So Alison wants to know if her potential clinicians have good boundaries with their clients.
Alison uses Indeed.com, plus she has an employment page on her website. She gets quite a few resumes through that as well. Therapists talk to each other. So one therapist will tell their friends. That’s why Alison likes to have an employment page on her website so that people can reach out to her directly.
Alison says that compensation will depend on the laws in your state. In Pennsylvania, there’s not a lot of options. Alison pays her therapists more to see a client and less for administrative work. She doesn’t go the salaried route because your therapists will get paid the same amount no matter how many clients they have. At a minimum, they have to do twenty-five hours a week. If they want more, then they can earn a bonus. However, they don’t need to work forty hours a week if they don’t want to.
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Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast wherever you listen to it. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn, and Pinterest, “Like” us on Facebook.