Grow a Group Practice: Nicole Wallace started a Practice and had 4 Clinicians in 18 months | POP 855

Grow a Group Practice: Nicole Wallace started a Practice and had 4 Clinicians in 18 months | POP 855

Are you transitioning from a working therapist to an acting CEO in your group practice? How can you start to spend more time thinking about the business than working in the business? How can you hire the right clinicians for your group practice?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Nicole Wallace about starting a practice and having 4 clinicians in 18 months.

Podcast Sponsor: Level Up

An image of the podcast sponsor, Level Up Week is captured. Level Up Week sponsors the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

March 20th – 23rd is Level Up Week, and we are offering over 20 webinars focused on helping you Level Up totally for FREE.

We have guests like Valerie Harris, talking about how to grow your practice with insurance. We have speakers from the Speaker Lab. We’re going to talk with you about the new public speaking gigs, as well as Experts on how to get a TEDx talk as well as every single phase of practice.

We’re talking about five simple marketing techniques you’d have to master and how to add virtual assistants to your practice. We have Profit First professionals coming in to teach you how to grow your money.

Whether you’re starting a practice, growing a group practice, or expanding to do multiple streams of income, Level Up week is for you. Mark your calendars, March 20th-23rd

See all of the webinars that you can register for over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup

Meet Nicole Wallace

A photo of Nicole Wallace is captured. She is the owner of Transformation Counseling. Nicole is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

U.S. Army veteran Nicole Wallace is the owner of Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC and a therapist. She specializes in working with women to manage or eliminate anxiety and depressive symptoms.

In 2021, Nicole founded Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC in pursuit of her dream to establish a private practice which addressed the needs of people experiencing anxiety, depression, and past trauma.

Visit Nicole’s website and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • Transitioning from solo to group
  • A big challenge for new group practices
  • Thinking like a CEO
  • Nicole’s advice to private practitioners

Transitioning from solo to group

In 2020, Nicole was working three different counseling jobs.

Even though all these jobs required her time, effort, and energy, Nicole was able to figure out which type of work she enjoyed doing the most. It gave her direction for where she wanted to go as a group practice owner.

I came to find out that working with women was really my passion, even though I had a long history as a school counsellor and as a teacher. I really enjoyed this season in my life working with women, especially moms who were making their transition back to work … so I decided to take the jump!

Nicole Wallace

Once Nicole got going on her new group practice, she found that, because she followed her passion for working with women, many women came to her group practice – both clients and clinicians.

Through working with Practice of the Practice, Nicole was able to receive the knowledge and tools that she needed to nurture her new group practice into a successful and self-sustaining business.

I watched the videos, I attended the sessions, the coaching sessions, and I took to heart what was being said … not like, “You have to do this way”, but rather, “This is some information, take it and make it your own.”

Nicole Wallace

A big challenge for new group practices

The biggest challenge that Nicole faced was navigating her first hire.

She was able to find someone great, and they are still working together almost a year later, but it took some brainstorming and open conversations to figure out what was expected of each person, and how it would be delivered.

So, as we’ve gone through the process, she and I have had to define who [they] want to work with … and that has helped me define my mission statement as well, [and] becoming clear on whom we are trying to service, what does that client look like, and where we can find that client.

Nicole Wallace

Thinking like a CEO

Initially, Nicole would take one day a week to focus on the business and four days to see clients. On that main business day, she would assess the billing, resolve administrative tasks, and look at marketing efforts.

As the practice has grown, I’ve needed to be more interactive with the clinicians [which] meant I also took on the job of being the case manager.

Nicole Wallace

Now, Nicole is looking at where she can cut back on seeing clients herself and focus more on running the practice.

When she hires people for the practice, she uses the practice’s vision and mission statement as well as her shared values to make sure her new hires match with the foundational pillars of her group practice.

Nicole’s advice to private practitioners

Let go of your fears as much as you can. Try new things out! Remember that you can always pivot. Face your fears and take the first step because that is more important than never taking the step at all.

Sponsors mentioned in this episode:

  • See all of the webinars that you can register for over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup – March 15th and March 16th, 2023 2pm EST membership Q&A and Open-Houses

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

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.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK] March 20th through 23rd is Level Up Week. We are offering over 20 webinars focused on helping you level up totally for free. We have guests like Valerie Harris talking about how to grow your practice with interns, we have speakers from the Speaker Lab who are going to talk with you about getting public speaking gigs, as well as experts on how to get a TEDx Talk and every single phase of practice. We’re talking about five simple marketing techniques you have to master how to add virtual assistance to your practice, and we have Profit First professionals coming in to teach you how to grow your money. Whether you’re starting a practice, growing a group of practice, or expanding to do multiple streams of incomes Level Up Week is for you. Mark your calendars March 20th through 23rd and see all of the webinars that you can register for over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 855. I’m Joe Sanok, your host and welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. We have been going through all the stages of practice. Throughout February we talked with a bunch of folks about how they have started a solo practice, what was important to them, I mean, some really interesting topics. You never know what you’re going to cover when you get to interview all these people, but like episode 848 Benita talked with us about starting a new practice three times because her husband’s in the military and she just had to start a practice three times. She learned a lot about starting practices. Or Hannah in episode 846 talking about the systems to start a practice. Just so many great things, Cordelia, she talked about how not to chase everything back in episode 850. Then we interviewed and I talked with a bunch of people who recently launched a group practice, so they went from that solo to group. What did they think through? Then earlier this week on the 14th LaToya and I chatted where she interviewed me about trends that I’m seeing in group practice. So a lot of really amazing things up to this point and now we’re transitioning into talking about growing a group practice. So maybe you already have a group practice, maybe you’re aspiring to, we’re having all sorts of people come in throughout this month, specifically around how do you grow a group practice, what are the different aspects of it, the different angles, the things to think through. One thing we say often in our membership communities, whether it’s Group Practice Launch, Group Practice Boss, Next Level Practice, is that we’re stronger together, that if we all just listen to Joe sank, you’d only get one perspective. But if we have a variety of voices in our membership communities or through this podcast, we get to see all these different ways of how people have thought through their businesses and pick up these little gems that you’re like, whoa, I never would’ve thought of that. [JOE] That’s why I’m so excited to have my friend Nicole Wallace here on the Practice of the Practice Podcast today. Nicole’s a group practice owner and we’re going to get to know her a little bit more. Nicole, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. [NICOLE WALLACE] Hi. Thank you Joe. Thank you for the welcome. [JOE] I am so excited to have you here today. We’ve had lots of conversations over the years and it’s great to hear more about your group practice. How would you describe your group practice and your life outside of work? [NICOLE] Oh, that’s a great question. It’s a small practice. It’s myself and four other clinicians. We are specializing in helping women who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and past trauma. Outside of the practice, I am a wife and a mom of five children ages between 26 and 11. So it’s pretty, pretty busy at our house as well. Those things keep me busy and I like to read and just try to find quiet time when I’m not doing one of those things. [JOE] Wow, that’s great. Well, tell us a little bit about when did you transition from solo to group? What helped you with that? But then would love to hear more of the, now that the group’s going really dive into what it’s taken to grow a group. But when you first started your group practice, what helped you with that transition into group? [NICOLE] Yeah, so in 2020 I was working three different counseling jobs. I was a school counselor part-time, I was doing TFCBT trauma therapy with children in the evenings and then I was working at a friend’s private practice just for fun. So I realized that that was a lot of different experiences, but that really helped me with wearing down what it was I really wanted to focus on. It really helped me define that and I came to find out that working with women was really my passion, even though I had a long history as a school counselor and as a teacher. But I really enjoyed it this season in my life working with women, especially moms who were making even their transition back to work or were having struggles in their life that had been just been persistent and cyclical. So I decided that I, to take the jump. I saw other people in my life who had done it. I had some friends and I thought, well this is a great opportunity for me to step out and do my own thing. Then once I got going I realized I was attracting a lot of women, especially during that season when Covid took place. There was a lot of social injustice and unrest being highlighted in the media and the rise in women of color looking for counseling went up there, skyrocketed. They were looking for women who resembled them and so I was like, well, I can’t service everyone, but it would be great if I could start to build a team who could assist. That’s when I decided to take the group practice jump. [JOE] Wow, so from when you started your solo practice till you like added your first clinician, what timeline was there? [NICOLE] A year. Yes, I started in 2020, December, 2020. I hired my first clinician in February of 2021 so she’s actually coming up on her full year of being within the practice. Yeah it was a pretty fast-paced thing and then when I learned about Practice of the Practice and I realized that when I did my first hire, it was just I was, we were sitting in the room, I didn’t know what questions to ask, I mean, I’ve been on interview teams in the school system, but being on an interview team where you’re the sole owner and you’re the person responsible for if it doesn’t turn out right, there was a lot that I didn’t know. So I’m just kind of, oh, well, there’s a good vibe between us. You’re hired. Luckily that actually worked out and she’s a fabulous clinician and just has hung in there with me as we’ve made changes and the practice has grown. So yeah, that was how I took the leap. Then after becoming involved in Practice of the Practice and getting that roadmap that I needed, because it was like, why am I trying to reinvent the wheel when you all have it already? [JOE] Exactly. [NICOLE] I started the, I watched the videos, I attended the sessions, the coaching sessions and I really took to heart what was being said. It was not like, you have to do this this way, but rather this is some information, take it and make it your own. That was awesome for me because I was able to take it, take the information, the questions for interviews, the contract work that you give to, the contract document, things like that and I was then able to hire four more people within six months. [JOE] Wow, four people in six months, incredible. So within 18 months or so, you went from starting a solo practice to having a four person group practice? [NICOLE] That’s correct. [JOE] Oh my word. I thought I was a fast mover. Look at you. Holy cow. That’s incredible. [NICOLE] Well, it’s really thanks to the encouragement I got because I had a lot of fears along the way. [JOE] Wow. Well, so take us through some of the things as you were really growing that group practice, what are some lessons learned, either things that you’re like, yeah, I’m really glad that I did this or I screwed this up. [NICOLE] Well, I definitely kept highlight on the, I screwed that up part. Like I said, that hiring phase, even though it turned out that she was a great clinician, the first hire because I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have questions and things like that. I think it was awkward for both of us to say, “Well, what are you here for? What are you here for?” So as we’ve gone through the process, she and I have had to define what is it, who do you want to work with? This is who my practice works with. That has helped me to somehow find my mission statement as well-being, becoming really clear on who are we trying to service, what does that client look like, where can we find that client? That has been really helpful for me. What did I do good? I think that I was, I began to be open to facing my fears. I think as a new practice owner, there are so many pitfalls that you don’t know. You’re on the lookout, well, what if I do this and my old practice crashes? Or what if I hire this person and they come in and mess everything up? Or how will I know what to pay people? How will I know what platform to use to pay people? The fear of the money you have to put into it, EHR, the fees go up, the credit card fees and all the things that come with adding more people. But being able to jump and take that risk and I think several times within the cohort, the coaches encourage that you’re going to take the risk but you’re also going to get the money back because now you have more people working for you, so you’re going to see a return and you just got to be ready to wait for the return. [JOE] Yeah, to be able to have those systems to onboard people and really evaluate what you’re doing as the owner versus having a systems do and all of that as well. Now when you look at where you’re at right now where are you dreaming, thinking, goal setting about where to go in the next say 18 months? [NICOLE] Well, I really am looking forward to expanding the facility itself. We’re in a one little office in a suite surrounded by some other massage therapists and speech therapists. So I would really like to break out of there so that we could all have some more space and therefore see more in-person clients. Although we do a hybrid model, I do think some people just do better in in-person so I’d like to give the clinicians more opportunities for that. [JOE] One question I often get when people share offices is how do you manage the schedule to make sure there’s no double bookings? Like what system do you use or how do you do that to make sure that everyone knows when they can schedule and when the office is available? [NICOLE] Oh yeah, that’s a good question. We use utilize Simple Practice. On Simple Practice you can see everybody’s schedule on the calendar and that allows us to then say, well the office is available from this time to this time. Then they know if they have a client, they also say when they’re available to do in person. So we do have a virtual assistant and she will then go on and look at each clinician’s calendar and help them figure out when the office is available, when can they then come in. Then we try to put a client on repeat if they’re coming in because we don’t want them to lose that in-person slot when the office is available. So that’s been helpful. [JOE] Yeah. What’s worked well with that system? What do you think needs some refinement? [NICOLE] Well, I think the thing that’s worked well is that we can all see each other’s calendars and know when someone’s in the office. So that’s been helpful. Refinement wise, I think in that planning of who is going to be in the office, since I am pretty much the person carrying the largest caseload, I take up a lot of space on the calendar. Sometimes we do run into each other, bump into each other, so coming in and out of the office and making sure you’re taking all your stuff and moving out before the next clinician comes in. [JOE] Yeah, you know very similarly, when I first started Mental Wellness Counseling I think I had four clinicians and myself and to figure out who got what night. And we didn’t have a great EHR at the time that could help with that. So we just said, okay, Joe has Monday nights, Steve has Tuesday nights and then during the day it was more of coordinating because we all had full-time jobs when I started my group practice. But to be able to have that be a little more seamless sounds like such a great system there. [LEVEL UP WEEK] Are you in solo practice and wondering how to get things going, what marketing techniques to do and what the order is that you should get things done? Maybe you want to start a group practice because you’re busting at the seams, but you have no idea when is the right time. Or maybe you want a seven-figure, multiple location practice that you can grow. Also maybe you’re even growing beyond that in building e-courses, podcasts, membership communities. No matter what phase of practice you are in, we have something for you at Level Up Week. Level Up Week is March 20th through 23rd, 2023. Again, that’s March 20th through 23rd. We have over 20 webinars that are totally free. We have things like how to get a TEDx Talk, how to get more public speaking gigs, how to use Profit First in your private practice, how to pay yourself, starting a solo practice panel where we have five successful solo practitioners. We also have essential systems you have to have, how to add virtual assistance, how to add multiple streams of income, supersizing your practice to over 50 clinicians in the five simple marketing techniques every practice has to master. No matter your phase of practice, it could be that moment that you just said yourself, I need to leave my full-time job and start a practice all the way up through having a thriving group practice and you are launching something that’s going to go international, we have several webinars for you. Head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/levelup to see which webinar is the best fit for your time and your phase of practice. If you want the recordings, just register for the ones that you want and we will send you those recordings totally free of charge. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/levelup, practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. [JOE SANOK] How do you think through goals and putting time into the practice compared to doing the clinical work? Because you mentioned that you’re primarily the main income driver right now. How do you think through that working on the business, not as much in the business. How does that goal setting work for you in regards to your time? [NICOLE] Yeah, I think that’s an area where I continue right now just to struggle but also to grow. Initially, I took one day a week where, that’s all I would do was focus on the administrative side, billing, marketing, and that would be my day so I’d only seek clients four days a week. As the practice has grown and I’ve needed to be more interactive with the clinicians, that meant I also took on the job of being like a case manager because I had to meet with them. Some of them are just out of grad school and so that took up a large amount of time and I realized that my admin day had now turned into my meeting day. So what I’m looking at is trying to figure out where can I cut back on clients because I think that’s probably the next step is that I continue to take less of a caseload and then therefore I’ll have one more day where I can allot to overseeing some of those admin things and also outsourcing them. [JOE] When it comes to outsourcing, what have you found helpful, where are areas that you’re maybe still learning? [NICOLE] That when you grow a practice, so if you had 37 clients and then you give somebody else 37 clients, you can’t possibly still manage that both those case flows at the same time. Like the couple of hours it took me to like go through and do billing and things like that, now I have to think, well, I need those couple of hours plus a couple of more hours to do the other clinicians’ work and things like that. So yeah, I’m realizing that. One, I probably need to hire a biller right now. I have a virtual assistant and she is fantastic. Like, she jumps into every aspect of the business. If I give her some guidance, she’ll, she’ll jump right in. So she went from just answering phones and doing callbacks and keeping our schedules and intakes straight and then she was like, Nicole, I’ll do billing and at the end of the week I will go ahead and file all the claims. First that made me really nervous because I think that’s the other thing is practice owners, like we could be really territorial and was like I know it, this is safe. I’ve been doing it, I know how I like it done. I took a, I had to go away a couple of times and when I had to take those breaks or vacations and I let her do it it worked out well. So after that I said, well, she can do it every week and if there’s a issue then I can step in and that was a big transition for me. [JOE] Wow. Now when you think about the future, you said seeing fewer clients, outsourcing more, are there other things that you would say you see as essential to growing the business even more? [NICOLE] Yeah, I think well, social media is a big platform for us. I think that we attract a lot of our clients that way. So I’d like to see that area grow. Right now I do have, so I guess I have a, I can say I have one more hire just because it’s a family member. Sometimes I forget about her. But my daughter does, she’s in college for marketing and public relations, which actually worked out. So she has been helping me with the social media platforms and those things, so I’d like to see that expand that we’re more consistent with putting out materials in order to grow our caseloads. The other area I see is that public speaking has been helpful to me as well, getting out in our community, going to mom’s groups, visiting and speaking to women within the community and really explaining what counseling looks like. Because a lot of the community that I work with, some people are, have never, ever even been to therapy or considered it. [JOE] When, I’m interested in, when you look at your particular niche and hiring people how do you, I guess make sure that you have a clear understanding of the culture that you want to create, the DNA of your practice, that you’re hiring people that support that? What hiring practices do you have to make sure that the folks you bring in are a good fit, that they support the specialty area that you support? Because I think that’s something that sometimes people struggle with when they get a lot of clients. Maybe they aren’t as diligent as they need to be on making sure that the clinicians they’re hiring really match the DNA of the practice. What have you done to develop that DNA of who you are as a practice and then making sure that the hiring matches that. [NICOLE] I think I’m getting better in that area. Each hire has been closer I think to the vision and the mission statement that we have in place at the practice. I think what’s helped me is one, to really keep going back to my vision and mission. So I did it, I looked at my vision and my mission statement and my values when I first joined Practice of the Practice and was in Group Practice Launch. Then after exiting Group Practice Launch and moving on into, I’ve found that I’ve had to revisit it, because it changed a bit. I got more defined as this is what this person looks like, this is what our key client looks like. She’s between 18 and 55 and she has struggled with anxiety and depression, or she may have suffered a sexual assault. And then when I’m in the interview, then I’m asking questions based off that, have you worked with women before? Have you worked with women who have experienced anxiety and depression? What did that look like for you? How was that for you? What would a session look like if you walked through it with that client? Being really clear about those kinds of questions has helped me a lot. [JOE] Now what would you say, when you think about other group practice owners that are growing in some way, what are some things that you would say every, or at least most group practice owners that have an established group, like you should keep top of mind to keep growing? [NICOLE] I think always be in touch with your people. Once I started to hire more people, I realized how important those connections were. One of the things I did was in group practice, we, in the consult group, we talked about the seven magic questions. I said, well, I’m going to use those to close out the year. I met with each clinician and asked them the questions and it was really eye-opening to hear about how much they valued the culture of the practice that they liked working with me and for me. That was one of the things that they, why they stayed on board even, though we were in this small office bumping into each other, coming and going, that they appreciated those things. So I feel like well, that gives the energy to keep going, to make it better for them, to grow the practice in a way that we continue to have that same culture, even though we’re expanding. [JOE] Such great advice. Nicole, the last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world we’re listening right now, what would you want them to know? [NICOLE] I would want him to know, Joe, to let go of your fears as much as you can. Just, if you’re thinking about hiring somebody, go ahead and hire them. Like try out. If you can always say this is not working, or if you’re thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, do it. Because the more that I felt I could push myself, the more the practice got better, the tension that I was feeling was relieved when I added people or added processes and steps in. So yeah, I would say face your fears, do it, try it. [JOE] So awesome. Well, Nicole, if people want to connect with you or your practice or follow your work where’s the best place to send them? [NICOLE] Probably our website, www.transformcc10.com. [JOE] Awesome. We’ll have that link in the show notes. Nicole, thank, welcome, welcome. I meant to say, Nicole, thank you for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast. [NICOLE] Thank you Joe. It’s been a pleasure. [JOE] We have had so many great guests over the last month talking about private practice. We have a big event coming up all next week. It’s called Level Up Week, March 20th through 23rd. We have some amazing things coming up. We have LaToya hosting a webinar all about how did you know it was time to start a group practice. She’s got some folks coming in for that. We have Ash, she’s going to be leading us on how to grow a seven-figure multi-location business. We just confirmed actually, at the time of this recording right before it, my friend Adam Lewis Walker, who is a trainer on how to get a TEDx Talk, is going to be talking about how to get a TEDx Talk. We’re going to be talking about how to pay yourself as a business owner, whether you’re a solo practice or group practice. We’re going to have a Profit First professional presenting on Profit First in private practice. We’re going to virtual happy hour systems, virtual assistance, multiple streams of income, over 20 webinars and trainings next week. That’s going to be just for you to learn all sorts of things in one week. Whether you’re in one of our communities or not, this is open to the public, it’s open to everybody if you’re interested in regards to some of our communities before doors open to those communities. So we’re talking Next Level Practice, which is for solo practice, Group Practice Launch, which is for people in solo practice that are leveling up by launching a group practice or Group Practice Boss if you already have a established group practice or Audience Building Academy, which is for people that are building multiple streams of income and audiences outside of their practice. If you’re interested in any of those, on March 16th at 2:00 o’clock Eastern, I’m going to be hosting a membership Q&A open house. Links to that are over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup, as are all of the different webinars and different trainings that we have going on during Level Up Week. You can register for all of those over at practiceofthepractice.com/levelup as well, all of the deals in regards to our membership communities and the bonuses and really assisting you to be able to level up in the way that you want support at the price point you want and with the amount that you want to put energy into it. So thank you so much for joining us for this show and can’t wait to see you at Level Up Week. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/levelup. Thank you for letting me into your ears and your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon. Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. 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 producers, the publishers, 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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