Meet Group Practice Co-owner and Podcaster John Dennis | GP 03

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Meet Group Practice Co-owner and Podcaster John Dennis | 03 GP

How do you become a group practice co-owner? Where do you start when building a group practice? How is being a group practice co-owner different?

In this podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with John Dennis about his group practice and being a group practice co-owner.

In This Podcast

Meet John

John Dennis Group Practice Co-owner and PodcasterJohn is an LPC in Pennsylvania with over 15 years of experience. He’s a group practice co-owner for Parenting & Family Solutions, which focuses on helping individuals, couples and families with their most important relationships. In addition, he is the host of the On the Couch Podcast. Visit Parent Family Solutions, follow them on Twitter or Instagram and connect with them on Facebook.

 

How did you become a group practice co-owner?

It’s been open for two years now, in two different locations, and they have multiple counselors in each with a total of 6 counselors. John and his business partner filled up the gaps with things that each other doesn’t specialize in.

John’s business partner already had the existing client base and everything set up with office space. They set it up as a partner as the controller interest who has the final say. He is much more business-minded and level headed with business than John so this worked well for them. It’s about knowing your strengths and weakness and setting it up like that.

They pay themselves with the profit-first model. And their salaries are based on the revenue the practice is generating with a minimum target they need to hit.

What has been successful in marketing your group practice?

While trying to niche finding out the touchpoints within the community and reaching out to those people has been successful. In-person meetings along with digital marketing through social media. They have found a lot of success off of in-person and networking over the years. Podcast episodes and blog posts have also helped rank their website well.

What’s the best reward of owning a practice?

The impact that they’ve made in the community. Going through how many lives have been impacted is huge. That’s why they got into it in the first place. Having fun and connecting with other counselors. Not seeing other counselors as the enemy or competitor, seeing the network of helpers.

If you’re getting personal refferals, it means you’re doing a good job.

What has been the biggest challenge?

In the beginning not knowing how to do specific things. For them, they have a blend of insurance and out of pocket. Insurance is the difficult side of things. They have an amazing staff that is willing to put up with different insurance companies and getting counselors in touch with networks and the waiting game is the biggest challenge.

Finding quality staff that is in a position and able to make the leap into private practice can sometimes be challenging. For the practice, they start with 0 cases and clinicians have to build it up. That can be challenging, and it takes the right clinician and right life situation to find the right fit.

Be slow to hire and quick to fire.

How do you manage two locations?

Right now John is seeing both practices while his partner is in one fulltime. For the most part they split the admin between the two offices and share different roles. The goal is that each partner will handle each location. Having one virtual assistant helps take care of a lot of stuff.

Tell us about the podcast

John started the podcast because Joe Sanok told him too. Listening to Joe changed his world. He never thought he would be where he is now and he made it a reality. You don’t get taught things in grad school and he decided to start with the blog and develop a voice. Then after the first year, he kicked off the idea and started podcasting. The idea is for it to be a mental and behavioral idea, destigmatize mental health and share interesting and important information for people to know about mental health. It’s awesome to talk to amazing and cool people that are doing things to change the world.

Go to www.practiceofthepractice.com, there’s a ton of resources. Pick up profit-first and don’t be afraid of the unknown.

Useful Links:

Meet Alison Pidgeon

Alison Pidgeon | Grow A Group Practice PodcastAlison is a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15 clinician group practice. She’s also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker and loves to travel. She started her practice in 2015 and, four years later, has two locations. With a specialization in women’s issues, the practices have made a positive impact on the community by offering different types of specialties not being offered anywhere else in the area.

Alison has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, through mastermind groups and individual consulting.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[ALISON]: Starting a group practice can be really overwhelming. So, if you’re wanting some help to figure out how to start and Grow a Group Practice, please go to practiceofthepractice.com and click on Work With Us. There you’ll find information about everybody on the Practice of the Practice team, including me. I specialize in helping people Grow a Group Practice, and I would love to work with you. So please fill out the contact form on the website or email me, alison@practiceofthepractice.com.
You are listening to the Grow a Group Practice podcast. Whether you are thinking of starting a group practice, are in the beginning stages of a group practice, or want to learn how to scale up your already existing group practice, we have lots of great content for you. I am your host, Alison Pidgeon. I am a serial entrepreneur with four businesses, one of which is a 15-clinician group practice that I started in 2015. I’m also a mom to three boys, wife, coffee drinker, and love to travel. I’m excited that you chose to listen to this podcast.
Today, I have with me on the podcast, John Dennis, he is an LPC in Pennsylvania. He has over 15 years of experience and he is the co-owner of a group practice called Parenting and Family Solutions. And they focus on individuals, couples, and families with an emphasis on relationships. And he also is the host of a podcast called On The Couch. So, I’m really excited to talk with you today, John. So just a little background for everybody. John and I live in the same town. We probably live about 10 minutes apart from each other, so we know each other —
[JOHN]: Depends on who is driving traffic.
[ALISON]: Yeah, depends on the traffic there is but, yeah, so we know each other and it’s been nice get to know a fellow practice owner and see you grow your practice. So welcome to the podcast.
[JOHN]: Wow. Thank you. Yeah, definitely. It’s been awesome to be able to connect with you. So, thanks. Thanks for having me on.
[ALISON]: Yeah, yeah. So, can you tell us kind of in a nutshell your practice as it is now, like how many therapists you have, and I know you have two locations or kind of give us the rundown.
[JOHN]: So, we’ve been open a little over two years. We’re going on a third year now and group practice with, like you said, two locations, Harrisburg and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And I have multiple counselors in each so, I think total, we have like six counselors. I co-own it with a friend of mine, business partner, Jason Boes, and originally yeah, just started off he and I, and then kind of quickly grew. So, it’s where we’re at today and trying to flesh out sort of the team with, you know, filling in the gaps of what he and I don’t work with within parenting and families and couples and individuals.
[ALISON]: Nice. So, a question that I get a lot is for people who want to co-own a practice and so I was hoping we could talk about that a little bit because I think people don’t realize that there’s a lot of different ways that that could be set up. So, you’ve obviously probably done your homework on that and yes, so I decided on a structure. So, like, I guess my first question is why did you decide to co-own the practice as opposed to owning it a hundred percent yourself? And then how did you set up that structure? Like who owns what, and who does what in the business and like, how did you work all of that out?
[JOHN]: Sure. So, essentially, I mean, I’ll give you, the longer version is that I moved away from Pennsylvania a number of years ago to Virginia. And when I did, Jason and I were friends, we went to college together and we both referred to one another and kind of collaborated and did consultation. And I transferred a lot of my caseload to him when I moved and we always stayed in touch and we’d kind of joked like, “Man, we should have gone into business.” And just for different reasons with non-compete clauses and insurance and getting health benefits to the family and things like that, I decided to move to Virginia. And then when I was looking at coming back started to actually become a reality. And he and I were talking and we were like, “Okay, well, you know, we’ve always joked about it. Let’s actually see if this is doable.”
And the reason that I wanted to look at the co-ownership, the partnership was he had stayed the entire time. So, he already had the existing caseload and he was kind of working on, Parenting Solutions was the name of his practice prior. And so, he had kind of already had everything set up with office space and he was renting at the time and had done a lot of the original legwork. And just knowing myself and I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey and Michael Michalowicz and, really knew myself enough to know that, “Okay, I need somebody that can kind of ground me. I have a lot of like ADHD, a lot of like shiny object syndrome and knew that it would be really good to partner with him.
So, the way that we set it up is him as the controlling interest. And we did that specifically. If you follow Dave Ramsey, he kind of talks about the idea of you know, somebody has to have the final say. You really don’t want a deadlocked 50/50 situation because it can end the business essentially. And so, I knew going in Jason’s much more business minded in terms of the finances and level headed in terms of decision making and things like that. And so, we kind of set it up that way on purpose.
[ALISON]: Okay. I think that’s really smart. So, like you, knowing that you sort of need somebody who like is super organized and maybe has your you know, where you’re weak, he’s strong and vice versa, probably. Yeah, so that was a good combination.
[JOHN]: It’s been great. We’ve really enjoyed working together. We haven’t really had too many hiccups and really, you know, we’ve set it up to really check in with each other regularly. We meet weekly and then on addition to that have like, you know, kind of quarterly strategic planning meetings to go over, you know, the numbers and, “Okay, what are we going to do in 2020 and what are we going to do with this quarter,” and things like that. So, and then, along the way, you know, sort of, everybody I think is building the airplane as they’re flying it, so to speak. And along the way we stumbled across Michael Michalowicz and Profit First and started to follow his teachings and set things up that way specifically.
[ALISON]: So, does that influence then how you all pay yourselves or how you decide where the money goes? I mean, obviously that’s profit first, but I get a lot of questions from, I always seem to have at least one set of co-owners when I run my group practice mastermind groups. And so, the question of like, “How do we pay ourselves,” always comes up.
[JOHN]: Yeah, yeah. I mean, we set things up the way he teaches and in terms of, we had in talking with our tax accountant, you know, we had originally started off doing it one way and then switched to W2 and kind of structured things S-corp wise and different things. So, yeah.
[ALISON]: Okay. So, you were able to kind of fit that into the profit first model? And do you make a salary based on the clients you see, or you just make a salary based on kind of the revenue that the practice is generating?
[JOHN]: So, we make a salary based on the revenue that the practice is generating, and we kind of have a sort of like a minimum target that we need to hit and everybody knows what that is. At least for Jason and I.
[ALISON]: Okay, cool. Are there, you know, since we’re on the top, like of finances, is there any particular strategies that you’ve used or ways that you structured the practice to make sure that it’s been profitable for you?
[JOHN]: I mean, definitely I’ve already, I think I’ve given Mike enough plugs in the show already, but I’ll throw another one in thereof, to anyone out there listening. Yeah, I definitely recommend that when I come across people and they ask questions. That’s been one, and I think the other part of the story that I didn’t tell is, you know, call it, fate, call it kismat. I don’t know what. Literally, I think like two months before I moved, I stumbled across Joe Sanok and Practice of the Practice and just started to like, you know, it was like drinking from a fire hose. I was just, you know, trying to gobble up as much information as I could and put that into play little by little. And I think just really knowing your niche, really taking a look at the one exercise that Joe has, if you go to his website, he talks about your ideal client and how do you figure out who that is. And so, I think doing that and then starting to market towards that. And then for us with the group practice, like I was saying, starting to kind of fill in the team to work with the things that we don’t work with; has been another huge help.
[ALISON]: Great. Yeah, definitely. I feel like that whole niche marketing piece for me when I first started was like mind blowing because I came from community mental health. It’s like, you have to see everybody who walks in the door.
[JOHN]: Oh yeah. What’s a niche? And I don’t know about you or with your practice, but I’ve had, I’ve sent people to Practice of the Practice website and the YouTube video on that specific episode. And it’s almost like pulling teeth, trying to get a counselor that works for us to, you know, like, “No, I need you to like niche down. I need you to really dial this in.” Yeah, they do. It’s weird. I mean, I get it because, you know, in grad school and I think everybody fresh out, a lot of times, you’re like, “I’m going to save everybody.” And you can’t say no and like you were saying with agencies, a lot of times you don’t have the freedom, you don’t have carte blanche to just be like, “No, I don’t.”
[ALISON]: Or I’ve asked my counselors before, like what type of client they want to work with. And they’re like, “I really like working with motivated clients.” I’m like, “Well, doesn’t everybody?”
[JOHN]: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know anyone that says, “I really like the unmotivated, resistant clients.
[ALISON]: Yeah. So that kind of leads into me into another question I wanted to ask you, which is about marketing. So, I think that a lot of times counselors will start a solo practice and then grow into a group practice and they realize that the marketing piece is pretty different when you’re marketing a group. So, like how have you found that to be different and what has been successful for you with marketing the group practice?
[JOHN]: Well, for us I think, excuse me, I think while we’re trying to niche we, I mean, it’s in the name, I mean, Parenting and Family Solutions, so we cover a pretty general practitioner kind of swath of the public, I would say. So, in terms of the marketing, what I found to be most beneficial was really figuring out what are the touch points within the community? You know, who is my niche and where are the points of connection within the community and then starting to touch base with those people. So, for us, a lot of it is general practitioner on the medical health end of things. So, a lot of pediatric officers and a number of psychiatrists in the area and things like that have been huge. And like I was saying, with every new counselor that we hire, I sit down with them and go through that. “Okay, who is your ideal client?” And then starting to try to figure out, okay for them, what are the points of connection and then you know, starting to make contacts with whoever those people might be.
[ALISON]: So, a lot of the things you mentioned sound more like in-person networking type things. Do you find it’s also important to do more of the digital marketing type things?
[JOHN]: Sure. We do a lot through social media. We haven’t dipped our toe too much into paid for like Facebook boosting or, you know, boosting posts or things like that just yet. I believe that’s going to be coming in 2020, but we’ve found a lot of success off of the end person and some of the networks that Jason and I had built over the years and just staying connected to them. And then with the social media and starting to get into some of the blog posts and podcast episodes for counselors that work for us, as long as they’re comfortable with it, we don’t force them into that or anything.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s good.
[JOHN]: Yeah. Well, and, you know, for me, I’m much more comfortable these days doing podcast episodes and blogs and things like that, and kind of going against our original grad school teaching of, you know, Tabula rasa, and no self-disclosure and things like that. And I recognize not everybody’s there, you know, not everybody wants to do that. That not everybody’s interested in it.
[JOHN]: What do you think has been some of the best kind of rewards of owning a group practice? Like what do you like about it?
[JOHN]: I think just the impact that we’ve made in the community. You know, just when we do an end of year, you know, get together for Christmas or for, like a summer barbecue or something like that as a company, and we’re able to go through, you know, “These are how many sessions we had, how many lives were impacted, how many families or relationships were touched,” is huge. I mean, that’s why we got into this gig in the first place as we love helping people and walking with them through those difficult parts in their lives. And so that’s been the greatest, I think. I think the other is just having fun you know, like connecting with other counselors in our practice, but also within the community. And I think so many counselors, I feel bad saying it, like, you know, you sort of think of like old school model of thought of, a lot of people think of it as this like competition where there’s like not enough to go around and other counselors in the community are like the enemy, you know, we’re competing against them.
And I haven’t found that to be true at all. Obviously, you and I have been connected and we’re involved in a number of different Facebook groups throughout the community. And, you know, just seeing the network of helpers that will just hop on Facebook or whatever, and fire up, you know, “Hey, I have somebody that needs a referral for this. Anybody got any ideas? Anybody, do we have anybody that could see this person this week?” Or, you know, things like that. I think it’s really —
[ALISON]: Yeah. I think especially for our area, because there’s a shortage of mental health practitioners. Like it’s, I feel like, yeah. I feel like, you know, that’s the unfortunate part, but I feel like there’s so many clients that we don’t see each other as competition necessarily.
[JOHN]: Well, and especially as sincere in the maternal mental health end of things.
[ALISON]: Yeah, so we have different populations that we’re trying to serve anyway. Right, right, right. But I think, yeah, I think that if we’re all doing good work, then it’s all good basically. And you know, we’re up.
[JOHN]: Well, and that’s one of the things I usually talk about with, as a therapist, how do I determine whether I’m doing a good job or not? To me when I’m getting personal referrals, to me that says I’m doing a good job. They feel like they can trust me to pass on my name or our practice to a family member or a friend. And yeah, I think just the ability to help as many people as possible.
[ALISON]: Yeah, and that word of mouth referral thing that happens, especially after you’ve been in the community for a while is amazing. That’s like our number two source of referrals, or number one source of referrals I should say. It’s word of mouth.
[JOHN]: Yeah.
[ALISON]: So, kind of the other side of the coin then, like what have been maybe some of your biggest challenges related to like getting the group practice started or running it?
[JOHN]: I think in the beginning you know, just the, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Like I was saying with, you know, trying to build the airplane as you’re flying it, and with that for us, we have a blend of using insurance and paying out of pocket. And definitely the insurance I would say is the difficult side of things. You know, we’re blessed in that we have office staff that is amazing and wonderful and able and willing to put up with the different insurance companies and calling them on the regular. And I think just the, getting our counselors in network with some of those different insurances, I mean, it’s just the waiting game. It’s kind of frustrating, but it’s the way it’s played.
[ALISON]: Right. So, it’s like the challenge with billing or just the normal everyday stuff that comes up with, like, somebody changed your insurance and didn’t tell you?
[JOHN]: I mean, there’s some of that, especially this time of year you know, in January where yeah, that happens a lot, but some of it also is just the day to day stuff where, you know, I hate to name names of insurance companies. So, I’ll say, insurance company A, you’ll call them because they have denied a claim and the people that work inside insurance company A, you know, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. You need to call them four different times in the same day and get, you know, four, maybe five, six different messages. There are times where we’ve left the call, almost feeling like, “I feel like I’m now dumber than when I first started the phone call. I don’t understand what happened.”
[ALISON]: Yeah, I think I know what insurance company you’re talking about.
[JOHN]: I can neither confirm nor deny.
[ALISON]: Have you had any challenges with managing staff? Because I feel like that’s always something that can be daunting when people are first starting a group practice, just the idea of being the boss.
[JOHN]: Sure. We haven’t really, it’s been great so far. I mean, knock on wood, but I think the, what I would say for other listeners is finding quality staff and are in a position that they’re able and willing to sort of make the leap, I guess I would say into private practice because you know, for us, at least you start off with zero caseload and you have to build that up. And there’s a bit of, you know, the waiting game with the insurance and the marketing and things like that. And so that can be challenging. I think, you know, it takes the right clinician and the right life situation for it to be a really great fit. And we’ve been really blessed that we’ve found those, and I think that’s partly just a testament to our interview process and really finding the right people, but —
[ALISON]: Are you kind of talking about hiring contractors? So, the idea, like sometimes people have to get used to the idea of being self-employed and what that means.
[JOHN]: Yep. Yeah. So, we hire independent contractors and so insurance doesn’t get taken out and they’re not salaried. And yeah, so sometimes for people coming from an agency where they had that salary, but, you know, they’re typically overworked and underpaid, they’re really wanting to get outpatient because I think for most they view outpatient as like, you know, the big dance, like, “This is the show. This is what I’ve been working towards and once I get licensed, that’s what I want to do.” But then there’s that like, “Oh gosh, I, maybe the health benefits aren’t included for some outpatient offices or maybe it is kind of part time to start and they have to build up their own caseload or things like that. So, yeah.
[ALISON]: So, you mentioned something about your hiring process. Is there any tips that you have for folks who maybe have never hired before that you found to be really helpful?
[JOHN]: I always draw from Dave Ramsey and EntreLeadership and that concept of being slow to hire and quick to fire. And I’ve been, and I imagine you have too, you’ve been a part of agencies where they hired off of the fog, the mirror test. You’re alive, you’re breathing, you have the, like somewhat the right degree as so good in here. And, you know, it’s yeah, a lot of times, the turnaround is abysmal and that’s such a drain on company morale and just, as a business owner that your time and resources and emotional energy. So, I mean, ours definitely isn’t anywhere near what Dave Ramsey touts. Like I think he says it’s like an average of like 19 interviews or something like that, but we have a specific process. It’s usually at least two or three steps, two or three interviews and then, you know, reference checks and things like that. So, I would definitely recommend really sitting down and ironing out that process and trying to be slow about it. You know, really be intentional about making sure that it’s a good fit.
[ALISON]: Are there certain questions that you ask that are really telling in terms of if it’s a good fit or how they’re going to be as a therapist in your practice?
[JOHN]: Alright, I mean, you’re asking inaudible 00:26:09] I mean, a lot of the standard ones of strengths and weaknesses and kind of looking at, “Okay, what is your desired niche? Who do you enjoy working with and who do you want to work with?” That’s a big one for us just because, you know, like I said, we want to round out the team for the gaps that we don’t fill and fill that with somebody else and make sure that that’s a strength of theirs and something that they’re passionate about. And some of the others, I mean, just again, some of the standard stuff of you know, times where they’ve run into ethical issues and how did they handle that, or how did they handle with, if they disagreed with a supervisor or things like that.
But we typically break it up into two parts where there’s the more traditional interview with Jason and I, you know, question and answer, and then we either we do like a mock session where they’re playing the therapist and one of us is playing the client, or it’s more of a written interview. You know, “Okay, here’s the case study. Kind of talk about what would be the treatment plan and, you know, first session, what would you focus on and things like that.”
[ALISON]: Wow. So, it sounds like you’ve really spent a lot of time making it pretty thorough.
[JOHN]: We try to because like I said, I mean, especially if you’re going to hire somebody and for some of the stuff that we get into with our practice in terms of couples counseling, we primarily work with Gottman couples counseling. You know, so if you’re going to bring somebody in and either get them trained or help them move up in terms of level training for Gottman couples counseling. I mean, that’s a pretty hefty investment, so we really want to make sure that they know their stuff and that they’re going to be a really good fit for the team. So yeah, we’ve tried to.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s really smart. Something I wanted to ask you too is how is managing the two locations? So just to give people kind of a reference point, like your offices are probably about what? 45 minutes apart?
[JOHN]: Again, dependent on who is driving.
[ALISON]: Depending on who is driving, yeah.
[JOHN]: Yeah.
[ALISON]: So, how is like, do you, are you going back and forth? Are you in the one office and Jason’s in the other office? How does that work?
[JOHN]: So right now, I’m the only managing partner that is in both offices. He lives closer to the Harrisburg area and he’s there full time. I live near the Lancaster office and so, my goal is to be here, I would say probably 90%, if not full time eventually. So, the way that it started off, we just kind of opened the doors with me and Lancaster a little bit, and kind of dipped our toe in and sort of built that up little by little. And so yeah, I’m the one that’s making the commute back and forth. I always say, I mean, I grew up outside of DC. I’m used to DC traffic. So, the commute to Harrisburg is nothing to me.
[ALISON]: So, do you, because there’s two of you then, is it easy to sort of say, well, the Harrisburg stuff falls on Jason and then the Lancaster stuff falls on you or like, how do you work that out?
[JOHN]: For the most part, we split it. I mean, it’s kind of right now just we have defined roles and I pretty much handle Lancaster. We share a little bit more in terms of Harrisburg, but yeah, I believe the goal moving forward is going to be, yeah, I handle mostly Lancaster, he handles mostly Harrisburg and kind of keep everybody updated and just catch anything that falls through the cracks.
[ALISON]: Right. Do you have administrative assistants or virtual assistants?
[JOHN]: Yes. We have one currently who is amazing if I’ve not put in a plug for Christina at this point. I will put it in a few more. She and Michael Michalowicz [crosstalk], but yeah, so, we have an office angel who takes care of a lot of the stuff. Ideally yeah, as we get larger, we’ll need to photocopy her.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I have one of those two I need to [inaudible 00:31:03].
[JOHN]: Yes. You let me know if you figure out the process.
[ALISON]: Yes, I should ask her if she has a sister, brother, or something. So, does she actually work in the office or is she working from home or how does that work?
[JOHN]: So, she is actually virtual. She’s not in the office, and yeah, it seems to have worked out pretty well. Every now and again, it’ll throw a client or two off. I mean, you know, she goes through in the intake process, you know, sort of tries to inoculate them for that. And we also have signs when people come in, letting them know that, “Okay, there is no brick and mortar assistant that is here.”
[ALISON]: Right. Yeah, I have the same sign. It says like, “Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.”
[JOHN]: Yes. Don’t worry. You’re in the right place. Please don’t go knocking on doors and opening them.
[ALISON]: Awesome. So, I wanted to ask you about your podcasts, because I think that’s really cool that you started that, and I’m just curious to know kind of why you started it, what was your goal when you started it? Like what was that process like for you?
[JOHN]: Sure. I started out because Joe Sanok told me to and I believe everything that he says. Literally, listening to Joe when I, like I said, when I stumbled across him it like changed my world. I had never honesty and I say this on the podcast and to people that I talk to that if you had told me, you know, four years ago now, I would say, “Oh, in four years, you’re going to be interviewed by Alison, you’re going to be on a podcast, you’re going to have your own podcast. You’re going to co-own a group practice.,” I would have told you, you are crazy. It never really crossed my mind and life circumstances changed dramatically and made it a reality and a necessity. And then once I started listening to Joe, you know, a lot of the stuff just made sense. I was like, “Wow.” And, you know, you work with him, you know him. So just that idea and also, you went through similar grad training too. What we went through, they don’t teach this stuff.
[ALISON]: Right.
[JOHN]: It just doesn’t get taught. And it’s mind-blowing how far behind the mental health field is from a lot of the rest of the business world.
[ALISON]: Very true.
[JOHN]: Yeah. And so, you know, I started off with the blog and kind of like, “Okay, I’ll develop my voice and put some blog posts out.” And that was much safer, much less, you know, like vulnerable, I guess, and then after the first year I was like, “Ok, I’m kind of kicking around this idea.” And I reached out to a friend of mine who already has a podcast, Meghan Chapo with the Travel Radio Podcast, should check her out, and yeah, I just kind of talked with her and she was like, “Yeah, do it.” And she interviewed me for a podcast episode, and then she kind of put me on the spot and I set it on air and I was like, “Oh, crap. Now I have to actually do it.”
[ALISON]: So, your podcast is called On The Couch. So, it’s all about therapy, and what is your kind of motivation or like your niche, I guess, so to speak with the podcast and the audience?
[JOHN]: Yeah, I always say the idea is for it to be a mental and a behavioral health podcast for the general public trying to destigmatize mental health, educate about mental health, and honestly anything that I think is interesting or important for people to know within mental health and anything that connects to it in any way is the focus. So, it’s been really crazy to be a year in and about to kick off our second season here. I don’t know, to me, the awesome byproduct of it is just getting to talk to really amazing, cool people that are doing awesome things to change the world. And that’s like, you know, the idea that I can reach out to somebody and be like, “Hey, I’d like to talk to you,” and it’s somebody that is, you know, a world changer, to use Joe’s word and for them to be like, “Yeah, sure.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. Now [crosstalk] actually want to talk to me.”
[ALISON]: Yeah. That’s great. Do you think it’s had any effect on your private practice?
[JOHN]: I think a little bit in terms of just, you know, the SEO juice and some of the, in the local community becoming known a little bit for that and that being connected to our practice. I don’t know, well, I’ve definitely drunk the Kool-Aid, I am kind of gun shy about, you know, the sound of my voice and the podcast. So, I try not to be the like hawking my own wares and like, you know, every client that I meet with, I’m like, “Oh, I have a podcast by the way. And you should watch it. It’s a requirement for coming into counseling with me.” Yeah, I try to like, almost like, keep it quiet but I have seen some positive effects of it. And you know, referral wise, there’ve been a couple of psychiatrists and a couple of counselors in the area that know me through that and have referred to us.
[ALISON]: Nice. Nice. Do you feel like it’s ever going to become its own little kind of side hustle or business?
[JOHN]: I mean, of course that’s everybody’s like quiet dream, you know, going viral and being an influencer and having sponsors thrown at you and things like that. Now that has not happened as yet. I think deep down, yeah, I think that would be cool, but I really can’t ever see myself completely stepping away from counseling. So, I don’t ever see it becoming like the full time and, unless I don’t know. It was, like I said, four years ago, I didn’t know I’d be doing this, so maybe.
[ALISON]: Yeah, that’s really cool. I think a lot of therapists think about starting a podcast and then, you know, there’s a lot that goes into it, even just through —
[JOHN]: Yeah.
[ALISON]: Yeah, through this process, Joe has really like set everything up for us to make it as simple as possible. And like he was explaining like all of the things and we were like, “Oh, my gosh.”
[JOHN]: Yes.
[ALISON]: So, you figured that all out on your own?
[JOHN]: No, no, sadly not. I wish I was that good. So, I have a friend of mine who has been in the world of music and editing and mixing and recording and things like that. And he, honestly, there would not be a On The Couch podcast without Trevor. So, Trevor has been my editor and has been a godsend, he’s bailed me out a lot of times. It makes me sound a lot smarter than I am. So yes, like you were saying, there is a fair amount to it, but at the same time, it really is, I mean I forget what Joe and like Pat Flynn and like a couple of the others say, like, I mean, literally by the end of this show, if you, you know, went to Libsyn or went to like some of these different places you could, you would have it all set up by the end of this episode. So it is that easy to start.
[ALISON]: Right, right. Very cool. One last question, before we wrap up. If someone was starting a group practice right now, what advice would you have for them?
[JOHN]: Definitely go to practiceofthepractice.com. I’ve not talked with Joe or Alison. I’ve not been paid to say this. If you want to, I would highly welcome that, but definitely like, there’s just a ton of resources. And I would, again put in a plug for Profit First. Pick that up and, you know, do what Mike teaches. I think for so many counselors, we’re so afraid of being the being the sleazy salesman or getting sued and like losing our license and that idea of just being afraid of the unknown. You know, it’s so weird that we work with this on a daily basis, with our clients and the fear of the unknown and the anxieties, fear of failure, and yet we’re human too. We struggle with the same things. So, usually I tell people like, “Once you take the leap, you will be kicking yourself and wondering why you didn’t take the leap sooner.”
[ALISON]: Oh yeah. Yes, I totally agree.
[JOHN]: Yeah.
[ALISON]: I started in, next month it’ll be five years ago and it has gone really fast, but I also am like, “Ah, I wish I would’ve done it sooner.”
[JOHN]: That’s awesome. Five years, mmh.
[ALISON]: Yeah, I know it. It went so fast, but yeah, it’s been awesome.
[JOHN]: And you, and the other cool thing I think is to see, you know, like we were saying from same community, seeing your practice grow and seeing you guys move into a new space, a larger space. At least for me, it gives me hope and it’s like, “All right. You can’t do this. Like other people have done it.”
[ALISON]: Yeah, and I feel like too, it’s interesting and I don’t know if this was just coincidental, but I feel like when I started, since I started, there’s been like this wave of like younger practice owners who are like doing more modern type practices. And like before they were just like these agencies that were run by like 65-year-old psychologists who were, you know what I mean? Like they were run like little agencies and since like I started, there’s just been this whole slew of like new practices and it’s so cool to see because I think that’s what people want. People want, you know, the therapy world to like, sort of join the 21st century.
[JOHN]: Yeah. Again, going back to one of Joe’s exercises of just like, just go out and do a search on the internet for like websites of practitioners in the area. And yeah, you know, at the beginning I was like, “Oh my gosh, these are awful.” Like, are they using my space? Like, what are they? And yeah, now I’ve seen that too. I’ve seen just a large growth in more, I guess I would say, yeah, more targeted, more niche and, but there’s just so many cool things. I mean, I’ve connected with people that, you know, they’re doing pet-assisted therapy or they’re working with just military families or you know, they work with just victims or cancer patients or things like that. So, it is really cool to see. I agree.
[ALISON]: Yeah, well, I’m glad that you’re part of the community, John, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.
[JOHN]: Thanks. Again, thanks for having me on.
[ALISON]: And if anybody would like to get in touch with you or listen to the podcast, can you tell them how to find you and the podcast?
[JOHN]: Sure, sure. So, email wise, it’s just johndennis@parentfamilysolutions.com. So, the ‘solutions’ is the only plural in that one. And the website is the same, just parentfamilysolutions.com, and then it has the podcast on it. We have a separate bounce page for pfsonthecouch.com, but that links to the main Parent Family Solutions page.
[ALISON]: Okay, awesome. Yeah, I recommend listening to John’s podcast. I was on it.
[JOHN]: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I guess I would say with the second season about to kick off, I pretty excited. I got a chance to talk to Lori Gottlieb of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. So, that was, that’s going to be the first episode. Then I got to talk to a bunch of amazing people, just focusing on mental health crises in America and what you do when a therapist has actually abused a client, you know, whether that’s sexual or otherwise and dealing with issues like that.
[ALISON]: Yeah, so lots of good stuff on there and I look forward to seeing what you have for the second season.
[JOHN]: Thank you.
[ALISON]: And it’s been great talking to you today. Thank you so much.
[JOHN]: Yeah, thanks. Take care.
[ALISON]: Grow a Group Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you grow your group practice. To hear other podcasts like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
So, I got to interview John and talk to him all about his practice and his podcast. I think it’s really cool that he has put his hands out there and sounds like he is getting to interview really cool people and I’m excited to see where that leads for him. So, I hope everybody is having a great day and I will talk to you later.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.