What are the basics of private practice? Would you choose private pay or insurance? How can you set up a business plan for your new business?
In this reverse podcast episode, Beatriz De La Espriella hosts a private practice Q&A with Joe Sanok for the Southwest Florida Therapist Network.
Podcast Sponsor: PsychMaven
Starting with 2021’s Killin’ it Camp, we started hearing from so many of you about your dreams of creating new sources of income outside of the traditional practice setting. Particularly, we saw a lot of interest in learning about new income streams that could really scale.
So, with all that in mind, I wanted to see if you might join me live for a free webinar next week! Dr. David Hall with PsychMaven was a recent guest of mine on the podcast and in our episode, we talk about David’s passion for doing therapist continuing education trainings, and how these can provide an amazing, scalable income.
I’m going to be live with David for this exclusive Practice of the Practice webinar, it’s called “Three Therapist Secrets to Making Money Through Continuing Ed Trainings”. It’s how continuing education income from in-person and online offerings is way more achievable than you might think.
It’s going to be live on Thursday, April 13 th 2023 at 2 o’clock Eastern, 1 o’clock Central, noon Mountain, and 11 o’clock Pacific, and it’s going to be hosted by PsychMaven. And even if you can’t make it for the live webinar, we are going to have replays available. David is an expert in this area and I’m so excited to be partnering with him on this! Please sign up at joe.mavenwebinar.com. Also, it’s free!
Meet Beatriz De La Espriella
Beatriz helps Children, Teens, Young Adults & Women: ones that have it within them to improve their quality of life, but just need the support and guidance to get there.
She helps her clients increase their self-confidence, self-awareness and achieve inner peace, by providing them with the tools they need to understand and make sense of their emotions and experiences.
We’ve been taught [in grad school] to do things right, to do things perfect[ly], to follow the ethics … all of those things are right, it makes us overthink things and delay and take way too much time to launch something.
Running a practice as a businessperson is different from running a practice as a therapist. In the therapy room, you have to be patient and aware of how the process unfolds with your client, but with your business, you need to go at a different pace.
When your CEO hat is on, you need to be quicker, less attached to the outcome, and prepared to fail so that you can move forward.
Get a checklist like the one through this link to make sure you’re hitting all the milestones while developing your private practice.
Networking is necessary
Networking is important to grow your network, but it’s way more effective when you network correctly. There are three main ways to network:
You don’t have to be salesy and try to convince people to work with you, because they’re also most likely not your people if you have to persuade them.
Be intentional and work in and around your niche, and connect with other therapists that see clients adjacent to yours. Ask other therapists for a quick coffee meeting, or set up a quick 20-minute zoom call.
Have those relationships [and] see it as friend-building. See it as connection-building … see it that way instead of [thinking], “Oh, I gotta get business out of this coffee date”.
Approach other therapists in your area who work in your niche as well and strike up a relationship there too because if they’re full, the chances are that they will refer their clients out to you now that they know you.
Network with other medical health professions like the wellness industry, yoga classes, church events, and so on. Wherever your ideal client is, connect with those other businesses and set up a referral system.
Get your marketing strategy organized
Whether you dedicate certain days or times of the day to marketing, it’s good to have a strategy in general.
Look at what works, and double up on that.
Knowing the numbers and the flow, and making sure that [you’re] tracking that is going to help us be as focused with our marketing as maybe we would be with our networking.
Test your system and keep track of any progress. Remember that failure isn’t really a failure, and use it as a redirection to try something new that could work better!
Use the know, like, and trust method for your marketing process:
1 – Know: the community has to know that you exist. You need to get your practice name out there and circulating in common knowledge.
2 – Like: you connect with your ideal clients through your content and what you post on social media. This is the first contact that they have with “you” and your practice before you meet in person.
[Make] sure that on your website people know right away that you’re a therapist and they [can clearly see] who you help.
3 – Trust: use platforms like HARO to show the community that you know your stuff and that you provide quality services. Put things in your local newspapers and magazines so that the community can get to know you more.
Private pay and insurance
If you are deciding which routes to take to grow your practice, whether it’s through private pay or through taking insurance, first start by looking at your community.
Where do you like spending your time? Because, if you do private pay, it’s going to be a lot more on the marketing and showing your value and niching in often times whereas, with insurance, the insurance is going to [spend] more time on billing, making sure things are correct, and getting authorizations.
No route is better than the other, it mostly comes down to how you enjoy spending your time and which bracket your ideal client mostly falls into. Find a common ground there, between those two aspects.
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!
Feel free to leave a comment below or share the social media below!
Right around the corner on April 13th, 2023 at 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, I am partnering with Dr. David Hall on three Therapist Secrets to Making Money in Continuing Ed trainings, how continuing education income from in-person and online offerings is more achievable than you might think. It’s going to be live April 13th at 2 o’clock eastern and it’s going to be hosted by PsychMaven. I’m so excited about this. Please sign up over at joe.mavenwebinar.com. Again, that’s joe.mavenwebinar.com.
This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 861.
[BEATRIZ DE LA ESPRIELLA]
Hi everyone. So excited that you’re here. We are today going to talk with Joe about growing your private practice. I’m so excited. This is, I’m a little biased when it comes to this because I’ve been getting your emails, I’m part of your newsletter, I listen to the podcast, so it’s super happy, super exciting to have you here and join us. We will go ahead and get started. So we are the Southwest Florida Therapist Network. We have a pretty growing Facebook group, 173 members, so that’s super exciting.
Wow, that’s incredible.
Yes. Yeah, so we, and it’s super fresh too. I think we started August of last year. Very excited to have you here, Joe. But let’s go ahead, and I love to give our members just an opportunity for you to tell us what you do, how you got there, and just tell us a little bit about you.
Yeah, I mean, at my core I get to help people make businesses that line up with what their dreams for their life are, that’s primarily in the mental health private practice space. Once in a while I get other people that want to work with me, but mostly I help people start, grow and scale the practice of their dreams. How I got into that was, I mean, it’s a long, it depends on how long of a story you want, but the quick version is I followed the very traditional route of working in nonprofits. I loved working with angry kids and did that for a long time and then eventually got a job at a community college but had a side gig counseling practice and then just kept hiring 1099s.
So I had this group practice while I was working full-time and learned nothing about business in grad school and just would listen to podcasts and then I started my own podcast and actually almost exactly 10 years ago we’re at episode 850 right now and just would share what I was learning and would say, hey, I just learned what SEO is. I just learned how to make a website on WordPress. Then I should do something and then I’d find someone to interview them for the podcast, but then implement what I was learning. So now we have a team of almost 20 people and we have four different one-on-one consultants. We have a bunch of membership communities that support therapists from the moment that they say I want to start a practice all the way through leaving a practice and wanting to go big with writing books and doing e-courses.
There’s lots of directions we can go today and I would love those of you that are here, feel free to turn your videos on. It’s always nice to feel like it’s more of a conversation than me just talking into the void with Beatriz. Yeah, that’s my intro. I’m also, outside of my work I’m a single dad. I have primary custody of my two daughters who are eight and 11, so that fills up a ton of time between volleyball and tutoring and everything it takes with elementary and middle school kids. Then I like paddle boarding. I just was in Florida last week and I’m back in the snow of Northern Michigan.
You missing —
At least we don’t have red tide. At least we don’t have red tides, I mean, I guess we got something going for us, but we have the white tide of snow right now, just like covering everything.
Yes, yes. No, it’s, I don’t know if I want the snow versus, I don’t know, I think I’ll stay with, red tide can go away after a few months of the whole thing. I don’t know if I could deal with the snow. So you do a lot, there’s a lot and you’ve done a lot. So what would you say, going back to that part, when you were growing your practice and you said you had a bunch of 1099s with you? What would you say the one thing was to help you scale that and to help you grow the way that it did?
Yeah, something I did that I didn’t realize how important it was, was I didn’t overthink it. I think so often when you’re trained with master’s degree or degrees or Ph.D.’s or whatever level everyone is, we’ve been taught to do things right, to do things perfect, to follow the ethics, all those things are right, but it makes us overthink things and delay and take way too much time to launch something. You know a blog post doesn’t need five hours of your time to make sure that it’s like, has the appropriate APA citations in it. So even just being able to add someone to my practice, it was someone that I was his supervisor for his licensure, he was pre-licensed, he was a limited license and he wanted to just make some extra money and I had an office that wasn’t being used and he was like, “Hey Joe, can I work for you?” I’m like, “Yeah, you’re great and I would love for you to work for me.”
So I talked to an attorney, got a contract and within like a week he was, I was now a group practice owner. So it was like and then I figured it out from there, you got to update the website and it’s not me, like just Joe, it’s we so there’s a lot you got to update there. And just not overthinking it at every phase, I would say. There’s people that have done what you want to do, like learn from them, whether that’s in a formal community or whether that’s in just like taking somebody out for lunch once in a while all the way up through a mega group practice. We have this guy, Dr. Larry Beer who just joined us as a consultant. He had us or had, because he sold it a practice of 50 clinicians. The dude’s just down to earth and just kept adding people and when it made sense and then added locations and didn’t overthink it.
Yeah, and going with the flow, that’s something a little bit difficult maybe for us, some of us because we want the checklist and go through everything and that could just maybe sometimes hold us back from growing, from scaling. For someone that’s starting out, so they just open up their practice like it, what would be the one thing that you would say to them that they need to be doing right now when, if they have bigger goals to scale, like what should they be doing now?
Yeah, I mean you want to get the infrastructure down. So you mentioned checklist. We have a 28-step checklist that’s free over at practiceofthepractice.com/new. Like go through that checklist or go through a checklist to make sure you get the basics down. Because if you scale, if you add five clinicians and you didn’t do it right at the beginning, you’re going to have five times the headaches. So making sure that you have, and I’m speaking from my own experience. I’m not an attorney, I’m not an accountant, I am not an expert on Florida law, so I’m just saying that right now. But in most states having a LLC or PLLC to protect yourself legally from being sued so that your personal house isn’t part of what someone could sue you for if they don’t like your therapy, like that’s a pretty basic thing.
Having a separate bank account for your business from your personal bank account, don’t just have a DBA, don’t just be doing business as whatever your counseling practice is. Like, have it be formal. Use QuickBooks for the nine bucks a month it costs to pay attention to all that. So getting those things in order if you’re going to take insurance and even if not getting an EHR like Therapy Notes, getting your website up, having some sort of IT type people that have eyes on your website so if it goes down right before you go into a counseling session, you’re not trying to figure out how that works. Then over time as you’re a solo practice, making sure you’re adding in supports that can make it that you do what you do best.
So if you’re making a hundred to 200 bucks an hour doing counseling and then you’re still answering phones, you’re still doing all these emails, you are the most overpaid administrative assistant out there because for every hour that you could be doing an extra hour of counseling, you could be buying five hours of someone else’s time to be going through your email, answering your phones, things like that. It’s probably going to be cost-positive because if you miss a bunch of phone calls, they’re just going to go through Psychology Today till they get someone that answers to the phone. And so usually having somebody that even is just in an on-call type of position that maybe from nine to three each day is answering your main line that can be cost-positive, where you then have more business coming in and it sets you up to scale in a different way then if you just want to limp along. But there may be times that you want to be just a solo practitioner, you’ve no growth into a group and that’s fine too, but you want to make sure you do that in a smart way as well.
Yeah, I like that, the system. There’s something also that we don’t get to think about as we are starting out. I recently onboarded someone to do some of the canvas work, like all of the nice pictures and things like that. No time for that, but then I did hire someone to do it. So the process of the systems of getting other people on board, I think it’s important to have, even though you’re not thinking about it, you may not be doing it in the future. Do at least have something set up and written and things like that. Now networking, we are a network, we’re a huge, we’re that, with Florida Therapist Network. Is networking important to grow your practice?
Yes, but it’s how you network. I mean, I think most therapists have some sort of apprehension or worry around networking because they picture themselves going to like a young professional’s meeting get like schmooze and handle business cards like you’re a real estate agent or a car salesperson. But that’s not the networking that therapists need to do. Networking can be super micro where you go on Psychology Today and you find people that have niches that you don’t do. So maybe you don’t see kids, you only see couples or you see couples and adults, you’re just not into kids. Find some kids’ therapists because their parents probably need therapy too. So just having those relationships, seeing it as friend building, seeing it as connection building.
The same way that if you move to a new community, you’d want to meet new people. Just see it that way instead of like, I got to get business out of this coffee date. It doesn’t even have to be a coffee date. It can be a virtual Zoom like, “Hey can we just chat for 20 minutes and I’m going to bring my green tea and you bring something in. I’d, I’d just love to hear about your business and what you’re doing.” I mean, imagine if someone said, “Hey, just a quick 20-minute meet and greet over Zoom. Would you like to do that? I have a niche and I want to refer to you. I wanted to know you though before I refer.” You’d be like, “Heck yeah. That’s awesome. So I mean, it can be really micro like that. It can be bigger where you go to formal networking types of things.
You can also look for people that are in your niche. So if you’re a marriage therapist there’s probably a lot of marriage therapists that are already full. So they’re going to want to refer out if it aligns. Like if they’re Gottman certified, they’re probably going to look for someone else that is at least Gottman trained. So finding those people, and if they’re full or if they’re close to full, they may give you all their overflow, which can just be a killer way to build your caseload. Then looking at who’s connected to your client. We often spend all this time going to these like business after hours or this and that, and it’s like, you know it’s some automotive industry. It’s all, it’s just like a hodgepodge instead of being this very focused, intentional networking.
So thinking about, okay, my ideal client goes to yoga every Sunday morning. They aren’t a churchgoer. They also tend to be progressive and involved in these things. Or maybe they are a churchgoer. Like just sketching out that ideal client and where they’re hanging out and then connecting with those people and saying, “Hey my ideal clients that I work with, they’re regular people that go to yoga and you’re the yoga studio that just keeps coming up over and over and I just want to meet you. Can I bring some kombucha and see your place?” I mean that’s much different than like, hey, I’m looking for clients and let’s meet. None of us want to do that.
Yeah, yeah, it doesn’t feel so dry. It’s more like connections and buildings. So one of the things that I love about our networks is that our meetups are very social-like, like that very connecting conversations. We hand out our business cards right when we start so we don’t forget, just so we have each other’s contact information. But then it’s all about, so where do you live? What do you do? It’s about getting to know the individual, because guess what I’m going to remember, Matthew that lives all the way in the boonies basically of Naples, outside of Naples, Evan Maria, and he works with specific things in an area and attachments, and he can work with people that have the Catholic religion. Like there’s different things about him. Why do I know those things about him? It’s because him and I spent time just talking. So I think that’s what makes the difference about our networking and how it can help you grow your practice. So thank you for sharing that and for saying that for all of us. Marketing Mondays, how effective are they? I post them, I do them. Tell us, what are your thoughts on that? How effective can they be for growing a practice?
So I think that you just need a marketing strategy, so it’s great to have a day that you focus on marketing. I think a lot of times that goes by the wayside, especially if we’re busy, which it shouldn’t. But looking at what’s working, so if we look at, say that networking example, if you send 10 emails out, how many of those people even respond to your emails to do a virtual networking meeting? Or maybe two. So we know 20% of the emails leads to two meetings or leads to meetings. Then of those two that you have, how many actually lead to a referral? Maybe one. So then we can run the numbers and say, hey, if I want 10 new clients, I’ve probably got to do like 50 to a hundred emails, so just knowing the numbers and the flow and making sure we’re tracking that is going to help us be as focused with our marketing as maybe we would be with our networking.
Even just something as simple as on your intake saying, how’d you hear about us? Was it from a friend? Was it from Facebook? Do you know if it was a Facebook ad? Do you know about our Pinterest page? Being able to know what’s working is more important than like just doing marketing. I think that oftentimes therapists will just do a little bit of social media and they’ll call it marketing, but marketing is really taking people through what Zig Ziegler says is the know, like and trust process. In any business if we don’t know they exist, we’re not going to work with them. If there’s a new restaurant in town, and I don’t know about it, I don’t have a friend that says, oh my gosh, have you been to Habibi, it’s amazing, it’s this great new Middle Eastern restaurant, if I don’t know they exist, I’m not going to go there.
Now then I have to like them to even try them. Like, okay, my friends have said that you’re good. They got the blessing of someone in the same way. My doctor or my therapist or my pastor has said, okay, yes, this is a great counselor for you guys to go see. Then you have to trust that they actually know what they’re doing. You trust that Habibi has good food, trust by my own experience, trust that on your website that it looks good. So that’s what marketing is. So we want to take people through that know, like, and trust process. So first we have to say, well, where are we at in that phase? Does the community know we exist? If not, our marketing needs to be focused around moving people from not knowing you exist, to just knowing you exist.
And that can go really quick where all of a sudden, they want book with you. But if people don’t know that you’re out there, we want to first start there. Then we want to work on liking. So that’s going to be through content marketing, through things you post on social media, making sure that on your website right away people know that you’re a therapist and they know who you help. It shouldn’t just have like a picture of the ocean that says there’s hope for your family because that looks like a funeral home as much as it looks like a therapy office. So we want it to be very clear, like we are a group of therapists that help people in the grieving process or we are Gottman certified couples therapists who help you with your relationship. So it’s super clear without scrolling that within two seconds everybody knows who you are.
Then the trust side of it, there’s a lot of ways that we can do marketing to build authority. You can use things like Help A Reporter Out to get in all sorts of media. There’s a lot of free things that you can do. Now with like chatGPT, you can have a blog post written for you and then you just add a little bit to it in two minutes, so doing that SEO work. But then looking at some of the paid advertising, so putting things in your local newspaper, putting things in your local magazines. I know in Traverse City we have this thing called the ticker, where every morning it’s an email that goes out to anyone that subscribes. It has usually one big story about something local. It could be a new restaurant, it could be some controversy going on or layoffs, but there’s always something at the bottom that are advertisements or different things like that. That may be something.
So when you do marketing though, especially paid advertising, you want to do what’s called A-B testing. So A-B testing, you have two things that you’re buying at once instead of one. So for example, when I had my practice, I sold it in 2019, there’s the Grand Traverse Women’s Magazine, and then there’s the Traverse City Business News. I let both of them know that I wanted to run an ad for $500, I let them know that they were going to be competing against this other magazine and I wanted to get the best deal for my $500 to see who won and whoever won and got me a client or two or whatever I was going to run another ad with. So they’re like, oh my gosh. I got a quarter page ad instead of a, or a half page ad instead of a quarter page ad, one of them threw in an email to their entire list of, I don’t know, five or 10,000 people. The other one gave me a footer in the ticker.
So you get a better deal and then you ask how’d you hear about me? I heard about you in the Grand Traverse Business News. I heard about you in Grand Traverse Women’s Magazine. I heard about you in this area. So then you can say, okay, that worked or that didn’t work, so then in that situation, the Grand Traverse Women’s Magazine actually performed better than the Traverse City Business News. Then I’m going to run that again, but now have a new B that I’m going to do an A-B test. So I might do $500 in Google ads against $500 in grand Traverse Women’s Magazine. So then you’re refining your marketing and where you’re spending your money so that you know that it’s the best deal and the best performing over time.
That’s where the strategy comes in, like the marketing. It’s like you’re, okay, you do this ad but then in your intake you make sure that you’re asking those questions so that everything stays connected so you can keep track of these things. So I didn’t start keeping track of my referrals until recently and that’s when I realized like, oh, this is my area so I can focus a little bit more on that or pay more attention to that particular referral source, continue building that relationship with them as they send more additional clients my way, and things like that. Now you mentioned, and I did type it in the chat, Help Our Reporter Out. You want to tell some of our members what that is so they, because I know about it but I just want to make sure everybody knows a little bit more.
Yeah, Helper A Reporter Out is the single best way that you can get either local or national attention and quotes in everything from, I mean, like, I mean the Today Show has even posted things on there. So the reporters will put something in there, usually the health section is where you would want to be focusing because that’s the most mental health types of things. So they might put something in there like looking for a therapist that focuses on adolescences to talk about TikTok and so then you click on that and this is an email that comes out three times a day. It’s usually like breakfast, lunch, dinner, it comes out. So you click on that one, it goes down, it has a deeper description. It might say I’m looking for therapists that are at least master’s level, have practiced at least five years, are up to date on TikTok and can speak to why and then they might have three to five questions there.
Then the strategy is to reply to that email and give the full quotes in the email because these journalists are like moving so quickly, they need to get their stories in. They don’t have time to do an interview unless they want to. So you want to give a comprehensive reply and so you could say in it like, dear so-and-so, I saw this on Help A Reporter Out. Here’s some direct answers to your questions. Feel free to use any of these quotes within context. If you want more, feel free to give me a call on my cell phone. Now what’s great is if that person calls you on your cell phone, then you usually have their cell number. So I would, a little hack I would tell you is save their name but put the word media in their name so that if you ever have something coming up, you can text all of your media context really quickly. Because a lot of times these people are freelancers that like, that’s how I got in Bustle, Cosmo, Good Magazine, and Readers Digest all from one contact. She wrote for all of those. So to be able to within a month go from not really being able to say I’ve been anywhere to like, hey, we’ve been featured in all these different magazines and online publications, then gives you a lot more credibility to have that “as seen on” on your website.
I like it, can get overwhelming because they do have the three, like early in the morning. So I would say one of the things that I try to do is designate time to just go through them daily. They do have deadlines, so keep an eye on those to make sure, because they’re, like you said, the recorders are on the go. So just make sure that you respond to them by the time because if not, it’s, they’re not going to accept it. They’re not going to want it. Now we do have a question for Matt. What are some tips about developing your own marketing strategy? I find that being a, yeah, beginning to think about marketing and research about strategies, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Oh Matt, if you’re up for it, I’d love to have you unmute and ask some follow up questions.
Yeah, yeah. I mean first of all, thanks for being here, Joe. Appreciate it.
Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Actually, you inspired me to jump into private practice and not overthink.
That’s awesome. Very cool. That’s killer. Well, I mean I would start with like what are your goals of marketing? Like what do you hope to achieve? Is it like five new clients? Is it a full caseload of 30? Is it I want to have a group practice within a year? Like what are your goals?
It’s probably more part-time practice.
Side gig kind of deal?
Yeah, maybe six clients, the clients too actually. I think that’s something that’s important for me
Who’s your ideal client?
Younger, so probably 18 to 35 maybe. I like working with young adults and then particularly like certain issues, so anxiety, depression, typically relationships, self-esteem issues.
Do you have your website up already?
Right away does it say like counseling for young adults dealing with anxiety, self-esteem, like right at the top?
It doesn’t, no, actually
I would change that today. So yeah, I mean, ask for what you want. So I would start there. If you’re only looking for five to six, I don’t think you need a full marketing strategy. I want to give you permission to just disregard most of the things that you think you should do. To me, just some very clear networking with people that are decision makers for 18- to 30-year-olds, so if there’s a local community college go to their student life department. If there’s adult youth groups or like young college groups, churches, if that’s something you’re connected to, think about what coffee shops they tend to go to and see if there’s any like meetups that are happening there that you’re also interested in. Like don’t just be a stalker and show up at some random meetup that like you’re not interested in to just like pawn off your business cards but to be known as the therapist that helps young adults in their transition.
So I’d say that making sure your website do a little bit of networking. I mean to fill up six clients you just need one or two good referral sources. So I would really look on psychology today, see other people that are doing that work and say, “Hey I’m doing this work. I would love to hear any tips in the area.” Just to do a quick phone consult because most of them are probably going to fill up pretty quickly and then they’ll, like I said pass people off to you. Then I would write maybe five to 10 blog posts and you can use chatGPT, to use some of that AI to get it, but think about what are the most common questions that people that are connected to those young individuals are asking.
So it’s probably going to be, if you’re looking at the 18 to 22 year olds, there’s a lot of self-aware 18 to 22 year olds that are like any therapy. But there’s also some that it’s their parents saying like, “I don’t know what to do in this situation. Let’s find you a therapist.” So it could be you write a blog post about like 25 things that every parent of a college-aged student should be teaching or telling their kids or like how do you help students launch into adulthood, so like thinking about that from a parent’s standpoint too, because if they see you as the expert that helps them help their kids, then they’ll see you as the person that can also help their kids.
Okay, that’s awesome. I’m just sitting here taking notes.
Sweet. That’s why we’re recording it also.
Yeah, how do you deal with like having maybe two niches? Because I also work, I have a specialty with working with Catholic clients and that, young adults on the one hand, but also Catholic clients another. How do you sort of market that into your like website and strategy?
Ideally, do you want to help young Catholics?
Ideally, yeah, actually
I mean, like I heard that you’re in more of a rural area, but is it like, is there, are there enough young Catholics in that area that could, are there six young Catholics that need therapy in your area?
Yeah, well this is where it gets a bit complicated with my situation because it is a smaller town, very Catholic. But I’m also, I teach at the university here, so a lot of my clients, I can’t work within therapy. So that’s where it gets a little tricky but —
Yeah, I mean I would, so maybe you market a little bit outside of your town or outside of the university? I mean it may be that in like a year they’re like, oh my gosh, Matt was such a great professor, I really want to go see him in therapy and there’s not that dual relationship. I mean it depends how much you want to be known as the Catholic young person’s therapist versus just a young person’s therapist. Because some people are like, my Catholicism is something that I don’t mind weaving in, but I don’t want it to be like front and center and for other people they do. So I think just you deciding how much you want to be known for that and usually if you niche in that much, like you fill up quick and you usually can charge more. Because it’s like if someone is looking for someone that understands their religious perspective like they’ll pay a lot more out of pocket. Not saying that you would automatically raise your rates just because of that, but it’s like my therapist matches my worldview and he was really hard to find and luckily, he takes my insurance so I pay like 30 bucks a session. But if he was like, I’m no longer taking insurance, you got to pay out of pocket from your HSA, I wouldn’t blink. I hope he doesn’t see this recording, but —
Starting with 2021’s Killin’It Camp, we started hearing from so many of you about your dreams of creating new sources of income outside of the traditional practice setting. Particularly we saw a lot of interest about learning about new income streams that could really scale. So with all that in mind, I wanted to see if you might join me live for a free webinar. Dr. David Hall with PsychMaven was a recent guest of mine on the podcast. In our episode we talked about David’s passion for doing therapist continuing education trainings and how these can provide an amazing scalable income. I’m going to be live with David for this exclusive practice of the practice webinar. It’s called Three Therapist Secrets to Making Money Through Continuing Ed Trainings. It’s how continuing education income from in-person and online offerings is way more achievable than you might think. It’s going to be live on Thursday, April 13th, 2023 at 2 o’clock eastern, 1 o’clock Central, Noon Mountain, and 11 o’clock Pacific. It’s going to be hosted by PsychMaven. Even if you can’t make it for the live webinar, we are going to have replays available. David is an expert in this area and I’m so excited to be partnering with him on this. Please sign up over at joe.mavenwebinar.com. Again, that’s joe.maven-webinar.com. Also, it’s free.
Thank you, Matt. I love that you guys are engaging. So please ask questions as we move along. Joe, you talk about ideal client, but you also mentioned something else. Are they similar? Are they different? Which one would you rather focus on if you’re thinking of growing your practice?
I would focus on both. So like big picture, let’s use just Matt as an example, so he helps young people that are dealing with these issues. That’s a niche, that’s a general population. Now an ideal client or what is often called a business avatar is something that’s way more specific for that. This is more for Matt than it is for anybody, so to say, I have this guy who named, I don’t know, Peyton, and he is 23 years old in my head. He only has two years of college under his belt, but he felt like he was going to be able to do four years by now. He’s feeling like he’s got low self-esteem. For financial reasons he’s living with his parents, but his parents have a nice house so he doesn’t have a lot of motivation to go get like some crappy apartment that he can afford.
He is got an older brother that’s successful and a younger sister that you know is star of band, whatever. Like he sketches out like who Peyton is in his head, even down to like finding a random photo on like, I don’t know, unsplash.com to find who is Peyton so that when Matt’s talking to someone, he has Peyton in his head. So he can say if he had just met me and I said, so tell me about your ideal client, he doesn’t necessarily say his name’s Peyton, he’s 23. But to say they struggle with these things, like oftentimes they’re still living at their parents’ house, which is usually an affluent house, but they want to be on their own, but they can’t afford it, but, and they’re feeling down on themselves. So then it’s like you’re speaking about an actual person so much so, like I know podcasters that like they know their ideal listeners so well that they’re like, oh yeah, Mary’s my ideal listener, she’s this old, here’s her pains, here’s this, I have a picture of her next to my microphone. So your voice changes when you’re talking about a person in your head, even if it’s a made up person than just like young Catholics dealing with self-esteem issues. So the ideal client to me is for the therapist to be able to speak differently when they’re networking, when they’re blogging, when they’re getting interviewed whereas the niche that’s more for the general public.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you for that. Now what about for those that are hesitant in selecting a niche? So I personally, like I work with children, teens, young adults and women, so, I know that much. It sounds like everybody, but then do you, how do you narrow it down to it’s like, okay, I’m doing anxiety and trauma. Those are the only two areas. I don’t deal with anything else but just those two. But I still feel sometimes that I’m not nice enough but there’s other individuals I work with all gamers of every single thing. What would you say to someone who is hesitant in having that niche in specific focus?
I would ask you, are you full enough? Like are you full?
No, well, I’m a, my situation, I’m also part-time. I will be full of, I have two more spots left but I have a little one at home, but I don’t want to stop there though. I want to grow. Go ahead
So I would say like if you’re as full as you want to be or about as full as you want to be then there’s not really a problem. I mean, like at Mental Wellness Counseling, our tagline was, we help angry kids, frustrated parents and distant couples, dot, dot, dot and just about everyone else. So it was more general, but we had our ideal clients within each of those. So sure, I can help angry kids, but then parents assume I can also help anxious kids. I can also help socially awkward kids. If they see you as a specialist in the area, then they will assume you’re a generalist, but they won’t assume a generalist is a specialist.
So I would say is there a unifying feature or thing that brings together all these folks that you love working with? It might be, I love helping women change in their lives and then it’s like the subtext is like women that are anxious, like kids, whatever. But like, is there something unifying, sort of like how at the beginning when with my bio, it’s like I like helping people make businesses that match the life they want, that they can feel fired up about it. It happens to be, it’s through private practice. That’s what I know, like, and love, but it doesn’t mean that like if all of a sudden, the private practice audience disappeared, like I have skills where I can help other people in a different way. So I would say maybe narrow it down a little bit more. Also I would say if you only have two more spots, like definitely now it’s time to raise your rates. If you’re on insurances that you hate you should get off of those insurances.
Actually one, and we’ll talk about this later, I know you have Level Up Week coming up and I am going to be participating in when you’re join, like actually onboarding a new clinician because I think that’s where another way that I want to go into. But before we get to Level Up Week, I do have another question about private pay versus insurance. Does it matter to grow your practice, it’s least important for private pay? Like tell us a little bit more, what are your thoughts on when it comes to that?
I would reframe the question. I know it’s unintentional of the verses, I would say and insurance because some practices will say I want to do both. I want to do a mixed model. Some will weigh in one direction or the other. I would start with looking at your community because there’s communities that 99% of people have insurance. It’s like working class town and it’s very difficult to have a practice be a hundred percent private pay. So I would look at what are the main insurers in your area? I think also looking at where do you like spending your time? Because if you do private pay, it’s going to be a lot more on the marketing and showing your value and niching in oftentimes whereas with insurance, the insurance is going to be more time on billing, making sure things are correct, getting authorizations or having a billing company do that and taking usually six to 7% of the total amount that you’re bringing in.
So just knowing, okay, I’m getting a lot of clients, I don’t have to do as much marketing. I’m getting paid less, but a lot of the rates they’re not competitive with private pay, but they’re up there depending on the plan, and then deciding for yourself which ones you want to work with. I wouldn’t apply for every single insurance in your area because then you’ll get full and then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh shoot. Start with the one that pays the best. Start with the one that everyone says, oh, I love working with Meridian. Or I hate working with Blue Cross, or whatever your area has. I would ask around, I mean you have a whole network that I would ask people.
Then you always want to have your private pay rate be more than your highest paying insurance. That’s something I see all the time in my one-on-one consulting. What insurance companies can do if you’re charging less, is they can come back and do back pay where they can for years say, okay, you’ve been charging $125, we’ve been paying you $131, that’s a $6 difference. You had a thousand sessions at $6 difference, you owe us back $6,000. So you always, always, always want to make sure that your private pay is more than your highest paying insurance. You can still choose to do a sliding scale for some people, not for everyone. But I would highly recommend making sure that you do that if you’re going to have both insurance and private pay.
Good to know, good to know. So now moving into a little bit of more, because I really want you to talk to us about Level Up Week and what that is, but business plans, we talked a little bit about marketing strategies but business goals all of those things, those are things that we didn’t get really to learn. None of us learn any of, we didn’t go to business school. How important is it to take the time to create these things before? Or do we just create it as we go? What do you think?
Most business plans take up a bunch of time and then sit on your computer and are never a working process that people do. So in most situations a business plan, I would say the only time you need one is if for some reason you’re asking for funding for your business. For example, we got a business loan for my truck because we were going to be going on the road during the pandemic and I was going to be doing a podcast on the road about family life on the road. So they wanted to know like, what’s the monetization plan and like, but it’s like my own personal credit was also backing that up so they didn’t really even need like a business plan for it. So say you were going to go buy a building and you had a 10-person group practice and you were going to try to show that you’re going to scale to a 50-person practice and that you’re going to in each of these offices, like fill it with therapists and then the other half of it was going to be rented out. They may want to know market rates, things like that. That’s when a business plan is helpful if you’re asking for funding and like buying a building or something like that.
What I prefer is looking at what your KPIs are for the year, so your key performance indicators. So what are the two, maybe three numbers that basically tell you how the business is doing and how your life is doing? For most people, that’s going to be what is your net profit, not your gross. Your gross is the entire amount before you take anything out or pay any expenses. Like, I don’t care about that. You can make a million dollars a year and have $950,000 in expenses and only make 50 grand. So that number to me doesn’t matter nearly as much as like, what’s your takeaway, what’s your net that you’re taking home? That’s usually a good KPI of, okay last year I made $32,000. This year I want to, in this side gig counseling practice hit $60,000.
The other one to me is time invested. If you’re spending 10 hours a week working on your practice, when really you should be outsourcing some of that we want to probably have that be fewer hours that you’re working in your business. Those are two of the often KPIs we use in consulting with me where it’s like, how much are you making and how much you know time are you actually putting into this? Once you have those two, maybe three KPIs, you can then look quarter by quarter and say, okay, I want to bring in an extra $50,000 this year. Then you can say, okay, in quarter four of the year, what needs to happen? By mid-summer, what needs to happen by the end of April, what needs to happen? Then you’re able to say, what are the projects that this month I need to do? Maybe you run the numbers and you realize for me to make an extra 50 grand, I either have to see 20 more clients a week, which I’m not going to do. That just sounds crazy. Or I have to bring on two part-time, 1099s. Or maybe W2s. I need to look into group practice.
So say you run the numbers and you’re like, I need a couple part-time people that are going to come in here to take some of the overflow from me. You run the numbers and to be at $50K, you’ve got to have them at, I don’t know, let’s actually run the numbers. So say you want an extra $50K and you’re doing a 50%, so you need a $100K to come in and we know that they’ll work 48 weeks a year. That’s $2000.83 per week extra you would need. If we divide that by two people and then say that’d be $1041 and say they’re charging $125 a session, they’d each need to do 8.3 sessions a week. So 8.3 sessions a week with two people, so two very part-time people that could bring in an extra $50K a year for you. So to know that number and then say, okay, this next quarter I need to get a contract for a 1099 or W2, first thing, need to decide 1099 or W2, so talk to people about that. Decide how much like control you want of employees versus not control of contractors, how much you want to be able to like, be in their stuff versus like, hey, we’re all colleagues here, just do your business.
So you have to decide that in the first quarter. You have to then work with an attorney or use one of our contracts that you get and have your attorney scan it and change just a couple things in it. You got to get a contract ready because you want to have that figure out your email. So then that first quarter you got, here’s what I got to do to bring someone on. Then the next quarter I have to, someone’s hired, I have to onboard them and write down that onboarding process. So then instead of a business plan, you just have a practical quarter by quarter plan that mirrors your KPIs. To me that’s way more functional, almost like a treatment plan. My big treatment goal is to make $50K more, let’s break down the steps like a treatment plan and say, what are we going to do each quarter and then you just do it. Then you can tell yourself, okay, I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve hired two people in the first quarter instead of by the end of the second quarter, do I want to keep trying to do this faster? Do I want to give myself a little break? I’m ahead of schedule with my plan. Am I going to coast? Like what am I going to do here? So it allows you to put things on the back burner that maybe you wouldn’t know you could put on the back burner and allow yourself to just like rest and relax a bit too.
No, thank you. Thank you for that. It’s definitely completely different than what we, again, we don’t do business stuff to think about that. But I like how you break it down. It’s like a treatment plan for us, like I know that language, I know all of us know what a treatment plan looks like and what we want to achieve and then we want to be very specific, are smart goals to be able to get to that. So it’s something that we could do that way. What programs, and I think you mentioned, I know Practice of the Practice has programs for people to more for like step-by-step process. Tell us a little bit about some of the services that you that you all provide that we can benefit from.
Yeah, so we have one membership community that is called Next Level Practice Next Level Practice is aimed at solo practitioners, so think of it like Netflix where you pay as long as you want. It’s not like a set, here’s the program, it’s every month we have things. So we have 40 e-courses you can go through and we’re adding to that all the time, so one’s on marketing, one’s on blogging, one’s on money management. We have all sorts of just different downloads such as like those contracts I said. We sell that for $200 typically, but the members get those contracts for free. You get free logos, you get to be in small groups that meet twice a month that are all people growing a practice at the phase that you’re at. You get an accountability partner. We also use this program called Circle. It’s sort of like, it’s like a Facebook group meets like a Teachable e-course. So it’s this really robust, it’s aimed at membership communities. So you’d be in Next Level Practice with all these other members asking questions. That one’s $99 a month.
The next step up is Group Practice Launch. So Group Practice Launch is a six-month program. The next cohort is starting in early April and we’ll get links for all this for you guys. That’s a six-month program that walks you through hiring your first person, so all those W2, 1099 things that I discussed, hiring them, being in a small group of 10 to 15 people, being led by our consultants each week. So you watch the videos, you come in a Q&A, so the goal is that within six months you have a fully functioning new clinician on your team. If you don’t, you can always come back through that for free. So it’s just like, okay, I know I want to be a group practice owner, I’m going from solo to group.
After that we have Group Practice Boss, sorry Group Practice Launch, for that six month is I think $212 a month when it’s early bird, which is right now and $250 a month once we hit Level Up Week just for pricing. After that is Group Practice Boss. So it’s a very similar model to Next Level Practice where there’s small groups. It’s all group practice owners though. So it’s meant to be this comprehensive support where we’re presenting every single week. Oh, I didn’t mention that there’s live events in Next Level Practice and also Group Practice Boss. And when you level up, you get access to everything before it as well. So you can come to all the Next Level Practice events when you’re in Group Practice Launch. When you’re Group Practice Boss, you can be in all the previous events, so same model of supportive community of group practice owners.
Then after that we have Audience Building Academy, which is again, a six-month program for level one. That’s helping people specifically that want to leave their practices or want to do something in addition to that to build passive or active income; so think e-courses, writing a book, public speaking, starting a podcast. In some way, saying, okay, I’m a trauma therapist, that it’s mostly just been in this session that I’m using these skills. I think this could really go out to the world in a bigger way, so it’s helping people build their email course, get on podcasts, learn how to do that well, and then be in small groups around that to get feedback from other people that are doing it. Then we have spinoffs, like one-on-one consulting if people want more handholding.
You have also like a tons of experts in just different categories and different things. Can they also do one-on-one consulting with them or is it some —
Yeah, so we now have five, we have five consultants for people from solo practice all the way up to like Dr. Larry Beer who had a 50-plus person practice. So yeah, practiceofthepractice.com/apply is the best page for one-on-one consulting.
Yes. Thank you everyone for joining us. I really appreciate it. We got some members that couldn’t be here because they are running a practice so we totally get that. But we got some of those questions answered. So thank you again, Joe, for everything. We do appreciate all of the knowledge that you share with us. Any final words or anything that you would like to share with our group?
Yeah, thanks for that opportunity. I would end with how I started, don’t overthink it. No matter what you’re doing, when it’s new, it feels scary and that doesn’t go away, whether you’re starting a practice, growing a group practice, building a podcast. I mean, I see that cycle over and over when I do consulting with say people starting a podcast where they’re like, oh my gosh, I don’t know if I can do it. They get like 10 episodes in and they’re like, this is just like doing counseling. I’m just interviewing people. I have these skills inside of me. So there’s a lot of worry around what we don’t know or that we are going to really screw something up. Ultimately, if you’re doing good clinical work and you have the training, like the screw up is in people that aren’t licensed, like practicing. It’s like people that are not knowledgeable practicing outside of the licensure.
In running a business, there’s so many people that just are, I had a friend that told me there’s a lot of people dumber than you that have been successful in business. It’s like, it’s so inspirational. Like, okay, that’s true. It’s more just figuring that out. I did just see in the chat someone saying, I want to start a podcast. So actually podcastlaunchschool.com is where you can get a guide for starting a podcast. We’ll send you emails about that. We also have a e-course on it, and we do done-for-you, help with that, depending on what people’s budget are, if you want like the full on, like, I don’t want to do my editing and I just want to show up and record. And we’d help you figure out if a podcast will serve what you’re trying to do also. But I would say don’t overthink it. Obviously, follow best practices, follow your ethics, follow the licensure. But there’s some amazing people doing amazing work out there and there’s a lot of people that need you to be doing therapy and the more you slow down because you’re hemming and hawing, you’re just, you’re not serving those people. So go get them, I would say.
Thank you. Thank you, Joe.
What a fun episode that we covered today. Just a reminder that on April 13th I’m hosting a webinar with David Hall. David is the expert, Dr. David Hall, he earned that doctor, I should say that every time, Dr. David Hall, he and I are going to be hosting a webinar on April 13th and it’s all about how to host your own continuing ed events. So maybe you’re an expert in trauma, maybe you’re an expert in ethics, maybe you want to dig into some specific topics. There are people that have to get their continuing ed as part of that. How do you get approved? How do you create content? How do you market it in a way that people actually show up? So you can sign up for that over at joe.mavenwebinar.com. Again, that’s joe.mavenwebinar.com. We’ve got a great group of people that are going to be coming to that. So Dr. David Hall is going to be talking all about how to host your first continuing education CE event. Join us on April 13th. I can’t wait to hang out with you all.
As usual, thank you for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have a great day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for that intro music.
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