Switching from 1099 to W2 Clinicians with Betsy Mejías | FP 135

On this therapist podcast, Betsy Mejías talks about Switching from 1099 to W2 Clinicians

Are you in the process of hiring clinicians? Do you want to build a lively work environment and culture? Are you nervous about switching to W2?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Betsy Mejías about switching from 1099 to W2 clinicians.

Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision

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

If warmer weather has you feeling like it’s time for a website refresh, or you’d like to boost your online presence, look no further than Brighter Vision’s custom digital marketing solutions, designed specifically for therapists.

And the timing couldn’t be better because they just kicked off their Spring Cleaning sale! Sign up with Brighter Vision before April 30th and you’ll get $10/month off of your first year of website service with the Brighter Vision team, plus they’ll throw in 3 FREE months of Social Genie to give your therapist blog and social media pages a serious boost, so you can focus on what matters most – your patients!

So get a jumpstart on your private practice’s spring cleaning list by contacting Brighter Vision. To get started and learn more, visit brightervision.com/joe.

Meet Betsy Mejías

A photo of Betsy Mejías is captured. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the owner of Abundant Life Christian Counseling. Betsy is featured on Faith in Practice, a therapist podcast.Betsy Mejías is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board Certified Christian Counselor. She is also certified in EMDR therapy.

Betsy started her social work career in child welfare, and later, medical social work. Throughout this time she did contract counseling on the side and served in her church’s marriage ministry. She opened her group practice, Abundant Life Christian Counseling, in 2018, and often jokes that she is the poster child for what not to do when building a practice.

Visit Abundant Life Christian Counseling, and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram.

In This Podcast

  • Considering the switch
  • Addressing uncertainties
  • Making the change
  • Betsy’s advice to Christian counselors

Considering the switch

The layout and the way I was running it, [I realized] I was treating my 1099s like W2 employees … using the same electronic health record, a receptionist, providing the office space. In no way, shape, or form were they independent business owners. (Betsy Mejías)

Many practice owners end up treating their 1099 employees like W2s.

These owners provide all the resources, benefits, and bonuses of being a W2 employee to a 1099 contractor, and it ends up costing the business owner.

You need to consider making the switch to hiring W2 clinicians if you find yourself treating your 1099s like full employees.

One of the biggest problems with the 1099 model is that people start paying everything for their clinicians and then complain that they are struggling to make a profit because of the way that they run that money out. (Whitney Owens)

Addressing uncertainties

Some practice owners are nervous to switch to the W2 employee model. Some of these uncertainties include:

  • Fearing that their staff will leave
  • Paying an increase in taxes
  • Paying for benefits

However, what solves all these fears, is that the percentage change from switching to the W2 model boosts your income overall. The W2 model also helps with retention, creating a work culture, income, and so much more.

Making the change

I did lose a clinician but that’s okay because the whole point was to have a similar vision, and if you value that independence then you’re not going to be on the same vision. (Betsy Mejías)

Create the culture that you wish to have in your practice, and this is easier to do with the W2 model. You can create abundance and give it more easily to your W2 employees.

Keep the lines of communication open so that you can welcome the best-fitting clinicians into your practice and let the more independent ones go gratefully.

Betsy’s advice to Christian counselors

You are ministers of hope. You can give hope to your clients to encourage them to get to the healing that they are searching for.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Whitney Owens

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

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

Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram or join the Faith in Practice Facebook group. Email her at whitney@practiceofthepractice.com

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Hello friends, and thank you for hanging out with me here on the Faith in Practice podcast. I still am getting through this nasty cold. I know that you’re probably so over it, but I’m sounding better. So I’m here podcasting and hanging out with. Looking forward to interviewing my friend Betsy Mejias today and before we get into the interview, I am going to tell you a little bit about a free webinar that Alison Pigeon and myself are putting on. This is going to be May 3rd, noon Eastern time, “How to delegate in your group practice while working less and making more.”

Alison and I are all about growing group practices so that we can have the lifestyle that we want, the income that we need, and honestly just not have to work so much. So that’s what we spend our time and energy teaching other group practice owners to do and we want to do the same for you. So if you own a group practice and looking to optimize that more, please hang out with us in this free webinar, May 3rd noon Eastern time. You can register for that at practiceofthepractice.com/delegate.

Also today, I’m going to share with you my good friend here, which is Betsy. Let me tell you a little bit about her. She graduated from the University of Georgia with the master of social work in 2009. She’s a licensed clinical social worker, board certified Christian counselor, and she is also certified with EMDR and is a consultant with EMDRIA. She started her social work career in child welfare and later in medicinal social work. Throughout this time, she did contract consulting on the side and served as her church’s marriage ministry. She felt led to open her own practice in 2018, Abundant Life Christian Counseling, while listening to her pastor quote John 10:10, that thief comes to kill, steal and destroy and I have come that they have life and have it abundantly. Betsy believes there’s a value in learning from our mistakes and jokes that she is a poster child of what not to do when building a private practice.
[WHITNEY] Betsy, thank you for hanging out with me today on the Faith in Practice podcast.
[BETSY MEJIAS] Thanks Whitney. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[WHITNEY] Yes. I am excited to talk about all the changes that you’ve made in your practice and the growth that’s come along the way. But before we get into that, would you like to share a little bit about why you got into private practice?
[BETSY] I got into private practice because I always wanted to help people and I had a certain vision and I always wanted to be able to train up the next generation of clinicians, but also provide a place for those ready established. So I tried to build a practice that I would want to work at.
[WHITNEY] Oh, I love that. I felt the same way. There’s so many different jobs and things that we do that just are difficult or taxing and then being able to create a practice that meets the needs of our clinicians is such a cool thing to be able to do. So we met, you had signed up for a pre-consulting call, I think is how we met and I think somebody referred you, or how did you hear about Practice of the Practice?
[BETSY] I had done so much of the building of the practice listening to different podcasters. Then when you rolled out the Faith in Practice, I probably heard all of your episodes before I even reached out to you. I was really on the fence about a mastermind because that’s so outside the box. Nobody I knew was doing anything like that, but I knew that I couldn’t continue where I was. I was listening to other business people, Robert Kiyosaki, Profit First, I was familiar with some stuff, but I needed something tailored to my situation and Practice of the Practice was just a perfect blend.
[WHITNEY] I love that. Well, thank you for listening to the podcast. Podcasting’s such a funny thing. You never know who’s listening and if it’s working or what’s going on. So I love that there was an impact in your life when I didn’t even know you. So that’s really cool and how podcasting brings people together? Like it brought us together and so I love that you took that risk and you scheduled that call. If I remember correctly yet again, I think I messed up on your name on the call. Isn’t that correct?
[BETSY] Yes.
[WHITNEY] Boy. I mean, I think that’s like three podcasts in the past few months where I’ve talked about messing up people’s names. So anyway, but I was really grateful that you still gave me a chance and we got to work together. So talk a little bit about where was your practice at before we met and then, I know we’re going to talk about a few different changes, but I really want to focus in on the 1099 to W2 change, but first talk a little bit about where your practice was at before we met.
[BETSY] I felt like we were going into year three and just growing faster than I can control. A lot of what I was doing was just mimicking what I was seeing other practices do, but not realizing that they were nonprofit and I was S-corp. So the models don’t work the same. When I first signed up for your Faith in Practice mastermind, I thought I was going into this to systemize and then reduce my workload and only work three days a week. It didn’t happen. Instead, I realized the value in W2 employee versus 1099, which was a game changer for me.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. All right, can you go through that process of what made you finally say I’m going to pull the trigger on this and then talk about that process of actually pulling the trigger?
[BETSY] Well, I wasn’t even thinking about it until I learned more about, okay, I’m setting a vision, there’s a structure. I want to recruit. I want to offer benefits. Like I said, I want to create the practice that I would want to work at. And you can’t give benefits with 1099. There’s also the financial side of it. It helps if somebody wants proof of income to buy a house, to have that structure and just the layout and the way I was running it, I was treating my 1099s like W2; using the same electronic health record, having a receptionist, providing the office space. In no way, shape or form where they actually are like independent business owners.
[WHITNEY] You’re not alone in that. I tend to find that’s one of the biggest problems with the 1099 model is people start paying for everything for their clinicians and then they struggle to make profit because of the way they run that money. Especially, and I know you do supervision for your people, I especially see that for supervisors, they own the practice. Then they offer free supervision to their 1099s when 1099 should be paying for their own supervision. That’s a large sum of money for multiple people. Or you write it into their contract and you make it super clear that their money needs to go towards this.
[BETSY] I do believe this’s going to come a change eventually. I want to say with psychologists, you’re required to be an employee. So it’s a matter of time before the board is like, no, they need to be W2s. If you’re an associate license, how can you function as an independent company? But we’ll see what Georgia says in a few years.
[WHITNEY] I totally agree with you on that part.
[BRIGHTER VISION] If warmer weather has you feeling like it’s time for a website refresh or you’d like to boost your online presence, look no further than Brighter Vision’s custom digital marketing solutions designed specifically for therapists. The timing Couldn’t be better because they just kicked off their spring-cleaning sale. Sign up with Brighter Vision before April 30th, and you’ll get $10 a month off your first year of website services with the Brighter Vision team. Plus, they’ll throw in three, free months of Social Genie to give your therapist blog and social media pages a serious boost, so you can focus on what matters most your patients. Get a jump start on your private practice spring cleaning list by contacting Brighter Vision. To get started and learn more, go to brightervision.com/joe. That’s brightervision.com/joe.
[WHITNEY OWENS] So you wanted to create a culture that really met the needs of your clinicians more so it sounded like was a big driving force for you to make that change? So what were some of your fears about switching to W2s?
[BETSY] My biggest fear was that everybody would leave and I would have to like start from scratch, that the numbers wouldn’t work out, the idea of paying more taxes and workers comp. But everything, if you go based on the percentages, it works out. You just got to trust the process. The first month or two, I was probably really nervous.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Then, remind me if I’m remembering this correctly, did you take the course that Alison and I created?
[BETSY] I took both. You had sent me the old course because you guys were getting ready to redo it and rerecord it. So I heard the first one, then I listened to the second one with my husband, because he helps me out a lot actually, he’s now co-owner and literally to the T, the attached worksheets, I used those. I started the conversation. We did the flip October 1st. I started the conversation in July so it was a heads up. I did the survey that Alison used and just tweaked it a little bit for what I wanted to find out in order to make the best decision.
[WHITNEY] Yes, that’s great. If you get to know me and Alison for very long, you see how much we love W2 based practices because both of us had contract practices and realize that this model was better for us. So many, I mean, I could go on and on about all the reasons why but definitely for profit and for being able to offer more to our people for retention of clinicians. So, yes, we created that three hour course because we had so many people asking us questions and that way we just walk people through step by step with worksheets ways to explain it to your people in advance, what changes you need to make so that way it’s a seamless process. So Betsy, you went through that course and then you made your changes. So talk a little bit about the actual experience of making the changes and the clinicians moving over. What were the great things and what were the difficult things?
[BETSY] I’ll start with the most difficult was just having to provide that explanation and keeping the dialogue open. I did lose a clinician, but that’s okay because the whole point was to have a similar vision. And if you value that independence that you’re not going to be on the same vision, therefore, prior need to happen. The other thing was like when it came to insurance. Some of the associate licenses are able to build because of my license, but then I couldn’t really even tell you use this template. The example, I want to get my house painted, painted this color, but I can’t tell you what brand or what brushes to use.
[WHITNEY] That’s right. I totally agree with you on that too, is being able to really be more directive with the clinicians makes me feel a lot better about the clinical work going on, as opposed to, hey, here’s a client, good luck. When you have a W2, you can have that directive. So I love that you pointed that out.
[BETSY] Then some of the benefits have been like, we had a wonderful Christmas celebration. I’ve started just bringing lunch to our monthly meetings, the cohesion, and even just discussing of what is abundant life, why are we here? I expect that the more experienced clinicians coach, the newer clinician, because that’s the environment I felt called to have the sense of faith and professionalism. The other thing, okay, we haven’t done health benefits, but there was definitely an interest when it came to PTO and retirement. So I went with that. So it was really tailor made.
[WHITNEY] I love that you just even said this, the idea of abundant life and being able to give more to your people is like abundance and that’s rolling with your culture there. I love that concept. So you’ve made this transition and what has it been like since you made the transition? Are you glad that you did? What are some of the benefits?
[BETSY] I’m really glad that I did. Some of the benefits has just been the way payroll is done. It’s streamlined and also people know what to expect, like if you get fully licensed, you can expect raise. Interns want to stay just because of the impact and people are invested, not just, I come see my people and leave. It’s like, no, I’m a part of this. I’m a part of something bigger, so much so then we’re having a ribbon cutting and a four-year celebration and it’s like, the team wants matching polos. So we’re wearing matching shirts. That’s going to be fun.
[WHITNEY] That is so special.
[BETSY] I sit back and I see people talking in the hallways or having lunch together. Even if I’m not a part of it brings me joy to see that teamwork.
[WHITNEY] I love that. A few weeks ago, we did an event with my staff. It was to help raise money for childhood cancer. We partner with an organization for that here in town to see the clients that have childhood cancer in their families. So the event is a theme to tables and we all dressed up like snow white and the seven dwarfs. It was so much fun. So you’re talking about how your staff want to wear matching polos. My staff wanted to dress up like dwarfs and they were so in it and it was so fun and yes, being able to get a table like that and pay for all that, if I was a 1099 practice, I would have a real hard time with that, but this way I able to provide that. We had a really great time.
[BETSY] Yes, and going with that also like the chamber, we joined the chamber of commerce and because their employees were all showing up, it’s not like five little businesses that share a building. It’s like, no abundant life is there and any of us can represent, and again, that it just brings me joy.
[WHITNEY] That’s cool. So you were also in our membership community Group Practice Boss. So could you talk a little bit about what that is and what your experience is like in there?
[BETSY] Okay, so Group Practice Boss is something I started attending, even when I was in the mastermind, because we got access to it. Sometimes even if I didn’t have a question I would log on just to listen and it’s just encouraging and supportive to hear other people that even if their business isn’t in the same place or season that yours is you’re able to bounce back ideas. Or sometimes I hear of issues that I haven’t ran across. Do you want me to share about the most recent one?
[WHITNEY] I would love for you to share.
[BETSY] Okay, so I popped onto the Q&A, I didn’t really even have a question. I said, oh, let me see what’s going on. Then there was an opportunity for me to ask a question. So I just threw it out there that like, Hey, I’m really wanting to start a PhD and the encouragement, the team, think about this, think about that. What about the leadership? Who’s going to take over? It really made me stop and think like, okay, who’s going to do supervision if I’m gone, who’s going to run payroll? Again, it just made me stop, think and be more intentional about my next step. So after that Q&A, I decided it’s just not the time, something down the road. So I would say that Q&A helped me prevent a mistake.
[WHITNEY] I love that. I think that Group Practice Boss has so much to offer as far as content. I mean, we have weekly meetings with other group practice owners who are covering topics related to having a group practice. We do record all those and have them available. So there’s years worth of course is in there. But I think that it’s those relationships. It’s speaking into each other’s lives. It’s giving advice where people have already been there, done that, or maybe they can just sense something from you that you’re not sensing within yourself. Those are the cool things like that.

You had a moment and it changed your, I know it sounds really intense, but like it changed your life. You made a different life decision because of coming to a Group Practice Boss meeting. Man, that’s so cool. I love that I got to be a part of that. So yes, Group Practice Boss is for people who have at least two clinicians or more, and it’s really to get that extra support and to get guidance. There’s also tons of materials, worksheets, things like that you have access to in helping you with your business. So I appreciate Betsy that you’re a part of that. You’re always very involved and we do find that those that are more involved end up finding more success in their practice.
[BETSY] I even listen to the replays when I’m not able to attend, like while I’m putting on makeup in the morning.
[WHITNEY] Yes, definitely. I sometimes do that too when I’m driving in the car just instead of popping in a podcast, just opening my phone, loading up the Zoom meeting and setting it down and listening while I drive, not looking but listening.
[BETSY] Yes, definitely.
[WHITNEY] Well, Betsy, we appreciate you taking the time to be on the show today. I have personally enjoyed having you in the mastermind group and now in Group Practice Boss and yes, I’ll be seeing you really soon at the conference. Even though this recording will come out after, but I’m looking forward to that as well. But I want to ask you what I ask every person on the show, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[BETSY] I believe every Christian counselor should know that they are ministers of hope. I tell my team that that whether it’s a couple in crisis, somebody’s struggling to overcome some trauma or anxiety or sometimes because we do have two life coaches, just somebody who needs to accomplish a goal, but we give them hope that they can get to wherever it is they’re trying to get to, find the healing that they’re searching for.
[WHITNEY] Hope is so important. We hold that hope for our clients and for each other.
[BETSY] Yes.
[WHITNEY] Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with you and I look forward to hanging out with you soon.
[BETSY] Thanks.
[WHITNEY] We want to thank Brighter Vision for sponsoring today’s episode. If you would like to get $10 off a month on your first year of website service by April 30th, please head on over to brightervision.com/joe.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. Would love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard 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.

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