Productivity

Renaming Your Practice ft. Tara Sanderson

 March 9, 2022

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

Naming your practice can be exciting and also daunting.

What should you name your practice?

How do you know when to change the name?

And how do you handle the legal and marketing side?

Join me as I talk with special guest, Tara Sanderson, of Dr Sanderson & Associates, as we discuss potential naming pitfalls, as well as tips for choosing the best name for your practice.

Click to listen now!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How to choose a name
  • How to handle the legal side
  • What to do if you change locations
  • How to update your practice email 
  • How to market your new name
  • How to use your local Chamber of Commerce to get the word out

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

FREE Resource: Practice Name Change To-Do List
DrTaraSanderson.com
DrSandersonandAssociates.com

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Uriah
Hello, and welcome back to the Productive Therapist Podcast! I'm so excited that you're here today, and I am thrilled to be talking to Tara Sanderson from Dr. Sanderson and Associates. And she is a licensed therapist and a group practice owner up in Tigard, Oregon. Where is that?

Tara
It is like 40 minutes south of Portland.

Uriah
Okay, fantastic. That's great. I can't wait to get back to Oregon. It's such a cool state. It really is. Yeah. We did a road trip one time through a bunch of States and coming down through Oregon. It was fantastic.

Tara
Yay.

Uriah
Yeah. Okay, so we're talking today about changing your practice name, something that both of us have some amount of experience with, and we just sort of randomly decided to collaborate and put together a resource list just because we're people with cool ideas, right?

Tara
Yes. And I am such a big fan of streamlining processes and making sure that if I need to do it again, I remember the steps of how I got there the first time.

Uriah
That is so smart. So I would be curious for you to just sort of share with my audience and then, of course, with me because I don't know the whole story about why you decided to change your name and how you started that process.

Tara
Yeah. So when I moved into private practice, just like most people started off using a really simple name, so I just used my name. Tara Sanderson, MBA, LLC. World's longest name for a business! Maybe not the world's longest, but it sure seemed like it every time I tried to write an email or the name on any document. And then a couple of years later, I had interns and I was getting ready to hire people. And I realized it was just going to be weird for people to be working at a business called my name. So I started tweaking around and trying to figure out a way to make a new name and started running into all of these problems of like, what order do I go in to make sure that I'm getting all the things right to change my name? So it actually took me quite a while and quite a few tries to get everything right to get my name from Tara Sanderson's ID blah, blah, blah to now Dr. Sanderson and Associates. And in that process, as I was kind of documenting it all, I had the thought of remembering that you had changed your name a few times and thought, well, gosh, if anybody's got a list of how to do this. It's got to be Uriah. And then when we got together, we realized, no, but we should make one.

Uriah
Yeah. I love it. So really, for you, it was like the transition from solo practice to group practice, essentially, right? Yes.

Tara
Okay.

Uriah
That's fantastic. And that's what it was for me, too. My initial name, for some reason, I didn't choose my name for my sole proprietorship business. I was telling you just before we hit record that I started out as Helpless kid, which I thought was pretty clever back in the day. And then I moved away from that because I started working mostly with teenagers, and they were like, Nobody wants to be called a kid when you're 15 years old. So I changed it to Uriah Gilford. Was the name Uriah Gilford. Mft essentially kind of like you started. Right. And then I started a group practice and realized that that doesn't work. It's funny. I originally set up my Corporation and used, like, an online service, and I didn't know the rules and they didn't tell me, so I started it. I created it as Guilford Creative, Inc. Just because I thought that was awesome. And I was like, Group practice can be a DBA under that corporate name. Right. Sure enough, here in California, at least you have to use certain terminology as a professional psychotherapy Corporation.

Tara
Yes.

Uriah
Is that the same in Oregon?

Tara
It is.

Uriah
Okay. So I promptly filed a name change to Guildford Family Counseling, Inc. So that's what it's been for the last, I guess, right? About almost six years. Right. Around six years. So you went with Dr. Terri Sanderson and Associates. And how long ago was that that you completed that?

Tara
Before I knew that COVID was a thing, I started the name change process in February of 2020.

Uriah
Okay.

Tara
Which, of course, got super complicated by everybody needing to go home and stay safe and all of the pieces. So my process took a long time because of all of those complications from filing the name change with the federal government to the state resources and everything. So it took a while. I literally just got my letter from the federal government in November of 2021. Oh, my goodness. Saying that it was officially now Dr. Sanderson and Associates.

Uriah
Okay. Yeah. Like, a lot of things that we do as busy group practice owners, like, we've got the thought and the intention, and then we start it, and then actually finishing it sometimes takes time. But you had some pretty good reasons for that.

Tara
Yeah. I anticipate that not being the case for most people. Most of the time, probably not.

Uriah
So that's super interesting. So I'm very happy that about two days ago, I submitted my name change paperwork. And I don't know, for some reason, I was kind of intimidated by that. I just don't like paperwork. But what I did was I pulled out of my folder the name change paperwork that I used when I had to originally change it. And I was like, oh, this is easy. So I just did the template letter and then signed it, had my wife sign it, who's the Secretary of my Corporation. She felt very official. And then I uploaded it and paid the $35 and all that kind of stuff. And so hopefully it doesn't take too long. But that's kind of where I'm at, essentially. Well, I actually started with getting a new logo first, which is probably I don't know if it's backwards. It doesn't matter. I don't think, right, it doesn't matter. But I got the new brand done, and then I'm going to get it official with state of California. And then I'll be able to change things with the insurance contracts and do all the fun stuff of changing everybody's email address, the signs on the door. You've done all that, I'm assuming?

Tara
Yes. I feel like some of those pieces are the fun, techy, easy pieces where you're just like, yeah, I get to start up this new thing and put the new logo on the door. And yeah, it's all fresh and new. And then there's just like the messy pieces sometimes of just keeping track, of making sure the insurance companies do change the name on the checks and on the things, and that the bank does make sure that all of that moves forward as the name kind of keeps rolling out because it's never just as quick and easy as like, okay, I did it, and now everybody is going to magically follow suit. We have to keep up on some of the dynamics of everybody else's business changing things up with us.

Uriah
That makes sense. So because you're further along than I am in this process, I'm going to ask you questions. This is like free consulting, for sure. And we have a resource. I'll just tell people now you and I put together sort of a relatively comprehensive checklist, and it's got a fancy name called the Practice Name Change to do list. But it goes through everything that you need to do, from the actual choosing the name to the legal component to the marketing component and then miscellaneous stuff as well. And we'll link in the show notes and you can download that's totally free. So I'm curious for you, what took the longest and where were the pain points in that process for you?

Tara
Interestingly enough, I think the longest part is that first section of what are we actually going to call it. I think that for a lot of people, the reason they end up using their own name or come up with something in the beginning that they end up wanting to change later is because it feels so big and permanent in the moment that you're like, oh, my gosh, what is it going to be? And how do I make this choice? So I love our practice checklist that goes through and says, think about some of these factors as you're going through it, including things like what social media are you going to use and how is that going to work? That part, I think, took the most time. Everything else was just finding the right form that the state has a different form than the federal government does. And actually the federal government, you just write them a letter telling them that's going to change, which seems so unofficial!

Uriah
Yeah. Okay. I'm glad we had the checklist because I never thought of that until you told me that.

Tara
Yeah, it's super interesting. And then waiting for stuff to come back, I definitely rushed the ball on changing my name with insurance companies and trying to let everybody know that it changed before I actually got it back from the federal government. I was very grateful that it didn't impact anything along the way. So I don't know that it's a bad thing, but I definitely when I got the final letter, they were like, oh, yeah, now you can start using this name. And I was like, good, okay, good. I will. Yeah, maybe I already did that. That's fine. But yeah, just finding the right forms for your state and making sure that you follow the guidelines for the state piece of it. Definitely. It takes a little bit of energy to put for most of us, myself included.

Uriah
It's kind of interesting story, the way that I chose InTune Family Counseling because I'm really good with words and putting words together in general. Like, I feel like I am at least. But sometimes I get super stuck with naming. Right. Naming a service that we're providing or an online course that I'm making or whatever the thing is. So I was fully stuck and I came up with Growth Family Counseling, and we came up with a bunch we basically use my team to sort of help me brainstorm names, and we came up with a bunch of stuff, and I bought a couple of domains, but nothing was feeling, like, really good and awesome and exciting. Yeah. So what I ended up doing is I hired a professional copywriter who helps with name selection. And we went through this process, and it probably only took about an hour and a half. And we landed on the idea of vamping on sort of the music theme that's already in my waiting room, where all the rooms are named after music genres. So we got, like, the rock and roll room, we've got the jazz room, etc. There's record albums on the wall, there's actually guitars on the wall. And so we were going with music theme, and still it was really hard to come up with something that wasn't so cheesy, you know?

Tara
Yeah.

Uriah
Anyway, long story short, we landed on In Tune and kind of spelled it like a tech company sort of capital I N capital T-U-N-E smashed together and it just felt right in the metaphor. We do family counseling, so the metaphor was, like, so exciting. We came up with a tagline that is where families go to find their rhythm.

Tara
Oh, I love it.

Uriah
Yeah. It all just kind of came together and it was super wonderful. But I would not have gotten there without a professional helping on that.

Tara
And I love that there are places out there that do that. Right. Because I think we also feel really stuck going. I guess I guess I just have to make this up myself. But I love that you went to your team and you looked at those pieces and then you grabbed something from the world that does that professionally.

Uriah
Yeah, it worked. I'm super stoked. I think where I got bogged down is just honestly, the list, where do I start? And I know this is something that I want to complete, but it feels like altogether it's kind of a heavy lift. But really, if you look at the list that we put together, if you just start checking boxes, you'll eventually get there. And if you can continue to do the things step by step, you'll eventually get there. The only thing I'm afraid of right now is changing our insurance contract because we actually only take one insurance here in the state of California, but they are just kind of a nightmare to deal with. So I'm anticipating, like, glitches in the reimbursements and all that kind of stuff. Did you encounter that or was it okay?

Tara
I didn't encounter very much trouble with them at all. Some of the companies, it was a real quick Fax to let them know. And I just had to have the state document that showed that my name was changed officially with the state, and they kind of made that change really quickly. Some of them I had to Hound a little bit and be like, you need to make this change. But for the most part, everybody was pretty easy about it. In fact, I had a couple of insurance reps that I just emailed them and said, hey, my name changed. And they were like, sweet, here you go. Perfect. So I don't think I ran into any trouble. And I've moved a couple of times as a practice as well. So even with that, making the address change in those specific pieces hasn't been too much trouble with having the payments make it to me.

Uriah
So I'm glad to hear that. That's comforting.

Tara
Yeah, for sure. I think the place where I'm still a little stuck and I'm still working with consultation to figure out ways is the changing of the email part of it. I think I am a little bit of a digital hoarder. I like to keep everything, and I'm so worried about losing it that I haven't I ended up adding, I think, an alias to mine with a new name and stuff instead of actually transitioning over, which has been fine for the most part. I haven't had much trouble, but I definitely would like to be able to pull the two apart and just have the real name kind of moving forward at some point. I have not tackled that with Google yet.

Uriah
That is a good question. I haven't figured that out either. I've used aliases a bunch. It's funny the way my email inbox is set up right now. I have all of my old email addresses that I've collected over the years. They all funnel into one inbox, and several of them some of them are aliases, I guess. Yeah, several of them are, and that's worked pretty decently, but I haven't figured out how I'm going to do that. I'll probably call Google and say, what do you think is the best way to go about this? Because I want them to be able to get email. I'm just thinking this through as we're talking, but I want everybody to continue to get email from the old address because they've got clients that were here three years ago, four years, five years ago. I don't see anything wrong with the way you did it. Just off the top of my head.

Tara
Yeah. And it doesn't feel like there's anything wrong. It's working just fine. And I'm not having to pay for two types of services or any of those pieces. I think that sometimes as I'm getting started with new interns or supervisors or whatever, the login is the old. So it's at Doctortera Sanderson, but all of their emails go out with the new and those other they end up feeling like they have two email addresses even though they don't. There's just a little bit of like, staff level confusion around it. So I could see myself getting to a place where I'm like, okay, I'm done. I have to have that staff level confusion, and I want to move on to do it a different way.

Uriah
I'm with you on that.

Tara
That's a conversation with Google at some point, right? It's definitely not a necessity.

Uriah
If I figure out anything that seems smart, I'll let you know.

Tara
Please do. Same goes for you.

Uriah
So I'm going to take a look at our list here and just see if there's anything else to touch on. Obviously, people can go and download this list. It's just a couple of pages. It's actually just two pages of a PDF. We talked about choosing your name. We talked a little bit about the legal aspect, which, as you said, it's not that hard. Find the correct form, fill it out, pay a little money, and then update your depending on your legal entity, update your minutes if you are in fact an LLC or an S-Corp, and then onto marketing and then miscellaneous. So obviously you want to get the word out and tell as many people as you can. And I'm only slightly worried about this because my website and my practice name has been around for so long that it's got to be at some way to let people know we are the same place, doing the same thing under a different name. So that looks like obviously updating the website, sending an update, letter to referral sources. Probably not going to do an open house, to be honest, and send an update to the email list, maybe a press release. I'm curious, did you do any or all of the things?

Tara
Yeah, I did a lot of them. I did not do an open house because of Covid. But the only other thing I can think of that I did was I made an announcement at our local Chamber of commerce because my name went along with it. Still, it was a little bit easier of a transition where people still knew that it was my service doing those pieces. But I think that that local Chamber of Commerce really was able to get the blast out to the community in a bigger way than I would have anticipated otherwise.

Uriah
That's such a good tip. I'm writing that down. I'm going to add that to our list because not a lot of people think about even getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce and letting them because that's kind of their job is to sort of make announcements when there's new businesses entering the community or changes that people might care about and support small local businesses in general. That's fantastic.

Tara
It has been such a fantastic resource for us, not only for us getting things that we need from a local level. Like whenever we've needed to get, like, swag embroidered or like, stickers made or whatever, they've got all the connections for how to get to those people, which has been awesome. We just got our photography done by somebody because they were recommended through the Chamber, which was really cool. But it also if we can flip into a mode of like, how can we help our community? One of the biggest things that I was able to do during the pandemic was reach out to those business owners and ask the question, what do your employees need right now? And for some of them, it was they just need somebody to talk to sometimes. And for us, that's like, oh, that's all we do, like, bring it. So we were able to open up some help lines for a couple of hours a day where my student interns were able to answer phones and just like, chat with somebody who was feeling the stress of COVID or feeling the stress of knowing that their boss was going to have to make cuts. And they weren't sure if it was them. They didn't need full on therapy, but they did need just somebody available for a little bit of time. And that was really cool. We've also done some really neat opportunities to go in and teach people about suicide awareness. So we go to their staff meetings and teach about suicide or teach about mental health. And all of that has come from just business owner to business owner asking the question, what do you need right now? And how can we help?

Uriah
That's so great. Thanks for sharing that. I feel like every time I exchange emails with you or have an interaction with you, I come away with something helpful. You're very good at what you do.

Tara
Thanks.

Uriah
Yeah. So I guess the last category here is sort of the miscellaneous catch all. And that's like updating the signs on your building. We talk about the new email addresses, updating your practice name with your bank and with insurance companies, payroll company, all those things. That's about it. The one thing that I need to work on a bit more is I kind of want I've seen some other practices with these really fancy custom signs, and I really want something like that. It's totally not necessary. I could just get the most simple sort of vinyl sticker kind of situation. But I really want a custom sign because our logo is pretty cool. Right? In tune family. It's pretty neat. So I'm looking forward to doing that.

Tara
Yeah, I think I've seen one on a Facebook group where they had a metal print with the cut out of the letters, and then they had a light coming through it. So it's like backlit. And I just kept looking at that being like, Whoa, right?

Uriah
I know.

Tara
People are so cool.

Uriah
Yeah. I'm like, how can I get one of those for under $5,000? Yes, let's call it under $1,000. I don't want to spend that much money! So that's on my list. And I like aesthetic things like that. I like design and I like creating a cool experience in the waiting room, which would be another good podcast topic, actually to talk about another day.

Tara
Yeah, for sure.

Uriah
So this is awesome. I appreciate you talking through this with me and sort of giving me your tips, and we shared things back and forth that I think both of us weren't necessarily thinking about, so I think that was really helpful, and I hope that folks listening to this find it really useful. And where can people go to find out more about your practice if they want to.

Tara
Sure. So my practice website is DrSandersonAndAssociates.com, and if you want to know more about me and my entrepreneurial stuff, any classes that I teach or whatever, I'm at DrTaraSanderson.com.

Uriah
Fantastic.

Tara
Feel free to seek us out online.

Uriah
That's great. And in the show notes, like I said, there'll be a link to the free download that you can grab and tick the best of Tara and I wisdom on changing your practice name. Thanks so much, Tara. Have a good one.

Tara
You too!

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Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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