Productivity

Time Management For Group Practice Owners

 February 3, 2022

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

ft. Whitney Owens, of Practice The Practice

Are you a group practice owner?How can you get the most out of your time?

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • What to delegate
  • How to know when to delegate
  • Who to delegate to
  • Witney's secret to being a happy group practice owner

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Practice The Practice
Faith In Practice Event
Faith In Practice Podcast

⬇️ Click for full episode transcript ⬇️

Uriah
Hello and thank you so much for joining me on the Productive Therapist Podcast! Today I have the great pleasure of welcoming my guest, Whitney Owens, who is a licensed professional counselor and private practice consultant. She lives in amazing Savannah, Georgia, where she owns a group practice, Waters Edge Counseling. In addition to running her practice, she offers individual and group consulting through Practice Of The Practice, Whitney places a special emphasis on helping clinicians start and grow faith-based practices. She hosts a podcast to help faith based practice owners called the Faith In Practice Podcast, and she also co hosts two membership communities with a focus on helping people start and grow group counseling practices. So Whitney has spoken at the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia's annual convention, as well as Maryland's Annual Counselor Conference. She trains therapist on using the Enneagram personally and in their private practice. She has spoken about the Enneagram at the Georgia LPCA convention, as well as for the Florida Counseling Association. Whitney is a wife and mother of two beautiful girls. Welcome to the show, Whitney.

Whitney
Hey, Uriah. I'm glad to be here.

Uriah
Yeah. I'm so happy to be talking to you.

Whitney
Yeah, me too.

Uriah
One of the things I like about talking to you is that I always get a unique perspective and like a decisive sort of direction from you. So I like a lot.

Whitney
Thank you. Some people like it and some people hate it.

Uriah
You could call it acquired taste, but I particularly enjoy it. So today we're going to chat back and forth about the topic of managing your time as a group practice owner. And as I think about what that experience is like of starting and growing a group practice, it can be all consuming and overwhelming, right?

Whitney
Yes.

Uriah
To the Nth degree, yeah. Do you remember what it was like when you started your group practice, like, the first couple of years?

Whitney
Constant transition. Right? Like figuring out really what you want as a group practice center, really culture, right. What kind of culture do I want? What kind of people do I want to hire? And then how does this run? How does that run? So you're constantly, like, flipping things around to make it work for you. I finally now I'm in that phase where I feel like I've got that good foundation where I can really build some fun stuff on top of it. So it's a lot more fun now. But yeah, those first years are exciting and rough at the same time.

Uriah
I totally agree. I remember being just heads down and working intensely for two straight years and like most of us do, doing all of the things. So when you think about time management for new group practice owners, it's like, that's funny. You're like, yeah, you work in the morning, in the afternoon and the evening and sometimes on the weekends and all the things. So I'm curious for you right now what takes up the majority of your time when it comes to running your group practice?

Whitney
Yeah, I would say that spending time talking with my employees, like building relationships, not even necessarily talking to them about their job, even though, of course, I do do that, I think of it more as relationship. You were the one who brought me to the awareness of radical candor, which I have loved, and it has really hit home for me. That was something I had already thought about, the importance of relationship. But just reading that again, if I'm going to spend time on anything, I feel like the most valuable time I spend is my relationship with my team. And that's what's going to fuel everything.

Uriah
I love that so much. Yeah. I was just reflecting on this yesterday that at this point in year seven, if you can believe that my main focus is developing leaders. Right. And developing the team. Well, actually developing leaders so they can develop the team. And to me, that is fun stuff. Absolutely. But in the beginning, it's like you're doing phones, you're doing QuickBooks, you're doing marketing, maybe you're building websites. Right. You're doing everything you have to do until you can actually delegate some things. It is really nice to be in this phase. I would say we're not in a growth phase. You probably are a little bit more than me, but it's like over the last year to two years, it's like really evened out in terms of the demands on my time, which is nice. But anytime you're in a growth phase, it's just going to be a lot, right?

Whitney
Yeah. I definitely think being a group practice owner has phases, and I'm grateful for those phases too, because it seems to come at the right moment sometimes. But there'll be a phase where I really got to hustle for a few weeks on something specific. Like right now we're moving into our new building next week, picking out all the furniture, the carpet, actually. I actually really hate that stuff. So my team has been doing a lot. Yeah, my team has been doing a lot of it. I'm like, just get something in there that's comfortable. I don't really care what the dynamic looks like. I mean, I do, but they've done a great job. In fact, the first time we moved, I had the team pick out. I said, basically, here's some money, which at the time I didn't have very much. Here's some money, just pick out your stuff. And they all did Facebook Marketplace and picked out some cool stuff this time. We did Wayfarer. So I'll let you know in a few weeks how that turns out. We just ordered all the furniture today. In one fell swoop. I was like, but anyway, that's exciting. So, yes, I'm hustling a little more now, but knowing that about three weeks from now, it's going to be so much better hiring as well right now because we're getting more space than we have the intensity, but really trying to set things up so that in a couple of months, things will be a lot more stable because I have some other things going on in my life in a few months. So I need to work it so that it's ready to go.

Uriah
Yeah, that makes sense. That's so funny. I can imagine one of your team members asking you what kind of couch you want. And you say, yes, couch. I want a couch.

Whitney
That is, yes! When I'm looking at things, I'm like, Do I like that? Actually, the Enneagram one has the worst time making a decision because nothing's perfect. I have to read, like, every single review. But if one of the team members send something to me and goes, I really want this. I'm like, great, you found it. Just do it. Here's the card.

Uriah
Empower them to buy the furniture. So when you think about new group practice owners, or maybe in the first couple of years, what do you think might be sort of the low hanging fruit for them to save some time in their day to day work life?

Whitney
Yeah, I would say automation as much as possible. I laugh and tell this story, but when I was a solo practice owner, and even right when I started my group practice, I still had a checkbook ledger and I wrote everything down. Yeah. And I legit did my own taxes, and I would pull every receipt. It would take forever. What was I thinking? And then when I found QuickBooks, I was like, oh, my gosh, this is God's gift to man. Like, what have I been doing? So that was an automation that was super easy. But I was really embarrassed that I didn't do prior or like sending receipts or sending invoices to clients later. I don't need to be coming and following up with people. I need to be getting their cards at the very beginning, charging them immediately. So automating things like that, they're easy things to implement. And group practice centers tell me all the time. It only takes a few minutes to do this. Well, you know what? It's your time, it's your energy, it's your focus. Like, you could focus on something so much more. So finding those small things that you can find a system to do it for you, I would say, is the easiest thing to do.

Uriah
That's amazing. And that starts from the beginning, all the way through any stage of growth, really. But it changes a bit, but I love that. I love that tip. The thing that comes to mind for me is handing off the phone, delegating the phones, because if you actually measure time, like managing the QuickBooks or the finances, probably takes a decent amount of time. But doing all the consultation calls, if you do that, or just responding to all the inquiries as the practice grows, that is like a huge time. I'm not going to say time waster because it's very important, but it takes up a lot, right?

Whitney
Definitely the phone. That would be one of my hardest ones to convince practice owners to do it is and I understand why.

Uriah
Because it's so important. It's that direct connection to the lifeblood of your practice and the potential clients that you care so much about. But it's such a good move.

Whitney
I said to the girl the other day when she didn't want to do it, she has a lot of therapists, too. I couldn't believe she was taking calls. And I said, oh, well, the last time you went to the OB, did the doctor answer your call when you went to schedule? She was so embarrassed. I was like, exactly what are you saying about yourself and your time and your business when you're the one answering the phone?

Uriah
Yeah, it's a mindset shift for sure, right? Yeah. So tagging on to that right there. What you offer consulting to group practice owners, as well as other therapists and other sole practices. What advice and guidance do you find yourself sharing most often when you're on those calls? What are some of the repeat highlights?

Whitney
Definitely.

Uriah
Especially for the group practice.

Whitney
Yes. Delegation. My people I see my people, the people in, like, my mastermind groups and stuff, they laugh because they're like, what do you think Whitney is going to say? Can someone else do that? Can someone else do that? I'm always saying that. Or I'll be like, yeah, there was this thing that I really didn't want to do, so I didn't do it. Right. I think that is where group practice owners need to really work on. And people will always ask me, well, do I have the money to delegate? I don't know. When do I delegate? And I don't think it's a perfect science. I'd actually like to hear what you think about it, but I don't think it's a perfect science. Like, if you don't want to do something and you have the money, why not get someone else to do it just because you don't want to? If you want to do it, then keep doing it. It doesn't have to be. You have to have a certain amount of money to make certain thing happen just to do the things that you want to do and delegate out the things that someone else can do better than you.

Uriah
It's a giant lever, right, to give you more results for your time. I was talking to one of my coaching clients the other day and she was setting up reminders for people to submit their timesheets. And I immediately said, so who else can do that Besides you? And then she said, well, I didn't even think about that until you asked me that question. There's zero reason why you need to be doing that. Not that it's not an important task, but anybody can do that.

Whitney
That's right. Everything that comes across my plate or emails that I get can someone else respond to this? Can someone else do this? Is what I'm always asking myself. And I think it's the question, like every group practice center should have on their desk. Like, should I be doing this?

Uriah
Yeah. Who not how. So my answer to that is usually before you think you need to. And then also I take notes from Julie Harris from Green Oak Accounting, who says that well, she says for group practices, between five to 10% of your gross revenue, you can afford to spend on admin support. So I use that as a measurement for affording support.

Whitney
Yeah, I think that's great. I always spend too much on delegation. But you know what? I'm willing to take a little bit less pay if I don't have to do stuff I don't want to do.

Uriah
Well, that's called using money to improve your life.

Whitney
Yes.

Uriah
The quality of your life. Right. For sure. So I've got a question for you that you're not prepared for, but I love it. Whatever your answer is, whatever is on the top of your head is fine. And I'm going to ask everybody that I interview this year some version of this question. Okay, so this is not the best version, but this is like version one. So what do wildly successful therapists share in common?

Whitney
Having fun?

Uriah
Good answer. Why do you say that?

Whitney
I just over time, the therapists that I've really gotten to know that a good business owners know how to laugh and know how to have fun. And I think that's just so important in our work. The ones that know how to have fun have learned that life doesn't have to be so intense and you don't have to hustle all the time, like you need to enjoy yourself. So I don't know. I find that those are the people that know how to have a good time that also contributes to your resiliency.

Uriah
Because if you are a group practice owner for very long, you will get knocked down a lot and you have to kind of get back up and sort of shake it off, laugh it off and get back in the game, right?

Whitney
That's right.

Uriah
That's wonderful. So where can the listeners go to find out more about you and your services?

Whitney
Oh, sure. Well, if you want to know more about my practice, it's Waterstagecounselling.com. I'm located in Savannah. And then to learn more about me and consulting, you go to practicethropice.com. And then I do have the weekly podcast. The Faith and Practice Podcast, would love for people to jump in on that. So if listeners have a faith based practice or faith based background, it doesn't mean you have to call yourself a Christian counselor all the time, just like a faith based background. That podcast is to help people start and grow faith based practices and have a lot of interesting people such as yourself. Uriah come on the show. And so would love for people to check that out and then they can email me. [email protected], that's fantastic.

Uriah
I do have one more thing I got to tell you. I'm excited to come to Georgia for your first summit. And this podcast that we're recording right now will be released next Friday. So if I have my calendar correctly, tickets might be on sale for this event. Can you tell everybody about it? Yes.

Whitney
So the tickets go on sale February 2. I love the date. Yeah. So the conference is going to be on Jekyll Island, Georgia. And for those of you maybe that aren't from Georgia, obviously, it's on the coast, but the Islands right there along the coast of Georgia are just gorgeous. So Jekyll Island is a gem, and I'm excited to share it with people. It's about an hour from the Jacksonville airport. If you're flying in to Florida for that. But it's going to be right on the beach. And I am limiting it to 100 people because of COVID. And it just brings a more intimate atmosphere. Right. I mean, us being able to get to know each other. So it's going to be at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel three days, April 21 through the 24th. Three tracks. It's going to be faith in business, faith in counseling, and faith in action. So the faith in business is how do we market a faith based practice? How do we reach out to churches and make connections? How do we work with nonprofit organizations, stuff like that. Faith in action is how do we actually take it and make it an actionable item with our clients? So we actually have someone who's going to come and teach five yoga poses and some meditation that you can do with your clients, someone else who does some work with ADHD and uses music and integrates that into his therapy with people. So having more of the experiential type therapy, we have another person who can do some sole care work with therapists as well. And then the faith in counseling is how do we integrate faith into our clinical work? So how do we assess somebody's spirituality? How do we bring our faith in the mix without pushing people away and being appropriate? And how do we help their faith be an asset to them and their own growth? But I really want the conference to be a place where, yeah, they're going to be tracks. They're going to be things to attend. But if you just feel burnt out because boy who's not burnt out right now. It's been a crazy two years. If you just want to chill on the beach or you want to grab one of the rental bikes which are free with coming to this hotel and you want to do a bike on the beach, you are totally free to do that. They have one of the biggest pools on Jekyll Island and a lot of outdoor seating games. Fire pits. So it should be a really good time.

Uriah
That's so exciting. So I'm going to put the link in the show notes to the faith and practice conference as well as all the other things that Whitney mentioned and thank you so much for being on the show. I know this is such a short conversation. I want to continue going but we'll have around Tuesday.

Whitney
Sounds good. Thanks, Uriah.

Uriah
All right. Bye.


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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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