Once you’ve been running a successful solo therapy practice, you might find that the demand for services is exceeding what you can supply. At this point, you may be considering bringing on a few other practitioners and starting a group practice.
Of course, expanding your practice can be a great choice. It can bring in extra revenue, give you a chance to take on new challenges, and help even more people get the mental health services they need.
However, starting a group practice is not the right choice for every practitioner.
Before you make your first hire, you must carefully evaluate your own motivations for wanting to expand and make sure you’ve done your due diligence.
The Benefits of a Group Practice
First, it’s worth clarifying exactly why starting a group practice can be appealing. Here are just a few of the ways partnering up with more therapists can benefit your practice.
- When you have a more diverse group of therapists on your team, you can confidently serve a greater range of people and needs.
- Creating a team of partners means that you’ll have more time to focus on a more specialized area of expertise that interests you.
- Adding clients with different specialties expands your practice’s range of care and allows you to grow your brand and potentially make more money over time. It also diversifies your business, so it’s less vulnerable to market changes.
- Adding clients to your practice gives you more flexibility to take on new opportunities, such as community outreach.
- Adding another partner may give you more flexibility to take some time off work, as you may be able to delegate more easily. The extra revenue that additional therapists bring in also might make it possible for you to hire other staffers, such as administrators which can further reduce your personal workload in the long run.
How do You Want to Spend Your Time?
As we wrote in our post about starting your own therapy practice, there’s a significant shift that happens once you begin working for yourself. You spend a lot more time on business — from marketing to billing to accounting — which may leave less energy for your practice (or personal life).
This shift is even more significant once you have employees to pay. Starting a group practice means being thrust into the world of employment law and embracing a host of regulations and tasks, from payroll to taxes to health insurance to even time-off requests. You may also have to invest in a full-time office. As we mentioned in the last article, solo practitioners have a bit more flexibility when it comes to office rentals, but once you begin hiring therapists for your practice, a more official space becomes more necessary (and becomes an important recruiting tool).
Plus, once you hire therapists for your own practice, you officially become a manager. That means you’ll have to spend your time managing people — and that’s not ideal for some personalities. Once you’ve hired people for your practice, it also becomes your responsibility to make ends meet so you can write their paychecks, which adds pressure that not everyone wants to deal with.
That said, much of this work is easier once you’ve worked through it the first time, and anyone who runs a group practice now has successfully handled all of these tasks. If you’re up for it, don’t let it discourage you.
Alternatives to Expansion
If you still have hesitations about growing from a solo to a group practice, it can help to consider whether expansion is necessary.
Start by drilling down to your primary reasons for considering expanding in the first place.
For example, many therapists first consider bringing on partners when they find that they can’t keep up with the demand for their services. They don’t want to turn down the extra business, and the most obvious solution seems to be to bring on a partner.
However, there are alternatives to reducing your workload or freeing up more time that don’t involve hiring a therapist. You could reduce your administrative workload significantly by investing in an automated scheduling service, for example, or by hiring an accounting service to free up some of your time.
If your concern is turning down extra revenue or making more money so that you can improve your office, a high demand for your services might indicate that it’s time to raise your rates.
However, if your main reason for expansion is the ability to serve a greater number of people or stifle some of the isolation you feel from operating on your own, bringing on some partners may indeed be the best solution.
Are You Ready to Grow?
The most important things to have in place before you grow are a strong cash flow and a growing demand for your therapy services. The last thing you want to do is invest in making space for more therapists or other hires only to discover you can’t afford them.
If your schedule is booked up, that’s a good sign. If you’re regularly turning away inquiries from potential clients who need services you don’t specialize in, that’s a good indication that whomever you bring on board will get off to a strong start with your practice.
It’s also a good idea to revisit the business plan that you made when you first started your own practice. Adjust the plan for all your new expenses. You’ll need to account for things like potentially higher insurance rates and higher office costs. Your own caseload may decrease as you spend more time on business management, which can affect income, too.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes the best sign that it’s time to expand your practice is that you have found a potential partner whom you trust and respect and who has a successful practice of their own. Taking on a partner is a big decision, and you don’t want to rush into working with someone who isn’t a good fit. A poor choice could completely corrupt the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
Tools for a Growing Therapy Practice
As you grow your practice, streamlined and automated processes and administrative procedures become even more important.
You’ll need to make sure that your new partners are on board with your scheduling practices, your records management practices, and your vision of clients’ experiences.
It’s important that visitors get a consistent experience across the board at your practice. As we wrote in our post The Best Visitor Management for Therapists, this includes putting clients at ease as soon as they walk into the office and respecting their privacy at each point in the scheduling. And as we wrote in 6 Amazing Software Tools for Therapists, it also means giving them an easy way to schedule appointments and to check their account details through a client portal.
The right digital tools can make recordkeeping easy, automated, and private. This is important for improving client experience, but also for making things easier for you on the administrative end.
If you’re interested in improving your clients’ experiences with a digital visitor check-in system, we welcome you to try The Receptionist free for two weeks. Our system is consistently top-reviewed on sites like Capterra and G2. Its private check-in features can discreetly alert therapists when visitors arrive in the lobby, and keep visitor records without compromising visitors’ privacy. Check out our free trial here.
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