Hiring an office employee, especially if it's the first time you've done so, can feel scary, overwhelming and stressful. Where do you find trustworthy employees? How do I know they're doing the billing correctly? Isn't it less personal if clients have to talk to someone other than the therapist?
Many therapists in private practice are reluctant to hire office support for a variety of reasons. The two most common reasons that I hear in my consulting practice are: 1) cost - "I don't want to pay out more money" and 2) control - "I don't want to give up control."
I had to overcome these two common barriers before I hired my first office manager.
It's Cheaper Than Doing It Yourself
When it comes to hiring office support staff, I find that it helps to think more like a business person and less like a therapist. Before I hired my first office employee I was concerned about increasing my overhead. Why should I pay someone to do something that I can do for free? Then, I realized that my time is money.
When I first started considering hiring an office manager I was billing $100 per clinical hour and seeing approximately 15-20 clients per week. If I spent those 10 administrative hours a week doing therapy instead of office administration, I could bring in an additional $1000/week to my practice. The cost of paying an office employee 10 hours per week, even at the high-end of the pay scale for my location, would only be $200 per week.
Hello? If you think like a business person, that's a no-brainer. I hired an office manager.
They'll Do A Better Job Than You
I struggled with the issue of control before hiring an office manager. I knew everything about every client account: what their co-pay was, how they prefer to pay, what their diagnosis is, how often they come to therapy, their balance and more. I had developed my personal style of answering new client phone calls and had finessed my techniques over a few years.
I knew how to describe my therapy style better than anyone else could. How could I trust them to answer the phone, handle the billing, or other office tasks the way I would?
Once I really looked at that issue, I realized that I could be OK if someone didn't do things exactly like I did. There are people who were trained in office administration, billing and office management, and they might know how to do things better than I was doing them. After all, I had no office management experience other than running my practice.
While there was a learning curve for me and for my first office employee, it turned out to be the beginning of significant growth in my practice. Having office support has allowed me to let go of the day-to-day tasks and focus on the bigger picture: my practice mission statement, community outreach, web marketing, training other therapists, business planning, and of course, providing therapy.