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Episode 137 | Preparing for Extended Time Away



  • Episode 137 | Preparing for Extended Time Away 00:00


Preparing for Extended Time Away

Hi Group Practice Listeners! In this episode, you’re getting a clip from a training I did on preparing for extended time away in my membership program.

In this episode I cover:

  • building your support team
  • cross training your staff
  • recording processes for easy training

This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.

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Maureen Werrbach

Maureen Werrbach

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a great day. Today, I am going to be sharing a clip from a training I did inside the Exchange Membership. So if you want access to the full training, or any of the trainings that I share clips of in these podcast episodes, feel free to jump into the exchange, you can go to the group practice exchange dot com and you’ll see a link to join there.

This training I did was on how to prepare to take extended time away.

And the clip that I’m sharing is a clip where I talk about a couple of different concepts. One is the idea of really going through and simplifying automating delegating, and really eliminating things in your business that are not needed. But I also talk about this idea of building your support team. And not just in the way that we we all think about it, but building it in a way that actually allows for you to take extended time off.

One of the things that I learned that was so helpful, and I learned it so late in the group practice ownership game was the idea of building teams, support teams, versus having individual people who do things. So it’s obviously hard to take extended time away without doing work while you’re on vacation if you’re the one that answers the phones, or if you’re the one that’s doing billing. I’m talking about those group practices that have a receptionist or a front desk person, and have a billing person, and maybe have super supervisor. But what happens when those people go on vacation or what happens when they’re gone? That’s usually the struggle of a group practice owner, especially when they want to take extended time away and their supervisor or their biller or receptionist is also gone. The work really falls back on to the group practice owner.

So while initially, there’s a cost to adding additional administrative people or additional leadership members, there’s a huge return on investment in the long term, and really in the short long term, because they can support each other. And work does not fall back on you as a group practice owner. So I share a little bit about that in this clip. So let’s take a listen:

Support for actual longer time off.

So once you’ve come through a process of looking at what you can simplify what you can delegate, what you can automate, these things are going to make your extended time off work. And here, these are some extra things. Building an administrative team is going to help. And I know some of you are going to be some of our smaller group practices. There are ways that you can work at creating some sort of administrative team.

So it’s not all you if you are the only person that does answering the phones and that does the billing, you are going to have a really hard time going away for a month. If you have two or three clinicians, right. Like they obviously need new clients. The billing obviously needs to be done. And so if you’re in this position where you are the only person that does this, you don’t have any clinicians that can take over when you’re gone.

You need to build something that can support you being able to take time off.

And so on the administrative side, it might mean having a VA that can learn those things. So that when you have time off that you need to take, you can actually do it, it’s just a fact it is impossible to do if you don’t have someone else that can take over, especially when it comes to extended time off. Obviously, if you’re taking a short amount of time off, you can have the phones not be answered, you can deal with, you know, maybe some angry clients, you can deal with, you know, billing not being done for three or four days and sending them in bulk, right. It’s something that can be done. But for extended time off, it’s not possible, you can’t go away for a whole month. And I mean, you can I guess but it’s going to have much larger repercussions.

Building a leadership team has been the most grounding thing for me as a business owner, because it’s allowed me to not only be able to take extended time off, it’s allowed me to focus on the part of business ownership that I actually like doing, which is the visionary stuff.

Cross training people is key.

If you can’t build an admin team, if you can’t build a leadership team right now, if you can cross train some of your clinicians to be able to answer phones when you’re not there, or share in in that work, pay them for what they’re doing. But share in that work, and cross train so that you aren’t the only person that knows how to do a thing. Because remember, that’s a bottleneck, waiting to happen. If you’re the only person that can do a thing, right, because there’s gonna be a point where you are busy and you can’t do all of those things. And now, people are waiting.

Teaching true delegation, right not being a decider making it so that the people that are helping and supporting you can also own the outcomes of the work that they’re doing, and that they’re doing the work and coming back to you.

And then I’ve talked about this several times is: recording processes recording how your intake person or you do an intake, recording how you or a billing person actually does billing in your EHR, and talking through it, recording it on your screen talking through, you know, what steps you take in your EHR to do it accurately and correctly, what a worst worst case scenario is if you got ill and needed to take a long time off, or you were, you know, for whatever reason, taking an extended period of time off and you weren’t prepared.

Those recording of processes can be shifted to a clinician worst case scenario, or to a person that you know, who might park for a very short amount of time to take a role on the administrative role on to help you. And they can watch those recordings and get a sense of what they need to do without being fully trained, right?

And then lastly, is trial and error.

I know Uriah Guilford had talked about this, I don’t know if it was like a year or so ago, taking time off and how he realized when he took I think he took one or two weeks off. By having taken that time off, he saw all the areas that needed to be worked on, you know, and that’s, that’s a big piece of it. Every time we take I take time off, every time a clinical director takes time off, we learn where we need to tighten up a process, make the communication line a little bit better.

And so even though you might have looked at simplifying, automating, delegating, there’s going to be things that come up as because your business is this living, breathing thing. And there’s many people that are involved in it, that you can’t always count on every outcome to happen. We think that through trial and error, you’re going to see where you need to make those adjustments.

Alright, so what did you guys think? I am really digging what we have set up in my group practice, especially with my administrative team, because we have five different admins who all have a different role from checking benefits to managing the actual locations and supplies and payroll to director of client experience who ensures that the client experience from their first session or from their first phone call all the way through the end of their treatment is as a positive experience. A front desk person who answers the phones, as well as a billing person.

And each of them has also learned another role.

So our billing person also knows how to check benefits. Our benefits person also knows how to do billing and can support the billing person when when needed or when they’re gone or when they’re really busy. And our Director of client experience, because she’s in charge of the whole administrative team knows all of the roles, which means that she can also support if any one of them is gone or needs extra support. And so what this has essentially done is it’s removed me as a group practice owner from having to do administrative work when someone has gone when someone leaves, when someone goes on on their own vacation, which prepares me as a group practice owner to be able to take extended time off without having to worry.

So I hope this episode was good for you. Again, if you’re wanting more support, we have hundreds of trainings inside of the exchange membership community. And I’d love to see you there.

Thanks For Listening

Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.


Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode

Group Practice Start Up Checklist

This neatly organized checklist helps you follow the yellow brick road towards group practice startup. No more confusion. No more wondering what to do next. No stone is left unturned here. Grab your free copy today!

Recruiting & Hiring Your Ideal Therapist

Whether you’re a seasoned or a new group practice owner, one thing we all have in common is the overwhelming, sometimes painful process of recruiting, interviewing and hiring of therapists.

therapy notes

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* I am an affiliate for some of the businesses I recommend. These are companies that I use in my own group practice, and make recommendations based off of my experience with them. When you use some of these companies through my links, I receive compensation, which helps me continue to offer great free information on my podcast, blog, Facebook group, and website.

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Meet your host


Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:


The show

The podcast is structured so that you get practice building tips in small doses, where an episode can be listened to (and a group practice building lesson can be learned) in a single car ride.

Episodes are structured into categories: coaching sessions where I coach a group practice owner on a specific topic, tips of the day by yours truly, real talk where you get to be a fly on the wall while an established group practice owner and I talk about the highs and lows of ownership, and trainings done by experts in the field.

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* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.

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