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Episode 160 | Developing a Practice Culture in Multiple Locations



  • Episode 160 | Developing a Practice Culture in Multiple Locations 00:00


Hey Group Practice listeners! In this episode, I’m giving tips for building the practice culture across a second or third location as you grow your business.

In this episode I cover:

  • Defining your practice culture
  • Attitude regarding your new location
  • Using existing team members as culture builders in a new location

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

Today, I want to talk about how to develop a practice culture across multiple locations. It is seemingly an easy concept. If you have a location where the practice culture is really positive and what you’re looking for, there’s an assumption that it can easily be transferred over to any other location, or additional location that you open. And as many people who have multiple locations have found out, it’s not actually as easy as you might think. And so today I want to talk about a few tips for building the practice culture across a second or third location as you’re growing your business. 

The first thing that’s the most important thing is to know what your practice culture actually is. Like literally knowing what your practice culture is writing that down. And having that on paper is going to be really important because so many of us just have this non formulated idea on what practice culture is or what our practice cultures are, but have a really hard time actually verbalizing what is important about the culture of our practice and why we consider it a positive workplace culture. 

And so before opening another location, and making sure that you can transfer that culture over, you really want to know what that culture actually is. Is it a culture of like a family setting? Is it a culture of like high quality, independent, self sufficient therapists? Is it a culture where there’s an open door policy and staff are really supporting each other in a sort of peer to peer support system? Is the culture one in which there’s a leadership person, a supervisor, or clinical director who is on site and providing supervision and case consult, as needed? You really want to know what that culture is, because that’s going to help you by having that definition, it’s going to help you ensure that you’re transferring that over to a second or third location. 

The second thing to think about is are you viewing this next location as a sort of satellite office or as a full fledged additional location? I don’t think that it necessarily matters. But I do know that practice owners who view that additional location as a sort of satellite office, often viewed as like this second, less, less real sort of thing in comparison to their first location. So they view the satellite office as a sort of adjunct, so to speak to their main location. And in doing that, there’s this general idea that it is different, maybe less resourced, then the main location. And so I think that’s really important to think about how you’re viewing this next location, because that’s going to forge the culture of that practice. 

Now, if it is a satellite office, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to invest less in the culture of that space. It really depends on how you view a satellite office versus full office space, full location. And it’s important to see, to you, what does that mean? So if it is a satellite office, why are you considering a satellite office? Is it a space for just some overflow sessions to be had, where your existing therapists from Location One, your main location are just going for overflow sessions, because your main location is overfilled? Is it going to be a location where there are all new staff, because a lot of times when people view that as a satellite office, it’s just because the group practice owner themselves doesn’t plan on working out of that office. And so they kind of subconsciously view that as a less real, I guess, so to speak office than their main location. And by doing that, we’re placing less value on the services, the offerings, the workplace culture of that location. And that will have a negative effect in the long term on the quality of employment in that location. So it’s really, I think something important to think about is how are you even thinking about and awarding that location in terms of its value and importance in comparison to your main location, or the locations that you currently have. 

You also want to make sure that you’re actually investing in culture building, I will tell you one universal truth about a business that has multiple locations. And this is not just for group practices. But across the board. Workplace culture does not naturally transfer from one location to another. Whatever you have at your first location, the location you’re at now, will not just magically happen at this next location. Just because you’re also running that one, you will have to be intentional about creating and maintaining and sustaining the culture in this second office, which means that you have to invest in the same amount of time that you are investing in this first location when it comes to workplace culture as you are in the second one. 

So in line of that, is thinking about how you are spending your time in the second location. Are you planning to spend time in the second location? If not, do you have a leader that can invest in creating that culture for you, in that second location? Let’s say if you don’t plan on investing, you know, splitting your time among locations, which many group practice owners do, and many your practice owners don’t do. You need someone who knows your vision, who knows your workplace culture, and can carry that over intentionally for you, since you won’t be there. But again, assuming that that culture will just naturally happen, because you’re hiring, what you think of is similar people as in your first location, it definitely will not go that way. There will be a point where you notice that the culture of that location is just naturally different, because there wasn’t someone in that office that could nurture that relationship, and that culture. 

Another thing to think about is, if you’re wanting the culture to be transferred over to another location, one thing that can help it out, is asking existing staff at your location that you have, if they are interested in splitting their time at this new location, you might be surprised to find that some staff actually like a change of scenery. Some staff might actually say that the second location is closer to their home and want to move over there fully. And this is all I think good stuff when it comes to workplace culture, because you are naturally bringing people over who know what the culture is, and will continue and model that culture in the new space. And it splits up the new therapists that are coming in between the old office, since there’s openings now there, because your existing therapists, a few have moved to the new space. And in the new space, which means that these new clinicians are coming into an office that already has that workplace culture established, versus a new location where all new therapists are there to start this workplace culture from scratch. 

And lastly, is, is this idea around how much time you’re investing? I mentioned that you have to invest in culture building, but how much time are you actually investing in that culture building? It’s really the key to it. One of the things that is in all of our leadership teams, job descriptions, is culture building is one of the first things that comes up on their job description in terms of duties. Because in our practice, what’s really important, is that in all of the work that we’re doing, as leaders, we’re always keeping workplace culture and connection in mind when we’re doing our jobs. And so, it really speaks to the value that you are placing on the culture of the workplace and in this kind of capitalistic society that we live in a lot of times workplace culture isn’t at the forefront of a business owners thoughts when they’re thinking about a new business or new location really. Oftentimes boils down to income and profits and making money, right? And culture building, the idea of it may not feel like money generating a revenue generating idea, when in reality, it is because positive workplace culture has a higher likelihood of having staff stay longer, right? It lowers the chances of people coming and going and leaving quickly. 

But a lot of people don’t look at that, because they’re looking at literal tangible ways to increase profits. And so they might skip out on things like workplace culture in lieu of spending time just hiring a bunch of therapists to fill a space and not providing them with the resources that they need to live out the culture of the business that you’re wanting. And so shifting our focus or shifting your focus to being intentional about workplace culture is just one huge way that you’re going to see a positive workplace culture being established in a new location. But it really requires your intentional time, mental effort, and ensuring that if it’s not you, that’s moving that culture over to the new location, that you’re bringing someone on in leadership, who can do that for you, and who knows what the culture is, and what part of your workplace culture is actually important. And that’s where knowing what your culture is defining it and writing that down is also going to be really important. 

I find that so many group practice owners and business owners alike in other industries really struggle when they open their second location, because it’s the first time that they realize how much work they actually invested in the culture of their first location that they didn’t even realize that they had invested in it, until they see that it doesn’t naturally just happen at the second location. And then I see, you know, most business owners learn to sort of perfect that and that culture more easily comes in their third, fourth, fifth plus locations, because they’ve learned through not paying enough attention to their second location, about workplace culture. So I hope those tips are helpful to you. And if you’re opening a second or third location, I would love to hear your experience of prioritizing workplace culture, in your second business or in your second location and what things you are wanting to transfer over and model in that new location that’s happening in your first location.

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

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.

When your team needs to kick off a project, hire a new employee, deploy some code, review a sales contract, finalize next year’s budget, measure an A/B test, plan your next office opening, and more, Slack has you covered.

We use clack to communicate within the office. It is almost like Facebook, in that you can search through old threads, which makes it easier than sending the same emails over and over. We have threads like general, clinical, administrative, and referrals to help us communicate without emails.

* 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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