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Episode 208 | Preparing for an Extended Vacation with Mary Beth Simón


WITH Mary Beth Simón

  • Episode 208 | Preparing for an Extended Vacation with Mary Beth Simón 00:00


Hey Group Practice Listeners! Do you want to unwind from work, but you’re having a hard time doing so? Well, indeed, vacation is a needed breather when it comes to unleashing stress.

We are grateful to have Ms. Mary Beth Simone, the CEO of Niche Partnership Consulting and a certified Les Mills BodyFlow instructor. She is renowned for guiding entrepreneurs in creating backup plans with their teams in the event of an unexpected or prolonged time off. Now, she is on a mission to teach you how to maintain your business’s cash flow steady while you’re away.


Episode Highlights: 

  • What needs to be covered even when you’re away, and should you keep playing your part in the business?
  • How to create a proactive plan, and what is the importance of having a standard operating procedure?
  • Why is it significant to assess the roles and responsibilities within your organization?
  • What are the best ways and challenges in preparing your members before taking an extended break?
  • How to run trials, and what types of planning would be effective to empower and ensure your team has what they need?


To connect with Ms. Mary Beth Simone:


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.

Do you ever wish for a financial therapist who could relieve you from the last few months of bookkeeping, talk you off the edge when you’re running into issues with Quickbooks, or help you work through a profit plan for growth? GreenOak Accounting does just that! GreenOak Accounting is an accounting firm that specializes in working with group practices. Their value goes WAY beyond bookkeeping; they can help you get on track for financial success. Schedule a free consultation by going to


Maureen Werrbach

Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Group Practice Exchange Podcast. Today I have a guest on, her name is Mary Beth Simone, and she owns a niche partnership consulting. She was actually at our group practice owner’s conference last summer or this past summer, and I’m really excited to have her on because she’s gonna be talking about how to prepare for an extended vacation when you are a group practice owner or a person who has a team of people.

So, hey Mary Beth, how are. Good morning. Great to see you. Awesome. Well, why don’t you start by, for those that did not get to meet you or see your talk over the summer, can you let people know who you are and why this topic is something that you have expertise in? Sure, sure. So before I started this business, I worked in corporate financial services for over 30 years, and when I was preparing to retire, one of my closest friends was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and.

She asked me if I would be willing to help her husband navigate the finances because she did all the investing. She handled all of the money. They had a couple of homes and you know, he didn’t use a computer, a cell phone, anything like that. She and I were both technology project managers. At corporate. So she knew that it would be a struggle for him if something happened to her.

And so I said yes, that I would do that. And she ended up, she did not survive. And I had asked her to show me what was going on, and I think it was just too far in her diagnosis to be, you know, for her to be able to sit down and do that. So she passed away and I had to start from scratch figuring out where everything was and.

Train her husband on how to navigate all of these processes. And during that process, I realized that many of us in our personal lives and our businesses are the only ones with all of that information. And we kind of think that we’re gonna be around forever or that we’ll have some type of, like a clean way to wrap up our business and transition.

And it doesn’t always happen that way. So I decided to create my systems for use with professionals and business owners. And through the course of a couple of years, a few years since I started my business, I have worked predominantly with group practice owners. A little bit at a time. And this year, like 90% of my clients are dish owners for 23, so I’m going deep into their processes.

I was gonna say, once you get in, like in our little group practice owner world, if one person. Like works with a service or a company and really loves them, as that person will typically just be filled with 8,000 other group practice owners because everyone loves in our industry like loves to share resources that have been really helpful to us in business.

So, I’m glad that we have someone like you, and also, I’m sorry, . . We have 8 million group practice owners to work with. I love, um, I love that I’m starting to get, you know, accustomed to the systems and the challenges and everything like that. It’s great to be able to have some expertise with this type of business.

Yeah. So I know you talked about, you know, at the conference, I’m forgetting the title, but essentially, If something was to happen to you, like how to set your business up for the not line of succession. What was it? Yeah, like business contingency plans, ency planning. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a huge topic.

I know it’s not our topic for today, but if any group practice owner listening is, you know, doesn’t have a contingency plan set up or needs support with that, you’re also the person to go to for. But today we’re gonna be talking about extended vacation, so it’s like a mini version of what you might need to be paying attention to, and it’s great.

I think segue into practice owners who don’t have a contingency plan, but maybe feel overwhelmed by it. I know there are certain topics for our industry of business owners where they’re like, oh. Yeah, I’ll get to that later. And it’s this and um, anything HIPAA related, I feel like HIPAA and our industry people, practice owners are like, let me just first get operational things put together.

I’ll focus on HIPAA later cuz it’s not fun and cute to like work on, you know? And so they’re like, we’ll put it on the side for later. , but I think talking about extended time off and like how to prepare is almost like a mini way of setting yourself up to take that next step into, you know, real contingency planning.

So I’m happy to have you on to talk about this. Yeah. It’s a great incentive to start thinking through what would be those steps. Yeah. Uh, to set up the team so that they can act in your absence. Yeah. I guess to get us started, what have you noticed in our industry when it comes to extended time off? Like, have you noticed that most group practice owners aren’t taking extended time off, or they are and things are falling apart?

You know that there’s like a certain thing that they’re really not looking at before taking extended time off that really sort of causes a lot of difficulties or obstacles in their absence. What have you noticed? Yeah, so one of the things that I noticed is that during the pandemic years, Group practice owners became even more essential to the day-to-day operations of the business because of the pivots and changes that had to take place, you know, generated by the pandemic.

And so after now that that has eased up and you know, we’ve become accustomed to this new normal, what I’m also saying is that group practice owners are not taking. The time to step back and reevaluate how involved they are in their day-to-day. So when we think about preparing for an extended vacation, this is a great opportunity to figure out what needs to be covered while we’re away, and then to take another look at it and say, should I continue playing this role in the business?

Yeah. I love that when you’re working with a group practice owner and maybe one of their goals is taking extended time off, what are some of the types of planning that would be helpful for a group practice owner to engage in before actually taking that time off? Whether it comes to their own planning or they’re planning with important team members for the time when they’re.

Yeah, so I guess the first thing is to figure out how much time do you need. What is the timeframe that you’re trying to create so that you can be away from the business? Now some people are preparing to take maternity leave and wanna take some extended time, or others are taking an extended vacation, maybe overseas or something like that.

So the best way to get started is to. You know, create a proactive plan. So acknowledge that you wanna be able to take this time off and identify who you want to train to take over these roles and be proactive and do it in a non-emergent way. Schedule it, you know, where there’s plenty of time to do these types of exercises of getting somebody up to.

Showing them and then evaluating how they’re doing there. You know, be the support person and then go through these steps of, you know, backing off and stepping away from that responsibility and letting them really take the ownership of the responsibility and then, you know, have an opportunity for them to co-create the process.

So I like to, that somebody is trying and then have them be able to say, Hey, you know, I think this could be done a little bit better. Or there’s, you know, this efficiency I’d like to try. And then really to take ownership of that and maybe rewrite the procedure with their additions to it. I love that. I’m a huge advocate for co-creating policies and procedures versus trying to have everything stable.

On your own to hand down to someone. I like that. You find that to be important too. One of the things that I think we have a hard time with or, in our industry of group practice owners is roles and responsibilities. Especially, I guess it’s in all cases. I was gonna say. For smaller practices that might not have dedicated people.

Like my practice is large, my business runs essentially without me. I just do the visionary work and I use the E US system for that. So roles and responsibilities are pretty clear. But I was gonna say, even for larger practices, I feel like it’s, you know, I was gonna say for small practices a little bit harder cuz it’s oftentimes that it’s one person, the practice owner, and maybe.

Practice manager or a clinical director, and that’s it, of figuring out rules and responsibilities. I think the issue is also with large practices too, but do you have, and maybe this is just practice by practice, but especially for smaller practices, do you find that having one person sort of be the, like the pinpoint or the point person while the practice owner is gone while having some roles and responsibilities on other people is the way to go?

Or is it better to have like different people doing different roles that fitted with their, you know, skillset and that that person leads within each of those different roles and responsibilities? Or do you find that having one point person is also important? So often it is important to have one key decision-maker.

Okay? And so that would only be relevant for certain types of decisions. So maybe large financial decisions or um, big directional decisions related to the practice, that kind of thing. So that would be. Who I consider being the second in command, whether it’s in your business or your personal life, like that, you know, the final decision maker.

But then it’s also important to really give autonomy to people who have been trained to run these other responsibilities and let them have ownership and decision-making authority within that reality. So that’s very important to clarify that so that people don’t become frustrated. Yeah. And feel like, oh, I do part of it, but don’t really have any decision making.

Right. Authority here. And I think it’s also important because, for those that might not normally be in a leadership position, if they’re now then leading in a certain aspect of the business and they’re supposed to be the decision maker, they might not realize how much power they have while that practice owner is gone in actually making decisions or.

So sometimes what I like to suggest in that situation is using the rapid decision-making model to really clarify, you know, who is the decision maker? Yeah. In any process. What about assessing who should be in those roles while the person is gone? Because I feel like that could be a difficult place or a difficult decision to make if you.

Several team members who potentially could fit within that, uh, decision-making model or can fit within that role. Responsibility. How do you suggest practice owners assess who would be good, for certain decisions? Yeah, so there are really three criteria that I like to look at. So the person has the interest.

Mm-hmm. in taking over the responsibility. They have the ability, so they have the technical ability, the intellectual, you know, the skills, the licensing, all of the abilities that aren’t required, and they’re willing to take ownership. So I like to identify a process owner. In each process and then is a backup process owner.

So the backup process owner would be somebody maybe who is next in line to be trained, maybe to take it over eventually, you know? But the person who is being put in that responsibility needs to be able and willing to take ownership of it. That makes sense. I know you had mentioned running trials before actually taking that time away, and I do.

Probably 95% of people don’t do that. How do you suggest doing that? Do you suggest several trials? Do you suggest a certain period of time before taking that time off to do that? Yeah, so I think one of the best ways is to start with a low-risk scenario and then eventually increase the risk. So if the goal is to spend a month away or overseas, something like that, then you want to.

Start training the person while you’re there, available to them so that they can watch you do the work, even if you record it and send them a recording of it. And then you can be there, you know, with them as they complete the role. And then maybe, you know, let them do it independently, review it before they submit it or review it after it’s completed, and then take time.

Be away from the office and let it happen independently. And the only challenge there would be is if you have some annual processes like the workers’ comp annual audit, that kind of thing. That can be a little tricky. And I love to see owners get out of the role of being responsible for the audit if possible.

So you want to maybe try some mock exercises? To teach the people how to run the audit, what needs to happen, and then, uh, work with them side by side. And then in that scenario, I would really encourage, you know, videotaping the process and also having the trainee, uh, rewrite the procedure, make updates to the procedure so that it helps to solidify that in their memory.

Well, a few times today you have mentioned that the practice owner is a way that deciders or decision makers might be making really big decisions. And it’s interesting because I think most practice owners, and you can tell me now that you work with a lot of them if this holds true, this is from my experience, that if they’re taking extended time off, even if it’s up to like maternity leave, several months.

They still won’t hand over those big, big decisions. They’ll hand over all of the like, day-to-day so that the practice can function while they’re gone. But not, but they’ll say, you know, if something big happens, maybe a financial decision or a legal decision, they’ll say, you know, even if I’m, I’m attorney leave or got, like, you have to let me know.

What is your feedback on that? Because I guess in some ways I can understand that there might be certain things that you do. Want to have other people decide, but then I also understand. That isn’t true full-time off. If they end up having to come to you for decisions that might come up that are maybe those bigger key things.

What’s your thought on that? Yeah, so I think that there can be really valid reasons why a practice owner wants to be the key decision-maker and things related to big financial decisions and big legal decisions. I would challenge. The owner is to consider creating a board of directors type approach to, um, being able to run the business.

We’re not there. So whether it’s a vacation or an emergency, like let’s think even broader than just preparing for this vacation. And so that type of scenario might include your C F O. A bookkeeping representative, a legal counsel, maybe a malpractice insurance agent, stuff like that. So think of who are your key resources in the business, who you would trust to come together to evaluate an issue, and maybe.

A baby step would be that while you’re out of the office and something big happens, this group comes together to evaluate it and they make a recommendation to you. This is what we’ve encountered. These are the pros and cons, and this is what our recommendation is. Do you approve of it? And then that would take a little bit of the strain off of the owner, uh, for having to figure it out from scratch.

I really like that approach. And also because I understand the idea of extended time off wanting big decisions made like financial, for example, to stay with the practice owner. But it still keeps that practice owner when taking a step back, like the business is still hinging on the practice owner being available.

And to the point of your, you know, experience of how you got into this. Was that, you know, circumstances sometimes come up where you don’t have that ability to make decisions anymore. And so these extended periods of time off can be like micro-practices of one letting go of decision-making. I think we all struggle as business owners when it comes to delegating and feeling like we just know better and we’re better decision-makers in our businesses.

And so I see the. The benefit of even if you’re taking a month off. I think a lot of financial decisions can hold off the couple extra weeks until we would get back, but I do see the benefit of really, you know, charging someone else with sort of making the decision. And maybe in your example here, they might still let you know and say, this is what happened, this is what I’m thinking.

Just say plus or minus or thumbs up, thumbs down if you’re okay. That it’s just a way for us business owners to learn how to let go a little bit too and see that the business can be perfectly capable with someone else if something was to happen. Yeah. I think that that approach is like a great trial to take you to the next level.

Yeah. You know, of creating a business that can run without you. I wanted to circle back and kinda wrap up, because this topic, taking time off is a micro piece of what you do with group practice owners. And so if you can just, I know you sort of explained who you were, but what kind of work do you do and how do you support group practice owners?

And then just let them know how they can reach out to you because I’m assuming a lot of people are gonna realize they don’t have things in place and might be interested in reaching out. Yeah. So, uh, the way that I work with group practice owners is I help them create their contingency plans for their personal life and their business.

Uh, we start by creating their personal contingency plan and then their business contingency plan, and then their business continuance. Playbook. And in the business continuance playbook, I document the standard operating procedures for the group practice owner based on interviews that I do with them. So that’s kind of like the cherry on top at the end of all of the contingency planning.

And through that process, it’s normal for us to talk through and evaluate whether the group practice owner should be the one doing the roles that we just documented the procedures for. That makes a lot of sense. Yes. And how can people reach out to you? Yes, so my website is niche partnership, and I created a course specifically with group practice owners in mind to share the way that the process that I use for documenting the SOPs.

So I would like to share that with your audience as. Awesome. That’ll be in our show notes and I think it’s, is it Niche Partnership Consulting? Net Practice. Practice? Yep. That’s it. Awesome. Yeah, so we’ll have that in the show notes too. For those that are listening, just uh, click on it and you’ll find it.

I really appreciate having you come on and share what I think is a topic that most of us like to just shy away from and think we’ll get to it when we need to. And so I appreciate, you know, you and your expertise and sort of niching yourself to us group practice owners. Yes. Yeah. I appreciate you. Yeah, thanks, Maureen.

It was wonderful to be here with you. All right. You have a good one. You too. 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 support. Join the Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of training ready for you to dive into.

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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.


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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:


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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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