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Episode 215 | Profit First for Therapists with Julie Herres

Julie Herres II

WITH Julie Herres

  • Episode 215 | Profit First for Therapists with Julie Herres 00:00


Hey Group Practice Listeners! Do you want to read your way into business development? As we are practice owners that handle big and important things, it is great to have guidance along the way.

We are grateful to be joined by Ms. Julie Herres, the founder of GreenOak Accounting, a team of accounting experts helping practice owners. She is an accountant, podcast host, and the author of Profit First for Therapists. Now, she will elaborate on the book’s keynotes that are essential for our growth as practice owners.


Episode Highlights: 

  • What did Julie have to go through in writing the book, Profit First for Therapists?
  • How much change was published into the current version from the Profit First review?
  • Where do different professions or practice levels depend for their allocations?
  • When can topics of scaling of compensation be helpful for the readers of the book?
  • What is the essence of storytelling in making an impact while reading the Profit First book?
  • How did the book make a push of encouragement to venture into new businesses?
  • Why is it essential to have a second set of eyes in making big decisions and handling critical business situations?


Check out Julie’s Book & Take a FREE Profit First Assessment:


Are you ready to expand your practice? Take the expansion quiz now:


To connect with Julie Herres:

You can visit her website at 

Check out her LinkedIn at

or through her Instagram account at 

Reach her through her email at [email protected] 


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 my fractional C F O Julie Harris, who is probably someone that most of you guys know because she’s also in the exchange giving amazing financial feedback to group practice owners. But today I have her on because we’re gonna be talking about her new book, prophet First for Therapists.

It is launching really soon, and by the time you guys hear it, it’ll be launching probably within a week or so of that time, I think. Great. Julie? Yeah. It’ll be in people’s hands on May 2nd. I’m so excited. Well, I’m excited to get it, but also I’ve already read it, so I’m excited. Go out there. Yeah, me too.

Okay, so for maybe any listener who just somehow has been under a rock and doesn’t know who you are, you let people know who you are about Green Oak and yeah, what you do. Yeah, so I am an accountant. I’m the owner of Green Oak Accounting. We’re the largest firm in the US that provides services exclusively to private practice owners.

So that’s all we do. I am the host of the Therapy Free Money Podcast, and I’m now the author of Profit First for Therapists. So that is me in a nutshell. I. Have loved watching you from the beginning of like kind of concept and building your book and getting to be a part of reading it before it came out.

And I wanna know, cause I know a lot of practice owners with diversifying services being such a big thing. Talk about writing books. What was it like for you to write this book? So, first I wanna say it was so much more work than I thought it would ever be. Like, I knew it was gonna be a lot of work, and it was just so much more than that.

It was a very introspective process for me. I thought I would just sit at my computer and just write a book from like, start to finish. That’s what I thought. And I, I ended up working with a writing coach, um, that Mike Alz recommends. And that was such a blessing because she’s amazing and it helped me write, uh, such a better book, but like it is not a linear process.

So I was jumping around all the time and then I was also unprepared for like, how many iterations of your draft there are before you get to this finished product. Yeah, I know a couple of other people who’ve written books and they all say the same thing with regards to knowing that what they’re expecting is probably not a reality, but then not realizing how far from reality.

Their expectations were in terms of what the process of writing a book would look like. Yeah. And so, yeah, I don’t think it’s, uh, does not sound like it’s as easy of a process as one might think if you know what you wanna write about and feel like you have all the knowledge about that topic, that you’d think like that was the hardest part of it is.

Is creating the thing or thinking of the thing and having the information to create that book, but it seems like there’s a lot outside of that. It was a two-year process for me, and I did slow down in some areas just because of, you know, personal things going on, but it really was a two-year process and you were an advanced reader of the book.

And so you read it back in September, I think. Yeah. Um, and so six-ish months ago, And even then, like at the point where I was like, okay, this is just about finished, I’m going to send it to advanced readers to get feedback. It is just a completely different book from then because some of the feedback I got was like, I am stuck here.

This part doesn’t make sense to me. So I went back to the drawing board and rewrote certain parts, like split chapters apart in, it’s a different version from that in the best of ways, right? In the sense that I think it flows even. And it makes a lot more sense now. Well, I’m excited that I ordered a bunch of copies so that I can reread and see where those changes have been.

So anyways, for those that are listening, obviously my audience is, is group practice owners, and everyone here that listens knows that I am a big proponent of Profit First and have been using Profit First for years. I wanna say maybe a year or two after Mike had written. The original Profit First Book.

Mm-hmm. So I’ve been using it for a lot of years, and then a handful of years ago, found you, uh, looking for an accountant who knows about Profit First, so that, you know, you can support me and my businesses around using Profit First. And just from there, it’s really. Just become such a staple term in our industry.

And so I’m really excited because I think Mike’s book can feel hard to implement in the group as a group practice owner or even a solo practice owner because the concept is written in a way that’s very generalized to like business as a whole. And so I’m really excited about that. My audience is gonna be able to have a book that’s really geared towards them, and that those, the numbers that he has really are very generalized and don’t often translate into our industry because we have, we are bringing on professional level clinicians, and so the expectations around payroll and those percentages are really quite different than what’s in the book.

And I know that’s always stopped people, and so, Maybe can we start with what is maybe a couple of the things that you felt like your book expands on that helps group practice owners that maybe the original would’ve just been harder to just get to without that information? Yeah, so, so the original has.

Allocations that are just, if your businesses from this dollar amount to this dollar amount, here’s how much you need to put in each account. Yeah. And I think it is a very generalized statement because like the book is intended for everyone. And what I felt like a lot of our clients in my accounting firm more struggling with is, how does this translate to private practice?

Cuz as you. It’s an industry where your labor force and your clinicians are really very expensive compared to other industries. So like it wasn’t quite making sense. Mm-hmm. That’s one of the reasons, I wrote the book. So one of, the things that are different is that I lay out various sizes of private practice and we have ratios that are ranges.

Cuz one thing that I feel like I actually learned this in part from you is, Not every practice has the same, the same values. And so for some practice owners, they’re going to wanna spend more in one area and less in another. And so I felt like giving just a percentage of like, this is what you need to spend in this, in this category.

Payroll, for example, that’s not helpful. So I provide a range of like, it should be somewhere between this and this. So you have kind of this guideline of, all right, if I’m around that number, I know I’m doing okay, but I know if I wanna be really high, On this specific item, payroll, then I need to maybe be lower on the OPEX side.

Mm-hmm. Um, so that’s one of the differences where we look at solo practice, a small, you know, just beginning group practice, a growing group practice, and then what I call a large group practice, which is typically over a million dollars, in annual revenue. There are different things happening at each stage of private practice.

So we have allocations that are different for each. Yeah, that is gonna be such a huge value add for people because like you mentioned, and like I’ve experienced, obviously when I started I had to make it work, the profit first numbers, and sort of chuck the percentages that he had written and just say like, that probably works for a lot of industries, but just not ours because of the people that we hire.

But I know that a lot of people get stuck in not knowing. If their percentage is actually okay when there isn’t anything that’s, you know, all we have is information that is gonna show no matter what. Even if you’re like not paying, doing payroll, or if you’re, even if you’re not having a high payroll percentage, like maybe the value isn’t something else and not paying people like top tier, that percentage is still gonna look a lot higher than what you read in private first.

And so it’s really hard to know. Am I like way off base or not? And so I, I think that’s such a huge value add for people, especially now getting started, being able to have that, that range, not only just having a range, which I think is nice, but also a range based off of whether you’re solo, a small practice and medium size practice or large.

Because as you said, it is different. Um, and payroll looks different at all of those stages. Yeah. And, there might be a practice, for example, that decides to have a lot of interns, right? So their payroll costs might actually be on the lower end of the range, but then their leadership costs might be on the higher end of the range, right?

Mm-hmm. Like, it’s just ki every practice is a little bit different, but you can find something that works for you within that as long as all of your allocations equal a hundred percent. Right? Cause that’s how math works and, okay. And so that’s another thing too, is. Profit first has their, you know, buckets of OPEX taxes.

Payroll was technically a part of OPEX in his book, owners to compensation or distribution. What am I missing? Yeah. Uh, so income opex. Yes. Taxes owners pay, payroll, and profit. Uh, and profit. Yes, of course. Yeah, of course. We forgot the profit one, but one of the things that aren’t talked about is even splitting apart or weeding apart of payroll.

Where some of the payrolls is gonna be towards the services being rendered, while other parts of payroll might be towards administrative costs or leadership costs. And that isn’t really discussed in his book originally, but I think if some, something that’s worth noting because in our industry, you know, smaller practices that might not have a leadership team or might only have an admin that’s, uh, like contracted or, or a VA company where they’re not spending as much.

Definitely that total payroll look is gonna be much different than a larger practice. And that’s not even counting clinicians who are providing the service, but just the support people. So I think that’s just another piece that is helpful too, sort of understand and, and grasp as a practice owner. And that payroll account, as you mentioned, it’s not in the original book by Mike Mcow.

Itz. I did. That is how we implement it with our clients. We do have separate optics and separate payroll. That’s what’s written in the book as well, in part because. As a group practice owner, payroll is typically going to be the single largest expense in a practice. And so when it’s mixed with opex, it makes it even harder to figure out where is there an issue.

Where is there friction? Yeah. Is it in opex or is it in payroll? Like where is there something going on? So just by the action of separating them, we’re able to troubleshoot that much faster of like what? What is going on here? And as you mentioned, I have allocations for clinicians, for admin, and for leadership, and then also, The kind of owners pay, um, categories as well.

So they ultimately all go into the payroll account, but it’s, I find it’s helpful for practice owners to know, like, okay, here’s how much I need to mentally allocate for my admin or for leadership if you have it. Mm-hmm. I love that. Um, and I think that I am almost equally as important. As the awareness for people to see what is it, what are the percentages or what are the ranges?

Um, I think those two things are such a huge value add. And if that’s all your book had, it could be, you know, five pages of, here are some allocations. Uh, and, and some ranges of percentages. And this is where you should expect to be for leadership and admin, and general payroll. And I think just that in and of itself is, it would be the value of the whole book.

So that being said, you spent a lot of time writing a book that goes beyond just those, those two concepts. What else can readers expect to learn or read about? I feel like we’re in an infomercial, right? Like, oh wait, there’s more. Oh, wait. So I wanted to include in this book, obviously all the basics of profit first and the specifics of implementing it.

In private practice, but I knew there were other things that practice owners needed and I wanted to include that as well. So it can be kinda a one-stop shop, a resource. So in the book, I talk about scaling, and I do think you have, uh, you definitely have a story in the scaling chapter. I talk about compensation for clinicians and different ways to compensate, talk about compensation also for admin, for leadership.

And then I talk about various things that just come up, like how to manage profit first. If you have. A side gig also maybe consulting business or some online courses. How do you manage it if you have multiple owners in the business? Right. All kinds of things that we just see happen often and where our clients were getting stuck.

I put that in the book. We also have things like paying down debt, which a lot of practice owners may not have debt on the business, but they might have significant student loan debt that they’re still paying often. Like how you can use the system to help. Just pay down debt, uh, fast. And so there’s a lot of kind of other things that aren’t necessarily directly profit first related, but that you can implement alongside.

Yeah. I also, like, normally I am not a person who likes a lot of storytelling, and that you probably know just if you’ve ever, you know, watched any of mine. Workshops or courses, like they’re just very to the point. I always don’t wanna waste people’s time, and I’m just like, I’m not gonna tell this whole story of how I got to, there’s like memes out there of like a cooking recipe.

You click on it and then it’s like, well, when I was 12 and it’s like I recipe nuts. Yes. And I feel like sometimes I get, storytelling is such an important thing. Generally speaking, I’ve always had a hard time engaging in that as a business person who’s a coach. But I will say, I remember reading Mike’s book, because you know just numbers, I’m so sorry you love them, but like nobody else does and we don’t wanna, you know, we don’t, that’s certainly wanna read about numbers, but what his book did was, you know, he.

Had a good art to being able to leave storytelling in. And what I noticed in yours is obviously you can’t write a book about money and numbers without some storytelling in it to keep people awake. And I think you did. A phenomenal job with that because it’s just so relatable because it’s literally us.

You’re writing about two people like us, and so your stories are about other people who are like us, who have our kind of businesses, and I think it makes it easier for us to see ourselves within the book. So I wanted to say I really loved that piece, and that’s as a person who’s typical. Slightly a critic of storytelling in like, unless I’m reading a book, storytelling business books, I typically like to just have the information and your book was, did such a great job of really keeping me engaged in it and being like, It’s, you know, group practice, ownership and ownership of any sort of business can feel very, um, isolating or lonely.

And so I also got a sense of being a part of a group by reading the stories in your book. I’m honored that you say would say that. So thank you. I know that you’re very much matter-of-fact and to the point. I feel like I am very much like that too. And I had to, to really dig. To get there. But I’m so grateful so many practice owners shared their story, uh, for this book and I’m so grateful for that.

Cuz like every story in there is, is a true story. It happened whether they asked to change their name or not. Like it’s all real practice owners that are doing the work every single day. I also put a lot, some personal stories in there too, which felt very vulnerable to me. I like to just, you know, usually keep the focus, on the client or the person I’m working with.

And that felt a little bit scary. But they’re out there, they’re out in the world. Um, There are a lot of stories about my mom and kind of her business ownership journey and all the places that she took us through as kids. And then kind of all the way through, through the end, like Prophet first allowed me to be around when my mom was really sick and I was her caretaker for a few months and I was there, um, when she passed away, but like I was able to do that because I knew.

My business was going to be okay. My team was going to be okay. We were going to have enough money to pay everyone. And like I, obviously, did not start Profit First with that intention in mind, but like it’s such a beautiful blessing that that’s what it allowed me to do. Yeah, and I think that is a good sort of wrap to the theme of Just Profit First in general, which is if you are engaging in a system like Profit First, the point.

That obviously you’re making a profit, but that also you feel safe in being able to take extended time off, whether it’s uh, sabbatical, whether it is caretaking for a family member or going on a long vacation that. When you implement something like this, it actually sets you up to be able to, take time off without being afraid that something’s gonna happen in the business.

So, can I turn the table on you and ask you a question? Yes. Yes. Go for it. Can you think of one or two things that Profit First has allowed you to do as a business owner that may not have happened otherwise? Yeah. One, well, I’ll say one to-do thing, but I wanna start first. One thing that is not an action thing, but more of a mental thing, which I think was the biggest bonus for me is, um, I am a visionary, so I am not a person who likes to implement or do, like I have great ideas, you know, why I’m good at like the first half of business and then I need a great team that can keep the second half of the, you know, part of the scheme going.

And so I’m not great with. Reading numbers and researching and figuring out, you know, where things are going well and where they aren’t. From a financial perspective, I always was pre-profit first. I’m good. I was really great at not spending money, and so I thought, well, as long as I had. Money left. And because I’m not someone, I never had debt, I never, like, I always have been able to pay off my credit card at the end of the month.

It’s a whole nother episode for fear-based money issues with parents and like being afraid I’m gonna be poor and like having moments where I’ve had to, you know, sell clothes on eBay when I was in college to, you know, make rents and stuff. So I know there’s some amount of like, I don’t even wanna know, close my ears and eyes and, but I always.

Survived because I just was very thrifty, but I had no clue if I was low one month, like what literally did it, and so profit first. The best thing it did was really just give me peace of mind and feeling like I, without having to do really any more research than I ever did before, because it’s just who I am.

I’m not Julie like you, who doesn’t. It was a system that once it was built, easily allowed me to just know. At a moment’s notice without much where, where the issue was if finances fell off. And so for me, peace of mind was the biggest thing I got out of it. But in terms of your question, which was what it’s allowed me to do action-wise, I feel like it made it much.

Safer for me to start additional businesses. And so as you know, like I’ve had, you know, other businesses and the group practice exchange being one of them, and I feel like I’ve only felt safe enough to like to take a scary leap of doing business ownership. The first time was just a fluke that it all worked out, you know?

But like once you’re in it and you have a business and you’re like, holy crap like there’s real money going in and out. Yeah. This is the thing. One, real people like profit at first made me feel comfortable enough to be. I got this and am able to pursue other business passions without that kind of fear, money-related fear.

So that definitely has helped me diversify my own income and have alternate ways of making money and showing up in the world, which for me, I am an easily bored person. I have ADHD. I like to move around and do a lot of different things, and I don’t think I would be doing all of the random things I do if it wasn’t for profit first, because I would’ve.

Stay in my lane. Slightly scared that something is gonna mess all the money up at some point. And I don’t feel that way because of profits. So I’ll say that’s my biggest physical thing. That’s super powerful cuz you tend to, you get a business up and running, you set up. Profit first within that business and it just kind of self-sustains at that point, right?

Yeah. Like, you know, if it’s, you know, if things are okay, things are not okay, that’s really cool. Mm-hmm And then, you know, add a bonus if you have someone like an accountant like you. Um, I think, I know I would feel a sense of safety doing Profit First. Cause I did Profit First for a handful of years before I had you all by myself.

And I had a random accountant who knew nothing about Profit First, did their own accounting that I never even looked at because I was like, I’m doing profit first, so I dunno what year. How it relates to my stuff, but when I ended up hiring you to do like C F O Management and through the Profit First Lens, that definitely was an added bonus around business safety on my end, uh, having just a second person.

A second set of eyes that would look at my finances from a profit-first lens. That’s good to hear. If there comes a point where in business ownership, you can keep doing it alone, but you, maybe you shouldn’t, right? Yeah. You probably should have a second set of eyes. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Okay, so for everyone listening, resay the title of the book where they can find it, and obviously we’ll put that in the show notes as well. Yes, so you can get the book anywhere that books are sold. Uh, the book is Profit First for Therapists. You can also go to Profit First for for the group practice exchange to get our free expansion quiz.

It will tell you if you are ready to expand or if you should maybe hold off and it’ll give you some tips, um, wherever you are in your practice. I did not know. I did not know we had this. I’m gonna have to go there and this is a new thing. Quiz and see if I, if I’m ready to expand. Julie, as you’re Well, we can have a separate conversation about you’s, I feel like you’re always ready to expand between you and Dana.

You keep me from floating away like this balloon into space. You’re like, come back down. No, no, no. Come back down almost. Let’s wait another couple of months. Yeah. Okay, perfect. So everyone please be on the lookout. What’d you say? May 2nd. Horrible May 2nd. The book is going to be available. There’s a benefit to buying it before it comes out, right?

For the author? Yes. And the week of the launch also is really beneficial for the author. So if you haven’t bought it already, I would love for you to buy it when you listen to this podcast, cuz it is helpful for us to make it to the Amazon algorithm specifically. It does help us get the book into the hands of people like you who are also looking for that kind of book.

All right, so the audience, you’re gonna buy the book anyways at some point. Why not do it now when it can actually give Julie the boost to be more visible and get that book visible to other practice owners? So if you’re gonna buy it, you might as well just do it now and it’s a win-win for everyone. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much. Yeah. Well, it’s good seeing you again, and I will be cheering on the sidelines with my multiple copies of your book. Thank you. Thank you. 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. Visit See you next week.

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

* 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:


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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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