56 Transcript

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[00:00:00] Hey y’all, this is Dr. Jeremy Sharp and this is The Testing Psychologist podcast episode 56.

All right y’all. Welcome back to another episode of The Testing Psychologist podcast. We are up to number 56 and it is officially summertime, which is great. Hope y’all are enjoying the summer so far. My kids get out of school, let’s see, I’m recording the week before they get out of school. So they will be out by the time you hear this. I imagine a lot of y’all are in a similar situation.

I don’t know about you, but something about going to school for so many years including undergrad, and grad school, we’ve been in school for a long time. It’s just ingrained in me that [00:01:00] things just get better in the summer even though I don’t get a ton of summer break these days. Certainly not like back in school, but there’s something about the summertime. Moods lighten. Fun is had. Schedules open up. The sun is shining. It’s great. Unless, of course, you’re one of our listeners who are in a different hemisphere and maybe that’s not the case about the sun shining. But I hope that most of you are having a great summer so far and experiencing a little bit of that lightning.

Today, I’m going to talk with you about a few, I would say, quick tips on how to do a little spring cleaning for your practice. Now, this would have been more appropriate, honestly two months ago, but so it goes. Summer cleaning is as good as spring cleaning in my mind because a lot of us when we’re in practice things [00:02:00] are pretty crazy and hectic toward the end of the school year and your schedule tends to lighten up a little bit in the summer for most of our niches, I think especially those of us that work with kids, but for the most part, people go on vacation, things are just a little looser, a little more open in the summer.

This is just a quick episode. I’ve done a lot of interviews here lately but this is just some quick tips on things that I’m going to be doing this summer to try and get the practice into shape and make sure that we are good to head on into the fall.

Here we go.

One of the main things, actually the first thing that you should be thinking about is, I would sit down and look at your calendar right now for the next three months, June, July, and August, and just do a quick survey of whether you are taking the amount of vacation that you want to take [00:03:00] or not. So, look through your calendar or think through your calendar if you’re driving or working out or something and think about, am I taking the vacation I want to take this month? And if not, start to explore that question. Is that because you got booked up through the summer too early and didn’t block out the time? Is it because you feel like you have to work to make more money? Is it because you like to work and don’t like to take vacations? Any of those are valid, but it’s always a good time.

If you are not taking the amount of vacation that you want, then I would suggest something a little bit crazy. Go ahead and flip forward a year on your calendar and just block out two weeks, block out a little more time than you maybe did this summer so that [00:04:00] at the very least you’ve got something to look forward to next summer.

I’m generally a fan of small vacations every quarter and then maybe a bigger one over the summer, but that’s up to you. Either way, if you’re heading into the summer wishing that you had a little more time off and you find yourself saying, Oh, I just can’t turn away these clients or they’re already booked and now what do I do? Take the time to flip forward and just set aside a little more time next summer so you don’t have that happening.

The second thing that I think will be helpful for a lot of us is to make the time on your schedule to do this spring/summer cleaning. One of the main things that I get into, one of the main problems that I run into is again, getting booked too quickly, not taking the time that I need to, and not setting aside the time. If that’s something that is troublesome for you go ahead and look a few [00:05:00] weeks ahead, maybe two months ahead, as long as you get something over the next three months, even if it’s just one full day, maybe two full days, I think that’s plenty for a lot of us to do a quick survey of the practices’ health and do some of these tweaks that I’m going to talk about. So just make sure, again, looking at your calendar, go through it, and see if you can just pick out two days where you can block out huge chunks of time to dive in and try to assess your practice’s health.

In terms of the actual things that you might do when you get to that open time, one thing that I like to do is make sure that you are in really good shape financially. A lot of us have the tendency to ignore finances or not dive into them as much as we could or should. So there are two [00:06:00] pretty simple steps I think that you can take to improve your finances if you’re not already doing that.

One is to make sure that you’ve got some bookkeeping software. I use QuickBooks Online. I think it’s $10 a month or something like that. It’s really easy to run through and categorize your transactions especially, in our practices, we don’t have a ton of different expenses, so it learns which categories belong to which charges or vice versa, and then it applies that going forward. So, if you do one big run where you categorize everything, it learns pretty well from there. And then you can get a really easy, quick snapshot of your practice’s health. A lot of people call that profit and loss, but you can look and see how much you’re taking in, how that compares to last year, how much you’re spending. That’ll give you a really good idea of where you’re at with financial health.

[00:07:00] The other step that you might do is check out this book called Profit First. It’s making the rounds in the mental health practice world. There’s a Facebook group specifically for Profit First users in private practice. It reshapes the way that a lot of us are thinking about finances in our practice.

I won’t say it too much because I’m not doing a book review by any means, but it does force you to think more in terms of what would you like to make and how you set that aside at the beginning of the month and then use the rest of the money for your expenses rather than the other way around where we typically spend what we feel like we have to spend and then pay ourselves out of what is leftover. It flips that on its head and gets you to think about things in a little different way. I would put Profit First on your reading list if you haven’t read that already.

Now, in terms of [00:08:00] specific testing kind of stuff, there are a few things that I like to do just to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

One is to do a quick review of my test batteries. I think it’s easy to get into habits, certainly, and that can be helpful in many regards, but there are sometimes when you can get too habit-driven. I know that for myself. That’s certainly the case. I like to go through, and look at our test battery, and make sure that I still like everything that we’re doing for each of the referral questions that we get. I’ll just do a quick run-through. I’ll do a little dive into the research for each of the areas that we assess and make sure that there haven’t been any new tests that have come out or new checklists and that the ones that I’m using are still empirically sound and best practices for the referral questions that we see.

So, [00:09:00] if you have a testing battery planner, you can do that pretty easily. If you don’t have a testing battery planner, you can get one. You can get mine at thetestingpsychologist.com. It’s a free download. So you can check that out if you don’t have a testing battery planner. And that makes it easy to see which tests you’re giving for which age groups and whatnot. So, review your test batteries, and make sure that they’re all up to date and you’re doing what you should be doing.

The next step that I’m going to be doing is updating the paperwork. In our practice, which is a bit of a larger practice, we have several clinicians, and especially as of late, we’ve brought on a few new folks, I’m going to be going through to make sure that paperwork reflects their credentials, and updated disclosure statement.

We hired an intern, so I have to do a new fee structure in the disclosure statement. [00:10:00] So, lots of things like that. Just run it through your paperwork. Make sure that you like the wording. Look through, think back whether clients have had any questions or if anything’s confusing. I like to tweak our demographic form fairly frequently to continue to get at the questions that are most relevant and try to cut down on the amount of time that people spend filling out paperwork. So those are some ideas for reviewing your paperwork to make sure that everything is up to date.

One of the other things that I am going to be thinking about, or doing actually, is raising rates. There are, I think, two times in the year when you can raise your rates. A lot of people will do it in January as a New Year ritual. I think that’s great. I like to go through, just because of the nature of our practice, and do it over the summer because we tend to [00:11:00] have a little bit of a dip over the summer in terms of referrals and business, but that dip then leads to a huge increase in referrals come the second week of September or so when school gets back in.

So this to me feels like a natural downtime to make a transition and raise our rates. So think about industry standards, and standard of living, look through some of the other testing folks in your community, and see if you are competitive. Weigh that against your expertise and what you offer. If there’s room to raise those rates, then go for it. 5% is a great benchmark to shoot for. As long as that’s not pricing you out of the market, I think that’s great.

If you are in a small community or you’re not sure what other testing folks are charging, I always say [00:12:00] do some research into the standard rate for therapy. And then I think you can safely increase that by at least 10% because testing is likely a specialty and a niche that not many people are offering especially if you can’t find any other testing folks in your community to compare to. So you can use the therapy hourly charges as a guideline and maybe go up about 10% from that.

I know a lot of you are probably saying, Oh, I can’t raise my rates. I’m in a network with all these insurance companies. Well, if that’s you and that is our practice in many regards, we take mostly insurance, what I will be doing is sending out letters to try to renegotiate rates with insurance companies.

There are some templates out there I think that you can track down to request a fee increase. This is something I’ll just do every year. [00:13:00] Most of the time they say no, but I think I mentioned before, I just recently got a raise of about 20% from another insurance company that we’re in network with. So that works sometimes. That’s what you can do if you are in a network with some insurance companies. So try and raise your rates. Always helpful.

The last thing that you can do to spring-clean your practice a little bit is go back over your report template. This is another one of those things that I revise fairly often. Reading it through, trying to get fresh eyes on it, making sure that everything you include is relevant. If you have the wherewithal and the clients who are willing to do it, you can get feedback from your clients to see what they like, and what they don’t like. Sometimes I’ll have friends or non-testing people read through the template [00:14:00] with a de-identified report and tell me what feels most relevant and what is not relevant and tweak that way.

Related to that, I think it’s worth it to look through your recommendations and make sure that everything that you’re offering is appropriate, feels useful, and fits with your practice and the folks that you’re working with.

If you need a little guidance on whether or not to include certain things in a report or some ideas around that, let me see. What episode was it? I feel like it was episode 30 something. I interviewed Jacobus Donders. He’s the author of Neuropsychological Report Writing. He gave us tons of tips on writing reports and what could be helpful. His book is super helpful too. So you can find that just by going to [00:15:00] thetestingpsychologist.com and you can search Donders, or how to write better reports and that will pop up. He’s episode 38, got a link to his book there, and I think it was a great interview. It was one of our most listened to.

Those are a few quick tips on spring cleaning or summer cleaning for your practice. If you do 3 out of those 6 or 7, I think you’re in great shape. For me personally, I would love to see you take more time off and make sure that you’re working the schedule that you’d like to work. So if nothing else, check out your calendar and block out a little time to look at your practice, or take that time off and do whatever you’d like to do. Summer is a good time for vacation.

With that, I will leave you. I hope that y’all are doing well. Again, enjoy your summer. We’ll be talking again soon. Thanks. [00:16:00] Bye bye.

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