One of the perks of just getting started in business is learning from those who came before you. In this episode, Nathan Shields is joined by long-term friend and business partner William Humphreys to discuss some of their biggest mistakes in ownership after two decades in the industry. William is the CEO of In The Black (Medical Insurance Billing Consulting). Today, he looks back on his business journey to share what he would have done differently both as an owner and a leader. From coaching to recruitment, he gives valuable and practical business advice to help you avoid making the same mistakes he did. This is an episode you don’t want to miss, so grab a pen and paper and tune in!
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Biggest Mistakes We’ve Made In Ownership – Nathan Shields & Will Humphreys
I’ve got a longtime friend and business partner, Will Humphreys, on with me.
Welcome to me.
Thanks for joining me. It’s always good to have you on. Honestly, I don’t know if you know we get a lot of compliments when we get together because we are able to share some good information, it seems, and people appreciate that.
I look forward to these shows so much because you and I were in the trenches for so long and we still are. We have maintained partnerships in other businesses as well as general connections. That’s a rare thing in business at all. We also have this shared history of painful trauma on this eternally.
We were brothers in the trenches. It’s exciting to talk with you because we’re going to share in this episode some of our biggest mistakes when it came to ownership throughout the years. I’m going back to when I started the clinic years ago and you joined forces with us.
It was 2003.
We’ve got a lot of shared history and mistakes along the way.
I don’t even know how to emphasize that in a way to where people reading understands the amount of failure that I feel like we’ve endured.The bigger mistake is NOT paying for a coach. Click To Tweet
We have been through so much and I’ve shared with it in the past. If you could put a dollar value, health challenges that we have had because of it, as well as late nights or sleepless nights that we have had to deal with through all this time, there’s plenty to share.
There are the headaches, lost sleep, impotence, and all of it. For me, it’s so funny because I look back on those times with so much appreciation and all that, but it was hell on Earth during that time.
Let’s get into it and start talking. We’re going to share some of the biggest mistakes that came to mind. As I told Will as we were preparing for this, he’s going to share some mistakes that he has made. It’s going to spur out some ideas and stories in my mind. This could become a long laundry list, but I know we’ve got some good stories to share. I don’t even know what Will is going to share. This is going to be a good one for those who are like, “Maybe you aren’t all that great. Maybe you do have some warts.” I’m like, “We do have plenty of warts. You just don’t want to see them.” I’ll let you start. What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in ownership over the years?
Before I say number one, to make sure that the audience understands, you and I wrote them down. We haven’t discussed them. We’re revealing them in real-time for the first time. My list isn’t in a particular order. They were all costly and painful mistakes. The first was a general mistake. It’s this idea that I was too busy not to treat patients all the time and especially too busy to get help. When we opened up that Maricopa location together, we’re treating elsewhere and splitting any additional spare time if there is such a thing in opening that location, I thought I was so busy. It’s like, “Other people think they’re busy. I am busier than I can handle.”
I remember my AC in my white truck, my little Tacoma. I was driving my Tacoma and I used to bring an extra shirt with me because my AC was out and it’s Arizona. I drove 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours to the clinic and then changed my shirt and trained patients because I was drenched in sweat. That was my Tuesday and Thursday short days at my other clinic. In that mindset, I was killing myself. I had all sorts of heart issues. I thought I was too busy to get coaching. I think of it like this. My first biggest mistake was thinking I was too busy and that coaching was too expensive for me to get it. Maybe that is the biggest mistake I ever made because, for me, everything changed when I chose to forget it. I’m going to make sure I have coaching every week. This is what it’s going to look like, no matter what.
I remember your story distinctly because you had been invited to become part of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Small Business Network. Did you even pay for it for the first year and never attend? Was that the story?
I did. Entrepreneurs’ Organization is something we should mention. Go join it. If your company gross is over $1 million, stop being an idiot and go join EO. If you are grossing less than $600,000 or $1 million, you qualify for Accelerator. This is their introductory program, which is insanely awesome. I was in the first inaugural class in Arizona. I paid for the year and never showed up. In the second year, I was there the first day after I almost walked away from our business from exhaustion. The guy there, Scott Fritz, who was a guest on your show, was like, “Who are you?” I told him the story and he hasn’t stopped making fun of me to this day about how I paid for it and never showed up.
That goes along with one of my first mistakes. It is a catchall that I didn’t get some support and coaching. You name it. I knew what coaching was and chose not to accept it. I don’t think I believed that there was such a resource out there that could help me. I felt like I was alone on an island. I was going to have to figure this out myself. I had heard of SCORE, the volunteer retired businessmen who would share an hour a month at the local chamber of commerce.
I thought, “Maybe that would be a good idea to get a little bit of help and support.” I lean on my dad once in a while. I assumed this is how it is and I’ve got to figure it all out. There was some ignorance and naivety. At the same time, back then, there weren’t the resources that there are now. I chalk up one of my biggest mistakes was not getting some coaching consulting support.
What’s cool about that, too, is that you and I have had numerous coaches over the years. For people who are reading who don’t have experience in coaching, coaching is a broad term. Every coach has something of value. I’ve had twenty over the years. I’ve never hired a coach that I thought wasn’t worth what I paid for them. I’ve never had that happen. I’m sure they exist. The bigger mistake isn’t paying for a coach. People get framed like, “I don’t want to overpay for a coach.” They all have something different to offer. Every one of them is worth sometimes even working in tandem together. We would have a couple of coaches in our company helping us do different things at one point. Easily the best part of our learning was hiring coaches.
You can track our trajectory as a business when we have started getting some coaching. I parried off yours a little bit, but I’ll share mine is somewhat not too similar. I didn’t recognize what I was doing, but it’s easy to see now. I was a big fan of abdication instead of delegation. One of my biggest mistakes was saying, “I hire you to do whatever I tell you to do.” I would say that in my interviews, “Your job is to do whatever I tell you to do.”
That was the extent of my planning, organization, and effort that I put into putting together a job description for anybody in my team. You have some general ideas and a title. Otherwise, I’m not going to take the time to write it down, “Do what I tell you to do.” I thought that would work out well. One of my bigger mistakes was saying, “Go do that without any training and support.” It was pretty sad. I thought I was so cool doing it. I’m like, “I’m the boss. Do what I say.”
I’m the extreme opposite end of that. This isn’t on my list, but I was the opposite leader. It was like, “Let me do that for you.” I was the bypasser. You and I are a bit different because I didn’t train people either when I hired people. I felt like it was all my fault, so I would go do their job for them. I used to have a PR member when I was seeing over 100 visits a week. They were seeing 30 and talking about how stressed they were. I’m like, “Let me help you with that.” Without leadership and statistics, we can abdicate or bypass. Either one of those is healthy.
My next one is not learning how to recruit talent. I was so worried as a business owner about marketing and new patients. I felt like I was at the effect of recruiting physical therapists. It’s because I was able to treat that I found myself judging my happiness based on the number of new patients on my schedule and later new patients as a whole. I realized the hard way was if I could learn how to hire people. Every PT says it’s hard to hire, which is a bunch of crap.
Even in this market, it’s not hard to hire if you know how. Putting all that energy into learning how to hire almost took away the need to put so much energy into marketing. When we hire great talent, it reins patients because they’re so amazing. The patients tell their friends. If you have a problem that we don’t know how to solve, if you’re not a hire, you can hire the person to solve the problem and not have to learn how to do it, whether it’s billing or leadership. I made recruiting the last thing I learned. I wish I had made that the first thing I learned.
I can look back on my history as well and see I had team members who were aligned and engaged, not because I was good at recruiting at the time. I happened upon these people. As I had them, my number of total visits and new patients increased. I’m sure if I delve deeper into the statistics, the patient’s engagement, and the number of times they came to the clinic per week, per episode, or per plan of care, all those things would have improved as I had those more aligned providers on the team.
It’s the drama differential. I can’t tell any specific stories without throwing people under the bus. I’ve been through a million of those HR discussions where the PT or a team member is like, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” Your heart sinks into your stomach because you know it’s going to be emotional like, “My feelings are hurt.” In almost every case, they weren’t wrong. I made every mistake in the book that justified it.Even in this market, it's not hard to hire if you know how. Click To Tweet
When I learned how to hire talented and better-aligned people, they were able to give me the benefit of the doubt or bring it up in a way that wasn’t so emotionally draining. Those people taught me how to grow the previous employees who were constantly upset with me. It was all my fault. It wasn’t their fault. As an owner, if we can learn how to attract the right people, we don’t have any of those discussions and get hemorrhoids.
Mine is not much different than yours. To build off of that, one of the things that I wrote down prior to our discussion was that I held on to team members too long out of fear, not figuring, “This person is good enough. Why don’t I deal with the headaches that they cause and try to work around them or build them back up?” I can look back and I’m sure you may agree. As we progressed as leaders and our recruiting got better, we were unwilling to keep those people on as long.
The fear related to losing them somehow dissipated. We thought, “I’ve been through this so many times where tolerating such and such a person has never gotten me anywhere.” It’s easier and I see it now. If we let them go, there are a lot of good opportunities and people that are willing to take their place and do significantly better. Prior to having that thought process and going through those experiences, I was in fear of losing them and keeping them on too long.
That’s one of mine. It’s worded differently. It’s tolerating sub-aligned people. The reason that I held on to my people longer than I should have made was that I was insecure about myself as a leader like, “Maybe they aren’t great because it’s my fault.” Even if I knew they were not good fits or honestly hard to work with, I was always like, “Maybe it’s because I’m not a good enough leader to give them what they need.” Never did it occur to me until later that I was being weak.
The driving force was fear of, “What am I going to do with that patient if I let them go? What are other people going to say in my small town of Florence?” What I learned is that when I had the courage to finally fire people, other team members all of a sudden appreciated their job. They didn’t start thinking negatively. They started to appreciate the community and saw the changes like, “You’re growing.”
It got to that point where you and I were obsessive about fits towards the end. I remember every quarter, we would go through and ask, “Would we emphatically rehire every person?” If it was no, we started either coaching them or firing them. It’s not even about us. We are what we are, imperfect and everything. If we can find people who are a better fit for our version of imperfection, we will be happier. Tolerating poor-aligned people is one of the top mistakes I ever made for sure.
To go with that, I hired a few people that weren’t good fits, and I finally got the courage to let them go. Team members came to me after the fact saying, “It’s about time.” They saw that they weren’t a good fit. I could tell that they lost respect for me. They didn’t say it so much, but I can imagine they were losing respect for me for tolerating that person. When I finally let them go, they thought, “Finally, we can improve. We finally have them off the boat. It’s so much better that they’re not here.” I thought, “I wish I had known what you thought ahead of time.”
It’s so weird. I’ve said this to you. I never regretted firing someone, not once. I’ve only regretted not firing them fast enough. Every time it happens, out of the woodwork, people are like, “Did you also know that they were doing drugs in the back office?” You’re like, “All these things are coming to light. This is so crazy. Why didn’t you tell me?” It’s because you’re the leader. It’s your job. That’s the thing. Our instincts are always telling us it’s not a fit. It’s what we choose to do with that feeling that makes us successful or not.
At least I never found anyone to have done drugs in my backroom. We don’t implicate past employees. I’m worried the past employees are going to read this like, “Who is doing drugs in the back office?”
I had an employee who came to work high. I don’t know if they were doing them there. One of the people I hired was a front desk person who came stoned a few times. It was one of those things. That was the most interesting fire. I had a new director of training with me when I fired her. She was one of those where there were lots of things going wrong. It was a bad hire from the beginning. I wasn’t a good leader, so I let it go on too long. She did do drugs and that kind of stuff. I don’t know if she did them on-site, but honestly, it didn’t matter. She was high anyway a couple of times.
When I fired her, I’ll never forget. Let’s call her Susan. I was like, “Susan, it’s not working out. We’re going to let you go.” It wasn’t even, “Why, Will?” It was, “You son of a B. How dare you come in here and say good morning to me? You’re so full of S. I hope you effing die.” She stood up and threw things off the table. I remember the guy that was sitting next to me in the office. The guy that was sitting with me was bug-eyed, quiet, and shying backward in his chair.
Eventually, I’m like, “You have to go. You better leave now.” She stayed out front yelling at patients as they came in and went and smoking, “Don’t go in there. Will is an A-hole.” Eventually, I went out there and I’m like, “You got to leave the property. I’m going to call the cops.” She’s like, “You go ahead.” I picked up the phone and then she ran. That was the last time I heard of Susan at the front desk. It was a bad day. I went back to the team and they all heard it. I’m like, “You heard what happened. Susan is no longer with us.” They’re like, “Finally.” I was the idiot for picking that long to let her go.
You were the last guy to finally figure it out. You’re next.
On the topic of firing, they call firing like taking a cut. You make a cut in your company. If you have to cut, you have to cut deep. One of my mistakes was not learning how to cut deep. What that means is we have had various locations. We had one location in particular where somebody was creating a counterculture without us knowing it, saying one thing to us, and then doing something else behind the scenes. When that person finally left, it was a death by a million cuts.
I’ve coached a couple of companies where they have a team of people that have been tainted by what we call a C-player. It’s someone who talks a lot of crap and all about the gossip. They’re constantly driving their own agenda behind the owners’ backs. Eventually, that taints regular team members into becoming additional C-players themselves.
I’ve had that experience more than once where I have a company and a meeting. After the meeting, the team members have their own meeting to talk about all the things that we should have been talking about or why I’m such a jerk. I remember this one time in particular. When we finally got that person out and left on their own, we didn’t fire everyone else that we knew was on board with that line of thinking.
I was taught this by a coach. If we have to cut, we have to cut deep. I’ve seen companies who slowly fire people over the course of six months instead of cleaning house and recognizing it’s time to start over. The most painful lesson I ever learned in business was the idea of once a good person has a C-player in their ear, they’ve got to go. It’s too late. I’m not going to turn that around and give them another chance. It’s easier to start over.We are imperfect in everything. So, if we can find people that better fit our version of imperfection, the happier we'll all be. Click To Tweet
The tough part with those relatively toxic people is that they’re still productive. The person we’re talking about was highly productive and talented. They’re good therapists with great numbers. When we walked into that clinic, it was ice cold. We didn’t belong there. I love how you said there was a counterculture involved because we couldn’t feel comfortable in our own clinic.
It’s awesome that you’ve gone through that yourself with our company. Also, we’re able to coach people through that because you can see it so clearly. How do you tell an owner that you got to get rid of them? That has got to be so hard to do because the fear comes into place. If they’re not going to see anybody, then we can’t see the patients. What does that tell the community? It’s hard to talk to an owner about cutting deeply.
I had a good example. I won’t use any company names or actual names. I saw this particular company back in July 2021. I saw the same situation that you and I were in. His company hires me to help them recruit. The first thing I do as a team assessment is to look at all the people. It took little time to realize that most of the team was completely anti. They didn’t want to be there. In our case, we have literal mistakes that we had made. People who are trying to take advantage of those exaggerate, change things around, and leverage whatever actual mistakes are made to make it self-serving, dark, and evil. Even though I didn’t know what the stories were, that was going on. I could feel, hear, and see it.
Early on, I had the hardest time because I was in a different state. I’m telling this person on a coaching call, let’s call this person Mary, “Mary, everyone needs to be fired.” They have never gone through this lesson. They’re like, “What?” You’ve got seven providers. Someone in that group and I even know who it is, is causing a counterculture. At first, shame on me for not being bold enough. I didn’t even say it that clearly. I was more hinting at it. Come October or late September 2021, I started screaming it from the rooftops. I’m like, “This person is causing these problems. If you don’t get rid of them now, you might have to get rid of the whole team.”
It’s unfortunate what this person was doing to this company. It was sad. That’s the thing about these people. They have all the justification in their minds why it’s okay to act out of integrity behind the scenes because they deserve it, “What’s in it? I’m just trying to build my family.” There’s all that crap when they realize that they’re justifying their actions. This group still didn’t listen to it. This company has great leaders. Some mistakes for sure have been made, but they’re truly good people. They’re good-hearted. Sadly, over a six-month period, every single one of their team members has either been fired or quit slowly.
Think about what that looks like for the owners and try to hire someone for that. The cool thing is they’re in a place where they have been able to rebuild it. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that I wish we could tell someone. That’s where I could do better as a coach. How do I be with somebody to where they will see it and act without learning the lesson the way we do through experience? I honestly feel like I failed in certain cases. I did get flown out there into that company in that six-month window. I got to meet with people. I had so much PTSD.
I walked in and felt the feeling like how you and I used when we walked into that one clinic. I felt like I was going to throw up. I almost canceled, turned around, and left because the feeling was so dark. I stuck with it. It was healthy for me and cathartic to confront this group, have these meetings, and hear all the darkness steer out of them. It was good for me to do that. After that, I was like, “All these people need to go.” It didn’t work. They had to learn that lesson, unfortunately. They’re strong leaders. They’re going to be great. That company is going to be amazing again. I wish there was a way that I could teach that lesson without having to experience it.
I don’t need to preface it too much. Simply, I’m in a bad habit, and I don’t know if I’m over it yet, where I send out emotional emails without sleeping on them. It was a thing that I was used to back in the day. I’ve had to check myself quite a bit since. Sending out emotional replies, especially or holding people accountable via email in an emotional way, is something that I’ve had to learn the hard way for sure.
It didn’t occur to me. It’s weird how the heart always leads out the communication. Digital communication almost amplifies it. If someone’s a little pissed, it oftentimes feels a lot heavier. We respond in kind and it escalates. I love that you said that. It’s hard to wait and sleep on it. You can’t sleep usually because you’re so pissed.
I feel like, “This needs to be addressed now. I can’t wait another twelve hours. That’s not enough now.” I can. It’s a lie I tell myself. It needs to be addressed. If it is that emotional or if it has that context, it’s better to at least do it on the phone, if not in person, because it forces you to take some of the emotion out of it, be respectable and personable, and have some humanity. It allows you to hide behind the guise of professionalism by sending an email. They’re going to understand clearly what I’m trying to say. It’s a hard mistake that I’ve had to go through a few times.
How do you hit the pause button when you get an email that feels like it’s attacking you or rude?
I’m learning slowly over time. This is the way I operate with anything that comes at me. I’m like, “We need a decision on this.” Coaching over time has taught me that I need to sleep on things. If they’re forcing you to have an answer, tell them no. It’s the same thing with emotional emails. I have to learn how to mark that email as unread and return to it later without responding. I know a little bit more about myself that maybe I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have some coaching to learn how to push pause.
It reminds me of this thing that I saw on YouTube that people should look up. This man got two glass Coke bottles. He’s in some country. It looks like it’s Africa because he doesn’t have shoes on and it’s a dirt floor. He shakes them both rigorously. Right away, he turns around, opens one of the bottles, and everything explodes out. He starts talking about anger and reaction. After about a minute, he opens the other bottle and it’s fine.
He goes, “What was the only difference between these two bottles? It’s time. It’s the biggest thing we can learn.” I believe this when it comes to self-control as both a parent and a leader. It’s not responding when I’m agitated. It requires a lot of self-control as a parent more than a leader when I’m getting upset or fearful, which is almost the same. I can pause, which I don’t always do. I’m so much more effective at connecting with my kid. The same applies to our people.
Do you have another one?
There’s probably a million more or less.
We should be interviewing past employees, “What do you think our biggest mistakes were?”Tolerating poor-aligned people is one of the top mistakes. Click To Tweet
It depends on the employee. In the end, we had this team of people that we didn’t deserve. We had people who thought so much higher of us than we ever were worthy of. As a result of that, we became better people. Those are the people I would want to ask because they would see the light. The people who were selfishly gaining from my mistakes, I’ve got nothing to hear from them.
Maybe it’s not interviewing Susan but others.
“Susan, what could I have done better as a leader?” “I’ll tell you.”
“It’s not being born.”
What about you? Do you have another item on your list?
I have one more. That was putting appropriate emphasis and importance on planning and organization. Many times, you kick the can down the road on planning for the next year, organizing, and strategizing. You name it. I still do that personally, especially. It’s easy for me to lead other teams through it and talk to people about doing it. For me, taking the time to strategize and plan is difficult. I don’t know why. It might be tied to my difficulty holding myself accountable personally. That’s deeper psychological stuff. I simply didn’t take the time in the past. I recognize the importance of it now. I forced myself to do it, properly plan the upcoming year or the upcoming quarter, or look forward to the next month. You name it. Things tend to go so much easier when you do.
It goes back to the coaching concept or the thing that I mentioned about being too busy. When you get that overwhelmed, for me, at least, I couldn’t prioritize all the things I should be doing, but I know I’m failing. That’s where I empathize with readers who are in that place when they’re driving an hour and a half one way to their practice like I did. They’re leaving when it’s dark, they’re coming home when it’s dark, and their kids aren’t getting what they need.
They hear shows like this where it’s like, “You should get a coach and do some planning. You need to build your network.” I didn’t mention it, which is a big mistake because I didn’t know my network. When I heard those things, it was hard to feel anything other than shame and an inability like, “I’m not good at that. I couldn’t do it.” Ultimately, my question to you is, how do you start that journey? What would you say is the first step in avoiding all of these mistakes by making time to do that? What do you tell your clients?
I’ll start with what triggers me or gets me to think more along the lines that I need to do this. That is something that I heard from a podcast. I like how they said it. You have to imagine what you want your business to be like. Let’s say you want a $1 million company. You should be doing things that $1 million companies do and not wait until you get $2 million to start doing those things. That means you’re going to have a $1 million company. You imagine that it’s going to take at least two days a week for you to do administrative tasks. Build that into your day-to-day now, instead of waiting until the appropriate time to do that. It’s imagining where you want to be and then starting to build that now instead of waiting until blank time.
When you were talking, I was thinking about, “Why don’t more therapy practice owners start emulating that? What would have them not see that they’re so busy that clearly, it’s not healthy?” It leads to another mistake I want to mention that I thought of, which is that I thought my self-esteem was tied to my treaty. I didn’t see it clearly. That was more subconscious. The thought was, “No one can do as good of a job as me.” I hear that from people I coach all the time, “No one does it as good as me.”
“They come to see me. I might have other therapists, but I’m the ringleader. I’m the one that’s leading other conversations and discussions and getting the engagement buy-in. If I’m not there, then what?”
We wanted to simplify it. I hope someone is reading this. I hope it’s me from years ago. It’s your ego. That’s why you’re so busy. It’s the reason you’re so busy. I can say this because I’m talking to myself or a younger version, “You’re so busy because you don’t know who you are without that feedback from your patients.” Without that busyness, as much as you think you hate it, you’re experiencing it as validation that you’re special instead of seeing it for what it is.
You’re being weak because if you could take a chance on yourself to see yourself as the leader you are, you will still impact those people and the therapists you will see as your future patients. You will treat them like you see your patients now. You will see those employees as your opportunity to serve. Exponentially, your impact will grow. At the end of the day, what I learned in my journey when we finally got to that place where we had this team of people that we didn’t deserve was that it was never about me. It was the fact that I took the risk and had the money that I borrowed with friends and family to take the chance.
That was the one thing that I did that put me in that position. By learning how to be the leader of those people or trying to learn to be the leader those people deserved, I attracted better people. Our impact increased exponentially. I never thought of it like that. What a great realization that I didn’t even know until now. It’s people’s ego around treating that prevents them from forcing themselves to act like the $1 million company or act like a company where the owner has a family-life balance.
There’s something to it. Almost every therapist I’ve met has had to go through it. The one person who hasn’t done it and has been cool with even starting their clinic by working part-time was the person I interviewed quite a bit. That’s Avi Zinn. He’s the only owner that I know has said, “I’m going to work part-time, so I can work on my business the other days and hire a full-time person to treat the patients.” He’s the only owner I’ve ever met that has done that.
All the other owners have had such a hard time. I’m speaking of myself as well, “It’s such a hard time taking that step out of patient care because if I’m not seeing the patients and my schedule is the busiest, I’ve got the best statistics. If I’m not seeing them all, then who’s going to see them? No one else in the world could possibly do it as well as I do.” That attitude makes it hard to step out. It was that along with I had my self-worth, as you were explaining, tied to my busyness.
You can wear it as a badge of honor, “I’m super busy. That means I’m important.” For some reason, that propelled me to stay in the rut that I was in. I remember one time reading Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. He said busyness is laziness. I’ve read it so many times. I’ve underlined it, highlighted it, and shared it with people. If you’re busy, you’re being lazy because you’re not taking the time to prioritize what is most important.
You’re doing a lot of random acts of action without focusing on what’s most important that propels you forward. Maybe it’s not human nature to do those things. One, we want to feed our ego. There’s part of that. Two, some of it is naivety. We don’t know what we’re going to do if we don’t treat. We have spent years of schooling learning how to treat patients. You’re telling me, “Don’t treat.” What do I do with my time? You lose some of that identity that you had been preparing and cultivating.If we have to cut, we have to cut deep. Click To Tweet
That makes sense. It’s so easy to develop the ego around our treaty because all of us dreamed of becoming a PT. What’s cool about our profession is that it’s one of those professions that people dream about becoming. It’s not everyone, but most PTs are super passionate about the industry and what we’re doing in healthcare overall. Their lives have been touched by a therapist that inspired them to do this. It’s not an easy thing to become. It’s an art. We were one of the few fields of medicine that is arguably more art than science, but there is a lot of science as well.
To develop that skill is hard and takes a decade to do. After a decade of dreaming and finally being in a place where people bring us cookies and tell their friends and families, it’s one of the most special experiences. I’m not bagging up. If the therapist isn’t keeping your ego in check and they want to get to a place where there’s a better whole life balance, at some point if you’re an owner, you have to realize whether you intended to or not that you’ve signed up to become a leader.
That requires a new dream and vision. As you said, “Where do I even begin to dream?” You don’t know what’s possible. The possibility is this. That’s where you and I could serve people at most. What’s possible is being in a company where everyone loves each other. They see their work-family as a family. Maybe it’s a non-lethal one, but they will take a bullet for each other. They respect each other, care about the care, and want to serve you and their patients.
That experience produces a reality that I haven’t been able to describe since other than joy. I was the father and husband that they deserved to be. When I was an owner, that was horrible, I wasn’t the father and husband that my kids and wife deserved. I was drowning. It’s almost like anything I was doing was to try and keep my head above water. Where all my mistakes came from was trying to latch on to anything that would help me breathe. Ultimately, when I saw that through coaching, I was able to grow past it. It’s better than being a therapist and having patients bring you cookies. It was being that person.
My mindset changed once I understood that I was never going to lose the ownership hat if I wanted to do something with my business to make it better or achieve the goals that I wanted or a lifestyle that I would have preferred. I abdicated it for a long time, but it’s the one thing I couldn’t delegate. I had to take ownership of the owner hat and recognize that I’m the leader and owner. If this company is not fulfilling me and my household, that’s on me to make a difference. I didn’t know what to do. It comes to a point where I need to figure out what to do. My life has been significantly blessed ever since I’ve been able to say, “I’m the owner. Let’s get some stuff done.” It’s not that I did it greatly, but I at least took on the responsibility and then moved forward.
Why you and I do what we do has everything to do with that part of our journey between your coaching and the podcast. I hope everyone knows this. It’s coming from a place of, “I want to be the change that I wish I have had sooner.” What I do with the Healthcare Business Academy, billing company, and recruiting program is I’m trying to solve the problems. We had to almost invent the wheel in our industry.
There are other good coaches out there as well, services like mine, and other billing companies that are sprouting up that are also good. At the end of the day, what I love about where you and I have landed is we’re trying to give back the best we can. We want to monetize, but it’s more about taking the younger Nathans and Wills and giving them that experience without having to suffer through these things the way you and I had to do.
That was the impetus behind starting the show. I was like, “I wish there was a resource like this back in the day.” I could have latched onto it and said, “Other people are going through the same issues that I have. There are other owners that have had this issue and have successfully lived and worked past it. What did they do? What was the insight that I need to know?” I love that we have that opportunity to share that with the show’s audience and whoever reads this. It’s great.
I can say this on behalf of both of us. For anyone who has ever worked with us on any level whether it was a great or hard experience, aligned or misaligned, thank you, even Susan. She’s a human being. She’s got feelings, a soul, and trials. Bless her. She helped me. Most everyone else besides Susan, we’re good people. Even when they made bad choices, we recognized that we were learning how to develop them. All of these people over the years, whether or not they love us or hate us, it doesn’t matter. We’re grateful for you and what you’ve done for us.
You’ve learned so much over the decades as a leader. Share with the audience what you’re doing nowadays that you can do to help them.
Here’s a shameless plug. Stop waiting for a physical therapist and go hire them. I have a program I created called Rockstar Recruiter. It is amazing. The reason it’s amazing is because of the number of experts that have contributed to this thing. It is the only solution that I know of for hiring PTs. People in our program are having tons of success. I ask you to change your mindset. Recruiting is easy. You just don’t know how to do it, so I teach you how to do it. That’s one piece.
In The Black billing is still the main thing that I do on a day-to-day basis. That is a billing and coaching company. My coaching is different in that it’s geared towards your profitability. Coaches aren’t competitive with each other. They’re synergistic. A lot of people that work with me, Nathan and vice versa because of what we bring to the table. The main thing I bring with coaching is the billing component. We are very fortunate. We have never lost a client. I say this from a place of humility because it’s my team. We can do it better than anyone else, hands down.
I wanted to create a solution because I didn’t believe outsourcing was going to be worth it. I never thought outsourcing was worth it. I always assumed in-house was better. Frankly, I always thought people who outsource were bad business people. It’s because there weren’t a lot of viable solutions out there, so I’ve created that. It has been around for years. We have grown exponentially, but we refuse to grow faster than we can provide quality for. It has been great.
I have never recommended outsourcing. I’ve had episodes on the show that said, “Don’t outsource. Do it in-house if you can.” Until you came around, I thought, “Here are two people between you and Katie who I trust immensely.” I know the work ethic behind it. There’s communication there with your clinic company that is not there with the other collection agencies as far as I know.
I have a deep personal relationship with each of my billing clients. I agree with all those people that say, “Don’t outsource it.” If they don’t know In The Black, don’t do it. Do you want to talk about the way it looks different? I would take a non-lethal bullet at least for each of my partners in this business. I see them as me and treat them with more respect than I treat myself. I am dedicated to them. You know Katie. You hired her. She’s cut from a different cloth. That girl will not sleep unless she knows that your account is under control and that you understand where your money is to the dime so that you can focus on growing your patient volume instead of managing a billing company that you’ve started in-house.
We can’t sign off before touting the other project that you have going. If anyone is considering selling their clinic in the next 2 to 5 years, they need to be in touch with you.
Let me summarize because people are like, “What is this guy doing?” I came back from Europe. As you know, I went to Europe for six months with my wife and four kids after we sold and dreamed about how I wanted to change the industry. I believe we have to privatize healthcare. We need to get the control back into the hands of the men and women who are providing the care. That’s why I love your show and everything you coach on because you’re helping support that. What I decided to do was create the Healthcare Business Academy, which is the main business.
It’s like the Marriott brand of my companies. I wanted to start a billing company when Katie was open to working with me because I wanted to help PTs launch their private practices or liquidate. What I’ve created through the billing company is a way to sell your practices. I was on the phone with two companies that are super excited about what I’m doing in terms of creating an offering. It doesn’t matter how many locations you have. If you have 1 or 5 locations, it doesn’t matter. I have a company called Multiple Exit. It brings clinics and companies together and teaches them how to build their business to sell.Recruiting is easy; you just don’t know how to do it. Click To Tweet
They were selling in 1 to 2 years. There’s zero long-term commitment up until the point when we get a contract on the table from a buyer. By then, it’s not even a risk at that point. The company is growing fast. That’s one of the reasons In The Black is growing well. The recruiting thing is simple. If my PT partners can’t get more PTs in the door, they can’t grow, sell their practice, or get out of it. Recruiting happens to be the thing that we’re the best at. I leveraged that across the company. Thank you for bringing that up. It’s Multiple Exit.
How do people get in touch with you?
I’ve got a YouTube channel. My email is great.
What’s your email address?
They can reach out to you to that email regarding anything that you’re doing.
As with you, Nathan, people can reach out to you with any questions. It’s the same thing. If you’re trying to deal with a situation you don’t know how to deal with, give us a call.
Thanks for your time.
- Will Humphreys
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- Avi Zinn – Reality Episode #6 with Avi Zinn, PT, DPT: Moving Up in Ownership – Meetings, Leadership Development, Marketing Strategies
- The 4-Hour Workweek
- Healthcare Business Academy
- Rockstar Recruiter
- In The Black
- YouTube – Will Humphreys
About Will Humphreys
I am a father of 4 boys, married 20 years and am passionate about healthcare entrepreneurship.Teaching entrepreneurs how to maximize their income, profits, and net margin is what I do, but helping them change how they think, reclaim their freedom, and discover what is possible is who I am.
I teach the value of this key phrase: Profitability unlocks possibility.