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  • Writer's pictureAmber McCormack

Finding Your Balance: How to Streamline Your Equine or Animal-Assisted Therapy Practice

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Are you like so many Equine and Animal-assisted therapists? Sitting in front of your computer at the end of a busy day wondering how you will get through the absolute mountain of admin it takes to keep your private practice running?


You started your practice because you love animals and want to help people, not to sit in front of a computer for hours! It's easy to put the admin aside for 'tomorrow' when your passion lies elsewhere (I mean... really, who wouldn't want to spend their time with their animals instead?).



Here, I will guide you through the many ways you can streamline your private Equine or Animal Assisted Therapy practice. Once we're done, you'll have a better understanding of how to get the most out of your time as a business owner and be free to spend so much more doing the things you love.


 

Who are YOU in your private practice?

How many hats are you wearing right now to keep your private therapy practice running? Are you the therapist and counsellor, practice manager, admin support, receptionist, bookkeeper, accountant, marketing director, social media manager, client liaison AND expert animal handler?


Yes? ... Well no wonder you're here!


What IS practice management and administration?

To start, Practice Management is an overarching term describing the administrative and business tasks needed to keep healthcare or medical practices running.


A Practice Manager looks after all the management tasks related to the business side of the practice, such as hiring and managing admin staff, creating and documenting Policies, keeping up to date with NDIS and Medicare (et el) requirements, running business meetings, investigating software possibilities and a myriad of other tasks. In the online space, this role is known as an 'Online Practice Manager' (OPM) or 'Online Business Manager/Partner' (OBM/P).


An Administration Officer is generally the 'do-er'. They are the ones who take direction from the Practice Manager, greet clients, answer phone calls, make and change bookings, type up dictated reports etc. Online, these professionals are usually called 'Virtual Assistants' (VAs).

In larger practices, there is usually one Practice Manager and multiple receptionists and/or administration staff.


In small practices, these roles are usually combined into one person... and most likely if you're here... that person is YOU.


What does a Practice Manager do?


As I alluded to above, there are a multitude of tasks that make up the business and administration portions of any private practice, but the most important are managing the:

  • Schedule

  • Client experience and response (emails, phone calls, website contacts etc)

  • Client intake process

  • Client files

  • Practice Management Software (client files etc)

  • Finances (invoicing, remittances, reporting)

  • Human resources

  • Insurance, contracts, training etc

  • Marketing (advertising, social media etc)

  • Building of and maintaining business partnerships (eg. GP Clinics, NDIS Plan Managers/Coordinators, Community Groups, Local Schools etc)


How to streamline your practice administration


Many equine-assisted therapists struggle to know how to best manage their practice administration. One of the most important tasks a Practice Manager can do for you is to streamline your admin. BUT, if you can implement some of the following suggestions yourself, you should see a fast improvement in your work-life balance!


Automate everything

Create (or implement) a system that will allow you to create templates and workflows, automate responses and make billing simpler... then USE IT as much as possible.


Schedule time for admin

It's easy to fill your day with clients since this is what you enjoy and it makes sense to see your clients in the field. But you then need to schedule a reasonable amount of time to finish your admin when back in the office.


Some of my clients schedule admin between their clients (so, a 1hr client session, then another 1hr for a break and admin), while others time block 6 clients, then allocate 2hrs at the end of the day purely for admin.


As an Online Practice Manager myself, I recommend a combination of methods that suit your personality, your business and your goals. Below I have detailed some steps to manage the admin time you have, most efficiently.


Delegate/Outsource

(Of COURSE, I would promote this!). I will ALWAYS recommend outsourcing (or delegating if you have a team) the parts of your business you don't love. Something we often forget is that this is YOUR business, you run it however YOU choose, to support YOUR goals and dreams.


But, It also makes financial sense. At the time of writing, the NDIS scheduled rate for Equine Therapy in Australia is $193.99 per hour. Why then waste your own time on admin tasks you can outsource for a fraction of that rate? A specialist online practice manager or administration team such as IVY Business Services can complete your admin tasks in less time, for less cost... Saving you money, increasing your earning capacity and reducing your mental burden.


By outsourcing only 2hrs of admin each day (think emails, document uploading, client files, returned enquiries, policy creation or updates, calendar management), then you would have an extra 10 hours EVERY week! If that isn't making the most of your time, what is?


How to use your time more efficiently


One of the most important aspects of running any business, but especially a client-dependent one, is to use your time as efficiently as possible. Follow these suggestions to streamline your business and reclaim your time, without sacrificing business growth.


Take action. Don't procrastinate

If you find yourself dreading, or putting off a particular task, ask yourself why. Are you delaying an uncomfortable conversation? Are you putting off a task that you simply detest doing? are you exhausted and only doing the 'simple' tasks, instead of the more difficult, but business-growing ones?


Organisation is key

Start the night before. Before leaving the office, write a small To-Do list of 3-6 BUSINESS CRITICAL tasks and list them in priority order. By doing this every night, you start the next day more efficiently. You are also saving brain power by having a pre-planned starting point.


Schedule your sessions AND your admin. Again, If you are running a business without any external support, you MUST schedule admin time into your working week. Failing to build this into your every day means you will either spend no time on your business and fall behind or too much time and burn out.


Prioritize everything

Treat your business like a hospital emergency ward and prioritise (triage) everything. By prioritising consistently, you will always be working towards your goals, and keeping your business running smoothly.


Build a habit

To be truly efficient, make these small changes to your routine so they become habits that will make a big difference to your efficiency.


Before starting your admin session:

  • Make sure your phone, laptop and tablet are charged

  • You have all the equipment needed for the admin session (Tea/Coffee, water, ink, paper, memory devices, notes etc)

  • Check the 'To-do' list created the evening before

  • Use the do-not-disturb feature on your phone and computer programs

  • Action the 'To-do' list BEFORE opening emails or social media

  • Use time tracking software to gain an accurate understanding of what tasks are taking up the most time

Before leaving:

  • Clean and tidy your workspace

  • Write & prioritise the 'To-do' list

  • Check your schedule for the following day

  • Delegate anything you can


For more time-saving techniques that WORK, download the Hack Your Time: Checklist. Designed for Equine and Animal-assisted therapists, these methods will work for any mental health professional running their own private practice.


If you need access, you can grab it here: Hack Your Time: Checklist


With that being said, chasing your private practice dreams can be challenging, but with the right plan in place, and people around you, you too can reach your business goals, spend time with friends and family guilt-free and love your private practice again.


So, if you're ready to outsource your practice management or need help creating a strategy to reach your dreams, book a Discovery Call. You'll be surprised by what IVY Business Services can offer.




Talk soon,


Amber

 

Amber McCormack is an Online Practice Manager and Business Coach as well as the

photograph of Amber from IVY Business Services

CEO and Founder of IVY Business Services. She is an avid mental health advocate, wife, and mother to three young girls.


Amber specialises in supporting mental health professionals, with a particular interest in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapies. Her passion is helping her clients reach their goals in life and business with her honest, no-nonsense approach. Amber has over 20 years of corporate administration experience and holds qualifications in Management, Project Management and Recordkeeping.

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