The Glass Ceiling
I have a question. Let's imagine you inherited this brilliant behavioral health group from the most innovative and strategic owner of your time. It's vibrant and exploding, full of progressive ideas and forward thinking participants. This group has grossed five million dollars consecutively for the last five years and is on track to do 6 million the year you acquired it. You are the new owner, so what do you expect YOUR business to do this year? 6 million dollars, right? Why not? That's what you were told it would do.
I used to be a teacher. In the education world they teach you about the Glass Ceiling Effect. There are tons of experiments where teachers were given a class full of average IQ students but told that they were the best and the brightest in the district. This classroom was made up of low to average IQ students with average motivation and low to medium socio-economic statuses. Under that premise, the teacher was able to take these children's test scores and growth metrics to exactly the point that he/she was told they "should be". How is that possible, you ask? This teacher had the preconceived notion that their students were Distinguished performing kids, so she always expected Distinguished level work.
How does this apply to behavioral health? Today I was thinking about the process to achieving a million dollar practice and what that would look like. I reflected back on my own journey and asked myself tough questions, one being, why was your business successful? I began thinking about profit margins and overhead and remembered the point when I wasn't even sure what the market standards were. I had no clue what was considered good in this field. Was I supposed to have a 50% profit margin or was 10% okay? There were too many questions and not nearly enough answers.
Then I remembered that since I didn't have anyone to compare my practice to, or even anyone to talk to about these numbers, I made up a number in my head that I thought was acceptable, 40%, and made that my expectation. (Crazy now, I know!)
The point here is that I had a glass ceiling so I didn't even know what "normal" was. Because of that, I was successful and even turned a profit. Cutting every unnecessary expense possible to get me closer to that 40%, finding ways to duplicate myself or eliminate positions through the use of technology helped substantially. Running those P&L reports and seeing a number less than 40% and making adjustments. I got excited about every percentage point and celebrated every milestone!
Did the Glass Ceiling Effect work for me? I think it did. I think that if I would have went into this business thinking that a 10% profit margin was great (my ceiling), I probably would have ended last year with just that, a 10% profit margin. Would I have every gone beyond that number? Probably not. I'm confident that my ignorance is what fueled me to push hard no matter what the obstacle.
As a clinician, I'm a problem solver and as a Behavioral Group Consultant my passion lies in problem solving. I love looking at a mess of a situation and devising a plan to dig someone out of what feels like a man-made grave. This field can be hard, and most certainly will be hard, but it's also inspiring and can be the most rewarding journey you could ever take. I challenge you to do a little remodeling and find yourself a glass ceiling. The sky is your limit!