Psi Balance Psychology
Ray Inkpen didn’t get into psychology via the traditional route. After spending the first half of his career in the military as an aircraft technician and many years working in the mines, he decided he was ready for a change. So, at the age of 40, he went back to university to study psychology. Once he completed his degree, he then worked for several psychology practices before branching out on his own.
Psi Balance Psychology was born from a desire to help people live a joyful life and “a fascination with why people do the things they do”. Through his background, Ray had been exposed to many people who had experienced trauma and he was driven to help these people recover and live a wholesome, meaningful life.
When setting up his practice, Ray initially started using an answering service and had their appointments booked in Outlook. It didn’t take him long to see that this wasn’t a great strategy and he realised they needed a practice management system. He says he chose Power Diary because their call centre had recommended it and he had seen it used in some of the practices he’d worked in previously.
“Even without any training, I could easily figure out how to invoice someone if our receptionist had gone home – so I knew it must have been simple.”
Not long after opening their doors, Glynda was employed and became the practice manager, so they took the bookings in house. She quickly realised they weren’t using Power Diary to its full potential, and set about changing this over her first few weeks of work.
The clinic now has five psychologists operating near capacity, and Ray says that Power Diary has been an important part of helping them scale.
“I’m not always in the office, but with Power Diary, I still know what’s going on.”
Glynda works ‘school hours’ so that she can take care of her two boys, but even at the size they’re at now, the practice is operating efficiently.
“Lots of our clients prefer not to call to make their appointments, so they’ll just text us and we’ll arrange it all by SMS. And on the rare occasion when a client misses an appointment, if I call them, they won’t answer – probably because it’s too confronting. But if I text, they’ll apologise and reschedule. Texting is just more convenient for everyone.”
Plus, the clinic’s phone lines are only open from 9am-3pm, so having most clients texting is really a lot more efficient for everyone. Ray says, “sometimes Glynda will login during the evenings and respond to the texts that have come in – I always tell her she shouldn’t but she prefers to get back to everyone.” And if one of Glynda’s kids is sick, she can work from home and still get everything done.
She says, “I know when I’m getting support from a company, I don’t want to be on the phone – I prefer to use online chat or text so that I can multi-task and get other things done. For instance, if I ever have questions about Power Diary, I love using the online chat. They’re quick and can point me in the right direction without needing to hold up a phone line.”
Glynda also points out that having good systems in place helps them communicate internally. “If there is an issue with a client, we don’t need to say that directly. We just put the notes in the system and everyone has the same information and knows the background to the client.”
The online portal is a big part of the clinic’s processes too. They’re getting more and more clients choosing to book and manage their appointments online – which further reduces the need for more admin.
But Ray is quick to point out that his motivation for minimising administration isn’t to reduce costs – it’s really to allow Glynda to have the time and energy to provide a higher level of customer service to clients. “Our system is really streamlined so we can take the time to offer our clients a coffee or tea, have a chat, and make them feel comfortable. And people are always saying we provide excellent customer service because we respond to them straight away.”
By working for a few different practices prior to opening his own, Ray took note of processes that worked… as well as some that didn’t! He remembers in one practice, there were three admin staff for just four psychologists – and a big part of their day was spent manually texting clients appointment reminders. There were a lot of errors and it was difficult to track. “Often clients would say they didn’t get the text, and we couldn’t easily check on this. Now, we can easily see the message trail of text messages – and the reminders happen without us even thinking about them.”
He remembers that there was another practice management system that needed one part to generate invoices, another part for appointments, another for communication with team members, and then everything still had to be transferred into the accounting system. “If I was working outside of hours when the receptionists had left, I had to use it… so I tried to learn it, but really, it was just too complicated! Now with Power Diary, in just 15 minutes, I can generate reports, remittances and reconcile everything at the end of the day.”
With Power Diary connected to their Xero account, keeping on top of the business is easy. Ray says he looks at reports for each practitioner, and for the group, and can quickly know that “we’re doing ok”.
“We love using the colour coding for appointments as a visual tool too. This helps us see at a glance how we’re going as we use different colours for different providers. For example, red is for Workcover, Purple is for Open Arms, etc.”
“I’m essentially lazy and I’m not a businessman, but Power Diary really runs everything for us. We’re able to run with minimal admin staff, and I’d estimate Power Diary saves me personally 2 hours a day – I really don’t have to do anything. It also allows Glynda to work school hours. It really is a tool that empowers practitioners.”
When we asked Ray about the key to their success and the advice he’d offer to other practices, he says: “The main thing is your marketing to doctors. We make a big effort to keep in touch with the doctors that refer clients to us. We send individual letters to give feedback on their clients, but we also send out general updates on our team or other news – just to keep top of mind. [Glynda sends these using the bulk-email functions in Power Diary.] In the early days, we used to print flyers and I’d walk around to visit local doctors and take a platter of sandwiches. Now, most of the doctors know me and they trust that we’ll take good care of their clients. Trust is essential.”
We also asked about Ray’s thoughts on his late-career change into psychology, he says: “It’s been much more than I expected – so much more. I love working with people – whether it’s ex-servicemen who suffer with PTSD, or autistic children. It’s definitely challenging, but when you see people getting the skills they need, it’s so rewarding. I haven’t looked back.”