Am I Ready to Hire? The Pros and Cons of Expanding Your School Contracting Business!

Jun 25, 2024

As a contractor providing speech-language pathology (SLP), occupational therapy (OT), or physical therapy (PT) services to school districts, expanding your practice by hiring or subcontracting out additional providers can be a significant step. It brings the potential for growth, increased revenue, and the ability to serve more students.

However, it also involves challenges and responsibilities. Today let's explore the pros and cons of expanding your practice to help you determine if you're ready to take this leap.

Note: I'm going to use general hiring (W2) terminology here BUT know that, state and role specifics depending, you can choose subcontracting (1099), as well. 

Pros of Expanding Your Practice

1. Meet a Demand:  With more providers on your team, you can accept additional contracts and serve more schools, addressing the growing demand for therapy services in educational settings.

2. Hire Other Specialties: Hiring additional therapists allows you to offer a broader range of specialized services, catering to diverse student needs and enhancing your practice’s reputation.

3. Create A Team to Collaborate With:  I argue one of the downsides to contracting is that, at times, you lose that feeling of being a member of a team.  Having a team of providers under your company fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and bonding.

4. Give Back to The Field: There's a pool of providers that want to work WITH schools and not FOR them, BUT they also don't want to navigate finding and managing a direct contract.  Give back to the field by hiring these individuals and offer all the things you wish you had when you were an employee, like competitive pay and reasonable caseloads!

5. Business Growth and Stability:  Expanding your team leads to increased revenue without adding direct therapy time to your schedule. In addition, a larger team enhances your presence and credibility in the contracting market, making it easier to attract new schools and retain existing ones.

Cons of Expanding Your Practice

1. Increased Administrative Burden:  Hiring additional staff involves an increase in administrative work such as recruitment, payroll, and quality assurance measures.  Although there is affordable technology solutions to support with streamlining, there will always be an administrative component when you hire or subcontract. 

2. Financial Considerations/Upfront Costs: Expanding your team requires upfront investment in pay particularly if school districts are late in paying. I recommend having at least two months worth of payroll, or quick access to this amount, should school district payments experience a delay (a common risk with school contracts).

3. Operational Challenges: Although I've found it to be less of an issue than we often worry about, there is the risk of losing a contract or a provider, leaving the other one hanging.  There are several ways to negate this risk, but no foolproof method (that I've found anyway). 

Deciding to expand your practice by hiring additional SLPs, OTs, or PTs is a significant step that comes with both opportunities and challenges. Expansion can lead to growth and improved service delivery, but it also demands careful planning and management. By thoroughly evaluating your readiness and preparing for the associated responsibilities, you can make a well-informed decision that sets your practice on a path to sustained success and serves our community in a meaningful way.

Getting Started: Tools and Resources

For providers considering hiring or subcontracting, investing in the right resources can make the transition smoother and more manageable. Our School Staffing Training and Packet is a course designed to support you in this process. It includes essential templates and agreements, such as 1099 and W2 forms, and provides comprehensive training to help you get started with hiring. These resources can save you time, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and give you a solid foundation for building a successful team.

❤️ Elise