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Dave: Welcome to the Podcasting Stories podcast. My name is David Spray and today we're talking with Ken Clark, founder of the Chenal Family Therapy Company. Ken is a serial entrepreneur, and his most recent venture is Chenal Family Therapy.
After nearly a decade on Wall Street, Ken wanted to make more of a difference and decided to return to school to become a licensed therapist. In 2010, after graduating from a California school and ready to start his therapist career, he noticed that his home state of California seemed saturated with therapists.
In this episode, we learn how and why he decided to launch his practice in of all places, Little Rock, Arkansas. Once he launched his practice, Ken integrated learning from other business experience and developed a novel practice management platform for therapists. As other therapists learned of his platform, they asked if they could join the platform. But started as a few therapists joining has exploded into nearly 200 therapists, more than 10 million in revenue, and has spot on the Inc. 5000 list for the past four years.
This is a fascinating episode about how to identify untapped markets and leverages experience from other ventures. Ken is a warm and fascinating entrepreneur, and any entrepreneur can learn a lot from Ken. Additionally, Ken is thinking about starting a podcast, and we drilled into the details.
Ken scored the highest score ever on our scorecard, 87 out of 96, and is an ideal candidate for a podcast. We brainstorm different strategies to get maximum leverage from the podcast. If you're considering starting a podcast, this podcast in conversation is full of ideas and value. All right, let's get to the show. Ken, welcome to the podcast.
Ken: Thank you for having me. I'm honored to be on it and excited to get to think out loud with you.
Dave: Yeah, my pleasure. You've got a really amazing business background. But in the interest of time, I want to focus primarily on the Chenal Family Therapy business. Why don't you tell us a bit about that business, kind of how it came to be and kind of your market focus? And then we'll go from there. What made you, first off, decided to become a licensed therapist? I believe it started there. You became a therapist first, then you lost the business.
Ken: In my former life, I had worn a couple of hats. I had been a certified financial planner and was kind of a Wall Street nerd for college in the first part of my career. In that role, especially working with wealthy families, and wealth transfer and stuff, you kind of had a front row seat to some stuff that was worthy of family counseling. Dad picked you as the executor because he liked you the best, that kind of stuff.
I think early on, I got a lot of experience kind of refereeing and being at ground zero, and seeing these family that had it all put together on the outside and were struggling on the inside. After that, I did some time with a nonprofit youth organization called Young Life and got the love on kids and families, and did that with my wife for about a decade, and love that. Love the mentoring aspect and kind of just walking alongside people with no agenda but being available.
Came to the end of that like a lot of nonprofit folks, decided nonprofit is good for a season but maybe not for a career. I had a buddy who had started a counseling agency and needed somebody who understood QuickBooks and things like that, so stepped in as the CFO of a small counseling agency. And very quickly, when I was there, I saw the opportunity to merge some of those previous hats I had worn. I was pretty amazed, this guy got to sit on a couch and people just showed up and handed the money to talk about their problems and decided to go back to grad school and do that. That was in my mid 30s.
We got to the end of grad school. We were living in Southern California. We decided we kind of wanted to change scenery and get out of that rat race maybe a little bit and looked around the country for where it would be a good place to open a mental health solo practice. We had no aspirations of being big. And we have been a numbers guy. I looked at the number of divorces in each metro area on an annual basis and compared that to the number of therapists in that area.
Little Rock Arkansas had one of the highest levels of divorces per therapist. From a market research point of view, I thought that's a great place to start a practice. So, we moved here about a decade ago and started a practice, and then we kept running into like-minded people who wanted to learn from us and what we were doing and started working with them. For too long, there was three or four of us, and then there was five or 10 of us. Now, a decade later, there's actually about 200 of us and continuing to grow. So, that's kind of how we ended up where we are.
Dave: That is an awesome story. Do you still do one-on-one therapy yourself? Or is that something you've been ...
Ken: Yeah, I do. Yeah. It's a practice value for us, a company value that you shouldn't be leading people doing something if you're not willing to do it yourself. So, we require everybody in leadership in our company to continue to see some clients just so their decision making is relevant, if you put it that way. I do. I primarily work with C suite couples and families, and kind of executive stress, stuff like that.
Dave: Great. Well, that is a really great story. And in fact, I think you your growth has been so fast. You landed on one of the Inc. Fast Growing lists, is that correct?
Ken: Yeah, this will actually be our fourth year in a row on the Inc. 5000. They published that list of 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States. We've made that list four years running, usually somewhere in the 1,000 range out of 5,000, but we've grown in excess of 50% a year for over a decade.
Dave: That is awesome. I was listening to a podcast recently, and they were talking about that it's great to be on the Inc. 5000 list, but you don't really want to be on the Inc. 50 list, because those companies have a really high failure rate because of just the tremendous growth. Because the ones in that top 50 list. They're not growing 50% a year, they're growing like 500% or 5,000% a year.
Dave: Yeah, that sounds like the sweet spot being about 1,000.
Ken: I think like all entrepreneurs. There's that saying that revenue is vanity and profit is sanity, and cash is king. I think every organization, we've had to learn to move away from the glitz of growing the top line to the stability of growing the bottom line. As fast as we've grown, that's been a challenge. I can't imagine what it is to stabilize a rocket ship, like some of those top 50 companies.
Dave: Sure. Yeah, me neither. I can't even imagine the 50% growth rate that you're at. Although I guess as soon as I say that, this podcast business I started in February is certainly growing. Will grow faster than that, at least in the start. So, tell me a bit more about the model. You said there's about 200 of you, meaning licensed therapists, correct?
Ken: Yeah. 175 and then about 25 administrative staff.
Ken: Yeah. But continuing to grow. I think we're onboarding 10 or 15 people right now. I think ours is probably a reframing of what a lot of savvy leaders know, which is your most important customers are the people that actually work for you.
People come for the therapists. They don't come for the furniture, or the name that everybody can't pronounce, or whatever. They come because they build a personal relationship with this person who knows their deepest, darkest kind of stuff.
We are about attracting people who are high performers as clinicians, not just on the clinical side, but they're also somewhat business savvy and motivated by a good income. And we give them a place and a context to essentially be in business for themselves without having to be in business for themselves.
We refer to ourselves as high autonomy, high support. They don't have to pay rent, they don't have to figure out why the fax machine is not working. And they also don't have to sit through a lot of staff meetings, so we really have tried to strike that sweet spot and attract people who maybe have already proven to themselves that they can run a private practice, but also proven that they don't want to run a private practice. And the folks come out of the woodwork to see these clinicians, so the clinicians are the real rock stars in our practice.
Dave: Sure. I'm curious, can you talk at all about the ... If you can, I respect it, but about kind of the economic relationship. And the only reason I'm asking is because I'm kind of visualizing myself being one of these therapists. And if your platform effectively costs $100 a month, I'm probably all over it. And if it effectively cost me $25,000 a month, it's probably not worth it. I'm guessing the cost to them is somewhere between 100 month and 25,000 or 50,000 a month, is that a safe assumption?
Ken: Yeah, it's probably easier to talk about in terms of margin. I think on an annual basis, we do a revenue split. Somewhere in the ballpark of 60% of the revenue goes to the clinician on a W-2 basis, and then we run the business out of the other 40 and make our profit out of that.
We constantly have to remind our clinicians that we don't keep 40, we actually keep probably 5% to 10%, like a lot of medium sized businesses, but the rest goes to operations. But what we see there is for your typical therapist, if they were in private practice by themselves, they're going to spend roughly 25% of the money they make on operational rents, all that kind of stuff.
When the smoke clears with benefits and everything like that, it's probably about 28% that they lose to us. So, it's neck and neck on a pure economic basis, but the real win and what we show them on paper is that ...
Dave: Opportunity cost?
Ken: Yeah. Five or 10 hours a week of trying to figure out why the internet is not working, or an insurance claim is not going through, but you don't get paid for that we handle for you. And when you count that into working for yourself, it drives your effective hourly rate down below what you earn with us.
You earn more per hour working for a top notch group practice. And if you got those extra hours to give, go do something with them. See more clients or go teach at the local college, but working for yourself for free in that extra five to 10 hours is not economically wise. That's where the win is for us as it's about to break even on paper, but it's really in their favor when you look at hourly compensation.
Dave: Sure. I just love the model and the solution you have. How do you find these new therapists? Is it word of mouth from current therapists or from marketing initiatives?
Ken: Yeah. I think historically, we've seen folks come from one or two places. One, were uber protective of our culture. You hear a lot of these places that kind of have no jerk policies and things like that. You can say we fall in that category as well. We just don't need toxic people in the organization.
One, we are very reliant on our existing rock stars to tell us who else should be in the band. Who have you worked with before that is amazing, ethical, easygoing, all these kinds of things. We get a lot of recommendations internally on folks that we should work with.
Probably the other place we get is these folks that have the guts and the wherewithal to reach out to us on their own. I've always had a high respect for somebody who's got the courage to go knocking on doors. And when you're leading change in the therapy room with an individual or a couple, a lot of times, you got to knock on the door and invite them into change and vulnerable conversation.
We have a lot of respect for people who show up with a resume in hand and say, "You don't know me, but you're going to want to." So, probably maybe a quarter or a third of our folks are people that got kicked down the door for themselves, but we don't historically recruit through Indeed or any of these places. We want people that our folks want or we want people that want to be here, but not people who are simply looking for a job.
Dave: Sure. I can appreciate that. So, if we were sitting down five years from now having this conversation, what do you think the business looks like then? How many therapists do you think you have?
Ken: I think we're anywhere from where we are now, I think at any given point any owner needs to ask themselves, "Should I right size? Is this a good spot to camp out?" So, anywhere between probably where we are now and another 100 to 150 therapists, which would put us anywhere from in the low teens laying up 12, 13 million in revenue, upwards of 20, 25 million in revenue. I think we'll probably come to rest somewhere in that range.
Dave: Okay. I mean, you talked about the revenue number, that's that gross revenue number of which 60% goes to the therapist, and then 40% you all use for your magic. Okay. What's the most enjoyable or satisfying part of the work that you do? I mean, aside from your private practice of your own clients, as far as just from the business perspective, what do you find the most satisfying?
Ken: I've always been a leadership development nerd. I grew up on business anecdotes and stories of great CEOs and leaders and things like that. So, watching these clinicians that have started with us as a clinician but work their way into some leadership roles, watching them stretch, watching them be vulnerable, watching them have breakthrough moments. Most of whom never fancied themselves as entrepreneurial leaders. That, to me, is super fun. And our organization is probably 80% women, not dissimilar than our industry.
I feel like there's a lot of opportunity for women to finally get a platform that's been missing for them to play with leadership, to experiment with leadership, to not have to get it right and stick the landing on the first try. We're very developmental organization. That's probably one of the highlights for me is watching somebody who thought they were going to be a therapist their whole life turn into a director of something and come to trust their skills. That's super fun.
Dave: Yeah, I bet that. I bet that is. I say the same thing, or shouldn't say the same thing. I have a similar feeling on this whole podcasting business, because when I started doing this a couple years ago, I used to ... I was doing one podcast a month, and I used to say it was my favorite hour of the month was being able to showcase somebody on the podcast.
But what I've discovered since then is I actually find it even more enjoyable and more satisfying, helping other people discover the magic of having a podcast, and then watching them kind of grow from them saying, "Hey, I've never even been a guest on a podcast. Sure, I listen to some, but I've never been a guest. I don't do a lot of public speaking. I'm not sure I can really pull this off." And then after just half a dozen episodes, just watching the transformation and the increasing confidence, and them just really falling in love with it. So, I think I can relate to what you're saying.
Ken: Yeah, for sure.
Dave: Your therapists are mostly in the Middle South, is that correct? Or the Southern Midwest?
Ken: We're mostly in Arkansas, but we kind of run from border to border in the States, so we got an office right up against the Missouri border down Texas, Oklahoma, Memphis, Tennessee even. So, we're mostly Arkansas, but we do have an office that we opened in Dallas during the pandemic, which was scary. So, that office is getting its feet on the ground and will hopefully grow, and we're starting to get people knocking on the door there saying they want to be part of what we do there.
Our goal, I think, in the long run is if the growth momentum continues and we're able to remain healthy as a leadership team in the midst of it, then I think we could see ourselves all over the Mid-South, which is kind of dramatically underserved. There's a lot of places to work to do in mental health, but a lot of them are kind of toxic and don't represent good opportunities. We think we could probably replicate what we've done here in a lot of other places.
Dave: What is it about the Mid-South that creates the opportunity?
Ken: One, there's just not as many therapists. I was trained in California. Half of the marriage therapist in the country statistically are in California. Not because Californians are so crazy, but that's where a lot of the training centers are.
Until three or four years ago, there wasn't a whole lot of nighttime and evening, weekend part-time training options for a master's degree in Arkansas. One, there's just not been a lot of training, especially when you get out in the rural areas.
I also think and I say this as a former minister, the hyper religiosity you can see at times leads to people not asking for help, or needing to keep things on the down low, probably too long. And so, it turns out that no amount of faith perhaps is going to take away somebody else's free choice and free will, and things like marriages with substance use and things like that. Outside help is needed.
I think that's part of it is we're seeing a lot of first-time users in the Mid-South of mental health. There's great T-shirts floating around, you see them all over the place. They say something like, "You can have both Jesus and the therapist."
Dave: I like it.
Ken: We're seeing a lot of people embrace that sign. I think that's leading to a lot of first-time use. As use goes up, you'll get more people trained, and they'll eventually balance out. But for right now, it's a great time to be a therapist in the South.
Dave: What do you enjoy the most about living in Arkansas?
Ken: Cost of living, for sure. Coming from Southern California, cost of living. When we moved here, we bought in a neighborhood that looks like something we could have never afforded in Southern California for a quarter of the cost or something. And people would ask when we were at the park with their kids or something, "What do you do for a living?" I'd say, "Well, I have nothing right now. I'm starting a business soon, I think." And then they would ask, "Well, are you wealthy or something?" I'd say no.
What our mortgage is here was what I've been paying in rent in California since I was 19 or 20. So, moving here, and scraping together enough to live, doing some teaching and whatever, I've always kind of joke that you feel semi-retired even though you're working your tail off.
Cost of living is tough to beat. There's been points in the last couple of years where gas was like $1.19 or something. Cocktails in a bar are five bucks. We love that. I'm a beach kid, I grew up on the beach, but Arkansas and a lot of these Mid-South states have such a cool Lake culture. Everybody goes through the lake. They got these party barges. It's a lot of fun. And then the people are kind here. I mean, there's a Southern gentility that is pretty cool. What were you going to say?
Dave: Yeah. No, I didn't mean to interrupt. So, what do you miss most about California? Is it surfing?
Ken: No, I miss the ability to pull into a random strip mall at 11:00 on a Tuesday night, and find three great restaurants that you've never had open still. That you could get Thai and Ethiopian and barbecue all on the same random strip mall. Everything closes out here early and on the weekends. Just that availability of food, and culture, and music. You have it here, but it's not on demand like it is in some of those big cities.
Dave: Sure. No, I can certainly appreciate that. Well, before we turn to podcasting, was there anything else about the business that we didn't cover that you think is worth mentioning to get on the record, if you will?
Ken: Well, I will throw a shout out to the peer advisory process. I think if anybody's listening and is looking to be a business owner that scales and have support, there's a lot of great organizations out there. I've been a participant, a member in a thing called Vistage for five and a half, six years. There's other ones, YPO and things like that. Any of those are are spectacular, but I think there's ...
One of the things they say in the South is you can't read the label from inside the jar. Boy, that's not true being an entrepreneur and things like that. You really need fresh set of eyes looking in on you and saying, "Hey man, I think your pride is wrapped up in this one." You're making a foolish or rash decision or you're onto something, don't give up. So, peer advisory is crucial.
I can't remember where it comes from, but the old saying is if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. So, I'm very thankful for peer advisory and otherwise mentors in my life. So, highly recommended for anybody. I can remember if I said this. Mine is called Vistage that I participate in. There's chapters pretty much every big city around the country.
Dave: Yeah, I think I may have mentioned when we spoke before that my wife has been a Vistage chair for about 10 years.
Ken: Oh, yeah, you did. Yeah. And not just a Vistage chair. She's like a big dog, right?
Dave: Yeah. I think she's like top 10 or top 20 or something. She just loves what she does. I think for the same reason that you get so much value as the chair who's leading the meetings, she also just has tremendous satisfaction from really feeling like she's making a difference.
We both work with entrepreneurs in different capacities. I mean, I bet you at least once a week, she gets an email from someone that says something she did changed their life for the best. So, it's really gratifying. So, it's great to hear. I've met many of her of her clients or members through the years. Yeah.
The funny thing. I actually wanted to join Vistage about eight or nine years ago, but the problem is I met my wife in a spinning class, and she was so good as an instructor that she kind of ruined me on other spinning classes. I had the same issue with Vistage that I only wanted to do Vistage if I could be in one of her groups, but they said it's just a bad idea.
I kind of felt stuck. It would be hard for me to be with another chair knowing that my wife is probably the best, and just watching her commitment and conviction, and all she does. So, yes, I was kind of in this quandary. The answer was I've kind of just done it sort of informally with just other entrepreneurs. Yeah, the structured fashion of it is really powerful.
Dave: Let's talk about podcasting. That's the name of the show, Podcasting Stories, so let's tell some podcasting stories. Talk to me about your experience as a podcast listener, and your thoughts on whether you've ever considered kind of having your own podcast. Why don't we just kind of catch people up on where you are currently?
Ken: Yeah. There's probably three prongs to that answer. One, like a lot of people, I do a lot of my business learning via podcast. Getting to hear stories of people that have gone before you, built things, survive things. That's immensely valuable.
It's also a great way to introduce diversity into what you're consuming. I've got a bone to pick with folks that value diversity, and equity, and inclusion, and make sure it is happening around them. But the stuff they're ingesting, learning from is still 100% people that look and love and live like them.
Podcasting is a great way to get inside the head of, for me, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs of color, and LGBTQ. So, it's spectacular. That's one is that I devote time every day to listen in to the business summaries and podcasts and all that kind of stuff.
I think, historically, the quality of those has been high enough. They got sound effects. I was listening to one recently and they're reenacting a restaurant scene and you can hear dishes clanking. I mean, it's really amazing the quality.
You sit there and think, "Wow, I can't do this. This is outside of my league or whatever." So, in some ways, I think probably like a lot of people, I've kicked the can down the road. It's not quite podcasting, but during the pandemic, I stumbled into doing some online learning type stuff where I created a masterclass type thing for building practices like cars, and I got a huge response.
I'm a host of a weekly Zoom kind of two-way discussion now with a bunch of folks that are in a paid community. We record it and distribute to the people that can't make it. Not quite a podcast, but the feedback has been huge. And then it's been a steady growing audience and monetizes. I think probably where we crossed paths to some degree was the awareness that I'm onto something here, but I also don't have the time to manage it or do it at the level that I'd want.
Dave: Sure. Do you enjoy leading those Zoom sessions weekly?
Ken: Yeah, I do. I think my favorite part about being a therapist, I tell people the first two or three sessions where you're getting to know somebody. I think I'm probably an interviewer at heart and I'm curious. I'm the kid that read encyclopedias. Humans are encyclopedias with legs.
Just getting to ask questions about people's journey and what they like about where they live. That stuff is super easy for me. The podcasts or the Zoom sessions that I run, it's a nice format where it's about 30 minutes of content for me. Usually, a three to five bullet point list on how to increase internal referrals or something like that.
And then we open up to Q&A, which that runs itself. Q&A about the topic, and that usually lasts about 10 minutes, and then we'll just open it up to broad entrepreneurship practice management Q&A. We always got questions left when we're out of time. Yeah, I like it a lot. I think like you said, it's one of my favorite hours of the week. They're my people. Probably you experience this as a podcaster that you're talking to people that love and kind of nerd out on the same thing that you do.
Ken: The fact that you might do business development or get paid to do it is silly at times but fun.
Dave: I agree. So, I had wrote down two things that you talked about that you're a regular podcast listener, and then you talked about this online learning that you're doing via the Zoom calls. But I thought you set that up with that there were three aspects of podcasting that you wanted to mention. Or did I misunderstand that?
Ken: No, that was them. One, that I listen to them. Two, that I had initially convinced myself this is out of my reach.
Dave: Oh, I see.
Ken: And then three, back myself into realizing it's probably not out of my reach. I can show up in a T-shirt with a good topic, and I've got listeners and people to talk with. So, yeah.
Dave: We have a scorecard to help people kind of determine if they're a good kind of fit for a podcast. So, if you like, why don't I just kind of run through these real quick?
Ken: Yeah, that would be great.
Dave: So, the first one is podcast listening. And I'm just going to kind of hit what ... They're sort of in four quadrants. I'm just going to hit kind of the top quadrant. I regularly listen to at least one podcast a month that sounds like that describes you. Is that correct?
Ken: Yeah. Daily probably.
Dave: A lot more than that sounds like. Okay. Because what we found is somebody who doesn't listen to podcasts, it's really kind of a hard connection for them to make and understand. It's kind of like I say, it's like if you've never watched a television, it would be hard to imagine why you might want to advertise on television.
Ken: Same reason that our leaders are therapists in our company. If you're not doing it…
Dave: Exactly. Yep. The next one is about your kind of having tools and content and a way to keep in touch with prospects and clients. Now, it sounds like on that front, you guys are actually doing pretty well. A lot of the people we talked to, they don't really have a system, and that's part of what the podcast provides. Like a typical client may only send out a couple emails a year to their database, because they don't want to be annoying, which I can certainly appreciate. But it sounds like you all have a more robust emailing system. Is that right?
Ken: Yeah. This is bigger than me. Part of one of my initiatives internally is to make sure that all my clinicians have space to create as well. Even being able to reach out to our current and our past client base, which numbers 35,000 emails and essentially be able to provide them valuable content, maybe even anonymous, valuable content, since they also walk into a therapy office at no cost. I feel like we theoretically ...
I mean, this triple win maybe where we're helping elevate the mental health folks across the State of Arkansas by giving them access to thought leadership within our practice. But then it also ties in brand awareness. And some of that inevitably results in folks saying, "You know what, I need to go back and see these people. They were really helpful."
But then it also acts as an incredibly valuable employee attraction and retention tool. I think a lot of therapists do long to create, they're overwhelmed by it. And to be able to join a practice where you get to make an appearance on a podcast a couple times a year, that gives them something that they can put out in the space and be proud of. "Look at what I'm doing, mom." That kind of stuff.
Dave: Yeah. No, that's actually a great fit there. So, the next one is lifetime value of a client. And when I talk about client, I'm talking about your therapist. And the top answer is that each client is worth at least $20,000 of revenue over the life of the relationship. And based on our prior conversation, it sounds like that, that number is actually substantially more than that. Is that right?
Ken: Yeah, absolutely. A therapist that comes and stays for a couple of years is worth a multiple of that, for sure.
Dave: Sure. Okay. And then the next one is I have at least 500 people in a CRM who I can email. Obviously, you're at 35,000. What about the looking at your therapist customers? Would you say that you have 500 therapists in your database who you can reach out to?
Ken: Yeah. I've got a loosely connected coaching platform called semiprivatepractice.com, which is where I do practice coaching for other practice owners, and we're easily 1,000 plus email addresses in that one as well.
Dave: Okay. That's great. I'm known in the industry community, and I'm periodically quoted or asked to speak at industry events. Does that sound like you?
Ken: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Dave: Okay. I can think of at least 12 people who would immediately say yes to being a guest.
Ken: Yep. Not a problem.
Dave: I enjoy talking with people one-to-one, understanding more about their situation and helping them better understand my subject.
Ken: Yep, absolutely.
Dave: And then this last one here is a little different. It's kind of a new one. And where this came from is we ... For somebody who wants to do one podcast episode a month, our cost for that $750 a month. And what I discovered myself is I would have clients on my podcast. That hour on my podcast, in many ways, was more valuable to that client than me spending that same $750 to go buy them a fancy bottle of wine, or take them to a very upscale golf experience.
I started kind of thinking of it as you're kind of ... Because what I find are people who are avid podcast listeners, they typically want to have a podcast if they can just kind of decide that they have the time, and they're willing to spend the money. So, some of these questions are to help kind of anticipate those ROI type questions.
Would you say that even without counting them up that there's at least 12 contacts in your universe, probably therapist, either current therapist or potential therapist where the value of that relationship is worth more than $750 to you?
Ken: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Dave: It's funny without being able to like see the whole scorecard. So, the score goes from one to 12, and there's four quadrants. That top quadrant, you would have self scored as 10, 11, or 12. And basically, based on the answers, I would put you to 12 for almost all of them. A few of them might have been an 11.
I think the highest score I've ever had from probably 100 people who've taken this is probably in the 70s. And as near as I can tell the maximum score is 96, I'm putting you somewhere in the low 90s. You may think this is just a sales technique or so, but congratulations on having the highest score.
In summation, I would say that in many ways, you're a perfect fit for a podcast because you're a regular listener, the lifetime value of a client is high. You have an email list of more than 500 people. You're known in the community. You can think of at least 12 people who'd love to be a guest. You enjoy talking to people and you have enough relationships that are valuable relationships that you'd be willing to, in essence, showcase them. Spend the $750 to showcase them as a podcast guest. When I put all that together, you really are a good fit.
Dave: What questions might you have for me based on my experience, based on other clients we've worked with that maybe come to mind? I know we had kind of a preliminary call a couple of weeks ago, but anything kind of new questions that come to mind since we spoke last?
Ken: I think one of mine would be on the ... Probably twofold. One would be on the technicality side of it. How do you get in the system kind of thing? How does this go from being two guys recording it? And good luck with that Ken. I posted on my Facebook wall once and it never gets any traction. I mean, truly cold leads. Is there an opportunity for that? How do you end up on the iTunes Store, whatever?
And then the second would be, what is the ... Because I'm always looking at how do you use the whole cow kind of thing. How do you develop multiple income streams? What is the potential besides the direct connection to prospects for something like this to monetize? How do people monetize podcast besides the direct selling aspect?
Dave: So, those are great questions. I'll kind of answer the second one first. To be honest, our clients don't tend to be that focused on the monetization, in the same way that if they write a book, they're not trying to get that on the New York Times bestseller list. They're using it as an educational tool.
But there are two ways that come to mind. One is iTunes has started a subscription service just like in the last month. So, you actually could have your podcast to where ... I'm not aware of all the details, because it's relatively new and it's not a model that most of our clients are looking at right now. But I think it's something like you can set the price where you want, but potentially, you could have your current membership group that you could give them free access to the paid podcast, if you will.
And then additionally, with potential new listeners, you could direct them to the podcast. A typical subscription is like 2.99 to 9.99 a month. My guess is that's probably less than you're charging for your community, your membership community.
Ken: Oh, yeah.
Dave: So, it might be a way of having a funnel for people who maybe aren't ready to make that financial commitment that they may be more comfortable with that. You might, even as you're talking to people about the community or about becoming a member, one of the therapists on your team, and then you're getting kind of some pushback financially, you may be able to say, "Well, hey, we have kind of an interim approach where we have this podcast subscription, and you may want to do that."
I think that would probably be the most obvious that would come to mind. The other traditional way is selling advertising. And the challenge with that is until you get up to hundreds of thousands of downloads per month, you just don't really get on the radar screen for any significant advertising dollars.
Now, the other option that I have seen some people do, if you had a platform where you just really had a huge backlog of people dying to be on it, you could potentially charge somebody to be a guest on the podcast. Now, I wouldn't think for your therapist that are on the team already, I wouldn't think that would be a path you'd want to take, because they're already paying you your 40% of collections that might not resonate.
But potentially, if you had somebody who was not on your team, but who was interested in exploring a relationship, you could potentially charge them and just tell them, "Hey, these podcasts cost 750 bucks. You're going to get exposure to lots of people. And if you end up joining the team, we'll basically apply that to your joining cost or whatever."
I think those would be the two ways. I think of those two, the iTunes membership would probably be the most desirable. And what I'm kind of envisioning, you might actually have almost like two tracks. You'd have your free podcast track, and then you would have the paid one where you would have either more episodes, or additional content, or something along those lines. Does that help kind of on the monetization?
Ken: Yeah. That gives me a lot to think about.
Dave: And then as far as the kind of technical aspect of it, the main thing to know is just that ... Because our tagline is, "We're having your own podcast that's as easy as being a guest on ours." And so, the process, we use the very same setup that our clients use. There's a recorded calling line. And at the end of it, you hang up, and then five minutes later, you get an email from us with a copy of the recording if you want to listen to it. And you spend about five minutes recording the intro, and typing in just kind of some guest information.
So literally, right after our call ends, I will record the intro for our episode, and it will go something like, "My guest today is Ken Clark, the founder of Chenal Family Therapy. He's got a really great story. He was a Wall Street guy. Kind of made a career change, really enjoyed helping people and serving, and that led to a career in therapy. And from there, he couldn't help himself as a serial entrepreneur to put together a setup that was more efficient than a lot of people's. And it's grown to be hundreds of therapists, or approaching 100 therapists, more than 10 million in revenue, and they're a perennial Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company. I think there's a lot you'll learn from this. Ken is a really engaging guy. And even if you're not in the therapy business, I think there's a lot you could learn. So, I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did."
So, literally, that's what the intro will sound like. And then that will be transcribed, and that will become the body of the email that goes out to our database announcing your episode. It comes right from that. And then our team, they do everything else. We maintain a website for our clients for their podcast. So, we'll either create a separate domain name. Or if they're worried about SEO, they can create what's called a subdomain that would be like podcast-dot, and then the name of the business. And then you can give our team access to just that portion. In that way, we can go ahead and do the maintenance of the podcast, announcing new episodes and such.
And then we make sure it gets posted to iTunes and all the other platforms. And then we actually prepare the email and the artwork for the episode. If you're going to post it on social media, there's actually artwork for the episode. And then we actually draft the email for you to send to your guests, because it's easier to edit somebody else's first draft than to try to do a first draft and then a perfect draft all at once.
And then you sign off on the email. Some of our clients who don't really have a robust email marketing, we actually will maintain a separate database. We'll email on their behalf. For companies who have more robust email marketing like you, your team would probably want to do that themselves and just use your database and such. Like I said, we would prepare the episode and the artwork. Somebody on your team would have to do is just cut and paste that into the email and send go, or hit go.
We say that usually the plan is you schedule an hour. The interview itself, 40 to 45 minutes, and then a few minutes for the follow-up, and then a few minutes to review the email. So, if you're doing one episode a month, you could probably figure an hour and a half once you're in the swing of things, and that if you do more than that.
And then the other thing that I don't know if we talked about before, but we actually, if you want, we actually can produce transcripts of the episodes. Those are not cheap, because we're actually paying a live person to do those.
Ken: To listen. Yeah.
Dave: Yeah. I think our cost for that's about 250 an episode to do the transcript. And if you go to our website, Podcasting Stories, I have transcripts for all the guests, and you could just take a look at those to get a sense of what that's like.
And the website platform used for all of our podcasts, it's like the front end of our ... The back end service we use, whichever one it is. And it's kind of a standard templated format, but all of our clients use that same template. Nobody has ever complained about it. I mean, we have some color selection and stuff.
That's kind of the process. We usually don't recommend transcripts to start with, unless a client has convinced us that, "No, no, we're going to be able to use this, we're going to be able to repurpose this content immediately." Then we say, "Sure, go for it." It is expensive. I mean, we can do two podcasts a month for $1,000, which is the cost of one podcast and a transcript. So, for most of our clients, they get more bang from doing multiple podcasts.
Ken: Super cool. Well, truly, I'm excited to put some pen to paper and think about how I might be able to do this.
Dave: Well, good. Well, it's been fun talking through this and our listeners will enjoy this too, because every single person who's considering having a podcast has a different angle. They come at it a little different. Some people don't listen to podcasts as much. They're going to enjoy this a lot. Last question, if you could go back in time and have a conversation with your 25-year-old self, what advice might you give them?
Ken: Do your own work sooner.
Ken: As far as mental health and self review. I wish somebody would have grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me and said, "The sooner you figure out how to look in the mirror without being afraid, the sooner you will succeed to the level you want."
So, I think it takes a lot of us getting a little gray hair to not be so afraid of critique and things like that. Gosh, any younger person that can learn to do that sooner is ahead of two thirds of who's leading companies. Absolutely a recipe for success.
Dave: Well, that is great advice. And I think there's probably some other people who would have given that same advice to their 25-year-old self. Well, Ken, this has been a really enjoyable hour, and it is just flowing by.
Ken: Yeah. I appreciate you having me.
Dave: Yeah, it's my pleasure. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time, and to compliment you on not only building a great business, but following your passion, and your desire to serve, and your focus on trying to find underserved parts of the country who you could add the most value. And so, I think it's great that you seem to have kind of followed a calling, while also made it a business success at the same time. I know that's not the easiest combination, so congratulations on pulling that off.
Ken: I appreciate the kind words.
Dave: All right. Well, you have a great day then and we'll talk another time.
Ken: Sounds good. Thanks for having me.
Dave: All right.