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Turnaround Time at Arizona's Decision Point | Print |
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Written by Ted Jackson   
December 2015

For Many Years, Nick Meyers was a fixture wherever you went on the treatment circuit. That was back more than a decade ago and he was trying to get his new Arizona Decision Point Center off the ground. But he couldn't quite make it and the business needed periodic infusions of capital.

Various CEOs

Finally various CEOs oversaw running Decision Point and, frankly, keeping it going but not maximizing on executing strategy and certainly not achieving the kinds of successes that other Prescott-based centers founded even later have - centers like A Sober Way Home and downstate The River Source and literally dozens of other centers as Prescott, and indeed all of Arizona, has boomed into a "hub" of addiction treatment centers of quite substantial proportions over the last 25 years or so.

A New Team

But Decision Point, despite its reputation for not skimping on marketing and ad spending, never really seemed to be able to make it without needing those periodic infusions of capital. And now the owner, a very wealthy investor out of Dallas, has had enough. In May, she brought in a new CEO, Paul Auchterlonie, who has been in the treatment business over twenty years along with a Harvard MA, he says. He's been going through various consultancies since his last job as marketing chief of Houston-based The Right Step, where ultimately he helped foun-der George Joseph sell the Houston center to acquisitive Elements Behavioral of California. Auchterlonie has quite a different job ahead of him as he must turn around a center that has proved an intractable millstone around its investors necks.

Obvious, But Not Easy

What Auchterlonie did first was obvious, but not that easy to do, which is fire the team that hadn't been making it happen and bring in his own staff.

We are not making any bones about it, this is a turn around situation and we are going to right this ship," says Auchterlonie, ready to put the pedal to the metal.

New Team, New Governance

One key thing a CEO has to do when faced with a turnaround situation is take a good hard look at the governance practices at the company that existed previous to his takeover. Says Auchterlonie: "The fact is there really were no governance practices in place at Decision Point ever in its existence. It was family owned and operated and everything was done sort of on an ad hoc basis." Well that has all changed. A board of directors has been created in the last few months on which Auchterlonie also sits The board is comprised of people who are in a position to help, guide and grow Decision Point, a group of men and women on whom Auchterlonie can rely and, most importantly, one to which he is is also accountable. Auchterlonie and Decision Point investors have not reinvented the wheel here. They have just instituted what are standard good governance practices, and it's about time too.

Getting Accredited

People's jaws may be dropping here, but believe it or not in as many years as Decision Point has been operating, management never got around to getting the center accredited by one of the major treatment and behavioral health rating agencies. "This was a huge gap that I immediately saw because it can be so important to getting paid by the major insurance carriers," says Auchterlonie. Almost immediately after being hired in May,  Auchterlonie got moving on doing what it takes to get accredited by The Joint Commission, or what is more popularly known by its acronym, JCAHO. Auchterlonie moved in record time to achieve the accreditation, getting JCAHO certified within a few months.

Solid Right Hand

Another thing a turnaround CEO needs is an absolutely solid right hand man that he can rely on to help get things more entrepreneurial at the company. For Auchterlonie that guy has turned to be Decision Point's Business Development chief Brad Callow, who was previously at The Meadows, the world famous Arizona center. "I didn't set out to go recruit Brad or anything," says Auchterlonie. "We had a mutual friend and we met for coffee and hit it off and he was my first hire and now is my key number two guy." According to Auchterlonie, it wasn't that Callow was unhappy at The Meadows, it was that he, as a relatively young guy in his thirties, was looking for a challenge and for advancement - a golden opportunity to try something different. "I see here an opportunity where that 90 percent of the 23M people with substance abuse issues can benefit from a more progressive and modern approach to the treatment experience," Callow told Treatment Magazine.

Building Clientele

Initially Callow and Auchterlonie are going to focus on building clientele locally in Arizona. Key to that effort, in addition to accreditation, will be John Guinn. He is now responsible for building up Decision Point's presence in Scottsdale and Phoenix. Previously Decision Point had been almost totally reliant on Google and other Internet ads to bring clients, an incredibly one dimensional marketing strategy whose costs can rise astronomically given the seemingly ever mushrooming expense of bidding for key addiction search terms. "Thanks to the insight and understanding of Paul, we are finally implementing an integrated business development strategy as part of our collaboration," says Callow. And Auchterlonie is also introducing new offerings to try and attract a wider variety of clientele.

Decision Point is now offering what it calls a Two Week Assessment and Evaluation. "It's designed for clients who might have a more moderate problem and may not require as much inpatient," says Auchterlonie. And he has brought back some key staff to implement the new program, including clinical psych Ph.D Dr. Cindy Rollins.

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