Posted on October 16, 2020
Not to sound too much like a cheesy infomercial, but there really are easy ways to start making more money with your private therapy practice. While they aren’t quick fixes, making some small tweaks and shifting focus can help you see an increased and more reliable cash flow into your practice. Because remember, even though you are a mental health professional, first and foremost, you are also a small business owner. It’s important to think and act like one in order to operate a flourishing practice.
So, are you ready to start thinking more like a small business owner?
In the business world, there are two major arteries to the heart of your client roster: acquisition and retention. Let’s first discuss acquisition, which refers to acquiring potential clients. No matter your industry, it’s important to never lose sight of new business opportunities. Even if it feels like you’re at capacity, it’s never a great idea to entirely shut the door, or pause efforts to bring in new business.
While we do not advocate for marketing yourself when you truly do not have a client opening, it’s important to keep marketing opportunities on your radar and stay current with marketing trends.You never know when a client will switch insurance, move, or decide they don’t want to continue with treatment. It’s best to avoid getting caught without anyone in the pipeline to cover that loss.
Make sure your website is up to date, email list current and, if you have them, keep social channels active. Keeping your marketing channels alive will help twofold. Firstly, it allows you to be passively bringing in potential client contacts who are shopping for a new therapist. Secondly, it will be easier to speed up the marketing engine when your roster is getting low, and you need to backfill lost clients.
Just as important as it is to continually fill your pipeline with potential clients, it’s equally as important to make sure you’re providing a level of service that retains current clients. Although it would be ideal to focus solely on clinical treatment, the expectations of you as a sole practitioner are large. From creating an inviting office space in which you can conduct sessions, to managing every client's changing schedules and desired appointment times, to helping clients understand their benefits and providing them superbills, , the amount of care you provide clients can often feel demanding. Again, you’re not just a therapist; you’re a business owner. In order to remain competitive, you understand it’s important to put time, effort, and often some budget into making sure your clients have the best possible experience with you. The good news - we have solutions later in the article on how you can alleviate the administrative burdens, and instead, focus on what you do best.
Listen to your clients’ needs and pay attention to the questions you are asked by prospective clients. Is flexible scheduling important to them? Are they looking for more permanent teletherapy options? Is it a dealbreaker whether or not you are paneled with their insurance provider? Being able to meet expectations for not just the quality of therapy treatment, but also the cost, convenience, comfort and the way you conduct business, will help ensure that your current clients don’t feel the need to shop around.
When your clients do not understand their insurance information, you’re leaving potentially hundreds of dollars on the table every week. This is because most clients tend to avoid or leave therapy prematurely due to ambiguity around cost and insurance.
Understandably, many therapists choose not to be paneled. It makes things cleaner for paperwork and avoids the headache of dealing with insurance companies, not to mention the not-so-attractive reimbursement rates. However, many clients still want to submit their bills for reimbursement to their insurance providers, especially when they have out-of-network benefits. Though it is far less work for you, leaving this task to be completely handled by clients can have major drawbacks for their treatment as well as your business retention.
As a therapist, you might be a bit more deft at navigating insurance companies than the average person. Helping your clients understand their plan might give you insight to their specific reimbursement policy. But for the majority of therapists, insurance is confusing, time consuming to navigate, and not of interest to explore.
Using Advekit ensures that both you and your clients understand insurance coverage before the first session, allowing you to charge the appropriate amount, and your client to feel supported and educated. clients often save upfront on sessions, as Advekit is able to determine in real time whether or not that client has a financial responsibility. The happiness of Advekit clients has resulted in major increases in retention for Advekit therapists.
Helping clients understand their insurance reimbursement or connecting them with services like Advekit may not only alleviate financial burdens for them, but will likely factor into their decision to stay with your practice longer.
No shows and last minute cancellations can not only be irritating, but also cost you a lot of money. So, how do you keep the income flowing and your clients in consistent treatment?
One way to help reduce weekly appointment churn is to implement reminders. Whether you use a service to automate, or personally send a text, voice or email reminder a day or two ahead of time, reminders can help clients remember their appointment dates and times, or follow up to reschedule in a timely manner if something has come up. If you want to really make the most of reminders, take note of which communication channel your client is most responsive.
Like Advekit, you may want to keep clients’ credit cards on file and enforce a no-show appointment policy to charge clients, even if they fail to attend appointments. You can keep client credit cards on file by securing the information digitally. Charging for a no-show can help recoup lost revenue, as well as discourage the behavior in the future. Letting clients pre-pay for their sessions is another excellent way to reduce appointment cancellations or no-shows.
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Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.