Why You Should Offer Free Initial Counseling
Every practice must decide at some point whether to offer an initial free consultation. Here are three reasons we’ve heard our clients give for offering a free initial consult.
1. It helps increase trust which can lead to better patient outcomes.
Seeking a counselor is a tough decision for many people. They are about to pour out the deepest secrets in their hearts, and some secrets they may have kept for decades. This means that searching for the person to reach out to for help is already a stressful exercise. Anything that can help reduce the stress and tensions will also help to improve their outcomes. Nothing helps us relax as humans more than a reduction of risk, and an increase in trust in such situations. Hence having an initial, no obligation and free initial consultation can help improve outcomes for your patients. Trust levels increase and patients are less concerned with your hourly rate.
2. It helps you pick ideal clients that are good for your practice.
This builds on the first point. It’s not just the client who has to consider where they want to turn for help. It’s also important for you as a provider to make sure that the clients who walk through your door are clients you can actually help and clients who will not inhibit your ability to help others. Having an initial free consult makes it easy to let a client know you will not be a fit for them. You can then recommend them to other organizations that are better equipped to address their needs.
3. It’s a great way to build your practice.
Everyone likes to try things these days before buying. This means that if you present yourself well and you are at a “tie” with another organization a client is considering, a free consult can be the tie breaker.
It’s a big decision, and a client will see your free consultation gesture as a good sign of someone they can do business with. Make sure the right expectations for what to expect during the free consult is clear, but also make sure you deliver value during the free consult.
As a mental health software provider, we are quite generous with a free 30 day trial period because we know it’s a major deal to decide where to store your patients records and handle your organizations business. Even after 30 days, if we see that you haven’t had a chance to get to know our software, we gladly extend the free period.
It’s not much different for your organization. A chance to check out the client and for the client to check you out is a great thing in terms of outcomes. It is also a great way to begin to deliver value for a client whether they end up choosing you or not. A great referral to another organization is still delivering value, and can turn that client into a referral source for you when they come across someone you can help.
One last very important bonus: In exchange for a free consult, you get an email to add to your mailing list that you can send content to, market to and can forward you to others. See why the email is so important…