Tips on how to start and grow your private practice
You’ve finally started your private practice, now what? Building a successful private practice has more steps than you may have imagined—not only do you have to be a good clinician, but you also have to be a savvy entrepreneur. So whether you’re getting your practice off the ground or you’re looking to grow your already established private practice, here are key strategies you can use to ensure the success of your business.
1. Define an Ideal Customer
You would never create a product without having a customer in mind. In the same vein, you shouldn’t start a private practice without knowing who you want to cater to. Therapy is a wide and varied field—before you invest both your time and resources into building a private practice—identify your specialization. Take time to figure out who you want your ideal clients to be. Think about the following questions:
- Where does your expertise lie?
- Who are you trained to support?
- What type of clients are you looking for?
Defining your ideal customer allows you to market your private practice in a way that attracts those individuals. Additionally, appealing to customers that you are well trained to support allows your private practice to start off on a strong note. This good reputation will take you far in building a larger client base.
Not sure how to hone in on your ideal customer? Brighter Vision has a tool to help you figure out exactly who your ideal customer is. Get started right here. Once you’ve got it all figured out, you’ll need to cater all of your marketing efforts towards this ideal client. For example, when you are writing your website copy, imagine that you are speaking directly to your ideal client as if you are writing your content specifically for this one person. Continue this strategy with all of your marketing efforts such as your business cards, emails, social media presence and more.
2. Create a Digital Presence
In today’s age, almost everything is done over the internet. When looking for a therapist, the first step many of your potential clients will take is to search for therapists in their local area via an internet search engine. Not having a digital presence means that you’re losing out on all of those potential clients. You can mitigate this situation with three easy steps:
- Create a (nice) website
- Become active on social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.)
- Create online directory profiles (Psychology Today, Psychologist Locator from the APA, Good Therapy, etc.)
Having a professional and easily navigable website is necessary. The first question you should ask yourself when building a website is “What will visitors look for when they come to my website?” With this question in mind, we recommend adding the following information to all private practice websites:
- Staff member’s names (and profile pictures)
- Address and hours
- Contact information
- Insurance acceptance and rates
Though having a website professionally created may seem like an unnecessary expense, a good website more often than not pays for itself. A well-done website can result in a significant increase in client acquisition, making the initial investment worth every penny. Your website is the first impression a potential client will have of you so you want to be sure it is neat, professional, and welcoming. Using a service such as Brighter Vision, a website design and branding firm catering exclusively to therapists, can help ensure your website meets all of these qualifications.
A great way to drive traffic to your newly finished, professional website is by being active on social media. You don’t need to create an account on every social media platform to have an effective social media marketing strategy. Instead, focus on creating quality content for the social media accounts you do utilize. Facebook and Twitter are good platforms to start out on.
When using social media, make sure to engage with potential customers in a meaningful way, reply to their comments on your business’s Facebook page and retweet information that is relevant to your therapy specialty. Engaging with other local businesses and therapists is also a best practice that can help you build local credibility while getting your name out there.
It’s not enough to simply drive traffic to your website and assume that all your website visitors will turn into clients. You need to prove to your website visitors that YOU are the therapist for their needs. One way to do this is by adding them to an email list and sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter.
By sending out an awesome, well-written, inspiring newsletter, you’re familiarizing yourself with your potential clients. Your potential clients will begin to trust what you have to say with each new newsletter they receive. You also have higher chances of your email being forwarded to someone who’s not on your email list and thus becoming a potential client as well.
When deciding what type of information to send out in your newsletters, it’s important to always stay focused on your subscribers. Figure out what type of content they like to read about. Are they being drawn to your website because of the services you provide? Consider writing blog posts on your services and sharing them out to your audience via your newsletter.
It’s important to remember, with a newsletter, consistency and valuable content are key and will be the driving factors of whether your emails will continue to get opened or not.
Establishing your private practice can be hard. Fortunately, creating an online therapy directory profile is an easy step you can take to position yourself as a credible therapist and to bring exposure to your private practice. Though there are hundreds of directories online, having a profile in the more commonly used ones such as Psychology Today, Psychologist Locator from the APA, and Good Therapy can help you gain new clients.
When deciding which directories to enroll in, make sure your selected directory has traffic from the geographical location you plan to practice in. Additionally, try to create a profile that is informative, but is also unique enough to help you stand out.
3. Build Your Referral Network
Networking is an important part of any career, however, for a growing private practice, it is absolutely essential. Creating a referral network of trusted colleagues and other professionals is a great way to build your client base and establish credibility in your local area. You can start creating a solid referral network by:
- Reaching out to other mental health practitioners in your area.
- Finding local networking events to attend.
- Joining online discussion boards that are relevant to both your area of expertise and your geographical location.
Building relationships with therapists who are not in your area of specialty provides a valuable referral source. Cross networking allows you to provide the best possible care to your clients by coordinating their care options. Additionally, don’t limit networking to mental health professionals. Teachers, primary care doctors, religious leaders, and counselors all refer individuals to a therapist—you want to be on their radar.
Bonus Tip: Sending thank you notes with business cards after getting a referral is a great way to maintain a good relationship with your referrers (and to circulate your business cards). Just make sure to confirm with the patient that it’s okay you do this beforehand.
4. Get an EHR/ Practice Management Tool
Managing a practice while also seeing clients can be stressful. Thankfully there are tools you can utilize to make your life a bit easier. When starting a private practice, investing in a quality Practice Management application can make all the difference in the success of your business. To make sure you select the best software for your private practice, consider the following questions:
- Does the software have the functionalities I most commonly use?
- Is the software easy for me and my staff to use?
- Will this software help me provide better care to my clients?
- Does the software fulfill my needs as both a business owner and a therapist?
You’re going to need a program that not only allows you to make treatment plans and take notes but also allows you to send invoices and collect payments. TheraNest is a software that meets these needs. With automated appointment reminders, unlimited note templates for individual and group services, and a built-in credit card processing system, TheraNest provides private practice owners the foundation they need to succeed.
5. Find Your Balance
Owning a private practice means you are not only a practicing clinician but also a small business owner. Both of these jobs entail a lot of work and sacrifice. This can quickly become overwhelming. In order to help your private practice succeed you have to take time for yourself.
Engaging in self-care is a necessary part of your job as a private practice owner. Take time to do the things that make you happy. This means setting strict boundaries for yourself. Though you may want to be available to your clients 24/7, this is not a healthy lifestyle to pursue. Instead, determine a work/life balance that takes into account both your needs and the needs of your business.
At the beginning of every week, take a moment to create a schedule that reflects your top priorities. By creating a balanced lifestyle, you reduce the risk of burning out and increase the likelihood of success for your growing private practice.
Ready to update your website? Our friends at Brighter Vision are giving TheraNest customers one month free when you sign up here.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- What Is The Best Business Entity For A Private Therapy Practice?
- Use Online Directories To Grow Your Counseling Practice
- What To Look For In Therapy Practice Software