Avoid These 7 Mistakes in Your Private Therapy Practice
The success of your private therapy practice rests solely on you. You alone have to build your practice from the ground up, market your service, find clients, bill clients, work with insurance companies, pay your bills, pay your taxes, turn over a profit, hire and fire new staff, and live the American dream of business ownership.
Of course, there’s pressure! But the good news is, you really don’t have to go it all alone. We’re in this together. Below, we’re highlighting common mistakes many private therapy practices make. [Tweet “Use this post as a map to sidestep potential landmines and build a successful private practice.”]
Not Setting Boundaries
One of the first and most important things you need to do in private therapy practice is to set boundaries.
In a private therapy practice, boundary setting looks like this:
You start and stop a session on time every time
You have a clearly defined office policy for no-shows, late appointments, and rescheduled appointments
You don’t work from dusk till dawn seven days a week. You take a break.
Unfortunately, too many therapists in private practice skip over this to their own detriment. Setting boundaries isn’t about limiting care, it’s about creating clarity for what you offer, what you expect from your clients, and what they can expect from you. It’s also about giving you space to recover from the often grueling mental work of therapy.
Not Hiring the Right Staff
Hiring staff in general can be challenging but when you are in private practice, it becomes even more challenging to find the right staff to accommodate your clients.
As we mentioned in this post on finding and hiring the right staff for your private practice, be sure to look for someone who can deliver exceptional customer service.
While it may be nice to have someone with experience also, it’s not a deal-breaker. You can teach the right person how to operate in your systems; however, you can’t teach just anybody how to be friendly and how to connect with your therapy clients. This has to be part of the personality to begin with.
When hiring, look for someone who is personable and takes ownership of their responsibilities. In a small office environment, it’s important to hire someone who embodies and represents you well.
Not Marketing Online
Don’t forget about social media marketing.
Many private practices forget to use one of the most powerful marketing tools available, which happens to be social media. Social media is not just about keeping up with the latest gossip or posting pictures of your vacation.
Social media provides you with a powerful platform to connect with your current clients, reach new ones, and build your authority as an expert in your industry.
If you’re not using your social media channels to do this, you’re wasting your opportunity.
Through a combination of paid and free marketing, you can use social media to get the word out about your private therapy practice. One of my favorite ways to do that is through Facebook custom audiences. You can use Facebook to target specific demographics by age, gender, location, and more, and then create ads and posts directly for that group
Facebook isn’t the only option available to you for online marketing. In fact, Google AdWords is a giant that you should not ignore when you’re looking to get your private practice in front of more eyeballs online.
Google AdWords allows you to extend your organic reach so that you show up on the search engine results page when a potential client is searching for a service that you specialize in.
Not Getting Listed on Directories
Are you listed on therapy directories?
The most important thing you can do to get the word out about your private practice is to spread the news far and wide. Sure, get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more, but don’t forget about your industry-specific network channels.
Some good directories to get listed on include:
Make sure you’re listed on these directories so that you can reach people who may come through those channels also.
Not Marketing Offline
So, marketing online is one thing but you also want to market offline too, especially if you have a brick and mortar private practice.
You don’t get clients just by opening your private practice. You have to actively court clients and let them know you exist.
Some of our favorite ways to market offline include a direct-mail campaign to canvas a local market with postcards or other mail that advertises your private therapy practice. You can also use the local media such as buying spots on radio or creating a television commercial.
Not Networking with Local Businesses
Don’t forget to reach out and work with businesses who are local to you. Look for businesses that cater to your same target customer.
If you offer holistic therapy services, it may make more sense to network with a health food shop in your area.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to do business with this company. You can create a symbiotic relationship where you’re both mutually benefiting from your partnership. When you approach this business, make sure that you have a clear value proposition to give to them so that they know exactly what they’ll get some helping you grow your business and vice versa.
Not Replying Promptly to Emails & Calls
Another nasty pitfall to avoid in private practice is inconsistent communication. Be sure to reply promptly to any emails and phone calls you receive from current and prospective clients. Every minute you waste and not replying increases the odds that your client will go to another therapist and that’s definitely not what you want.
To avoid this mistake, make it a practice to respond to every message within 24 hours. even if it is simply an acknowledgment that you’ve received their call and your reply very soon, whatever you can do to reach out will help to establish trust with your client.
Looking for more resources? Here are a few helpful guides to help you avoid mistakes and create a successful private practice.