Many private practitioners’ caseload has lightened because of the coronavirus pandemic, but if your decline is large or if your practice wasn’t full before the pandemic, the virus could have a silver lining for you: Perhaps it’s a wake-up call to take a hard look at why: Are you not sufficiently effective or likable? And/or is it a marketing problem?
Introspect from start to finish:
- Do you make the most of a prospect’s first call? Do you start by asking the client to describe the situation? Then, if you think you can help, do you concisely outline the likely process and its length, and then ask if the client would like to set an appointment?
- Is your fee right? Of course, that will vary with your locale and effectiveness. It may be helpful to know that I charge $175 an hour with no sliding scale. If a prospective client's initial query suggests an inability to pay, if I feel I can be helpful, I’ll offer the first session pro bono and at the end of the session reassess if I want to offer another session for free, at a reduced rate, or full fare. That avoids clients who don’t need a sliding scale but figure they should try to get me as cheaply as possible.
- Whether digitally or in-person, do you create a welcoming atmosphere: a pleasant office, tone of voice, a bit of pre-session small talk?
- Do you listen more than talk, yet, session after session, offer enough valuable questioning and tactful, smart input, and collaboratively develop homework assignments, which en toto makes clients leave each session feeling they derived sufficient benefit for the money spent?
- Do you make it easy for the client to schedule a next appointment? For example, at the end of a session, I might say something like, “We’re off to a good start. Should we figure out a next time to get together?”
- Do you follow up with past clients to ask how they're doing and what they found most and least helpful in your work together? In doing that, you’re also marketing: keeping you top-of-mind for additional appointments or referring you to others. But don't ask for referrals or whether s/he'd like another appointment. That's transparently marketing, which can be a turnoff. I might word it as, "You popped into my head, was wondering how you're doing, and so I thought I'd check in."
- Unless you have few satisfied clients, the most potent way to get more clients is the aforementioned: contacting past clients to see how they're doing and to get feedback.
- Do you give free samples? As Costco gives bites to get you to buy pounds, do you give talks offering valuable tips, describing what you do, and demonstrating with role play? In this time of coronavirus, you might try doing that remotely, for example, with few-minute YouTube videos. There’s no need for fancy equipment. Just set up your computer’s webcam so your head and shoulders fill most of the frame, and there are no shadows on your face.
- Because of major metros’ ever-growing traffic and parking problems, especially now in the time of coronavirus, you’ll want, if true, to tout that you work effectively by phone or video.
As bad as the coronavirus pandemic is, it does have silver linings: It just might improve your private practice’s quality and quantity. I offer other silver linings HERE.
I read this aloud on YouTube.