How to make your counseling practice stand out from the rest

Counseling serves one of the greatest professional purposes. Now that you’ve begun your career in a highly sought-after field, you must continue to build your practice and your brand.

Marketing for therapists is easier than you would expect. There are multiple avenues down which the market is not well-saturated by established brands. This means that there are windows of opportunity for your brand to take the lead.

If you are starting a private practice, marketing to differentiate yourself will be the most difficult task next to finding clients. But you’ve taken the initial, most important step- learning about strategies. http://www.acomhealth.com/resource/six-tips-for-better-practice-management.

Some practices stand out for their superb client services and professional offerings. Others stand out for their exceptional marketing tactics. A combination of these accolades is the best way to rise to the top of the industry and forge a prominent name for your business.

By working from the inside out, you make sure that your practice is in its shape possible and those clients will undoubtedly have a smooth experience when visiting the counselor. By marketing, you get clients in the door to experience your excellence. You cannot have one without the other, and both are equally important to maintain a business that ultimately drives growth.

Let’s peer into some of the best ways to keep your practice at peak performance and some of the creative marketing strategies you can use to stand out from the pack.

Tips for peak performance:

  • Communication! Simple, for sure, but not easy. The key to communication at your private practice is transparency in explanation.

Asking warmly and politely for information is one thing. Providing the logic behind the request is another. Clients will appreciate understanding the processes of your practice, and will feel respected by you trusting them enough with the truth.

  • Voice record notes or implement software that tracks notes from patient visits. It’s important that the meaty parts of conversations with clients during check-ups go on file and justify the client’s hour at your practice.

Never detract from patient visits for notetaking. Find a solution that simplifies the process.

  • Talk about time and money, right away. Health is the most important, sure, but it’s usually out of sight, out of mind. Even when patients are in your office for their mental health, there’s a big elephant in the room: how much does this cost? How long have we been talking? Am I getting charged for this?

Time and money matter to most patients. They are the most pressing, limited resources we have. Address how much client visits cost up front, and project your patient’s necessary term of care.

During visits, it’s not a bad idea to bring up time, like so: “we have about 15 minutes left, let’s talk about actionable steps from today’s conversation.” You can also assure your client at the beginning of the session that you’ve got an eye on the clock, you know they need to get back to the office, and you will not let the session run over time.

  • Invest in software.

Counseling practice management software (and appointment scheduling software) makes sure that your practice is held together by more than pins and thread. Trust digital solutions to do tedious tasks so that staff can focus on person-person skills and matters.

  • Decide which effort to work on first- your practice or your marketing- and hire accordingly. The effectiveness of your business requires strength in both but build up from one. Hire employees and consultants or employ software that brings you up to speed with competitors.
  • Make every therapy appointment Nobody likes to have their time wasted. Only see patients as necessary. Your clients will appreciate your respect for their time and will be more embracing of the experience when they come in.
  • Work with a mentor. When you are first starting out, hire a mentor who has built their own private practice or who is trained in mentoring new practitioners. It is worth the investment to get real-time, first-hand feedback and insight at each step of the way. A mentor will also hold you accountable to work that you commit to and to plans that you want to enact.
  • Bid goodbye to the billable hour’s mentality. You are in this for the long haul- now think accordingly. This will help keep you more relaxed, too, during client visits. It isn’t about the length of time spent with a patient. It is about the process, at varying lengths for various patients, which allows you to find solutions that work.
  • Instead of owning, lease your office space. Consider subleasing to other counselors or practitioners of relevant fields.
  • Offer limited slots for discounted rates. Not everybody gets to come in for less, but allow a certain number of discounted appointments per week. Perhaps there is a student or teacher discount, or special exceptions for low financial standings. Whatever you decide, stick to it. Your heart is bound to bleed for many people you encounter. But remember, you have to run a business. Without your business afloat, you won’t be helping anyone.
  • Do your own work to cut costs- returning calls, scheduling, etc. When you are first starting out, this is an excellent way to cut expenses and to develop an immediate rapport with clients.
  • Be available, always.
  • Be a go-to for a niche. Determine what your specialty is, and go for it. Become an authoritative voice in the space. Offer as much information on the subject to clients that you can. Specialize in types of customers or types of service; it is up to you. But whichever you choose, dominate it.
  • Return phone calls within 24 hours. If, for some reason, you cannot do this, lead with an apology once you are able to make the call.
  • Pay bills on time.
  • Be in good standing with your bank so that when a rainy day comes, someone has your back.
  • Give back to the community in any way that you can.
  • Take a marketing course. Learn where you are lacking, and be involved in the elements of your company strategy that are getting boosted to boost your business.
  • Invest in a supervisor. Consider going beyond a mentor and getting a supervisor whom you pay to make sure you are on track to goal fulfillment.
  • Listen to anything you can. Always be on the lookout for learning opportunities. Whether you agree or disagree with the content of the podcast or video, both better your awareness of your beliefs and intentions.
  • Be the message you want to communicate outside of the office. Exemplify your brand and the lifestyle you impart to consumers when you are outside of the office. If you want your space to be friendly, reflect that friendliness by performing kind acts around town.
  • Forget face to face, even if it is what you believe in. Some clients have neither the time nor the humility to meet in person. If you can find a way to counsel effectively on the phone, do so.

Tips for marketing to stand out from the pack:

  • Be creative with client outreach. Don’t limit yourself to what you know and who you know. Think outside of the box about where potential clients might be. Church, perhaps?
  • Set your mind to the goal. Establish a goal and vocalize it. Patients will appreciate seeing you working toward something higher; something that collectively, everybody is a part of- even them!

Goals give you, your patients and the practice a better reputation and overall sense of gratification.

  • Work off and for referrals. You’ll get this advice time, and time again and it is likely you still won’t take it. Hear it from us: take it! Referrals are not just a way to generate business; they’re an effective marketing tool.

Asking for referrals from other relevant practices- maybe physical therapy or a chiropractor- validates your name in the space. Even if patients don’t take the referral, they hear your name, and they’ll repeat it to a friend or colleague who asks for a suggestion one day. Every uttering of your name is a brand impression.

            More impressions, more recognition, more business.

  • Volunteer in the community. Volunteering isn’t just a great way to maintain the integrity of your practice; it’s a perfect way to reflect the good nature of your brand and to show that you care.
  • Host speaking events. Become a leader in your industry and a representation of your practice that your patients are proud to call their own. Whenever possible, gather people to impart your wisdom on them. They might not all be prospective patients, but they have someone at home or the office with whom they need support understanding or helping.
  • Even when business is rolling in, keep reaching out. Show that you’re always growing; that you’re constantly looking for ways to help more people. Additionally, show that business is competitive. As long as more patients are onboarding, your clients continue to see that your care is worth keeping.
  • Provide useful content. Be more than a check collector. Be an online voice of reason. Providing online content is a supplementary way to make income and is extremely valuable if you do it right. It’s also an opportunity to reach the masses. Hosting an online educational seminar or video series of sorts gets your name out to the public and will generate clout for your reputation.
  • Offer trainings. Trainings on wellness and at-home care take a few hours. If you host them online, they take even less. Provide training for free to show your dedication and that at your practice, patients get more than the hour session for which they paid (see how we flipped the billable hour’s scenario?)
  • As often as possible, collaborate with fellow counselors. You are not one another’s competition. If your goals and niche are clearly defined, then you are both forging paths in your own direction. Collaborating shows that you are still relevant in the industry, that your intelligence surpasses your ego and that others trust your work and what you have to say.
  • Branch out. If something isn’t working, try a new consumer base. A new friend. A new place. Even if things are working, branch out. It never hurts to arm yourself with colleagues around the city who trust you, would recommend you to clients and who will invite you to guest speak at their next lecture series or training event.
  • Offer coaching to reduce the counseling stigma. Coaching has become a popular one-on-one professional service. It is by no means new, but it is an alternative to that, unfortunately, common stigma behind counseling.

Offering coaching doubles your services and brings in clients who otherwise would not be seen walking in the doors of a counseling practice.

  • Keep setting the bar higher. When you reach a goal, set a new one. Be the practice that is paving the way in the industry and changing the counseling world for the better.
  • Combine fields that are relevant. Whenever possible, network with fellow, related fields. Match up for conferences, for office space, for seminars, for publications. You share similar patients- take advantage of your commonalities and help each other grow.

Over a thousand therapists have partnered with AppointmentPlus to syndicate their practice and patient needs. Software programs (like appointment software) provide the biggest jumpstart to your evolving business. Stay on top of the busyness in your business by teaming up with our team of professionals. A demo will provide you all the proof you need; we’re sure of it.

Let technology take care of detail tracking so you can fully invest in your patients. At Appointment-Plus, we know what truly matters. That’s why we provide solutions to take care of the business strategy to allow you the time to listen more carefully, think more thoughtfully and provide solutions for patient care.

We look forward to helping to bring your counseling practice to its fullest potential.