You didn’t learn how to get counseling clients in school, but that doesn’t mean you won’t do so quickly.
You took a lot of classes for your graduate degree, but marketing surely wasn’t one of them. Now, you’re starting your own private practice, and as confident as you were when you rented the office space, you’re starting to feel less optimistic. Now you have to figure out how to get counseling clients to come to you instead of your competitors. Here’s the secret: attracting clientele to your practice is one part strategy and planning and another part simply making yourself visible.
How to get counseling clients: 7 tips to attract people to your new practice
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – James N. Watkins
1. Networking events
Don’t shy away from networking events when you’re trying to figure out how to get counseling clients. Your first thought may be that you’re not going to meet prospective clients at these functions, so why go if you’re only making professional contacts. Those are even better! Everyone you meet is a possible referral source who may help to nurture your business, so treat them as if they’re that important. The most important part of networking is going into the experience with an open mind to get to know other people. This interaction can’t be all about you, regardless of your need.
2. Put your business card in the right hands
Of course you’ll pass out business cards in networking events and share them with your few current clients, but don’t stop there. Your business cards, and any brochures you’ve created for your new practice, need to be where your future clients are spending their time. Do you treat children or teenagers? Ask if you can leave a stack at the local schools and pediatricians’ offices. Drop them off to gyms, primary care physicians, even a local pharmacy to reach adults.
3. Join a group
You knew starting a private practice would require you to roll up your sleeves and do a lot of hard work, but you probably weren’t thinking you’d be taking on an additional part-time job on the side. There are many reasons why aligning yourself, even temporarily, with a group practice can help you attract new clients.
First, focus on getting hired. You’ll be especially attractive to a group practice that currently doesn’t have a therapist in your specialty. The clients you work with there may be more willing to eventually transfer to your private practice based on your limited availability at the group office. Similarly, the clinician’s you work with in the group practice are all possible referral sources down the road. By filling a temporary need for them, you’re setting yourself up for success in the future.
4. Accepting insurance
Even if you want to be a private pay clinician, consider accepting all major health insurances when you’re first starting out. Why? Well, many potential clients who are actively searching for a new therapist are doing so by looking at their insurance company’s online provider list. By not accepting insurance, you’re keeping your name and contact information away from your ideal clientele. This isn’t to say you can’t eventually transition into a private pay business, but wait until your caseload is full and you’re confident you can keep them without insurance.
5. Local advertisements
Want to know how to get counseling clients? Try an “old-school” method and place an ad in the local newspaper, radio station, or even cable television if you’re not camera shy. None of these advertising methods are dead. Far from it. People still read the paper every morning, listen to the radio in the car, and watch TV in the evening. If they see your face and business name in an advertisement, they’ll be more likely to call you versus your competitor.
6. Brand yourself
If you don’t have a website and online presence for your private practice, it’s time to get one. A website is an ideal way to introduce yourself to prospects without having to do anything. You may not know it, but potential clients are checking you out—maybe someone is even doing it right now— and they want to familiarize themselves with you before picking up the phone to schedule an appointment. Similarly, keep your social media accounts active, so people know your practice is open. Unused accounts may make prospects wonder if you’ve opened your doors for business or if you’re closed for good.
7. Get involved in the community
The only way to get more clients into your practice is to make yourself visible in the community. The more people who know your name and what you do, the more who will tell their family and friends to call you in their times of need. There are many ways to get involved, so try to be strategic and place yourself in front of your ideal clientele. For example, if you are a family or child therapist, you may consider sponsoring a baseball team. Having your practice name on the back of an entire team’s jerseys all season puts you in front of the right sets of eyes. Similarly, if you focus on an adult population, donate your time to area business’ wellness fairs or a charity run.
Once you start getting clients into your practice—and you will—SimplePractice will be here to help you manage your new, and thriving, business. Want to send appointment reminders? We’ve got you covered? How about managing your practice on the go? We can connect you with our mobile app. Try us free for 30 days.
Do you have additional tips for new practitioners on how to get counseling clients? Share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s help each other grow.