Being Successful in Private Practice

At the start of our Strive & Thrive in Private Practice course, we ask participants to look into the future and list the three most important wishes they want to achieve from completing the course; sort of a goals list. Most of us are in different phases of live, and this means we are often seeking different outcomes. However I believe strongly that regardless of your phase is life, if you want to achieve positive change and lead a fulfilling life, then you need to consider what this means to you. No map, no direction. Here is what Ken wrote when he started the course,

and I love it. Ken, through experience, has identified several 'sensitive spots' about being a private practitioner and clearly articulates his concerns, and I bet there are plenty of you nodding your head and saying, that's it, that's what I also want to achieve. Well the good news is, this is exactly what the Strive & Thrive in Private Practice is all about. Now given the Strive & Thrive course has over 20 videos, 30 worksheets and covers 12 weeks, we aren't going to cover it all. So let's look at Ken's first point and take 5 steps to improving your situation.

1. What is consistent/busy/quiet?

This will vary from person to person (hours worked, duration of appointment, types of clients, expectations, coping capacity) but ballpark, if your appointment slots are consistently 80% full (12 slots, 10 full), I think you are successful. Much fuller and people won't be able get to see you when they want, and you won't have time to do the necessary 'list building activities'. Your quite time is your opportunity to build awareness of your services, which is why it is vital you consistently schedule it and plan it. Check in with your perception, do you think that being quiet is a negative reflection on your professional skills?

2. An Eye on the Future

Todays client is tomorrows referrer. So often practitioners are only looking a few days ahead at the most. In our clinic nearly 80% of clients are referred by word of mouth or are past clients returning. It is critically important that you assist and care for the client in front of you. Focus on the moment, plan for the future. It takes 6 - 8 times the resources to 'find' a new client, so the main focus should be on converting current clients to lifetime clients.

If you treat your client well, follow-up the first treatment in 24 hours to see how they went and then again 2 weeks after you last saw them, thank them personally for referrals, and send them a birthday good wishes, you will notice that they return to you at some point in the future. Write scripts to ensure you cover all-important communications as your help your client move along the path of improving health. If you think this is too much of an investment in your clients you won't be on their radar when they potentially need you next and they may go with a friend's recommendation, having forgotten about you.

Also if your don't contact your clients after treatment has ceased, how do you actually know the ongoing effectiveness of your intervention?

To do this you need to have systems in place (reminders, scripts) and time set aside, so that you consistently call clients and discuss their situation. See Planning.

3. Planning - List Building Activities

Analyses your day-to-day client numbers. Have you noticed you swing from busy to quiet? On what days are you quiet and why is that? Is this consistent or intermittent? How about at certain times, like midmorning? Once you have a feel for your pattern of booking, consider the following options

  • Develop a system of 'block bookings' after the initial consult. This saves time thinking and organizing an appointment after each consult, it ensure your client secures the time and day that suits them and allows you to spend that extra few minutes providing additional treatment or advice
  • Offer a lesser appointment fee for your less busy times e.g. senior card discount or increase your fee for the busier times - both have a similar effect of shifting price or time conscious people in their preferred direction

4. Fill 'Quiet Time' Productively

This is so important. Time is a no recurring commodity. You can't store it and once it has passed, you will never gain it back. Take that 'spare' time and maximize it. Create a daily list of 'to do items', like;

  • develop a necessary client handout (to save time doing it individually each client)
  • execute on new client and follow-up phone calls
  • execute on cancelled or DNA phone call
  • write letters to referrers

These are all list building activities and are therefore vital.

5. Focus/Focus/Focus

Do only that which builds your list.

Deloitte this week released their annual millennial survey. They interviewed nearly 8000 millennials (18 - 34 yos) worldwide, 300 being in Australia. They found that only 8% of aussie millennials thought they would be financially better off than their parents and only 4% would be happier. This was common across the 'mature markets' (read western, advanced countries), while in developing markets (read Asia), 71% felt they would be better off financially. The Pakistani programmer that created my exercise app, isn't waiting around or expecting clients to just rock up. Oh no, he is out collecting leads, following up enquiries, training and adding value to his expanding skill set. He is on the cutting side of technology. The challenge I see for millennials in Australia is they are on the receiving side of technology.

See social media is such an instant source of gratification. A dopamine splash of satisfaction. A brain rewire due to a short-term sense of acknowledgement. It creates nothing new, yet is highly addictive. It doesn't help build your caseload. Millennials already have a professional degree, but this is only part of the equation that is required to build a  successful private practice caseload.

Degree + Hard Work = Success

Hard work relates to identifying those skills that you need to leverage your degree. Stuff like;

  • Emotional Intelligence; communication, problemsolving, team leading, relationship building
  • Marketing skills; copywriting, software proficiency, video training
  • Professional skills; 2nd language, treatment options, research training, mentoring, education

So there is a choice to be made.

Always ask whether what you are doing will build your caseload. Reading and acting on this information will build your caseload. Be available, examine and challenge your professional boundaries, plan your direction, get involved, be noticed and stride foward with purpose, or slide along the veneer of life. What will you do?


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