For therapists and other mental health professionals, knowing how to make your practice more profitable is a common challenge. Whether you want to earn more, build a stable base of clients, or improve work-life balance, mental health pros need time-tested strategies to reach their goals.
But first, how will you know if you’ve reached your goal? Without specific measurements to guide you, your efforts could be ineffective.
In this blog, I will tell you the measurements I recommend keeping track of as you make your practice more profitable. Then I will walk you through solutions that can help you grow along these measurements.
A quick note – I won’t be talking about the “inner game” or mindset of earning more money in this post. Check back frequently for a post about developing a money mindset as a therapist.
What does it mean to make your practice more profitable?
If you’ve read self-help for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “what gets measured gets improved.” So, first, let’s start with the right measurements. Here are the three that I recommend:
How many clients do you have at a specific point in time?
Knowing how many clients you currently have (and writing it down) will help you know where you’re starting, and where you want to go. At the high end, therapists can have 25 sessions per week.
So, where are you at? If you have your ideal number of clients, then you’ll need to focus on the other two measurements. But if you find yourself coming up short, you’ll know that you need to bump up your marketing efforts to attract new mental health clients.
How many sessions are your clients attending?
It’s good to know how many sessions your clients attend before moving on, so calculate your average number of visits per client. The U.S, average is between 6 and 20, with 12 being the median.
If you’re at the low end of this range, that could alert you to a few things.
For one, your clients may not be getting much value from your sessions and hence be dropping out. For another, you could be matching with the wrong kind of clients. Specializing will help you attract the right kind of clients.
If you’re retaining clients for a high number of sessions, that’s good! You can focus on the other measurements and solutions in this blog post.
What is your session fee? And how often do you increase it?
Moving along, let’s talk about your fee. Even if you’re doing 25 client sessions per week, $50 per session doesn’t give you a whole lot of wiggle room at the end of the month. Especially if you pay to rent an office and have high overhead costs.
Take note of your session fees and how often clients take advantage of your sliding scale. While it’s fulfilling to help people, mental health professionals must remember to take care of themselves in the process. That means establishing a limit on the number of sliding scale clients you’ll accept.
Never feel like you must accept more sliding scale clients than will allow you to reach your financial goals.
These Three Variables Are the Basis for Making Your Practice More Profitable
As you’re probably seeing already, these 3 variables converge to make you a little or a lot of money. If you have few clients who stay for few sessions and who pay a measly fee, you won’t be reaching your financial goals or buying a new home or car anytime soon.
And if you have a lot of clients who stay for a high number of sessions and who pay a generous fee, you’ll be secure in your practice. Home- and car-ownership, here you come!
So, how are you doing with these three variables?
Write down your starting points for each in a journal or notebook and put the date next to it. As we implement the strategies below, you’ll see these measurements improve.
Solution One: Make Your Practice More Profitable Through Referrals
As Dan Kennedy said on his Marketing Mentor podcast, most people assume that if they do a good enough job, their clients will refer them. But it’s not true! Most referrals happen as part of an intelligent and measurable referral strategy.
Here are a few strategies for getting more referrals:
- Teach your employees to ask for referrals and incentivize them to do so. Have your employees or receptionist write down 2-3 referrals from each of your clients, then follow up with these referrals via email or phone. Keep track of how many referrals each person gets and reward them accordingly. You’d be surprised how making referrals into a game motivates your workers.
- Set up signs in your office that talk about your referral program. They will catch the eye of your current clients. Rewarding your current clients for bringing in referrals will get them working for you and your practice will fill up in no time. Plus, the visual reminder will help you remember to ask for referrals too.
Solution 2: Increase Your Session Fee to Make Your Practice More Profitable
I can hear the moans already… But seriously, have you considered increasing your session fees? There are good reasons to do so.
For one, if you charge a higher rate, your service will be perceived to have higher value. Case in point: do you want a $2 latte at the local café, or a $5 latte at Starbucks? They both have the same ingredients, and the $2 latte might even taste better, but most people prefer the Starbucks latte – like my friend Rachel.
Charge what you’re worth, or at least what you want to be worth. It’s okay to “fake it until you make it.” (Most people do in my experience, but that’s another topic.)
Secondly, if you don’t increase your session fee, you’re making less money year over year. Why?
So, $120 per session this year is just $110 next year, in terms of buying power. 20 sessions X 48 weeks = 960 sessions per year. Times the $10 loss of purchasing power per session, and you’re out $9,600 in purchasing power, even though you may earn the same number each year.
Don’t let your wage go down. At the very least, increase your rate by the amount of inflation year-over-year. And if you’re feeling particularly valuable, increase it more. You deserve to earn more as your years of experience add up.
MORE Making Your Practice More Profitable
This has been a good chat so far, but we’re already at 994 words. Let’s end this for now.
Check back next week for part two of this series, where I share 4 more solutions for making your practice more profitable. And trust me, these are the more creative and long-lasting solutions that you won’t want to miss.
-Brandon Grill, Mental Health Copywriter
P.S. If you’re interested in experiencing more time freedom, filling your caseload, having a months-long waitlist, and increasing your rates, contact me.
I can do all that and more for you within 6 months (in most cases). With my words, your clients will be drooling over your services. Book a mental health copywriting service today. I offer free website audits.