Dry spells = every private practitioners nightmare.
Keep in mind that most private practices follow a somewhat predictable pattern of client interest.
The winter months can be slow due to bad weather and/or holidays (ex. Thanksgiving, Christmas) and summer can be chaotic due to summer camps and vacations.
If slow periods go on for longer than you would like, you’ll want to use a mix of tips in this post to increase your referral numbers or sources and improve your private practice marketing.
Here are some tips to help you get through and come out busier than ever!
7 Ways to Get Your Private Practice Through a Slump
One of the quickest and potentially easiest strategies to increase your hours with minimal effort is to see if any current clients want to add additional hours / services.
Depending on the needs of the client, they may want to add additional sessions or extend the time of current appointment times (works best with adults.)
2. Evaluate what’s working (and what’s not working) about your current marketing strategy
Why are you in a slump?
Have you been putting effort into your marketing strategy or relying on passive strategies like word of mouth to do the trick?
If you’re in a slump, you need to truly evaluate what you’ve been doing and do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. For example, if you tend to get referrals from your website, consider adding a Google Adwords or Facebook campaign. If you have a physician who used to refer to you but hasn’t lately, it might be time to check in and remind them about your services.
From time to time re-evaluating your private practice marketing strategy is essential to keeping your business strong.
3. Spend time on new marketing channels
My upcoming book Grow Your Private Practice is broken down into sections such as:
- Word of Mouth Marketing
- Local Marketing
- Internet Marketing for Private Practices
- Marketing in Specific Situations (such as to physicians or day cares)
In order to grow your private therapy practice, you need to concentrate on utilizing different marketing channels to fully insure that you’re finding ideal clients where they are looking for you.
If you don’t have a website, get one ASAP.
If you’re a pediatric therapist but haven’t ever marketed to pediatricians, that might be a natural first step.
(Pssss… Need help with marketing?)
4. Apply to be an insurance provider
I’m not going to sugar coat it – private pay is significantly easier than dealing with insurance reimbursement.
Having said that, there are far fewer clients who are willing to pay out of pocket for private therapy services.
If you’re in a slump and need a new source of steady clients, apply to become an insurance provider for ONE company. The process usually takes a few weeks to get fully credentialed but once you’re accepted, you’ll be listed on their website and clients will start contacting you though there. You can also add their logo to your marketing materials, which will likely increase interest.
5. Develop new marketable skills through continuing education
If you a have additional free time, why not put it towards growing your additional skill set.
For example, do some online continuing education or get certified in a particular treatment area (ex. Lee Silverman Voice Treatment.) You can market your new expertise / certification to attract more clients.
6. Look into Per Diem Opportunities through EI and Skilled Nursing Facilities
If you’re feeling desperate and are willing to act as a contractor, consider signing up to do per diem. The good news is, that typical slump times for private practice tend to be busier times for coverage needs (ie regular employees want to take vacations).
It’s as simple as calling various agencies and asking if they have any upcoming / ongoing coverage needs and are seeking per diem support.
7. Don’t just wait – do something!
Remember the old adage “A watched pot never boils”?
It’s the same with marketing.
Checking your email a hundred times a day won’t encourage clients to fill out the contact form on your website. Likewise staring at your phone won’t make it ring.
Don’t just sit there – look back over the above tips and act!
Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and private practice consultant. She started her own speech therapy private practice in 2006.
She is the founder of The Independent Clinician and author of The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence for Your Private Practice.
Since 2008, she has helped thousands of clinicians get the flexibility, income and freedom they desire from starting their own private speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy private practice.