Category Archives: Business Practices

A Tale of Two Coffee Makers

Making and sharing coffee is a bonding experience with clientsSome time after I started my practice, I decided to bring a coffee maker into my office. This small pot worked perfectly for making coffee or tea to share with a client.

For several of my clients, a tradition evolved around this coffee maker. I had several varieties of coffee and tea. Most clients would establish a favorite flavor early on, and we would brew a pot together. One of us would fill the pot with water while the other dealt with the filter and the coffee or tea. And as the pot was brewing, the client could check in with me about the week.

There was a lovely togetherness about this ritual. It gave clients a routine that helped them to settle and to transition from whatever they’d been doing or thinking about to that, “you and me together, right now” feeling that I like to facilitate in clients. Us both having an equal role in making the coffee also conveyed an equality and a collaboration that was useful to the kind of collaboration I like to facilitate in sessions. Read More...

“You DO Accept Credit Cards, Don’t You?”

A friend of mine went to a therapy session recently, and the therapist knuckle_busterdidn’t accept credit cards. Wait, what? Most people don’t carry checkbooks anymore. Most people never carried much cash. But everyone carries plastic.

There’s a basic rule of business, which says:

Make it easy for people to give you money.

So if credit/debit cards are what people have, credit/debit cards are what you take.

“OK, But How Do I Accept Credit/Debit Cards?”

I’ve never messed around with the traditional method — merchant card services through your bank. Too complicated, and expensive for the small number of transactions most of us would have per month.

Square Card Reader

What I did was to get a Square card reader for my hypnosis practice.

square_card_readerI got the reader for free from Squareup.com. This is a little doohickey that plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone, and lets you charge client’s cards — Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Square takes 2.75% off the top and delivers the rest to the bank account of your choice in a day or two. Read More...

How To List Your Unlicensed Practice On Psychology Today

Why Advertise on Psychology Today’s Web Site?

creepy_psychology_today_coverPsychology Today is more than a just magazine with uber-creepy cover art, it’s the most prominent online therapy directory, and is always near the top of Google search results when people look for a therapist. Many therapists use it as their only form of advertising. While, as a marketing plan, this is inadequate (and does much to explain their struggling practices), it’s a start. Psychology Today does bring in some clients, and in my experience is worth the investment.

But Isn’t It Licensee-only?

The Psychology Today Web site likes to throw around the phrase “licensed professionals,” but they are not an exclusive, licensee-only club. Far from it.

This is inherent in the licensing system, which resembles a medieval crafts guild. Attention is focused on the master craftsmen (that is, licensees), but much of the work is actually done by the apprentices (“license-track” practitioners). Some of these apprentices are in private practice and need to advertise just like everyone else. This means that “license track” (that is, unlicensed) practitioners have to be accommodated even in the strictest closed guild. Read More...

Want More Clients? Use vCita’s Online Scheduling

On my hypnosis Web site, hypnosis-corvallis.com, I’ve been using the vCita lead generation/scheduling/payment system for months now, and it’s made my life a lot better! Why?

Online Scheduling is Wonderful!

  • If your Web site allows online scheduling, you get more clients. It’s as simple as that.
  • You wouldn’t believe how many clients make the decision to see me in the middle of the night! With online scheduling, they can take care of it on the spot and go to bed happy that they’ve taken the next step.
  • With online scheduling, both you and your client can receive reminders before an appointment. I’m set up to have reminders sent 24 hours before an appointment, and again four hours before. Thus, everyone shows up! I like that.
  • With online scheduling, you just set your office hours, and clients can schedule — or reschedule — anytime, without having to call you.
  • Google calendar integration means that any schedule conflict that eats into your office hours marks those hours as unavailable.
  • There’s a free version of vCita that’s not too bad, and even their fanciest version is pretty affordable.
  • It reduces phone calls to a bare minimum. Once I set up vCita, clients practically stopped calling me, but sales and client satisfaction were at least as high as before.

This is a very spiffy set of features. It’s super convenient for both me and the client to not have to play telephone tag and struggle with our calendars just to set up an appointment.

Online Payments

In addition, vCita allows clients to make online payments, using PayPal or credit/debit cards.

I started out with PayPal (that’s all vCita offered at the time), which allowed clients to pay from their PayPal account or (rather clumsily) by credit card.

Not long ago, they also started offering credit card payments through Stripe, which has a much simpler and easier-to-use interface. My clients like that! Read More...

Doctors as Referral Sources

Doctors are an excellent source of referrals for unlicensed and alternative practitionersSome people believe that there’s a big war going on between conventional and complementary and alternative medicine. But I have news for you: the war’s over!

Physicians now routinely recommend complementary and alternative medicine to their patients. No, I didn’t say, “they roll their eyes, but they’ve given up arguing.” I said they “routinely recommend.” The doctor brings the topic up. The doctor makes the pitch. The doctor refers patients to specific practitioners — if they know any good ones.

To paraphrase an article in JAMA Internal Medicine from March 9, 2011, When Conventional Medical Providers Recommend Unconventional Medicine: Results of a National Study:

In a 2007 study including 23,393 respondents, 2.9% answered “yes” when asked if they had used a mind-body therapist in the last 12 months because it was recommended by a health provider. Extrapolated to the whole US population, that’s 6.4 million successful referrals per year. Read More...