The Daily Quick Tip is an invitation to our members to share their thoughts and experiences about practice building issues that we often take for granted with one another on our Yahoo group list serv. We believe attention to small details can have a large impact on your practice and the manner in which your clients perceive you.

Daily Quick Tip #6 - The Call - Part Two

It looks as if you have a new client and then comes the dreaded question: "Do you take my insurance?" Of course this is not a problem if you do. If you do not, how do you handle it?

In my opinion and experience it is important to never assume that if you do not take his/her insurance that the client will not come to see you. Maintain a positive attitude during the call.

  1. I stress my level of expertise and many years of experience and why coming to me will be very helpful.
  2. I ask if they have out of network benefits and explain how that works.
  3. I talk about how important it is to find a really good therapist as it will significantly effect their lives and is cheaper than lawyers if it is about marital counseling.
  4. I also talk about how I can get to the root of the probelms more quickly than most therapists.
  5. If none of these convince them I offer to help them to find someone who is on their plan and refer them to someone in the network and let them know if that should not workout to feel free to call me back and I will continue to find someone who can help them.
  6. If the client sounds like someone I might be interested in working with, I will sometimes offer to reduce my fee since they are seeing me on a fee for service basis.
How about you? How do you handle these situations and what has been your experience?

Daily Quick Tip #5 - The Call - Part One

I had always been taught to keep the first contact very brief and to make the appointment quickly and get off the phone. (I was trained in the psychoanalytic model), However, today's clients and expectations are different than 40 years ago and I have changed with the times.
In fact, I am open to spending a few minutes on the phone listening to the client's presenting issues unless they just ask for the appointment and are satisfied with that exchange.
I have found that this is a way that a client may have of checking out whether I am caring and their attempt to get a sense of me. When clients are calling from an insurance list or from their internet search, making this contact is often helpful since they may have already contacted other therapists or have a list of others yet to call.

More tomorrow on "Do you accept my insurance?" and part three on how often to check your messages and e-mails.

Daily Quick Tip #4 - Music in the Waiting Room

Do you play music in your waiting room? Do your clients commment on it?
Do you have a particular type of music that you play? do you use cd's or ipod? radio stations?
Is there any downside to playing music?
It certainly helps to act as a sound buffer.
It can offer a pleasant diversion for those waiting.

Quick Tip #3 - Bottled Water

I am planning to offer my clients bottled water starting this week. I had several cases in my office for the network meetings and occasionally people would ask if they could have one. I thought that it would be client(customer) friendly if I offered them one and let them know they were there for them if they wanted) rather than their having to ask.
While I see this as a good business technique(one of my clients said to me "it was a good perk"), it is not something I would have ever considered before expanding my view to consider my practice as a small business.

My actual cost for a week of thirty clients is about $6 if I pick up the bottled water on sale at Stop and Shop.

What are your thoughts on this? Anyone already doing it? Could there be a downside clinically?

Quick Tip #2 - Welcome

What is your approach to welcoming new clients to your practice?
I think it is important to show them where the rest room is (especially if it is not very evident) and how they can get a drink of water (tomorrow I will discuss bottled water for clients).
If there are any parking issues, addressing them.
I like to greet a new client with a smile and will shake their hand if they extend theirs but will not initiate a handshake.
I also usually ask pretty early if this is their first counseling session and if so how they are feeling about it.
I have a choice of chairs if it is an individual client.
I also indicate that I am comfortable being called by my first name.

Quick Tip #1 - Magazines

Provide interesting magazines in your waiting room. Remember there are parents waiting for children or children waiting for parents or to be seen.
What magazines do you have in your office?
What magazines do you think should not be in your waiting room?

V & W Networking Group are a group of independent practitioners who collectively advertise to enhance community awareness of the treatment options and services available for these issues. Each practitioner is solely responsible for his/her own practice, services and/or products.