You Are a One-Person Practice, Now What?:
Practice Management Solutions For a Small Practice
With all those jobs, who has time to be a Psychotherapist?
Given the fact that 99% of all psychotherapists are not trained CPAs and business experts, how do you perform all of these essential tasks and still see clients during the day? Well, maybe you shouldn't. There are many tools and practice management solutions available to psychotherapists to help streamline and systemize the work involved in building and running a practice, the implementation of which can dramatically decrease your workload and corresponding stress level. Here are a few tips on how to manage all those hats:
Marketing and Public Relations: This might just be your most important first step. Now that you have “built it,” you may have quickly learned that this does not necessarily mean that “they will come.” There are so many resources online to help you learn about dozens of marketing ideas and concepts, but the time involved to sift through it all may dissuade you from their full implementation. To properly market your practice, you may want to consider building your own search engine optimized website, spreading the word with social media, becoming a speaker at your association events, establishing a strong referral network, offering your expertise on local radio and TV talk shows, signing up for online directories, and getting started with insurance (or not). The great news is that you don't have to do it all alone. There are experts that have taken their own private practice experiences and rolled their successes into marketing programs to help you launch an efficient practice from the outset. These programs will teach you about different marketing and P.R. tools with step-by-step, concrete ideas about how to put your plan into action. While the programs do usually have a moderate cost involved, such cost is often quickly off-set by the dramatic increase in practice growth, particularly when compared with practices that fail to implement the methods suggested by said programs. Remember, these coaches are only sharing their successful marketing campaigns and ideas. Think about how much time and money they spent filtering out the campaigns that didn't yield new clients. Here are a few practice coaches that come highly recommended by some of your fellow practitioners:
Blogger & Web Content Author: Although this is actually a sub-category of marketing, you don't need someone to help you with this task. You may have sought the help of your coaches on how to best set up your website and a blog, but writing the content of your blog and website should be in your own voice. This area of marketing is where you can be yourself, writing on topics that you are passionate about. Thus, your first concern is your subject matter; what topics do you clients find pertinent, and what topics do they want to read about on a daily or weekly basis? How much, or how little, content should you have on your website? Do a Google search for blogging and website content ideas, and remember that you don't have to just search for ideas regarding psychotherapy practices. Take a look at topics that other professionals blog about. The internet is full of ideas to help you write dynamic content that will make your website define who you are and keep your blog pages full every week.
Accountant: There are many options for management of your practice’s finances, whether you choose to hire an accountant to completely handle all of the financial aspects of your practice, you want to obtain certain tools and personally handle the financial aspects of your business, or you want to employ a combination of these approaches.
Office Administrator: If you are already wearing the Office Administrator hat, then you know how much time you are spending on administrative tasks, and you also know how many of these tasks go ignored as you attempt to focus on the myriad responsibilities associated with running a practice and, oh yeah, providing quality services for your clients. Simply put, you must find ways to streamline these tasks, or you will find yourself drowning in paperwork and data entry, not to mention missed income opportunities. So, what are your options? First, make a list of every administrative task that needs to get done: entering new client data, setting appointments, rescheduling appointments, maintaining client paperwork and intake files, client appointment-reminder calls, making changes to client demographic information, following up on past-due client payments, preparing and mailing insurance claims, and processing client payments. Next, look to create systems that decrease how much time you are spending on these activities. Here are a few systemization ideas that you can integrate into your business to reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks:
Chief Operations Officer: This is the one hat that should always stay on your head. The good news is that if you implement the right practice management solutions and systemize your marketing, blogging and web content writing, accounting, and administrative tasks, you will find that being your own COO will be that much easier!
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