The idea of maintaining a practice during a pandemic may seem like an oxymoron right? COVID-19 has been a deathblow to many businesses, but hopefully, with some of these tips, your business won’t be one of them. I would like to share with you in this article some of the actions I have taken to maintain a full caseload through this crisis. I will also be sharing a few tips that have work for some of my colleagues. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful for you as well. So let’s get started!
1. Digital Marketing
If you are looking to grow and sustain your business during this crisis, marketing is key. One of the beautiful things about marketing is that there is more than one way to do it. The traditional way of marketing that involves going from door to door, physician to physician has been difficult to execute during the Covid-19 crisis. This is why I say that digital marketing is a great place to start to increase your referrals.
Digital marketing has been a godsend to my business. During the month of April, 70% of my referrals have come from some form of digital marketing. It is possible that due to the fact that physicians have been seeing fewer patients, many are choosing to seek support for themselves. When they perform their search you want to make sure that you are ranking on the first page of the search for targeted keywords (ie: marriage counselor in New York). Now may be a great time to learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or hire someone who provides SEO services.
2. Google Ads
Google Ads has been one of the scariest forms of digital marketing I have ventured to step into, at least in the beginning. At first glance, I felt that pursuing Google Ads would be a high-risk endeavor with odds like Vegas. “What is going to be my return on investment,” I asked myself. Money was tight, and I really wasn’t in the mood to be choosing high-risk options to grow my business.
That perspective changed when I heard a testimonial from a rookie Google Ads warrior in my Next Level Practice group who unashamedly voiced her lack of competence for the Google Ads world. She admitted that she couldn’t explain what she did, but indicated that referrals were coming. After hearing her story, I quickly jumped in and haven’t looked back.
Google Ads affords me the ability to rank first in search engine searches in places I might not otherwise rank. If I am already on the first page of a particular search, Google Ads many times will place me at the top of the page above the other search options. My conversion rates have also been extraordinarily high. The conversions are so high that when someone calls, one of the first questions they ask is “how soon can I schedule an appointment?” Google Ads has been key to helping me maintain a full caseload during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Network with other Mental Health Professionals
There are some places that are still getting a load of referrals such as many of the local state mental health institutions. It might not be a bad idea to establish contacts in institutions like this. My contacts with mental health institutions, as well as with other counselors have really paid off. This is how it works. If you know someone who is employed at your local mental health institution and provides counseling services, I would suggest you send them some chocolates. For instance, in many cases, the provider may not cover marriage counseling or they may need a mental health counselor who can provide individual counseling for their client’s spouse or children. This is where you can come and support them. I have received a number of recent referrals from colleagues who are unable to provide services themselves or who have a conflict of interest and need a therapist outside of their agency to refer to. These referrals have really helped to save the day.
4. Apply to Practice Out of State
Locally I have marketed to clients who have insurance coverage through Medicare. The power of digital marketing has been so phenomenal that I often get calls from clients who live outside of my state. Just a couple of weeks ago a Medicare client called me from Utah. I’m in Alabama. Up until this time, the policies that were put in place by the state licensing boards would not allow clinicians to practice and provide counseling services across the state lines. Well, these rules have temporarily been relaxed during the Covid-19 crisis. Most states are allowing counselors to provide services across state lines. I personally have not completed this process but have a number of colleagues who have. The provisions of the services are different for each state, and will likely require a temporary license. However, this opportunity is huge. Expanding your reach across the state lines may be the ticket to boost your private practice.
5. Reach Out To Former Clients
The COVID-19 crisis has caused a state of anxiety for mostly everyone. If we as clinicians are experiencing anxiety, imagine the impact that this crisis may have on clients that you used to see. You can probably think of a few cases right now. I have definitely had an influx of return clients who I have scheduled for appointments. This is a great time to consider reaching out by phone or email to see if one of your former clients is in need. It will provide you the opportunity to support the emotional needs of your clients and fill those gaps in your schedule.
Jim Cramer of CNBC said it best, “There is always a bull market somewhere.” In times when it feels like there are no options available to grow in business, there is always a marketing opportunity somewhere. I hope these tips get you closer to finding the opportunities that will help your private practice to prosper during these unprecedented times!
Choya Wise, LICSW, PIP is the owner of Aspire Counseling & Consulting Services in Huntsville, Alabama. Choya specializes in relationship counseling and hosts Online Social Work Clinical Supervision Groups in Alabama.