Are you thinking about starting a faith-based practice? How can you set up a faith-based practice that appeals to both people who are religious and who are not? What significance lies in the art of networking?
In this podcast episode, I speak with Whitney Owens about marketing a cash-pay, faith-based private practice.
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Whitney Owens is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Private Practice Consultant. She lives in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns a group private practice, Water’s Edge Counseling.
In addition to running her practice, she offers individual and group consulting through Practice of the Practice. Whitney places a special emphasis on helping clinicians start and grow faith-based practices. She hosts a podcast to help faith-based practice owners called the Faith in Practice Podcast.
Whitney has spoken at the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia’s annual convention as well as Maryland. She has spoken the past two years at Practice of the Practice’s Killin’ It Camp Conference. She has also been interviewed about mental health issues on several media outlets including WSAV in Savannah and in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Whitney is a wife and mother of two beautiful girls.
In This Podcast
- Marketing tips for group practices
- How to market a faith-based practice
Marketing tips for group practices
Hands down, your website is incredibly important. It is the first impression potential clients can get of your practice and it will most likely dictate whether or not they will give you a call to book a session.
Long-term [bootstrapping your website] is not sustainable, so eventually you’re probably going to have to hire somebody if you can afford to do it at the front end then. If you can get someone to go ahead and do that then do that, because then you can spend your time on doing other types of marketing to obtain clients. (Whitney Owens)
Taking the financial dive to set up your website and logo from the get-go with professionals is the better option, because it attracts clients faster with its professionality, is laid out properly and fine-tuned to make sure everything works and you will not have to revisit it down the line for a complete revamp: unless you’re changing up your design profile.
Get an SEO consultant to optimize your website. This will help boost your search results when people look for therapists in their areas.
It’s great if you have a well-designed website but if nobody is finding it then that’s obviously null and void and SEO is a great, free way to go about ensuring that you have constant traffic coming to your website. (Sam Carvalho)
Google My Business
Optimize your Google My Business account, because it is a worthwhile and cost-effective way to reach clients with ethically sourced reviews of your practice.
Don’t underestimate the importance and significance of networking. When you create and maintain relationships with other service providers in your community, the chances are that they will refer you first to potential clients because they can see how dedicated and thoughtful you are.
Good clinical work
Do good clinical work, and this may be the easiest tip. By doing good clinical work you build a good repertoire and positive word of mouth.
How to market a faith-based practice
I think what is super important at the very beginning when you decide to go with a faith-based practice is figuring out what level of faith integration you want in your practice because that’s really going to determine how you market it. (Whitney Owens)
Ask yourself, do you want your practice to be fully faith-based where you only see clients with a certain kind of religion, or do you want to make faith a part of the practice but not a part of everything.
You can set up your practice so that you have clinicians that work with people who are totally faith-based in their life perspectives, and clinicians who work with people without any religious components coming into question.
You can have language in your practice that has a spiritual significance but is not overtly religious.
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Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
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Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you’ll discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.
[SAM]: Hi there. Thanks so much for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today, we have Whitney Owens with us. Whitney is a group practice owner with an all private pay practice and has been a part of the Practice of the Practice community for several years. Whitney has helped numerous practice owners in multiple areas, but has a special niche in teaching clinicians how to start a great practice, successfully market a cash pay practice, as well as start and grow a faith-based practice. She hosts a weekly podcast called the Faith in Practice podcast and also runs a Facebook group called Faith in Practice. Both Whitney and Alison Pidgeon host two membership communities for group practice owners named the Group Practice Boss and Group Practice Launch. Hi Whitney. Thanks so much for joining us today.
[WHITNEY OWENS]: Hey Sam, how you doing.
[SAM]: Doing well, thanks. And you?
[WHITNEY]: Doing well. I love the intro, you know everything going on, so I love it.
[SAM]: Yes, you have a lot going on. It was quite a mouthful with everything that’s all the consulting and services that you offer.
[WHITNEY]: Well, it’s a pleasure to do it.
[SAM]: So can you tell us a bit about your story and how you ended up getting involved with Practice of the Practice and becoming a consultant?
[WHITNEY]: Sure. Yes, it really wasn’t until after college that I realized I wanted to even be a therapist, just through my own personal work that I had done. And so it was at that point, I went to graduate school and after graduate school, as many of us who look for jobs all over the place it took a while to finally land a job, but I ended up landing a job at a psychiatric hospital, probably not choice number one, but ended up being fantastic for me. I learned so much in the clinical world at that point. And so I did some psychiatric work, residential work, outpatient work for the first, I don’t know, five, seven years of being a therapist and then at that point I started my own practice, started hiring clinicians and started getting my own consulting because I did not want to do that wrong when you’re starting a group practice. And that was how I met Joe. And I was in one of his mastermind groups, Joe, who owns Practice of the Practice, and I worked with him for two years and it was through that relationship that he knew I eventually wanted to do some consulting and so he brought me onto the team.
[SAM]: Awesome. So it’s been quite a journey, but yes, well, somewhere you’ve ended up and I’m sure you’ve learned a lot along the way.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I have. The good and the bad.
[SAM]: So obviously we mentioned in your bio that you kind of specialize in a few things and one of them is providing tips and advice around marketing a private practice. Are you able to share some of that with us?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, definitely. My practice is a cash pay practice. So one of the big parts with marketing, you have to just really be on it because it’s so much harder to obtain clients. You know, when you’re an insurance-based practice, so many of your clients do come through just calling their insurance company or getting a list of providers, but being a cash pay practice, you have to work a lot harder to obtain those. So I’ll go ahead and kind of go into some of the biggest things that I encourage people to do that are cash pay practices. And obviously this works for insurance as well.
I think the best way to obtain clients is your website hands down. I mean, we know that a website is kind of like your, I guess, your calling card or used to being when people would look up in the Yellow Pages and find a business, that’s how they knew who they were. And so now people go to Google and if you don’t have a good website, they’re not going to be calling you, like hands down. So that’s been the biggest driver. I actually started my own website at the beginning when I had my practice, which I do not recommend, but I was amazed how many people would be like, “Oh, I love your website.” And I’m like, “Okay.” But at the end, when I had someone else redo my website, my calls went up. And then when I had somebody to do SEO on my website, I hands down, was getting about three times the amount of calls within a couple of months.
[SAM]: So, as you said, you wouldn’t recommend kind of bootstrapping a website when starting up a private practice?
[WHITNEY]: I think it’s doable if you like that kind of thing, but no, I mean a long term it’s not sustainable and so you’re going to eventually probably have to hire somebody. So if you can’t afford to do it at the front end and get to go ahead and do that, then do that because then you can spend your time doing other types of marketing to obtain clients.
[SAM]: Yes, I think, I always kind of recommend. I mean, obviously I understand that people when setting up a private practice are on a budget understandably, but I always say that the two kind of things of branding that are worse spending money on it is your logo and your website. I definitely wouldn’t skimp on those two things. I think as you say, a website these days is so, so important. It really forms the first impression of your business as a whole, and so I think it’s super important to, I mean, it is just going to be an investment in the long run. As you say, then you won’t have to worry about redoing it a few years down the line.
[WHITNEY]: That is so true. Definitely. And I’ve had a couple, like after I actually bootstrapped and struggled and I always say this, this is like the line I preach, is every connection could lead you somewhere. So like always maximize your relationships. It ended up that my nanny, her husband got his degree in graphic design at the local university here. And so I was like, “Hey, you want to make a website?” And so he made my website for me at a great deal compared to what I was finding out there in the world. And he still manages my website, even though he doesn’t live here anymore. He works for a big company now, but he still helps me out on his spare time. So I really appreciate that.
[SAM]: Yes. Awesome. So, tip number one around marketing a private practice is a website. What other tips do you have for us?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, so good website design. And then that second one actually kind of goes in with that is the SEO part. Like get somebody to optimize your website. It’s just so important. And there’s a lot of great services out there for that. Obviously I think Jessica over at Simplified SEO Consulting is fantastic. I know her personally and she does really good work. So number two would be the SEO part.
[SAM]: Awesome. So I think we actually had it on the podcast. And for those of you listening, who haven’t listened to that episode, feel free to go back and search for it. And she gave some really great tips around SEO. And obviously it’s great if you have a well-designed website, but if nobody is finding it, then that’s obviously null and void. And SEO is a great free way to go about it, ensuring that you have constant traffic coming to your website.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Another important tip is optimizing your Google My Business account. A lot of people don’t pay attention to that enough. I mean, this is a free resource that we have as therapists. Early on in my solo practice, this was something that I worked really hard on at the very beginning. And I just took the link for reviews, because we can’t solicit reviews from our clients because of confidentiality and ethics and stuff, so I took the link, I emailed it to my family and friends and said, “Write what you think is honest and true, and this would help my business.” And think I had probably nine or 10 people do a review and I probably sent it to 60 or 70 people. You want to make it as easy as possible. Send them that link so all they have to do is hit the five stars and write something. But I would get calls from people that would say, “I’m calling you because you have five stars on Google.”
[SAM]: That’s awesome. And that’s something that requires minimal effort.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, really. And obviously there’s a lot more with Google My Business that you can do. Actually in the Faith in Practice podcast I interviewed someone that talked all about that. So you can search for that, but I think getting the reviews and getting those stars is the best thing that you can do on that.
[SAM]: Yes. That already kind of puts you on the map. And some photos of your office, that’s also a good idea.
[SAM]: Awesome. Any other tips with regards to how to market a private practice?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So networking is also super important and just that you go above and beyond in your relationships in the community. So we typically say someone refers, like, let’s say a doctor’s office refers a client to a private practice. The client goes there, they get seen, they get better, then boom, boom. But a lot of times the therapists are not following up with the doctors unless there’s like a reason that they need to. And I think that going above and beyond in this way will highlight you as a therapist. And when they see that you care well for them as your referral source, of course you’re caring well for their clients, right? So when a doctor’s office, let’s say refers a client to us, if we don’t already have a standing relationship with them, we first create that standing relationship, which is reaching out to them saying, “Hey, thank you for the referral.”
And obviously you don’t have to say the name of the client if you don’t have an ROR. If the client gives you an ROR, that’s even better. You should get it if you can, follow up with them and say, “Hey, we’d love to meet you.” Obviously in a COVID world, it’s a little different. You might have to do a Zoom meeting or stop by real quick. But before COVID, we would say, “Hey, let me bring you lunch and get to know you.” And so that’s how we like establish that first relationship. And then every referral after that, we do something for them. Like we usually write a thank you note. And it’s just a simple card that says, we always appreciate you thinking about us. We’ll take good care of your client. And then if you can get that ROR, you call them and you say, “Hey, you referred Cindy to me. I’d love to hear what your concerns are and how I can help and how we can work together.” It goes so far with those referral sources because the next time they’re going to keep referring to you because you actually called them and got their client in fast and cared well for them.
[SAM]: That’s awesome. I think as much as we are in a digital age these days, you can never kind of completely cross out the power of networking.
[WHITNEY]: Definitely not. And just being good and kind to people goes very far, because, like I know that if I was to refer a client to another therapist or to another professional in the community, if that person calls me and says, thank you. I mean, I’m going to refer to them again. I just had to refer someone for EMDR and that client, that therapist got on the phone with me to talk about that client. And I was very impressed. So the next EMDR person, that’s necessary, I’m definitely going to that therapist.
[SAM]: Absolutely. Yes. That makes a lot of sense. Awesome. So for those of you listening so far, we have a great website, SEO, Google My Business and networking. Any other tips around marketing a private practice?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and, this is probably the easiest one here, is doing good clinical work. And I, as my practice is growing, we get more and more of those word of mouth referrals, “My friend told me they went there and got better.” Or another example, there was a client that had come in and she was having a hard time with her anxiety. And I saw her for, I don’t know, just a few sessions and she started getting better. Then she went to her doctor to follow up on a medical concern related to the anxiety and improved. And the doctor was like, “How did this get better?” She said, “Well, you referred me to Whitney and Whitney helped me.” That doctor refers everyone to my practice now.
[SAM]: That’s amazing. Yes word of mouth is by far the most powerful form of referral and marketing.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and it’s kind of, this always kind of blows people away when I help them with their group practices where I say, “You know, you really should hire at least two people at a time, not just one.” And they’re like, “Well, how is that going to work? How am I going to fill these two people up?” And I’m like, “Yes, but you’ve got two people to talk about, two people to see people, two people that know people in the community.” So you actually end up getting more clients with the more clinicians you hire, as opposed to the opposite.
[SAM]: That’s a really cool way to look at it. So when you, we know that you also specialize in a faith-based private practice and that’s something that I’ve always kind of admired because I know I help you with some of your design. And initially when I heard faith-based, I went straight away to incorporate a lot of kind of faith inspired images and you were straight away like, “Nope.” You want to still look like a normal private practice just with a bit of kind of faith involved. And I really liked that because I think obviously a lot of faith-based practices might go the route of involving too much kind of faith aspects in the marketing, which can ultimately actually turn some people off. So can you speak a bit into how to market a faith-based practice specifically?
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Well, thank you for your kind words. I love incorporating the faith piece. So I think what’s super important at the very beginning when you decide to go with a faith-based practice is figuring out what level of faith integration you want in your practice because that’s really going to determine how you market it. So do you want your practice to be fully faith-based where you only see clients with a certain kind of faith, religion, or do you want to make it kind of part of the practice but not everything like that. I am in the Bible belt in Georgia and there are definitely some practices that overtly faith-based that meet the needs of a particular type of client. But then the clients that come to our practice, a lot of them will say they went somewhere else and they felt like religion was too much or pushed in their throat or they’re really jaded by religion.
And so I like having a practice that kind of, we meet the needs of the one who says I really want a faith-based perspective, but then we also draw in people that wouldn’t adhere to any kind of faith. And I love working with those types of clients too. Especially in this area, a lot of people get jaded by the church at a young age because their parents forced them into it and then they kind of like find themselves when they get older and then they struggle when they’re in college. So I really love working with those types of clients. So I wanted a practice that spoke to Christians, but didn’t turn away people who weren’t Christians. And so you can do that in a lot of different ways with your language on your website. So we use language that kind of has a spiritual significance, but not overtly. So for example, my practice is called Water’s Edge Counseling, and that’s all about being on the edge of the water and how I experience refreshing and renewal in that place, which anyone would think that sounds great, but a Christian would, “No. Oh, Water is in the Bible, water’s baptism, water’s refreshing.” And it would give them that thought.
The logo for our practice is a scallop shell, which is from the Camino de Santiago. And so people who are faith-based will know this, some of them will know this. He was a Saint that went on a journey in Spain and it was through that experience that he found himself in God more and those kinds of things, but people who don’t know that, just think it’s water, it’s a shell, we live near the beach. It kind of meets both needs at the same time. And I really love that about my practice. It’s really interesting how people will call and say, “You’re a Christian practice,” and there’s really nothing on our website that indicates that we’re a Christian practice other than one of our service pages that says Christian counseling along with many other service pages.
[SAM]: Yes. I think that’s really awesome. I think yes, from a personal perspective for me who is a believer, but also doesn’t really enjoy when it’s kind of too overboard, I think that it’s a really cool way to kind of market your practice that is faith-based.
[WHITNEY]: Oh, well, thank you. Yes, it is one of the reasons a lot of people come to me for consulting because they’re trying to figure out that piece of their practice.
[SAM]: Yes, that’s really awesome. So if you’re listening and you have a faith-based practice and you aren’t quite sure how to market it, or you like the sound of the way Whitney markets her practice, then be sure to get in touch with her, or if you need any help marketing your private pay practice, or if you’re interested in growing a group practice. Whitney, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, if they are interested in working with you?
[WHITNEY]: They can just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[SAM]: And I know that you have a launch coming up at the moment or beginning of March for Group Practice Launch. Do you want to speak a bit about that?
[WHITNEY]: Yes, I would love to. So Group Practice Launch is a membership community for those that are looking to start a group practice. We know that when you’re starting, there’s a lot of information you need and a lot of resources you need and budget can be kind of tight as you’re hiring people on and needing attorneys and things. So Alison Pidgeon, one of the other consultants at Practice of the Practice and I are joining forces to offer this membership community. The early bird special is $200 a month, but the typical price will be $232 a month. And it’s a six month rotating group to go from, start going solo to having one or two clinicians hired by the end of the six months. And so we’ll have live events every single week to walk you through that process, a video series that you watch, and then we answer your questions. That’s really like, hands-on tangible results that are happening. And we kind of walk you through the phases. That first phase of looking in processes, looking at processes and systems in your practice, making sure they’re ready. The second phase with hiring and onboarding, and then that last phase, which is super important is going back and making sure things went well. Looking at your numbers, looking at your calls, those KPIs, to make sure that your progress is happening with your group practice.
[SAM]: Awesome. So if people want to find out more about that, where can they go?
[SAM]: Awesome. So be sure to check that out and as always, we’ll have all of that included in the show notes as well. So, Whitney, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[WHITNEY]: Maximize your relationships. Like spend time with people and tell them about your practice. People need to know about it. A lot of people don’t tell people about their practice, but people need therapy. And so if you can share that with people and use all those relationships, it’ll really go well for you in the end.
[SAM]: That’s awesome. Thanks so much for being on the Marketing a Practice podcast.
[WHITNEY]: Thank you for having me.
[SAM]: Once again, thank you so much to Therapy Notes for sponsoring this show. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. And if you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will input your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code, [JOE], that’s [J O E] to get two free months to try out Therapy Notes for free.
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want some print flyer designed head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design. Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
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