Waiting List | 5 Reasons why I never have a waiting list

wait list

Why I am Anti-Wait List

I never have a waiting list. I used to have one, but no longer. It’s been about three years. It all started when I was sitting in a restaurant with my brother, the business consultant. We were together, with my dad (a psychologist) and the rest of the family was shoe shopping. I love shoes, but sitting with my brother and father discussing waiting lists, changed my career. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “I am so busy, I have like four people on my waiting list.”

Brother: “What you have a waiting list? Why?”

Me: “Because I want to be able to do my best with my clients, and don’t want to have poor service. Nor do I want to work all the time.”

Brother: “Would you see them if they offered you $1,000 per session?”

Me: “Probably.”

Brother: “What about $500?”

Me: “Probably.”

Brother: “What about $200?”

Me: “Sure.”

Brother: “So it’s not about not working, it’s about price. If you’d still see them, then your price is too low.”

The next day I raised my price. I’ve been raising it ever since. When I get too busy for my liking, I either raise my price or bring on another counselor.

Never have a waiting list again

There are so many reasons to not have a waiting list. Here is a brainstorm of why I have decided to never have a waiting list. Maybe you’ll come up with more. Feel free to leave comments if you have ideas:

Reason #1 | Strike while the iron is hot

It takes a while for people to get up the nerve to call a counselor. Most likely they won’t follow through later, so you should “strike while the iron is hot.”

Reason #2 |You spent time doing marketing

Think of all the time you spent doing marketing, taking people out for lunches, and listening to podcasts to grow. That means that every client that calls is a return on investment of your time and money. When you turn someone away, it’s as if you never did any of that marketing.

Reason #3 |People may stop referring

When a clinician in private practice gets busy, that reputation sometimes spreads. What if people start saying, “Yeah, she’s great, but she always has a waiting list, no one can get in to see her,” you don’t want that. Also, it’s really hard to undo that once that reputation starts to spread. It will take way more work than initially getting started.

Reason #4 |You’re missing out on passive income

May you don’t feel like you are ready for another counselor to join your practice, but if you have a waiting list, that is one strategy to help with it. There are always new clinicians that are looking for ways to get into private practice. They may only want to see 3 people per week. If they get a percentage of what comes in, they get flexibility and you get added income. Just make sure you have a 1099 contract to protect yourself and your business.

Reason #5 |You could raise your rates

I run a private-pay counseling private practice. Thus, I have more flexibility in regards to my price. However, in most markets it is the demand that drives price. This is not always the case in healthcare and counseling. However, I have found that if I am too busy, feeling overwhelmed, or like I want to reduce clients, that raising rates changes those feelings. That first conversation with my brother helped me realize that.


counselor headshot

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC has the #1 podcast for counselors in private practice. Also, he does not have a waiting list at his private practice where he helps angry kids, frustrated parents, and distant couplesĀ  in Traverse City, MI at Mental Wellness Counseling. Also, he is the author of Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier. To link to Joe’s Google+ .

Did you get rid of your waiting list?

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