Here it is mid-August, and the “slow season” still hasn’t hit me yet. Sure, clients have left my practice (I do short-term therapy, so I generally lose a few clients every single week), but plenty of new clients keep coming in. Starting around May I braced myself for business to slow, but it just never did. For me, the slow season never happened and I thought I would share my secret of steady business with all of you.
Like most therapists, I used to bemoan the ups and downs of private practice. Some months I would have more clients than I knew what to do with, other months I would struggle just to hang on to a halfway decent case load. I remember my first year in private practice, when the slow season hit, my case load got carved down to just five clients per week. It was a tough three months and I wondered how I was going to stay in business. What I decided to do was to just “stay busy” and feel like I was being a productive therapist even though I was barely seeing any clients. I mostly did this just to feel productive and not be so down on myself, but it had an unexpected side effect. I noticed that after doing this, I would rebound the next fall even better and that the following summer wasn’t as slow. This continued to accumulate until I am where I am now: a steady practice that’s immune to seasonal changes.
You see, I realize what my problem was. In the beginning, I would get clients during the busy season simply because I was the only therapist out there that had decent hours and openings. I was pretty much the only thing out there, so people settled for me because their first-choice wasn’t taking on new clients. During the summer months, people didn’t need to settle for me because lots of therapists had openings, so I didn’t get any new clients. What slowly changed, was because I was working on myself as a therapist during those slow months, I improved myself to the point where I was no longer an after month. I became people’s first-choice therapist. And when you’re a first-choice therapist, you wont be affected by “slow seasons” or “busy seasons”; your business will always be steady.
The things I did to better myself during the slow months was I wrote books, worked on my website, networked, tried out different marketing strategies, did continuing education, and worked on other projects that not only kept me busy but sharpened my skills as a therapist and strengthened my credentials. The things you do might be different. Not everyone likes networking, not everyone is capable of writing a book, and perhaps your client demographic isn’t on the web. Just do what comes naturally to you and don’t try to force it. Focus on strengthening your skills as a therapist and then let other people know about it. If you keep doing that summer after summer, you’ll find the slow season will become less and less of a problem for you.