Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series. Look for part one, “Finding the Right Market for Your Private Practice.”
Private practice is a consistently growing area for communication sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals. Whether making the transition from employee to employer, or trying to expand an established business, private practitioners want to grow their client base.
If you’re looking for places to reach potential clients, try some of these approaches to marketing, collaboration and outreach.
Get on social media
Use social media—such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter—to share news and information about communication disorders and other relevant topics. Serve as an expert to media outlets by writing articles about aspects of your profession or practice and submitting them to local papers or magazines or by providing interviews for TV and radio stations on topics related to how you serve the community.
Build community relationships
Offering free screenings to organizations in your area can also yield large numbers of referrals. Provide day care centers and preschools with information about your practice and offer free audiology or speech-language screenings for children. Reach out to and share information with related professions—physicians, social workers/case managers, occupational and physical therapists—who might refer clients to you.
You want child care providers and other health care professionals to refer to you, but they need to trust you and the quality of your services first. It takes time to develop and maintain relationships with referral sources. But once established, these relationships can yield high-quality, consistent referrals over the long term. If you want physicians, specialists, other professionals, clients and people in your community to start talking about you, referring clients to you, and recommending you as an excellent clinician, you have to give them something to talk about.
So often we feel we’re on this private practice island alone. If you feel that way, simply ask a colleague—one whose vision fits in with your ideals for a practice—to partner with or mentor you. You can ask for help creating a business plan and putting it on paper, for example.
Most audiologists and SLPs weren’t offered business courses as part of their CSD programs. So perhaps making business decisions feels overwhelming. To stay competitive and meet the needs of your clients, you need to think like an entrepreneur.
Incorporate these three key strategies when running a business:
- Price competitively. Check out similar service providers’ pricing in your area, but don’t go too low. Pricing affects customers’ perceived value of products and services.
- Identify your market and research the skills required to help
- Highlight your unique strengths and place an emphasis on quality
of services rather than quantity.
- Participate with insurance companies. Don’t let often-complicated insurance-company rules and processes thwart your reach to clients who need to use insurance coverage. Reimbursement from private and federally funded insurance companies can set you apart as a private practitioner. Becoming a participating provider with insurance companies will broaden you patient base.
Building a practice is always a work in progress. It may take a long time to create your masterpiece. The masterpiece you envision on day one might end up looking much different years from now.
This post is adapted from our 2017 ASHA Convention presentation, “Be YOU[nique]: Ethical and Innovative Service Delivery Models to Grow Your Private Practice.”
Tara Roehl, MS, CCC-SLP, runs a private telepractice in Colorado focusing on social cognition, executive functioning and the use of technology in treatment. She is also co-founder and president of Hacking Autism. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice, and she blogs at Speechy Keen SLP. firstname.lastname@example.org
Yvette McCoy, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, owns Speak Well Solutions in Leonardtown, Maryland, and specializes in adult neurological rehabilitation with a special interest in dysphagia and stroke rehabilitation. She is an executive board member for the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. She is also an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 13, Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. email@example.com