Kick It Into Overdrive Are you just meeting your expenses? Try these tips to grow your private practice. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   August 01, 2015
Kick It Into Overdrive
Author Notes
  • Jessie Ginsburg, MS, CCC-SLP, is the owner and director of clinical services at Pediatric Therapy Playhouse, a speech and language clinic in Los Angeles. jessie@pediatrictherapyplayhouse.com
    Jessie Ginsburg, MS, CCC-SLP, is the owner and director of clinical services at Pediatric Therapy Playhouse, a speech and language clinic in Los Angeles. jessie@pediatrictherapyplayhouse.com×
Article Information
Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   August 01, 2015
Kick It Into Overdrive
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20082015.40
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20082015.40
You’ve opened a private practice and you’re excited about finally being your own boss. But there’s a problem: How do you get your practice off the ground?
Other clinic owners tell you it’s not going to be easy, that it could take three or four years before your schedule is full. I was convinced I was going to be different. But after four months of seeing only enough clients to cover my office rent, I realized what I had heard might be true. So I decided to kick up my marketing and networking into overdrive.
At the one-year anniversary of my practice, I had a full schedule, a wait list of more than 20, and was hiring a second SLP. Here’s how I did it.
Don’t let your office be your enemy
When deciding on an office space, I put together a list of must-haves and love-to-haves. I was starry-eyed over the offices in upscale buildings—but would these attorney-filled buildings be the best place for my laughing, screaming and yes, sometimes crying, clients? I ultimately rented a 500-square-foot office with three rooms. The upside: It was by far the least expensive space I found. The downside: It was a little run down. So I painted walls, installed new light fixtures and furniture, put up decorations, and I was ready to roll.
In the first few months when I was just breaking even, I was thankful that I wasn’t going further into debt with an expensive office space. I did not allow my office to be my enemy. I knew that I could be happy in this space for a while, and could upgrade in the future.

Boss yourself around. Make lists. Do what you have to do to keep yourself on track. Your future is in your hands and it’s up to you to create it.

Think outside your discipline
Before opening my own clinic, I had always worked in multidisciplinary clinics. I knew that I needed to have a list of nearby physical and occupational therapists (PTs and OTs) to whom I could refer clients. And in return, I hoped they would do the same for me. After successfully reaching out to OTs and PTs, I moved outside my comfort zone and started contacting psychologists, behavior support therapists, assessment centers, educational therapists, day care centers and children’s gyms. These professionals were some of my most useful contacts.
Did somebody say ‘free’?
One of my best business decisions was to offer free 30-minute consultations. It was a great way to get parents in the door. The purpose of the consultation was to build rapport with the parents and child, and to discuss the assessment process and what treatment might look like for their child. Nearly 80 percent of the families who came for consultations became clients.
Build a top-notch website
The best part of building a great website is that anyone can do it. I know close to nothing about technology but fortunately, there are thousands of website templates on the Internet—(wix.com) or (squarespace.com), for example. After you type in your information into the template, you can pay to connect your domain name. Make your site easy to navigate and parent-friendly. Parents of potential clients often tell me that my website was one of the reasons they decided to contact me.
Pediatricians can be your best friends
In one of my most time-consuming tasks, I researched local pediatricians and found about 40 within 10 minutes of my office. I prepared to make phone calls with specific goals in mind:
  • Best-case scenario: Set up an appointment to meet the doctor.

  • Second-best option: Drop off brochures with the receptionist.

  • Third-best option: Send brochures to the doctor’s office.

I planned a concise introduction and began my cold calls. To my surprise, every phone call resulted in one of my three goals.
Connect with local private schools
I also cold-called local private schools. Again, to my surprise, most did not have a speech-language clinic to which they referred students. After speaking to the school directors over the phone, I sent them my brochures and business cards (along with holiday chocolates). I let them know that I would answer any of their questions about speech and language development.
Consider your funding options
Although I was picking up clients, the inquiries were inconsistent. To ensure a steady stream of referrals, I became a vendor for the state-funded early intervention program. In California, nonprofit private organizations—called regional centers—provide these services through contracts with the state’s Department of Developmental Services. I also contracted with a major health insurance company. Although these funding sources require significantly more administrative work, they provide consistent referrals—at least one inquiry per day.
Act like your own boss
This advice is the most important of all. The success of your business is directly related to how hard you work. You won’t get new referrals by sleeping late in the morning. Boss yourself around. Make lists. Do what you have to do to keep yourself on track. Your future is in your hands and it’s up to you to create it.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8