So You Want to Grow Your Practice Whether you’re just starting a practice or looking to expand a successful business, these 10 strategies can help you extend your reach. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   May 01, 2016
So You Want to Grow Your Practice
Author Notes
  • Renee H. Matlock, MA, CCC-SLP, has been in full-time private practice since 1980. She is the founder and former owner of Speech Plus, a multidisciplinary practice in Frankfort, Illinois, and began her business-coaching practice, The Private Practice Coach, in 2013. She is a member of the American Academy of Private Practitioners in Speech Pathology and Audiology. renee@theprivatepracticecoach.com
    Renee H. Matlock, MA, CCC-SLP, has been in full-time private practice since 1980. She is the founder and former owner of Speech Plus, a multidisciplinary practice in Frankfort, Illinois, and began her business-coaching practice, The Private Practice Coach, in 2013. She is a member of the American Academy of Private Practitioners in Speech Pathology and Audiology. renee@theprivatepracticecoach.com×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / School-Based Settings / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   May 01, 2016
So You Want to Grow Your Practice
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, 34-36. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.21052016.34
The ASHA Leader, May 2016, Vol. 21, 34-36. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.21052016.34
Maybe you’re just starting up your practice. Or maybe you’ve started one but haven’t yet built enough clients to truly sustain it. Or maybe you’re nicely established but now you want to scale up.
At some point, just about everyone wants to grow: entrepreneurs who start a business to expand and grow, or “solopreneurs” who want to work on their own, establish a desired lifestyle and ensure a specific level of income.
In all these cases, you can use some basic strategies to grow your practice. Your possibilities are endless, with growth limited only by the time, energy and financial resources you can allocate to expansion. Here are 10 practice-building strategies to consider.
Focus on a single service and target client. If your specialty area is evaluating and treating clients with language-based learning difficulties, target this client base. Develop a comprehensive marketing plan, brand yourself as the expert, and market, market, market your services. This is an ideal strategy for solopreneurs.
Add group treatment. Many services lend themselves to group treatment, allowing you to see additional clients. Consider, for example, group treatment sessions for your adolescent and adult clients who stutter. The very nature of social language difficulties makes group treatment a strong option for clients with this challenge. Summer camp offerings—for example, a reading camp—is also a practice-building strategy that allows you to serve multiple clients at one time.
Diversify your services. Diversification is best achieved by adding a complementary service or product to your current offerings. Returning to the example of the language-literacy expert: A new add-on service for this practice might be providing services to address executive function difficulties or adding a program that addresses reading, spelling and writing deficits (such as the Orton-Gillingham program).
Include telepractice. Expanding into telepractice can build your practice and fill some of your difficult-to-schedule times. Many rural school districts use telepractice to help resolve recruitment and staffing difficulties. With this service delivery model, you can reach clients whose time or location constraints keep them from coming to your office for services.

Diversification is best achieved by adding a complementary service or product to your current offerings.

Add computer-based therapy services. This area has grown significantly over the last several years. These programs often can be completed at home—under parent supervision—with the private practitioner providing clinical oversight.
Expand your client base. Do you serve children? Try adding services for infants, toddlers and/or preschoolers or for adult or geriatric clients. If you go this route, be sure that you or one of your staff has the relevant knowledge base, expertise and resources needed to serve these clients.
Venture into speaking, webinars and writing. Participating in speaking engagements, providing education opportunities via webinars and writing books provide an alternate stream of revenue—while also building your reputation and name recognition. Many private practitioners write diagnostic and treatment materials.
Add a second office location. This expansion strategy requires a good deal of forethought, planning and financial resources. Is your practice a good fit for a second location? Is your clinical model easily replicated in a second location? Is there a market for your services in the new location? How will you staff this office? Do your research and be certain you have adequate funding to move forward.
Provide contractual services to agencies. Seeking outsourcing opportunities with local organizations is a highly effective practice-building strategy. Consider providing services to public and private schools, preschools and daycare centers, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, Head Start programs and state early intervention programs. Leverage your strong reputation, expertise, evidence-based treatment methodologies and customer service when marketing your services to such agencies.
Hire employees. This choice is one of the most strategic decisions you can make. As a solopreneur, you are limited by the number of hours you are able to dedicate to clinical work. There often comes a point when the private practitioner is faced with the question: to hire or not to hire? Adding employees completely changes the complexity of your practice, so you want to be sure this is the direction you want to go. Do you want to hire office support staff so you can spend more time doing what you do best—directly serving your clients? Or are you unable to serve all the referrals coming into your practice, and you need to hire additional clinical staff? You may want to diversify your services by adding a related professional—an occupational therapist or reading specialist, for example. There are a number of things to consider: recruitment, salary and benefits, training, legal obligations, and more. For some, being a solopreneur is ideal. For others who want to scale up their business, hiring that first employee is the next logical step.
The exciting part of being a private practitioner is growing your practice—your way. The possibilities are endless.
Find More on Hiring and Contracting at ASHA Connect

Renee Matlock will present at two sessions during ASHA Connect, a three-day event that blends the former ASHA Schools Conference and Health Care/Business Institute.

In a variety of sessions, private practitioners, health care clinicians and school-based clinicians will find tools to navigate changes in their workplace and practices and solutions they can try immediately.

In “To Hire or Not to Hire: That Is the Question,” Matlock will review the pros and cons of staying solo, key considerations in the decision to expand, and key actions to take if you expand.

Matlock will expand on her ninth strategy—contracting with agencies—in “Negotiating Your Best Contract With Health Plans and Agencies.” She and Janet McCarty, ASHA director of private health plan reimbursement, will examine ASHA resources to analyze and negotiate an equitable fee schedule, how to use and incorporate typical contract terms, and how to determine leverage and negotiate.

ASHA Connect takes place July 8–10 in Minneapolis.

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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2016
Volume 21, Issue 5