Over the years, as an entrepreneur in private practice, I’ve noticed a trend in the number of intakes and clients I have at any given time. I don’t know if this is the case for you, but each year, I tend to get a large influx of clients starting in mid-August through October. There’s another rush in January and a smaller stream in March.
That said, December (primarily due to the holidays), June, and July tend to be my quietest months. I still have all of my regular clients, but many of my clients, just like me, take a vacation during this time. I also don’t generally receive as many new intakes.
Regardless of whether your trends are similar to mine or not, chances are that you have busier months and slower months.
What do you do with that downtime?
I have a few ideas for you!
Take a Vacation
Perhaps this is a little obvious, but the first thing I do is plan my vacation time around the slower periods in my practice. Once you’ve figured out the trends in your practice, you can schedule accordingly!
Increase Your Rates
Most therapists I know do a rate increase each year. For regular clients, it might make the most sense to do this on January 1. But for new clients, it makes more sense to do this right before a big influx—provided that your practice is already fairly full and you’re making it through the slower months without a considerable dip—I recommend increasing your rates ahead of the rush.
For example, June and July have always been the quietest months in my practice, and I always get a significant influx at the beginning-middle of August. It makes the most sense to do my rate increase for new clients at this time, so all of the people I take on between August and September are already on the new rate when I do my regular increase for current clients on January 1.
Back End Housekeeping
Unless your private practice is running like a well-oiled machine (which from personal experience, the majority of private practices are not!), the slower months can be a great time to review your systems, policies, and procedures.
Are there ways that your practice is currently set up that just aren’t working for you? Are there aspects of your practice that take longer than they should? Do you find yourself getting caught in the same kinds of problems or issues when it comes to the operation of your practice? If the answer is yes to any of these, I can assure you that there is a better way to do things.
After being an entrepreneur for nearly a decade, I’ve come to learn that if something is frustrating me, there’s always a better way to do it! Implementing new systems or policies is a great way to iron out any bugs in the way your practice operates, so as you get busier, you can ensure your business runs more smoothly.
Get Creative/Diversify Income Streams
Many therapists start to branch out into other income streams after years of offering one-on-one therapy. Seeing 20-25 (or more!) clients per week is only sustainable for so long.
Burnout and compassion fatigue are common in our industry. Seeing fewer clients helps to make sure we are still getting enjoyment from the work we do and are able to offer the best of ourselves to our clients.
However, seeing fewer clients generally means earning less income, unless you diversify your income streams! That can mean anything from running groups and workshops, selling a course, creating products like digital downloads, books, etc. or even running a retreat!
In addition to taking holidays, I use the slower months to get creative and start planning my next course or offering.
Refine Your Long-Term Vision
With a little extra time on your hands, this can also be an excellent opportunity to go back to the drawing board.
Hopefully, you had a vision for your practice when you started and have set long term goals for yourself. Your business goals should include financial goals as well as aspirations for what you want your practice to look like, the type of work you want to be doing, and the impact you want to have.
It can be eye-opening, refreshing, and motivating to take a step back from the day-to-day and look at the big picture of your business. Are you on track? Are things headed in the direction you want them to? If yes, fantastic! If no, use this time to refine your goals and make changes to what you’re currently doing in your practice—to get you back on track.
Wherever you’re at in building or growing your private practice, I’d love to help! Feel free to reach out to book a free 20-minute consult at firstname.lastname@example.org.