Last week in my Facebook community one of our members posed an important question to the group — how should we go about reminding clients to make the payments for their sessions once their appointment has ended and they’ve gone home? I was inspired to write an article about this because I feel that it speaks to the difficulty that many private practitioners face… owning the role of an entrepreneur in addition to being a therapist or practitioner and navigating money conversations with your clients.
The reality is that I have this conversation with many mental health practitioners. I often wonder why we feel a sense of concern about offending a client by asking for payment for our services. I challenge you to think about this from the perspective of a retail store owner.
Customers who enter their store and purchase clothing, food or other items wouldn’t leave without paying. Wouldn’t it be absurd if the sales associate in the retail store questioned how they should ask the customer for payment for an item or service that they took? So why as therapists do we struggle to ask for payment?
In many cases, it may be that you feel guilty receiving compensation for doing a job that is your passion and getting paid for doing what you love. In other cases, the personal rapport you build with your clients may feel less transactional than a customer shopping at a retail store.
Knowing the details of a client’s life creates a level of comfort in your sessions so you can help them work through their challenges and circumstances while at the same time eliciting a sense of discomfort when it comes to acknowledging that you deserve to be paid for your services.
Ultimately, much of this predicament revolves around establishing clear boundaries and remembering that you are not only a private practitioner but also a business owner. With clear boundaries in your client relationships, you will be able to justify your services as deserving of compensation. With the mindset of an entrepreneur, you can justify the need for timely payments as an imperative component of running your practice successfully.
There will be clients who will pay on time, without the need for constant reminders so by establishing these boundaries upfront, you can honour your value as a service provider and fill your client roster with those who respect your time and expertise as well.
It’s important to be comfortable with accepting compensation for your services and your time. Sometimes it will be as simple as sending off a quick email reminder for those one-off issues. In some cases, this may escalate to terminating your agreement for repeat offenders. The stress you may feel having to ask for payment takes away from your ability to show up as your best self for your clients that do pay on time.
There are a few ways to ensure that you receive prompt payment and avoid having to collect late payments. You may consider asking your clients to keep a credit card on file so that you can simply charge their card in the event of a missed payment. This is especially helpful for missed appointments without adequate notice.
Another option would be to create a general payment reminder email that is saved as a template in your email or on your computer. By simply filling in the name of the client on a template, you can avoid having to actually write a collection email each time this situation occurs.
The most important thing to remember is that you have a right to get paid for your time or service. While the work you do may be quite personal in nature, you are running a business… that makes getting paid part of the territory. When in doubt, consider the time, schooling and money you have invested in becoming the practitioner you are today – you are worthy of compensation for the important work you do.
If you’re looking for help developing an entrepreneur mindset, please book a free 20-minute Business Mentorship Consultation to see how I can assist you.