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How to Develop a Money Mindset - Page 4

A woman named Linda, a radiant massage therapist from Seattle, pulls me aside and tells me everything she knows about press releases. She tells me that they got her numerous appearances on TV and radio, and that the free publicity allowed her to double her income. Next I talk with a tall, handsome, tan dentist named Larry, from Boca Raton, who talks to me about active referral systems. While most therapists rely on client referrals, we typically do it passively, feeling uncomfortable about letting clients know that we're open to more referrals. Active referral systems are direct ways of asking clients for referrals. He says most service professionals receive referrals passively, but with an active system, you can easily triple your client referrals. Larry gives everyone who refers a new patient a lottery ticket. I'm not comfortable with that, but he does get me to reflect on systematic ways of letting clients know I'm open to referrals, such as putting referral cards in my office and waiting room, or mentioning that I'm expanding my practice in any written contact with clients or other professionals.

In addition to his ADD, Jay seems manic. Every day we work nonstop from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and after three days of this, my head is bursting with new ideas. I'm particularly struck by the concept of calculating the Lifetime Value of a Referral, which is that you multiply your average fee by your average length of treatment. So if your fee is $100 and your average length of treatment is just 10 sessions, your Lifetime Value of a Referral is $1,000. This, says Jay, is what you should be willing to spend to get one new referral, although you rarely will need to spend that much for each referral. If you do, you'll still make money from two sources: additional "back-end" services, such as lectures and workshops, in which the client can participate later and which cost you nothing to promote, and other referrals that this client will generate. It's a benchmark for your marketing efforts—and it's a much larger number than I'd ever have been comfortable with.

I'm fascinated by Jay's idea that it's less expensive and less time consuming to promote your services to an existing client than to get a new one. On the red-eye home, I can't sleep because my mind is racing with the realization that I'm a small-business owner, not just a psychologist. I have to work on my business, not just in it. I can be a victim and blame my low caseload on managed care, the economy, etc., or I can take responsibility for learning how to create more of what I want. I may have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, but I'm clearly in the kindergarten phase of my business education. This is at once a sobering realization and a powerful call to action.

If You Spend It, It Will Come

Less than two years after my epiphany in Los Angeles, my practice was full, even though my office is in a therapist-saturated suburb of economically depressed metropolitan Detroit. Now, more than a decade later, I get so many referrals that I can't handle them all—and with one consultant's help, I've expanded to a group practice focused on relationship issues. The practice now has 12 therapists and consistently gets more than 60 referrals a month. My annual practice income has increased every single year since 1996, growing tenfold since then.

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