There are different kinds of services that'll allow therapists easily to take credit-card payments for sessions. Some of these services are Internet based, while others involve renting or purchasing a "swipe machine" to be hooked up to a telephone or fax line. Whichever you choose, make sure you understand all the costs involved before you sign up for a credit-card-processing service. Some services require that you have a business checking account. In addition, you'll be charged a statement fee and a per-transaction percentage from the credit card processor. Depending on the service, the statement fee may be $9 to $14 per month, and the per-transaction charge may be 2 to 5 percent. So if a client charges a $125 session, you'll pay the credit-card merchant $2.50 to $6.25, depending on the agreed-upon rate. While this may seem like a lot, most clinicians find that people want to come more often if they can pay for their treatment with a credit card. The increased income usually more than offsets the cost. Two therapists in California recently told me that their practice income doubled after they let their clients and prospective clients know they accepted credit cards.
Casey Truffo, M.F.T., is a marketing coach and owner of BeAWealthyTherapist.com">www.mywellbeing.tv/therapists, which will help you with all phases of product production.
Marketing on the Internet seems scary at first to many therapists, who tend to be wary of technology, but with a little help from their techie friends at online companies set up to get them started, it really isn't, as they say, rocket science. Basically, what you want is some sort of noticeable web presence, which makes it easy for your web visitors to get to know you and become your clients.
With some trepidation, Marla, the participant in my workshop who was initially afraid of technology, began marketing her practice online. She chose to have a blog as her website and had a tech-savvy friend set it up. Since it's easy to update, she not only puts new articles on it frequently, but also adds other attention-grabbing and informative features. For example, she has pictures on the blog of a recent seminar she did and plans to put up a 15-second video clip of her presentation, so web visitors can get a better sense of who she is. She sends out a monthly online newsletter filled with relationship tips for her target market: young people who want relationships. Because more and more people are hearing about her and reading her blog, she's been getting more speaking engagements. Her practice has taken off, and she's excited about the new clients coming her way. She now gets two to four new referrals a week. Last week, she asked about how to get started with pay-per-click advertising. Recently, she said to me, "I never thought this would actually be fun, but it is! And if I can do it, anyone can!"
You can do it, too. If the Internet continues to grow in importance as a communication and information medium, as it almost certainly will, it'll increasingly be the most effective way for you to attract clients. Getting started on the web really isn't that difficult, and there's plenty of help out there, so, I say, go for it!