This Week's Poll
Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-Part series of blog posts covering something critically important to me; a counselors working client schedule. We're going to cover the three most important aspects of it which are 1) managing your schedule time, 2) filling your calendar, and 3) maximizing your profit from it. Here we go!
One of the things I always teach my counselors and associates is how to maximize their time (management) and profit margins when scheduling clients. Before anyone gets upset.... "we're here to help people, not make profit!", I've checked with my landlord and utilities providers. None of them accept unicorns or rainbows (I know, right?!). So, until they do, "profit" remains a legitimate subject for discussion in my world. Let's begin.
Manage Your Client Schedule
You don't want to work 16 hour days nor do you get any special thrill from the challenges sleep deprivation presents. Am I right? Then you'd best devote some time to the successful management of it, at least within the confines of your client schedule. This will be a crucial point to grasp, especially when we get to the 3rd blog post in this series.
The Proper Mindset for This Task
If you're a recent grad you've probably heard at least one authority figure tell you that, "a counseling career will be great! Work whatever hours you want and you'll make six-figures right out of the gate". Sound about right? Well, that was a lie. The truth is you'll have to pay your dues in the real world, and it's not all about the counselor. It's all about the clients and what they need!
The veterans among us should know that by now but if not, take that last bit of advice for what it's costing you. Make all decisions about your practice with your future clients' best interests in mind.
Which Days Shall I Work?
Wrong question. You should be asking yourself, "which days are best for my clients to see me?" Remember, a successful business focuses on the clients' needs, not the owner's. Most business decisions need to be made with the clients/customers in mind. Do that and you'll get what you want in the end, too.
How Do I Determine Which Days and Times Are Best, Then?
You have to know your market.
- What are the client-issues you most commonly deal with?
- Where do they work?
- What's their average income?
- What age group are you dealing with?
- What are their transportation/mobility options?
- How do they pay?
- What's their discretionary income situation?
- Who's paying?
- Where do they come from?
- When are they available to come see you?
If you've been at this awhile you should have a pretty good grip on those answers. If not, there's no time like the present to start surveying your client history and identifying them. Look at the past 90 days, or track your clients for the next quarter and fill in the blanks if you're not in a hurry.
If you're just getting started in practice then you'll have to "borrow" an elder counselor's experience. Nothing wrong with that. Find someone in your market area that does what you want to do and is willing to talk with you, then pick up the tab for a nice lunch somewhere. The questions you need to ask are listed above!
Your work schedule should be determined by when your clients can see you. People eat lunch from 11-2 so that's when restaurants are open for lunch, not the other way 'round. Make sense?
Survey your client history, borrow someone else's work history experience if you don't have one yet, and create a calendar that fits your clients. Remember, create a practice that is built around the clients' needs and your practice will take care of you!
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
These posts are my beliefs based on a) almost 30 year practice as a mental health provider and b) my own research. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. I try very hard to back up my liberty-based statements with my own experience and/or verifiable facts and I would ask you to do the same. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.