Finances

Why Keeping Your Therapy Rates a Secret is Hurting Your Therapy Practice and Harming Potential Clients

August 6, 2021

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I'm Aisha — private practice strategist for mental health therapists looking to ethically blend their clinical skills with entreprenuership without burnout. 

Meet Aisha

Imagine you’re in the market for a new car and you have your choice narrowed down to two cars, each at two different dealerships. Dealership A & B, both have ample inventory, you’re ready to test drive the vehicles, and talk about the features and benefits of the two cars directly with the sales associate.

You venture into Dealership A and everything was smooth sailing. You came prepared with your list of questions which were answered by the associate with grace and ease. You took the car for a test drive and were impressed with the features and benefits, and the price of the car was in alignment with your budget.

You make them aware that you’re planning to check out one more dealership to help solidify your decision.

You waltz over to Dealership B, thrilled at the idea that you’ll soon be the owner of a new car.

You walk through the aisles of cars and look for the MSRP but all the cars are missing a price tag.

You find that kind of odd, since the last dealership conveniently listed its prices.

But you think to yourself, “this car is so new, they must have forgotten to put the price tag on the car”.

This car isn’t identical to the one at Dealership A, but it just feels like a great fit for what you’re looking for. You assume that it’s probably around the same cost as the other dealership, give or take a few dollars.

All cars and dealerships are pretty much the same right!?

You walk up to the sales associate and follow a similar flow as you did at Dealership A, and then you decide, this is it!

The car that you see yourself driving around for the next 10+ years will be from Dealership B.

You walk inside to chat with the sales associate, so that you can discuss the terms of the agreement and to review the fine print.

The sales associate rattles off their rehearsed spiel about your soon to be new car and your ears perk up when you hear the total cost of the car.

“Oh, I didn’t realize that was the cost of this car. I just assumed that since the make and model were comparable to the Dealership down the street, that the price of your cars would be about the same too.”

“Nope. Our prices are based on our unique business model. We’re aware that of what other dealerships charge, but we don’t base our prices off their prices.”

“Okay, well can you at least explain why you don’t publish your prices?”

“Oh, it’s tradition and besides, we don’t publish our prices because we don’t want the competition to know what we charge.”

“Okay, well that’s a bit contradictory to what you just said about basing your prices on your unique business model. But in any event, I’m not the competition. This car is out of my price range. I can’t afford it. Is there any room to negotiate?”

“Well, you said you wanted a car, didn’t you? Frankly, it seems like you need a car, based on how you were carrying on about the state of your current car. If you were really that serious about being a car owner, you’d take what I’m offering regardless of the price. But since you’re not interested in what we offer and would rather haggle, perhaps you should try the used car lot down the street. Sometimes bargain shoppers even participate in a rideshare when their budget is too tight. They’re both great alternatives for people like you.”

You think to yourself ‘wtf, are they talking about?’

“I’m not in the market for a used car and I’m not interested in using a rideshare. I wanted to purchase a new car and I’m here because I am serious about purchasing a car. I just wanted to make sure I was being a good steward of my finances. I would have never come in here, spent my whole afternoon talking with you and taken the car for a test drive, had I known it was out of my price range. I knew this was too good to be true. All car dealerships are all the same. Just in it for the money.”

You leave Dealership B in such a tizzy, feeling defeated, completely abandoning the idea that you found a great car at Dealership A.

You return home, feeling scorned.

“I’ll just stick with what I already have.”

And Scene.

Now you’re probably thinking, But Aisha, a car is a one-time purchase, no one is purchasing a car every day.

True, however how many people do you know are paying a lump-sum of cash for a car?

Most people are financing a car for 3 to 5 years and according to LendingTree.com, the average cost of a monthly car payment is $563. Break that down into weekly or bi-weekly payments that’s roughly $140/$280 respectively.

Hmm, that looks very similar to how much some therapy sessions costs and over the course of 3 to 5 years, that’s a significant investment of time and money.

So, now, that I have painted this picture for you and have your full attention, let’s have a serious talk about why publishing your rates is hurting your practice and potentially impacting the therapy industry as a whole.

Stop Assuming

Just because people want to know how much therapy costs doesn’t mean they’re not serious about therapy.

This is a very cynical and toxic way of viewing people who are seeking support.

There are many indicators of whether a potential or current client is serious about therapy and asking about your rates, is not on that list.

I make every effort not to throw shoulds and buts around BUT when it comes to healthcare, therapy should NOT be a one-size-fits all and everyone should have access to options to high-quality care that’s in alignment with their budget and lifestyle.

Like the sales associate, assuming that your client is looking for budget friendly options, when they share with you their reactions to your mystical pricing, without asking them questions first, is inappropriate. Ask the client what they were hoping to spend on a weekly or monthly basis on therapy and then offer them suggestions. Information based suggestions will take you so much farther than making another assumption about their values about money.

The Competition

Frankly my dear, I just don’t give a damn, how much you charge for therapy because that has NO IMPACT on how I cover my business expenses and reach my revenue goals.

Yes, it’s true you have competition. You’re not the only show it town, it’d be foolish to assume that you wouldn’t have competition in a capitalistic society. And yes, it’s most likely true that they are scoping out the way in which you market your practice but probably not for the reasons you think. You’re heard me ramble on about Market Research and when done so ethically, it’s a valuable business strategy to determine what you offer, who you serve, and how you serve your target population.

You’re wasting your time, if you’re more focused on what the competition is potentially stealing from you. Instead focus on the people you want to serve through your practice.

It’s Personal

Some argue that the reason why they don’t publish their rates are due to domestic matters like alimony and child support. I will never diminish the emotional and economic toll that spousal and child support can have on one’s personal life + finances. With that being said, and please I would love for someone to prove me wrong on this, don’t you have to provide legal tax documentation to prove your income and expenses to be held accountable for those legal obligations? If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter what you post on your website, because whatever you report to the IRS, is what really counts.

So unless you’re lying on your tax return, which is a whole separate issue, your personal legal obligations should not impact you publicly publishing your therapy session rates to potential clients.

Stop Wasting Your Time

You put so much time, energy, effort, and money into marketing your practice, so once potential clients start calling to schedule a free consultation, you want to make sure it’s time well spent. If you’re not giving your potential clients all the information they need to know, like and trust you BEFORE, DURING, AFTER meeting with you, there’s no reason for them to commit their valuable resources of time and money to invest in therapy at your private practice.

Summary

If you wouldn’t purchase a car without knowing the cost, then you shouldn’t assume that someone would invest a similar amount of time and money into therapy without knowing the cost. I’m a firm believer in leading with value, so continue to put effort into telling people about what you offer, who you serve, how you serve them.

Attracting your ideal client takes work and don’t sabotage your marketing efforts and your reputation by leaving out key components about what it’s going to take to collaborate with you.

Be compassionate and transparent.

I know, more than most, how challenging it can be it create and run private practice from the ground up. It takes a plan, strategy, and skill to run a profitable business and I know you have what it takes to create a career, biz, and life that nurtures you as you nurture others.

After reading this, if you thought to yourself, YIKES! I think I’ve acted like the sales associate from Dealership B or you’d at least like to avoid treating potential clients like that, click here to join the waitlist for my new online program Caseload Confidence: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide for New Therapists to Confidently Build Their Client Caseload & Optimize their Therapy Client Onboarding Process.

In this 4-week online program, I teach new and aspiring therapists what to do BEFORE meeting with potential clients and what to SAY during your free therapy consultations, so that you’re maximizing all the hard work you put into marketing your practice by transforming potential ideal clients into actual clients on your caseload.

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