I am frequently asked how I keep my practice so busy. Each year I see hypnotherapists and holistic practitioners go in and out of business. Often they have the skills of their profession (hypnosis etc.), but no skills in running a practice. This is one of the reasons that I require an internship from my hypnotherapy students. They not only experience first hand the therapeutic aspect of running a successful practice, but they also experience the daily running of an office. It takes more than the ability to induce hypnosis to run a successful hypnotherapy office.
In order to build a successful practice, people must have faith in your abilities. This starts with the first contact. That contact may be by way of written literature, advertisement, phone call, or by a personal meeting. In any event, this contact will in great part determine whether or not the person will come to you. The following are some simple suggestions to help you make the best of that contact.
Make sure that your cards, fliers, and mailers have a professional touch. Always include a photo so that the people reading it will see “the person” that you are. Make your literature educational and informative. Introducing yourself in your literature is fine, but keep most of your flier centered on educating the reader about your profession. This gives the person a sense of security and a feeling that you know what you are talking about.
I recommend that you always have a separate business phone line. This holds true even if your office is in your home. Always answer the phone in a polite and professional manner. We answer our phones, “Master’s Center, can I help you”. Never have children or those with a poor telephone demeanor answer your business phone. It will reflect poorly on your level of professionalism. Make sure that the person answering the phone (if it is not you), is trained in what to say and what not to say. Be sure to always get the callers name, phone number (with area code) and address (with zip code) before giving out any information. This gives you a way to follow up in the event that one of you must end the call abruptly. As well, always follow up your phone contact with a mailing.
THE PERSONAL MEETING
When first meeting a potential client it is important to have a professional appearance and a friendly yet professional demeanor. What I am about to say has in the past ticked some people off, but “I call em like I see em”! PEOPLE DO JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. If you want a successful practice you must accept this as fact. Dress professionally (no white coats please). Men should wear dress pants and a dress shirt. A tie isn’t necessary but will work. Lose the Jeans and trendy shirts. Hair to the middle of your back will turn off many clients (especially the professional who can more easily afford your services). Also be clean-shaven, or if bearded, keep your beard or mustache trimmed. Some “would-be-therapists” may think it looks earthy to have long hair and a scraggily beard, but to the average potential client it looks unprofessional. Jeans and long hair may look good for someone working in a biker shop, but you probably won’t have a successful practice if you present that image.
Women should dress professionally. Avoid trendy hairstyles and cloths (and lose the pierced nose ring). Also avoid 60’s love and peace attire, sandals and heavy make-up. If you want to be treated like a respected professional, then you must present yourself as one.
It may offend some people that we are judged by their appearance. Like it or not… that’s reality. If you want to make a statement with trendy cloths, nose and tongue piercing, or hair to the waist (men), you can do that… it’s your privilege. You may however need to find another profession. It is all a matter of priorities.
Your office should be neat, non-clinical, and attractive. Make your therapy room friendly and inviting. For example, I keep all of my diplomas etc. on my office wall. There are none in my therapy room. My therapy room is simple and homey. Have your appointment cards professionally done. Nothing looks tackier than writing your client’s follow-up visits on a piece of scrap paper. Have standard client forms for them to fill out when they come to see you. This helps you to stay organized and makes for a more professional appearance. These little touches go a long way. Don’t overbook! People get antsy when they have to wait for an extended period of time. That will get you off on the wrong foot. Just think about how you feel when you have a 10:00 appointment with your family physician and he takes you in at 11:00.
Most people don’t lose their practices because they don’t know hypnotherapy (or whatever the profession may be). They lose it because they don’t present themselves and their profession in a positive and professional way. Hypnotherapy and alternative wellness methodologies are emerging growth professions. If you are competent in your field, and present yourself as a professional, you can build a wonderful and lucrative practice.