When I ran a survey a couple of weeks ago, most of the survey results from therapists and graduate students expressed their concern and desire about “how to find clients.” Almost no one expressed an interest in the location of building a practice or the office space itself.
But one of the reasons that I want to take a few minutes today and talk about location (and office space in another upcoming post), is because where you decide to locate your practice has a lot to do with getting clients.
Who is Your Ideal Client?
This is a really great question that I never really thought too much about till the last year or so (and we will explore this more in depth later). I mean, I know I was passionate about working with couples, and men struggling with depression/anxiety/transitions, and adolescent boys. Those seemed to be three categories I would come back to a lot. But I didn’t think much beyond that.
But one of the reasons it’s important to think about location is because where you choose to plant your practice may or may not have a significant population of your ideal client.
For example, if you are passionate about working with college students, which I am…Plano, TX where my practice is located is not exactly a prime spot. There aren’t many college campuses around. You might be better served down by SMU, or in another city that is known as a “college town.”
Or let’s say you are passionate about working with young adults in their early 20’s–30’s who are single but facing big life transitions such as marriage, career issues, etc. You probably don’t want to launch a practice up where I live in McKinney, TX. Not a lot of that demographic in the suburbs. You would be better served down in Uptown or Addison, etc. Or for those not in Texas….a lot of Los Angeles.
Or let’s say you are passionate about doing bilingual therapy and you want to make sure you utilize your Spanish speaking ability. You would want to put a practice where you felt like there was more opportunity to practice speaking Spanish. So knowing the language demographics of a certain location would be important.
Or let’s say you don’t plan to take insurance. It would be important that you look at the income levels of various cities and areas to see if by you not taking insurance, your location could support that.
One more…what if you are passionate about play therapy. Is your office location convenient to schools in the area where you have the potential to build a referral network in the community?
Some Questions to Ponder
I could give a lot more examples. But it’s probably like a lot of businesses that are established. They determine what the need is in that community and deliver the product. But with therapy, you will need to determine what your ideal client or niche is, and then begin to do some research about locations.
Does the location you are looking at put you in a prime place to work with your ideal client?
This doesn’t mean that people haven’t built thriving practices in locations that didn’t contain their ideal client or help them more effectively reach their niche…but it is something you need to think about. Some people just want to build a therapy practice within 15 minutes of driving from their house. I understand that, and you can certainly do that.
Also, what about the therapist population in the area? I know a town very close by that is super tight knit and people have been referring to the same group of therapists for years. It would be very hard for a therapist to establish themselves there perhaps. Also, do you want to put your practice in an area that is known for having “all the therapists in town”, or do you want to place it somewhere else?
Or have you thought much about traffic in a location and the parking available? Often people are rushing to therapy on lunch breaks and after work, so if they have to put up with a crazy commute, or a horrible intersection, or multi-level parking that takes forever…your location in that spot may hinder you reaching your ideal client.
Does your location provide privacy for clients, or would they feel like your office location didn’t allow them the privacy they desired?
6 Reasons Why I Chose My Location
There were a lot of reasons that went into me choosing my location, but let me tell you briefly about six of them.
- I can get to it from my house within 15-30 minutes depending on traffic. After 7 years in Los Angeles, often with a 1.5 to 2 hour commute one direction (yes, the traffic is as bad as everyone says…210 to 134 to 101 to 405 south — Pasadena to Bel Air — ….if you live there you know what I’m talking about).
- I’m located right off a major tollway (Dallas North Tollway), so there is no hassle to get to my building. Very easy access.
- My office is located within 10-15 of some major cities (all accessible by easy toll road traffic) — Plano, Dallas, Frisco, McKinney, Allen…and there are a few more I get clients from as well. So I can market to multiple locations.
- I love my building. Very modern (style I like). Lots of wellness businesses/services in my building. Only 2 stories. Easy parking. High end services (which is important when I don’t take insurance — will discuss that later).
- My office is located in a high earning zip code (75093 — West Plano) — which comes back to the fact that I don’t take insurance as a therapist.
- My office is located in the suburbs which is important since I work with a lot of couples and teen boys and families. And that demographic is only booming more up where my office is (Frisco, Prosper, etc.)
These are just some of the reasons that I chose my location and why it was a very strategic decision for me. I will say this (but this is also for another post). Because I believe in helping as many people as I can, giving back, etc….I do keep some pro bono and sliding scale fees in my schedule. That is my way to offset not taking insurance, to give back, but to also keep my doors open (because a therapy practice is a business also at the end of the day…and therapists who don’t get that will have to closer their doors sooner than later…I’ve only just begun getting that by the way).
What Can You Do?
I would recommend you do a couple of things:
- Get really clear about who your ideal client is? Who do you want to work with? Where do they live, hang out, etc.?
- Where do you live? Because after all you don’t want to commute too far.
- Do some research on office space and the demographics of where your ideal client lives.