There are few better professional feelings for therapists than opening your own practice.
You have the power to decide the communities you serve and the office you work from. You also get a larger share of the revenue generated by your work.
Being your own boss allows you to decide how your practice should be structured, including the types of clients you would like to work with. Which insurance companies to work withWhich areas of practice to focus on?
But running your own practice comes with a lot of challenges. One of the most difficult is billing. Billing.
In an ideal world, clients would pay predictably and you wouldn’t need to track down late payments. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Unless you make it a point to prioritize your billing process, you’re bound to run into billing issues sooner or later.
To answer the question posed in the headline, there’s no rule that says you need to bill clients on any particular cadence. It is, however, important to bill clients consistently — whether that’s weekly, biweekly, monthly, or even quarterly is up to you.
Before we take a look at some actionable tips you can use to improve your billing processes, let’s first turn our attention to some of the reasons why successful practices prioritize consistent billing experiences.
Five Reasons Consistency is Important for Billing Therapy Clients
Although the list is not exhaustive, here are some convincing reasons why you should provide consistent billing services to your clients.
1. You won’t catch your clients off-guard.
Have you ever received a bill in the mail that was unexpected? It’s not the most thrilling experience in the world, to say the least.
As a therapist, you have the responsibility to help clients get past traumas and become the best version possible of themselves. Do not be a source of stress and grief.
By billing clients consistently, they will know when to expect bills and how much they’ll have to pay. In other words, no surprises — the way it should be.
2. You’ll avoid the appearance of fraud.
If you’re not in the habit of billing clients consistently, you might fall into the trap of billing them whenever you feel like it. You might send a client a billing after two sessions, five sessions, and then three sessions.
With no rhyme or reason to your billing practices, you might raise red flags for credit card companies — or even your clients themselves!
In most other areas of our lives — whether it’s insurance payments, rent or mortgage expenses, or utility bills — we’re billed once a month, like clockwork. You can avoid fraudulent accounting behavior by sticking to a predictable billing cycle.
3. You’ll never leave a big pile of invoices on your desk.
Invoicing can be a bittersweet task, as any small business owner will tell you. On one hand, you’re getting paid for your work, which is exciting. On the other, if you put the task off long enough, you’ll have to deal with a mountain of paperwork (or tons of emails if you bill electronically), which is probably not on your list of favorite things.
It is possible to make the billing process as efficient and consistent as possible by developing a repeatable, consistent billing system.
4. You won’t work for free.
The longer you put billing off, the higher the chances you’ll miss charging for a session or two, and maybe even more.
While you went into your line of work to help people, you knew this would also be your job, and you didn’t sign up to work for free. Consistent billing processes significantly reduce the likelihood you’ll forget to bill a client for a session.
5. You’ll have a steady income stream.
Cash flow issues are one of the main reasons small businesses fail, and therapy practices are no exception. After all, you will need money to pay your office expenses, taxes, and any wage costs.
You must bill your clients regularly unless you have a lot of cash. This will avoid cash flow gaps. Generally speaking, the faster you send out invoices, the sooner you’ll get paid.
Regular billing will ensure you have a steady cash flow. This makes it much easier to help your clients to the best of your abilities — instead of worrying about how you’re going to pay next month’s energy bill, for example.
Now that you have a better idea about why billing clients consistently is the right thing to do, let’s take a look at some of the specific steps you can take to get your billing function in a better place.
4 Steps to Take Now to Transform Your Practice’s Billing Processes
Ready to take your practice’s billing process to the next level? These are just four steps to help you get your billing process up and running.
1. Change the way that you think about billing.
First, billing is the most important part of your business. If your clients don’t pay you promptly, it’s going to be that much harder to fulfill the mission of your practice: helping clients live their best lives.
If billing’s been an afterthought to date, it’s time to change your mindset and treat it with the importance it deserves.
2. Communicate clearly
It is crucial that clients know exactly what you are doing before you take on them. How much you chargeThey should also know whether their insurance covers it. What they can expect to be charged for each session. You can reduce confusion when it comes to settling the account by laying out your billing process as soon as possible.
Clients need to feel heard and that you are available to answer their questions. This will ensure the best possible results. If you’re planning to raise your fees at any point, communicate those increases well ahead of time.
3. Invest in your billing function.
There’s no rule that says you have to run your billing department yourself just because you own your own practice.
To reduce your billing load as your business grows, you should consider smart investments in billing. You might hire an accountant or invest in billing software. Or even hire new staff members to take care billing.
When you don’t have to manage billing yourself, you can bring a clearer mind to each session — and achieve better client outcomes because of it.
4. Set automatic reminders
You might decide that you like handling billing on your own, and that’s perfectly okay. If you continue with this setup, be sure to set automatic reminders that will let you know that it’s time to send out invoices.
By doing so, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to bill your clients on time, which improves the client experience while strengthening your cash situation.
Are you ready to upgrade your billing function?
As a therapist, you went into business to help clients live more rewarding lives — not to crunch numbers and stare at spreadsheets.
If you’re struggling with billing, look into a practice management solution like Therapy Partner, which gives you all the tools you need to manage your schedule, document each session, and bill your clients with ease.
To learn more about how Therapy Partner can transform the way you bill and help your practice reach its full potential, Check this out.
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