My 100% Conversion Rate Failure

I royally screwed up.

I tried an experiment that, at first seemed like a huge success, only to find out it was the exact opposite.

A massive failure.

Disappointing people is one of my worst fears. Especially when the bad news I have to deliver is a result of my own mistakes.

Last week, I covered for my amazing intake coordinator. She was out for a long, well deserved weekend.

Long story short, I signed up three new clients in one day. 100% conversion rate.

Then I had to cancel all three appointments.

What a terrible feeling. 😢

It was a failure of systems AND communication.

Three people were quite happy to reach a live person, get an appointment scheduled only to get an email the next day canceling that appointment.

Not ideal for the practice and certainly not ideal for the client.

Here are four intake mistakes you should avoid.

All told through the lens of my less than stellar performance as an intake coordinator.

Mistake #1 - Not considering live answer

I’ve never answered my phone live. Not as a solo practice owner and not as a group practice owner.

Even with a virtual assistant.

I’ve always known that answering the phone live would help sign up more clients. But it was too inconvenient or too expensive.

Part of this experiment was about testing my hypothesis that live answer would help. After nearly 15 years of not doing it.

The results?

I scheduled every single person who called.

I felt like a hero! It was amazing.

It was the glorious convergence of good marketing, available therapists and great support staff (me for the day).

By the way, my intake coordinator Tiffany is the absolute best. She’s been working for Productive Therapist for over five years and her conversion rates are excellent. She simply cannot answer the phone live because she supports several practices.

As a result of this experiment, I may be signing up with a company like Ruby Receptionists who can answer our phone live during business hours.

They can answer a few questions and quickly schedule a consult call with the intake coordinator.

If you’ve never tried live answer, you might reconsider. It can make a huge difference.

Want to get more clients?

Use our Magic Call Script!

Mistake #2 - Not creating a simple system to track therapist availability

I’m all about creating simple systems.

I love productivity and efficiency. So much so that I wrote The Productive Practice book and I coach other therapists on this stuff.

Nevertheless, my systems failed.

It happens to all of us. Even perfectly designed systems fail, even when the people executing them are top notch professionals.

For a solo practice tracking therapist availability is easy.

It gets harder for a growing group practice.

There are many ways to track therapist availability and the best one is the one that works, with the fewest errors.

Some practices use their EHR. Some use a separate spreadsheet. Some have each therapist fill out a form weekly to report on their openings.

We use the availability feature in Simple Practice to show the intake coordinator the current availability overlaid on top of the current booked appointments.

Seems like the simplest way to me.

However, it relies on each therapist keeping their calendar up to date on a regular basis.

The mistake I made was not in designing a faulty process, but rather in not ensuring the process was consistently followed.

Maybe you can relate!

My solution?

  • Communicate the process clearly with my team (again)
  • Give my intake coordinator permission to book new clients in any open spot
  • Follow up for a few weeks to make sure it’s working

Good standard operating procedures plus accountability is the best equation for business efficiency.

Mistake #3 - Not creating a simple system to track the client journey

There are lots of therapists out there tracking incoming referrals on post-it notes. I know who you are!

Don’t get me wrong, that system can work, for a while, but it breaks down eventually. Especially if you start a group practice.

To be honest, I thought we did have a simple system for tracking the client journey.

Sure, it’s just a spreadsheet, but it’s worked pretty well for almost 10 years.

The problem I found was that potential client info was in our referral log and also in our support email inbox, making it somewhat difficult to cross reference.

When I went to follow up on some recent referrals, I had to do way too much hunting to find the info I needed to make some important phone calls.

Inefficient and annoying.

My answer. Use a CRM or client relationship management software.

This type of software makes it easy to visualize and track the client journey from first contact to first appointment. Think a Trello style layout.

It also has a unified inbox to keep track of all emails, text messages, internal notes and more.

Honestly, a good CRM can do a bunch of amazing things. More than I can detail in this post.

Check out this podcast to learn more - How To Grow Your Practice Using a CRM

I recently chose Therapy Flow CRM and we are just about to go live with using the tool in our intake process. Very exciting.

Quick note: you may not need a CRM if you are a solo or small group practice. Once you grow and have more referral flow, it can be such a good idea, you won’t know how you lived without it!

Want to get more clients?

Use our Magic Call Script!

Mistake #4 - Not communicating clearly with my admin team

This is a big one.

Honestly, most of this could have been avoided with a single email or direct message.

I didn’t reach out to Tiffany to get a handoff update. To gather info about therapist availability and any potential client communications in progress. She also didn’t make the effort to communicate with me.

What’s a bummer is that this is actually our usual process. Tiffany schedules a short meeting with the person covering our intakes while she’s out and they get a chance to sync up.

Of course, we did a debrief afterwards and made some small changes to make sure this doesn't happen again.

As therapists, we know so much about clear communication.

Still it’s incredibly easy to make unintentional mistakes in this area.

Make sure you communicate clearly with your admin staff, so fewer balls get dropped and life is good for your team and your clients.

At the end of the day, I was only able to reschedule one of the new clients. The other two never responded, which was disappointing.

As the practice owner, this was an eye opening experience. Although painful, it helped me make a few important decisions and some helpful changes.

I’m glad I failed. Because I learned.

I made my practice better and I also shared the lesson with you. I’ll take those wins.

So, what can you do with this info?

Check out the following software and services to level up your practice and your intake process.

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Get more clients. 

Use our Magic Call Script!

Try it yourself or give it to your intake coordinator. This is the exact script we've used to train 100's of intake coordinators. 

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