Over the years I have spoken with many people in helping professions who struggle with this aspect of business. I have heard so many people say, “I want to help people, I didn’t get into this just for money!”
First off: I am GLAD you didn’t get into this line of work for the money..it should be about helping people. Here’s the kicker-you still need and deserve to get paid for your services and time. When I first started out, I too struggled with this issue. I hated sending people bills or asking them to pay me when they came to the office. Over time, I had accumulated a large number of people who quit coming, owing me quite a bit of money and I found I was angry and frustrated.
Fast forward about 3 years into my practice. I was talking to my mentor and friend who asked me a very pointed question: “How many people can you help if you go out of business?” This really made me think! And over a short time, I generalized this question to another question, “How many of my clients would go to work every day if they didn’t get paid?”
I hope you’re understanding that part of the issue is about our own feelings about money and what we deserve. If I am here and giving you the best I have to give, I deserve to be paid for my time and service. When I started telling people they had to pay when they came, at first there was some understandable resistance, but over time, it was fine. I never had any issues with new clients because they started out with this expectation. And I learned another valuable lesson about relationships.
If I am providing service and you are not paying me, then we are no longer partners in this relationship. You now owe me and this creates inequity. When people are expected to pay and they pay, then we are on an even footing and it improves the therapeutic relationship! I lost clients because they owed me money and eventually just stopped coming. I had one client admit that’s why they quit coming. They felt bad that they owed me money and were angry when I finally said something because the bill had grown so large.
Set up your expectations in the beginning. Stick to your guns. Hire a billing person so you’re one step removed from the process. Be sure to exam and understand your own attitudes about this issue.
Always remember, you deserve to be paid! Have a great day!