Seeing clients online, typically over video isn’t for everyone. But, if you choose to expand your practice and see your clients over video, it’s a large resilience booster for your business, and a great way to form a solid, additional revenue stream. The practitioners that do well over video share some common traits. They can get their head around change; they can develop different solutions to problems and they’re people that like to give things a go.

I’m on a lot of the health and wellness public Facebook groups, where practitioners talk about their business problems. For the past two months, the conversations have centered around seeing clients over video. Some practitioners, who were self-declared resistant to the online space, have been surprised to find that they quite like it, some even enough to consider ditching their physical practice altogether and go fully online. Others feel forced to see people online right now (seeing as I’m writing this during the pandemic), and they’ve decided that they hate it. They’re saying they feel tired, and that clients are complaining that they aren’t looking at them.

So, now seems like an appropriate time to talk about seeing clients online. Let’s talk about why you’d want to do it, who it’s for and who it’s not for.

Why having an online practice is a business resilience booster

While I live in Colorado, I’m a born and bred Aussie. Prior to moving to the US, I lived in a place called Townsville, a beautiful seaside regional town. After working abroad, I decided that’s where I wanted to set up my group private practice, and so I did.

About two weeks after leaving Townsville for my new home in Colorado, the entire city flooded. They called it a 1 in a 1000-year event. After being in drought for as long as I lived there, one day it decided to rain. And rained it did. It rained so much, the once empty dam reached capacity and the call was made to open the gates to stop the dam wall from breaking open.

That was at the start of 2019, and many of the businesses have only now reopened. Because of the significant damage, and a gigantic number of insurance claims, rebuilding took a long while.

Can your business survive that? It could if a solid chunk of your business revenue was from online services. This is a gigantic business booster. Literally, people could pick up their laptops, and their ring light, change their location and focus on their online business. It sounds super simple because it is. (Townsville, is also cyclone territory, and so this was always my plan in the event that a cyclone would wipe out my internet connection).

And if you think that it won’t happen to you, you’ve probably all heard about the recent Australian fires. California has the same problem. And now, we’re all in a stinking pandemic. So, it can happen to you, and it is happening to you.

But just because this is an option, doesn’t mean it’s for you. More on that in a bit.

Work from anywhere

If you read my last blog, you might remember me mentioning lazing in a hammock in Costa Rica. Another cool part about having some (or all) of your practice online, is you can work from anywhere with an internet connection if you set that part of your business up correctly.

I didn’t start my businesses to be a slave to them. I started them because I knew if I set them up well, I could have more freedom and flexibility compared to working for someone else.

Depending on what business you’re in, will depend on what services you can provide from what location. I’m also a performance coach, and so I’m right to see those clients online from anywhere.

In Australia, there’s national registration for a lot of health professions so again, Aussies can see people from anywhere in the country.

For my US readers, that last sentence might have you shaking your head. A lot of your professions still have state-based requirements – which is one of the most ridiculous issues you have to face. Seeing people across state lines, even if they are there temporarily, on a holiday, for instance, is fraught with legal danger.

But it’s important to note, that the state line issue is only an issue for services you choose to put under your profession. Here’s a loose example: If a psychologist runs a ‘resilience building program’, but doesn’t do ‘psychological work/therapy’ in that program, and also doesn’t mention or advertise that they are in fact a psychologist, then you can do it from anywhere, for anyone. This is the type of additional revenue pathways that are just waiting to be created by you. Oh, and if you’re not putting services under your profession, in most cases you can obtain and use testimonials too. Just make sure it’s got nothing to do with your profession (having a different website is a good idea).

The other item to note is there’s an actual population in the USA. A therapist from New York asked me how she could see people across state lines, to expand her market reach. After our discussion, she realized that advertising to people outside of her state is so far from necessary. New York has a population of 19 million – which is more than enough for her niche business to service.

You can have a client base that’s not reliant on geography

About 30 years ago, if you’re business wasn’t situated on a prominent street with great visibility and walk-by traffic, getting new clients was a hard slog. You also had to charge them a lot to pay for your rent.

If you get a chunk of your income from online activities and are into digital marketing, you don’t physical prominence, and you don’t have to rely on your locality for business. Which is important if we go back to the Townsville flood example where overnight the entire local population was impacted negatively.

It doesn’t matter how good of a case there is from a business perspective to have online-based revenue streams if you don’t actually want to do this.

What type of practitioner who does well in the online space?

If I think to the practitioners in the Private Practice Activators membership and all the practitioners I’ve worked with, they have some common traits, which no doubt allows them to be more successful in the online space compared to others.

First of all, they’re curious creatures. They’re interested in learning – about themselves, about their business, about how to be better in business, about how to be better practitioners. There’s certainly a “I’m keen to grow” mentality.

They can also get their head around change. Some love change, others find some steadiness and then are ready to ‘upgrade’, try some new business strategies, and develop new services and products.

They can also find a way to make things work and they develop different solutions to problems.

They’ll also ‘give it a go’. I remember having an internal chuckle to myself when I saw one of the member’s faces as I said it’s time to do Facebook live videos to engage their audience better. They did it though. And now they’re doing very well indeed. You would never know that had some reservations.

I love these traits. We all have to start somewhere. I can teach business strategy, digital marketing, how to get more of the right clients, but I can’t teach how to be a curious human. That’s up to you.

What type of client does well over video?

So, I don’t end up with a 5000-word article, I’m going to talk about clients who see you for traditional services. Here’s what I see.

If the practitioner is 100% onboard with online services, about 70% of their in-person clients are as well.

If the practitioner feels forced to see people online, or they’re just not that into it, the 70% goes down by a humongous amount. If this person was working for me, I’d be surprised if they could get 20% of their clients to convert to being online clients.   

The rapport, trust, and likeability of a practitioner are also key for online services. Clients look to us for guidance and they can tell when we’re not so sure about something.

I’ve been seeing clients online for about 7 years. This is a sweeping generalization, but the clients that are happy to engage in online services, have some of the same traits as the practitioners. They’re curious people, they can get their head around change. Again, a generalization, but the clients that I personally struggle to ‘convert’ are regimental? I think that’s the right word. Their a bit stuck in their ways. And it doesn’t seem to matter how intelligent they are, nor their age (within reason).

So, should you expand your practice to include seeing clients over video?

Maybe. While I’d love to say, Yes! Absolutely! Seeing clients over video isn’t for every practitioner. I suspect the current worldwide situation is a good test for you. Don’t worry about learning how to attract online clients just yet, the first step is doing some reflection, and understanding if you like online-based work.

The next step is having a think about what your life might look like in 3 years. Are you working from home with a caseload of 30 video-based clients per week? Are you still in your current office space, but are now seeing 50% of your clients online? Are things pretty much the same, only when your clients go away for work or holidays they’re still seeing you, only over video? These are fun questions, and I’m looking forward to hearing about what you think and about your strides (or not) towards the online space?

Ready to learn more about attracting new online clients? I have free 10-day video training for health and wellness practitioners. If you’ve been thinking about this, now’s the time to enroll as we will be charging for it one day, and I don’t want you to miss out.

– Alexandra Whitehead, Founder of The Practice Activator