By Peg Corwin
Meet TERRY HEFTER, owner of the TERRY HEFTER ASSOCIATES LLC and Featured Business Owner at SCORE Chicago this week. Learn how she has built this business and what tips she has for your success.
What is your company’s elevator pitch?
Our Lincoln Park psychotherapy practice has 24 licensed therapists serving individuals, couples, and families 7 days a week 7 am to 9 pm. Our mission is “helping bring sunshine to lives.”
Who are your clients, and give an example of how you served that person or business?
Our clients are males and females of all ages and from all ethnic and socio-economic groups. We help reduce their depression and anxiety, relationship problems, addictions, and other mental health issues. We work with gay and lesbian clients and hearing-impaired. Our therapists are very skilled and caring.
We have Spanish-speaking clinicians and women and men of almost all ages, races, and experiences.
What is your most successful sales strategy? What is working to bring you business?
We don’t let down on promoting our business even when we’re doing well.
- We send quarterly emailings with informative articles on mental health topics to past clients and always have a number who end up returning based on the emailing (or they send others.)
- We visit physician’s offices (ones from whom we’ve received referrals) and have brought lunch (planned ahead), sent them fruit baskets or nuts at the holidays (which the healthcare professional appreciate rather than sweets.)
- We send holiday cards to all insurance personnel who do referring.
- I try to make at least one contact by phone or email per day to anyone at all that I think could be helpful in building the practice.I’m on a listserv of other therapists so I get referrals from them sometimes.
Who was your SCORE Mentor and how they have helped you in your business?
Mitchell Morris was incomparable with helping me decide what makes sense and what doesn’t. I will be forever grateful to him. Further, he was able to help me do all of it on a shoestring (which is good because I couldn’t have afforded more!).
He did SO many things for me. One of the most important was to inform me of a realistic goal for my income. It was more than I realized I could earn since I’d never been in business before. Another was his stopping me from renting out space rather than looking for more therapists to work for us. He said, “You’re not in the business of renting space.” Great advice!
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
The old adage “The customer is always right.” is true, I believe, for all businesses, but is especially true in our field because people don’t usually call us until they’ve tried every other avenue to feel better. Therefore, they’re often so stressed, angry, overwhelmed, etc., that they may misunderstand our office staff or may be angry-acting and/or aggressive-seeming. It’s vital that we try to help them to feel cared about no matter how they present themselves. There are ways to explain that we understand and want to help and actually DO try to have them get what they want.
Our good reputation has built that way as we treat all referral sources with the same kindness. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we’re very efficient and our therapists are extremely competent!
Another thing that I think has helped us be successful is that I learned from my mistakes how to hire good office staff. I now have two amazing managers who are company people> They are thrilled with every small and large success to which they contribute. They motivate the rest of the office staff and we all compliment them regularly for the specific things they do to help us grow. I also try to give them raises and bonuses if possible when they help make business better.
What is your website for further info?
Our business mentors can help you, too!
Disclaimer: SCORE Chicago helps small business owners manage and grow their businesses. We help startups write business plans and launch. Nevertheless, our involvement should not be considered as an endorsement.