Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast!
I’m your host, Cindy Norton.
Here in Episode 11 I’m going to discuss what to do about those credit card processing fees. And the short answer is: Don’t pass them along to your clients! It’s illegal and unethical.
Let’s get started.
Podcasts are growing in popularity and there are already so many great private practice podcasts out there. If you join the Trailblazer community via my seasonal newsletter you will receive a free A-Z download that includes a list of my favorite private practice podcasts.
I hope that the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast will earn its spot in your regular podcast listens.
See below for the episode show notes links and transcript…
Episode 11 Show Notes Links
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Episode 11 Transcript
Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast! I’m your host, Cindy Norton. Here in Episode 11 I’m going to discuss what to do about those credit card processing fees.
Let’s get started.
Have you been wanting to start your private practice, but you can’t seem to take that first step? Maybe you’re afraid of failure or lack confidence, or maybe the idea of running your own practice is overwhelming. I’m Cindy Norton, owner of Mountain Practice Journeys and I help therapists and counselors to love the business side of private practice. I’ll share with you practical skills and advice along with a healthy dose of inspiration so that you can be on your way to the practice of your dreams. Put on your hiking boots, and let’s get going.
If you haven’t yet listened to Episode 10, I urge you to do that. In that episode I talk about why I do what I want and why you should too. It’s all about feeling confident to work the way that you want to in your private practice so that you can best help the clients who are looking for your unique approach and specialty.
Now let’s get on to today’s episode.
I’m going to tell you what to do about those credit card processing fees. And the short answer is: Don’t pass them along to your clients! It’s illegal and unethical.
So I advise you not to break the law or to operate unethically in your practice.
Depending upon your state and licensing board, it may be unethical or illegal to charge a processing fee or surcharge to your clients when they use a credit card to pay for therapeutic services.
In many states it’s strictly illegal. And in my personal opinion, it just feels yucky and gives out an impression to your clients that $3 is going to mean the collapse of your practice.
You run a business. You’re going to have costs associated with running your business. Credit card processing fees are a cost of doing business. Period.
You don’t charge an additional $1 for the use of Kleenex or an additional $2 for the cup of tea that your client had in session. So why would you want to charge them extra for paying you?
I know the credit card processing fees can add up. A meager 2-3% doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of a year. However, these fees need to be conceptualized just the same as your rent or office supplies.
Clients like doing business with those providers who make it easy to do business with. I want to make it as easy and as convenient as possible to receive payment for my services.
Having the option to use a credit card for payment is convenient for your clients. As an added bonus, having a credit card on file is helpful for collecting no show and late cancellation fees.
Personally, I would never go to a provider who would not take a credit card. I don’t always have cash or checks on me, and sometimes I honestly don’t have the money available in my account at the time to cover the service.
Clients will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to run to the ATM before their appointment, ensure that they have the money in their account, or remember to bring their checkbook to the session.
As I mentioned earlier, credit card processing fees are a cost of doing business. Therefore, you will need to factor this into your session rate.
So let’s say that you want to begin accepting credit cards and your fee is currently $150. For clients that are going to use credit cards, the processing fee may end up being a little over $4. You can adjust your fee to a new rate of $155 and that will more than cover the credit card processing fees.
This way of setting your rate is completely ethical, as you are factoring in your costs of doing business. You are taking into consideration the credit card processing fees, as well as your office rent, continuing education costs, liability insurance, and all the other things it takes to keep running your practice.
Let me run through two different scenarios. Which transaction would you (and your clients) prefer? (Hint: Only one is legal and ethical.)
Therapist: It will be $150 for today’s session.
Client: I would like to use my credit card.
Therapist: Oh. That will be an extra $4.73 then. So that’s $154.73 total.
Therapist: It will be $155.
Client: Okay. Here’s my card.
Therapist: Thank you.
Scenario 2 just feels better doesn’t it? And remember, scenario 1 is actually illegal in many states, not to mention an unethical practice.
Let’s talk about how you collect payment from your clients. There are many different options out there. But I suggest going with the credit card processor that is the most convenient and easy to use for you and your clients, as this choice will save you time and money.
In my business I use Simple Practice, a practice management software that does it all. I love it for the easy integration with Stripe, an online payment processing system.
When my clients complete their intake information in the Simple Practice client portal, they are also required to enter in a credit card that will be kept on file for payments.
After I have completed a session, I click a button in my Simple Practice app and I’m paid. Super easy, right? It gets even easier. You can also set it up so that your payments are all collected automatically at the end of the day and there is nothing extra that you have to do.
I highly recommend Simple Practice to all therapists because of its simplicity and wealth of features. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can check the show notes for a link to get a free 30-day trial and a $50 credit. The show notes can be found at mountainpracticejourneys.com/episode11
During each episode I’ll be giving you one small take away, action step, or mindset shift. I call these acorns. Listen to episode 0 to get the scoop on what the acorns are all about.
The acorn from this episode is to start to become more decisive in your practice in order to avoid getting stuck in analysis paralysis. This is so easy to do, especially when you are getting started in your private practice because you are faced with so many decisions all at once, like what electronic health record system to use, deciding what rate to charge, choosing a company for your liability insurance, deciding on your cancellation policy, choosing a credit card processor, and the list goes on.
You could easily spend hours or even days considering your options for each aspect of your practice. You can start to compare options and really get down to the nitty gritty and before you know it you are beginning to look like Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia standing in front of his giant conspiracy board with various papers tacked up and lines drawn between them.
It’s totally okay to do your research, but the time is going to come when you need to make a decision. Oftentimes, being stuck in research mode is a symptom of a larger issue – most likely fear, and more specifically perfectionism and imposter syndrome. If you don’t make a decision, you don’t have to put yourself out there. Because making a decision when you are starting your private practice means that you are one step closer to it becoming a reality. And then the imposter syndrome creeps in and says, “Who are you to be starting a private practice?” And then perfectionism comes in and says, “If I can just do everything perfectly then maybe everything will be okay and I will deserve to have a private practice.”
Don’t let me fool you. I research everything I do pretty heavily. But I’ve gotten much better. Especially after I realized that much of my research was due to analysis paralysis, which was due to fear, which was due to imposter syndrome, which turned into perfectionism. It’s a vicious cycle and all these things feed into each other.
This is such a big topic, so I’m going to stop for now, as I’ll have an episode coming up this season with Jane Carter where we dig into this more deeply.
As I outlined in episode 0, I’ll be alternating between a fun fact and ‘what I’m digging’ segment with each new episode.
What I’m digging for this episode is the HP Instant Ink program. When you have your own business, it’s likely that you need a printer. But ink cartridges for printers can be super expensive.
Until recently, I would be really careful about conserving ink and be very selective about what I printed. But once I enrolled in the HP Instant Ink program, printing is now actually affordable.
You pay a small amount per month and you can print a certain number of pages, depending upon your plan. And by connecting your printer to wifi new cartridges will automatically be mailed to you when you are getting low on ink. And I love the fact that you can print full color pages without having to worry about the amount of ink you are using, as the pricing is only based on the number of pages used.
My clients appreciate all the helpful printouts I am able to give them. I personally have a plan that is only a few dollars per month and it provides all the pages that I would ever need to print for my practice.
You can try the HP Instant Ink program for a full month for free with the link provided in the show notes. I’ll also provide a link to the HP printer that I have if you’re curious. You can visit the show notes at mountainpracticejourneys.com/episode11
Thank you so much for joining me today on your private practice journey.
For episode 12 I’ll be chatting with Jesse Martin, a holistic business coach. We talk about how therapists and counselors can use their expertise to be highly-paid online consultants and ethically attract their dream clients. Jesse will answer questions such as: Can therapists do consulting and coaching? How much should you charge? How do you get clients? and How do you pick a niche?
I also want to sincerely thank Diana, Jen, Crystal, and Lydia for financially supporting the first season of the podcast. And a special thanks goes out to everyone listening. I really appreciate your kind messages letting me know how this podcast is helping you in your private practice. It definitely gives me the motivation to keep going.
If you are interested in supporting future seasons of the podcast, you can visit mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast and purchase some apparel from the Mountain Practice Journeys store, or by making a donation. I’ll show my thanks by giving you and your practice or business a shoutout on a future episode.
There’s no way you can know how much it means to me that you choose to join me here as I share all things related to private practice. Please subscribe so you don’t miss a step. For more information about this episode, please visit the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast I truly appreciate you Trailblazers. Your mountain is within reach. Journey on.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Happy Climbing, Cindy