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Finding Your Balance: How To Increase your Client Base for Equine-Assisted Therapists

Equine-assisted therapy is growing at an incredible pace in our post-covid world. In fact, the entire mental health support industry is overwhelmed with the sheer number of people seeking help… So, how is it then that some EAT providers are struggling to bring in clients? Or grow their practice the way they want?



Well, the answer is simple… they don’t ask. Or follow up.


In reality, putting the ask and follow-up into practice can be hard! For established businesses as well as newbies.


As we go through I’ll cover:

  • Where do I even start? At the beginning

  • How to reach out, and who to

  • What to ask for, and what to give

  • How to follow up... without being annoying

 

Where do I even start? At the beginning


Rule No. 1… Don’t be weird!


Do NOT jump in your car and start a drive-by/drop-in session with all your local GPs, support coordinators or psychologists... They’re too busy, and so are you!


The best place to start is by going back to basics. Ask yourself, WHO is your ideal client?


Do you want to work with ADHD children with behavioural issues? Maybe your ideal client is a woman who suffered from domestic violence, or perhaps you LOVE working with the Autistic community… whoever your ideal client is, you can’t accurately seek out referrals if you don’t know who you serve.


Woah! I can hear it now… “But Amber, I’m just starting out! I’ll see ANYONE!”


Of course! When you’re starting out you’ll likely take any and all clients that come your way… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t actively seek out your ideal clients from the beginning. Equine-assisted therapy (and therapy in general) is an emotionally draining career. But by seeking out your ideal clients from the start, you have more opportunities to ‘fill your cup’ throughout each day, stave off burnout and keep your practice busy for years to come.


How to reach out, and who to ask

Now that you are clear on who you want to serve, the next step is to actually FIND them.


Rule No. 2… Know your audience


So, you’ve decided your ideal client is Autistic teens with ADHD. You know that these clients would likely have an NDIS plan, and their parents would likely be in Autism support groups, either online or in person. Now it's time to reach out.


For this client group, the easiest (and best) place to start, is by reaching out to your local Support Coordinators. They would likely have participants that fit your ideal client, and they definitely have clients who would benefit from Equine-assisted therapy, even if they aren’t your ‘ideal’ (for those of you starting out 😉 )


In addition, you could ask any existing clients (or their carers) to recommend your services within support groups they have joined. People trust people like themselves so if the parent of an Autistic ADHD teen sings your praises (or even better, the client themselves), you are practically GUARANTEED to get enquiries from other people in similar situations… but this only works if you are genuinely providing transformative services.


Now, you’re wondering “how do I find them? And how do I reach out?” Well, it's time for some online stalking… I mean, “research”.


A quick google search for support coordinators in your area will bring up a number of results. Simply jump onto their website (or business Facebook/IG page) make sure they support the type of client you are looking for, and then send an outreach email… Simple!


What to ask for, and what to give


In your outreach email, you’ll be asking the recipient to do a few things for you, so you want to make the process as simple as possible for them. This is NOT the time to ask for a lot of information, nor to provide too much. I also don’t recommend asking for an in-person meeting, or even a phone call at this point… They don’t know who you are yet, and have not developed ANY know, like or trust.


Rule No. 3…. Give more than you take


This email doesn’t have to be huge, you are simply introducing yourself, and your business while explaining what you do. You should try to make the email as engaging as possible though, to keep the reader interested and wanting to learn more. Story-telling is a great way of making a connection through email.


There are some things that should ALWAYS be included in the introductory email, such as:

  • A short, catchy subject line – Something relevant that will make the recipient open the email

  • The recipient’s name (or their business name at the VERY least)

  • Something that shows you have researched the services they provide (usually something from their website)

  • Your services (what you do) and how it can help their clients

  • Who you serve (call out your ideal client as well)

  • Your fees

  • Your availability

  • Your location

  • Your Quals, Experience & professional registrations

  • NDIS plan types you accept (Self-managed, Plan managed and/or NDIA managed)

That’s the ‘give’ in this interaction, now for the ‘take’.


Be clear on what are you asking them to do. Are you asking for a referral straight away? Do you want to send them to your website for more information? Or do you want them to reply if they are interested? You need to be clear, and be ready to follow up ASAP and professionally if they do reach out.


How to follow up... without being annoying


Finally, it's time to follow up.


Rule no. 4… Don’t be annoying


It’s easy with email outreach to follow up too often (become annoying) or not often enough (and they’ll forget you). It's important to find the middle ground. You want to stay on their radar, without bombarding them.


So what’s this sweet spot? There is no magic number, or schedule for follow-up that will work with every Equine-assisted therapy practice, nor for every recipient. But, there is a rule of thumb you can follow.

  • Email 1. Introduction (day 1)

  • Email 2. Do you have any questions? (day 5)

  • Email 3. Short and sweet follow-up email eg. how can I help? (day 19)

  • Emails 4-7. Short and sweet, value add (answer 1x FAQs etc) to keep ‘Top of Mind’ (1 email every 4-5 weeks max)

And that’s it. Give it a try and let me know if


Chasing your dreams can be challenging, but with the right plan in place, and people around you, you too can reach your business goals, and spend time with your friends, your family and your animals guilt-free.


So, if you're ready to outsource your practice management or need help creating a strategy to reach your dreams, then let's talk. You'll be surprised by what IVY Business Services can offer.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, book a complimentary Discovery Call with me here:

Talk soon,


Amber


 

Amber McCormack is an Online Practice Manager and Business Coach as well as the

photograph of Amber from IVY Business Services

CEO and Founder of IVY Business Services. She is an avid mental health advocate, wife, and mother to three young girls.


Amber specialises in supporting mental health professionals, with a particular interest in Equine and Animal Assisted Therapies. Her passion is helping her clients reach their goals in life and business with her honest, no-nonsense approach. Amber has over 20 years of corporate administration experience and holds qualifications in Management, Project Management and Recordkeeping.

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