TTE 57: Discovering an Unserved Market in Your Community & Targeting Your Ideal Client Around It
Crickets. The dreaded (but familiar) sound new business owners hear when they put their shingle up. And that’s exactly what happened to Jann.
But as she began advertising in her community, she noticed an unserved niche market in her community: providing speech-language therapy to children between the ages of birth to 3.
Jann double-downed all her marketing efforts and started sponsoring tee-ball teams for 3-4 year olds, joined women’s social groups and more.
And now her solely cash pay business is booming.
Be sure to listen to Jann’s therapist experience as this is one you don’t want to miss!
Best Marketing Move for Her Practice
- Getting a website
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Thanks to Jann for joining me this week. Until next time!
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Jann: Yes, I am.
Perry: Fantastic, well, I am so glad to have you here Jann. Let me give our audience, a little overview of you and then we’ll jump into the show. Jann Fujimoto is a certified speech-language pathologist and the owner of SpeechWorks LLC, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She helps children become competent and confident communicators. Her practice brings convenience speech therapy to the client in their home after school program or pre-school. She also provides tele-practice services to students in Alberta, Canada and Wisconsin. She received here M.S, her Masters of communication disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson and holds a BA from Indiana University in Spanish. Jann holds a Certificate from Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Wisconsin speech Language Pathology license. In her almost 20 year career, Jann has worked in 4 states in a variety of settings including public schools birth to 3 , hospitals, skilled learning facilities and outpatient clinics. Jann is also a volunteered mentor with ASHA providing guidance to graduate and undergraduate speech language pathology students and remains an active Indiana University Alumni volunteer. Jann, gave a little overview of you there, why don’t you take a minute fill the gaps from the introduction and tell us a little bit more about you’re personally and about your practice?
Jann: Certainly, so I became speech language pathologist because I love languages. My undergraduate is in Spanish and I knew I really didn’t want to be a traditional classroom teacher so back in the day, I went to the college and career counselor office and I got the occupational outlook handbook which was the back in the day a big old book and wanted to figure out something that I could incorporate my love of language so I took some time off, wanted to make sure because graduate school was required. I wanted to make sure that this was what I wanted to do and went back to graduate school, really was in my element and life has taken me to 4 different states and even though I did not see it at the time being a speech language pathologist has worked out very well for me because not only I can help people communicate and make their needs known but it is a very portable career and over the last probably five years, I got the opportunity kind of strike out on my own and take those years of those experiences and share it in a way that makes sense for my life and how I want to deliver services.
Perry: So life has taken you to four different states. Did you open up a private practice in each of them? Tell us about the evolution of your career here.
Jann: Certainly, so I did my graduate work in Texas and ironically, I started with a private practice. Most of my grad school classmates found employment in hospitals, in schools, nursing homes and if I remember correctly; I might be blocking this out, but I actually think that I was the last of my peers to find employment which was obviously very stressful given that healthcare was making some changes in the late 90s but I had chance to start with a private practice and then when we moved to Tennessee, I had taken some of the skills that I learned as an employee of a private and done different work with agencies and then in Illinois , I kinda got the taste of bring a contractor, a true 1099 contractor through a birthed the three program and when I moved to Wisconsin, I had wanted things honestly simple to be simple. I was an employee and as the kids grew up and I had more confidence in the skills set that I had already gained from the previous states, the previous employers and the contracting setup, I realized that I can do this. I don’t know how to do it. I’m a bit scale as I working in Texas but I was able to start to small and put my shingle up there and find my way in the field of private practice.
Perry: That’s fantastic. What a great story there and so when you put your shingle, what happened?
Jann: In the beginning, it was crickets but I always kind of laugh because when I like to do things for good or bad, I do all my research and in this case, I did all my official LLC paperwork, I got a logo, business bank account so from there, I spent a lot of time doing the back-end of the business work. I started telling my friends, I reached out to my friends to them what I was doing. I also reached to the local school speech language pathologist and kind of shared hey, this is what I’m doing on the side and they started sending referrals because ethically if you are providing services to a child in the public, it’s the best practice to not the see that child, that same child for services so they always welcome someone who was a speech language pathologist who had no affiliation with the district that way, there’s no potential conflict of interest or a family coming to say that , “oh , you can provide services during the school year as much as you should have because you’re running a private practice and so through word of mouth and then I started doing some focus marketing, I started getting the word out and then people started contacting me which was a huge relief.
Perry: Isn’t that always a huge weight off your shoulders, like, oh wow, all this work I did, its paying off.
Jann: Yes, it did.
Perry: so you started to focus marketing, what do you mean by that exactly?
Jann: Certainly, so my practice is a cash-pay private practice when I started I actually had a full-time job and just did this on the side , through the marketing because I wanted to keep things simple, I didn’t want to have overhead or I wanted to minimize overhead so I went to a model where I go to the client and I thought I was going to working with elementary age children, that was in my like what my business was going to be and the more I started to talk to people’s parent , other therapists, those in the schools I found in our community one of the biggest gaps is actually that birthed to three environment and so that really changed where I was focusing my efforts to people I was talking so I’ve have done whole bunch of different things including things like sponsoring Parks and Rec little league team and when i do that, I ask them, “Hey, please get me in T-ball, you know that three to four.” I’ve joined some women social groups not just for the social piece of it but from a marketing, networking aspect because these are mothers of young children and those type of efforts sort of really geared my marketing based on what I realized where the clients were.
Perry: That’s brilliant, that’s exactly what you need to do so great job Jann, really great job, sponsoring a Parks and Rec little league, I’ve never heard of private practice doing that but it’s a great idea especially you’re targeting your T-ball age, the three to four year old, that’s where your target market is so you said you founded a community with biggest gap is birth to three. How did discover that exactly?
Jann: So I actually started receiving calls in the beginning my practice started where it was friends and then friends of friends and then you kind of get to that point where it was its like , “oh, people I don’t personally know are contacting me and when I would ask them the age of their children, they would say my child is two; two and a half and even though I am in private practice, I do always want families to know about resources in the community that are available to them just to make sure they know all their options and I always ask if they are aware of our counties birthed to three program and what I was finding was that many of the families were receiving services but they were only receiving services one-time a month and the person that was providing these services was not a speech language pathologist and I realize that county agencies do the best that they can with what they have and due to limited resources and a lot of these families wanted to find additional resources that were perhaps weekly or two-times a week depending of course on their child’s need so I was able to discover this untapped market because of the client calls; the inquiry calls that I was receiving. Some families have decided to continue that relationship with the birth to three. I always make sure that the families let the other providers know that I’m involved just from a transparency perspective and then we can collaborate and plan things together as well and other families have decided on their own that they would drop the birth to three program and then just pursue private therapy.
Perry: Brilliant stuff. I’m blown away by this Jann. Tell us what the timeline, like how long ago was this that you opened SpeechWorks and you discovered the sort of untapped market in your community?
Jann: Certainly so, it’s pretty funny because in the fall of 2012, I went to a surprise party, birthday party and it was the type of thing where I knew the birthday person, I knew that couple but I really didn’t know anyone else and so in the whole surprise and you kind off mingle with people; my friend who was hosting the party grabbed me and ensure that I met another guest and she’s like, “Okay, this is so and he’s a therapist like you but he’s not speech, okay bye,” and the she ran off to do here hostess duties and it tuned out that this other guest was and is an occupational therapist, so we introduced ourselves, said our names, how we knew the birthday person and literally, the first question out of his mouth was do you have a private practice? And it wasn’t where you went to school? Where you work? Any of that type of stuff but do you have a private practice and I said , “No, I don’t,” and even though we lived in few different cities we’re probably about an hour away, he said, “Well you should totally start a private practice,” and this person didn’t know me from Adam, didn’t know anything about the experience or interest that I had but meeting him was timing was just at a pivotal point because it was kinda of at a situation where I was like , you know I could do this or I could just wait and I don’t know what I’d be waiting for but in my mind there’s just always gonna be a better time , a better situation but truly meeting this person at the birthday party was I guess, I don’t know, the stirring of the pot that was needed just kind of the thing the that got me going and so then in March 2013 , I went ahead did all of my paper work and everything with the state to make everything official and in probably the last four years, I was able to transition to having a full -time day job with SpeechWorks on the side to then the next year being part-time day job and part-time SpeechWorks to then transition to saying farewell to my day job and having SpeechWorks being full-time and so for me having that secure income, having that full-time day job and then transitioning really worked out well for me just giving the bigger picture of life and stuff so that’s how I made that transition and in the last four years since having the official private practice there’s definitely been some learning and growth and going down roads that I thought would work out and then taking that ,”let’s try this one and like oh,” and trying different things and growing; learning from mistakes, learning from opportunities and seeing what’s out there.
Perry: The joys of entrepreneurship, right?
Perry: That transition that you went through we see that it’s fairly common amongst therapist moving into private practice. It’s pretty common amongst any sort of business owners as well, I don’t know if I ever shared this on the podcast but I did something very similar when starting Brighter Vision which wasn’t actually Brighter Vision then but you know I built up a side business of SEO of search engine optimization and websites that I was running and slowly pulling away from my day job and so it’s a really nice way to transition into entrepreneurship and into a full-time business because you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket and you’re able to make mistakes and feel the freedom to make mistakes without know everything can blow up if this mistake is a mistake.
Perry: So during that transition, at what point did you decide to focus more on the birth to three year old market?
Jann: So that actually probably came up after about a year of work because I originally was going out to the 6 to ten years old and I found that alot of during the summer when the school is not in session are looking for extra services and so that free in the summer but then there’s eight other months of the year and then as these inquiry calls would come then I realized like , “Okay, maybe this birth to three is something that I need to know more about and so with that information, maybe there’s a gap there. I started reaching out to friends of friends who were in the birth to three type of things and speech ling-pathologist who had other colleagues and friend from grad school that were in speech language in that birth to three market to learn more about the counties administer the birth to three funds and things. The funny thing is when we first moved to Wisconsin because I have Spanish degree, I though perhaps it might be off use and so I reach out to some of the agencies that administer birth to three and in the state of Wisconsin, each county has an organisation that then handles the birth to three programs and I live in area where close enough there’s three different counties and each of the three counties are different and said, hey, I’ve got the Spanish degree, I done birth to three , might three be any work just PRN work or kind of a contract basis instances, no we’re good and so honestly, I kinds just put that out of my mind so that it cycled back up , I thought was rather interesting and the birth to three age range and many of these children aren’t going obviously school, they might be going to daycare, mother’s day out or a parents day out and so that has been very helpful and so I will have the typical swings during the summer where my private practice case load will increase and then I also, am able to have the sustaining group of sort of the birth to three to get me through the rest of the school year as well as the tele-practice work that I do.
Perry: That’s great Jann, I love hearing this story and seeing how a business can evolve and an entrepreneur can evolve, just so impressive, yeah. I want to dive more into your marketing here because you clearly get and its something that we see that therapist really struggle with, the idea of marketing or that marketing in sales is, you know, you don’t want to come across as a used car salesman, that’s the impression that everybody gets, not everybody but that a lot of therapist can get with word sales and marketing but as you know there’s no way that you could’ve have grown SpeechWorks LLC into a such an amazing brand and a thriving private practice without marketing so what is it that you feel was the single best marketing move that you made for your practice and why do you feel like it work so well for you?
Jann: I’d say getting a website and that getting a website gets your practice, gets your work , the good that you want to do to help share with people out there in the big wide world and even though I didn’t start with Brighter Vision getting a website out there , up there it not only was a good activity from getting my name out there but it also when you write the content to send to the web person to say please put this on the about page or please put this on the services pages that help me also kind of really craft my message of what I wanted to share with people and so for me getting that website was I think hands down. The website then was an opportunity to vlog and to have consistent opportunities to share new information with potential clients and they might not even need services now maybe it could be a friend who has a young child or a neighbor or a relative and so I think for me having that website has open up many opportunities from the blogging, the social media stuff; it’s just been a good home based I guess for my marketing in the beginning.
Perry: I’m so glad that we’re able to be apart of that with you Jann. We like to view a website here as if you’re viewing all of your marketing as sort of like this web. You’re website is at the center, the center of that web and it allows you to branch out because word of mouth referrals, if you’re going and you’re marketing and sponsoring a T-ball league people are gonna see your name and then they’re gonna go google you and they’ll see your website so having a website that brands you and markets you and that enables to understand your target market to understand you and know that you want to work with them. It’s such a key component of any marketing strategy and again, I’m so glad that we get be apart of that with you Jann.
Jann: It’s been fun working with Brighter Vision. I’m very appreciative of all that you do and offer.
Perry: Thank you, thanks. If you could see the other side here, my face beet-red right now, so you know Jann you went to school to become a speech language pathologist, not get your MBA but along the way you open your own private practice, what the one thing that you wished that you have learned in school about started your own business?
Jann: I think what would’ve been most helpful even though I went into private practice as an employee, what would’ve been really helpful to know even though we didn’t get any of the marketing classes or the business classes, is that you can do it and it doesn’t have to be big from the start. Most likely it won’t be big from the start but a private practice can be started by just seeing one person on the side and just know all you have to do is start with one, it’s a start and that I think would’ve have been a real big mind-set shift for me because in mind shift, mind-set shift for me. because in my mind, I thought , I’ve got to like have an office , have an staff and all this. No, just one. You just need one client and you’re in private practice.
Perry: That’s so true. Great business start small. There’s no way to hang your shingle up and get clients walk in the door to you that just doesn’t happen.
Perry: No matter what kind of business it is whether it’s a private practice that you’re seeing one client on the side and you’re just testing that waters to see of you even enjoy or whether it’s a company like us here at Brighter Vision that was started with my 6 month old screaming and waking up from his naps in the room next door as I was trying to convince therapist to let us build them a website. Everything starts somewhere and you have to start with something and then put yourself out there and take that risk and it’s okay if you’re only seeing just one or two clients on the side; you’re learning, you’re adjusting and you’re learning it from mistakes and being able to build and move forward from them and make yourself a better person, a better clinician and a better business owner. Alright Jann, so now we’re going to move into the final part of our interview the part that we like to refer to as brighter insights and I really love this part because we get to distilled down your experience and your advice into little sound bites and quick answers that our audience can use to motivate, inspire and excite them in growing their private practice. Are you ready?
Jann: Yes I am.
Perry: What or whom inspired you to become a speech language pathologist?
Jann: That would be Professor Henry Higgins of Pygmalion in George Bernard Shaw play. It was that I had read in comparative literature class as an undergraduate and I did not know the field really existed. He is a studying languages and dialects; that was something that- cause as a child I moved around quite a bit throughout the country was something that really fascinated me and so, yeah, I actually do a tribute my interest to a literary character.
Perry: That was actually I heard that answer and I love it. Was is it that you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
Jann: I will sometimes take a moment and close my eyes and think about a few places that may be the beach and I am originally from Hawaii and so I will close my eyes and think about that. I had the opportunity to go to Estes Park in Colorado and we had taken a hike and I just remember being amazed by the trees so sometimes, I will kinda just close my eyes and think about being in those places and the calm I feel from having been out looking at these trees in the mountains or lapping of the water on the beach.
Perry: And the beaches of Hawaii versus Estes Park; pretty strong opposites there but both so gorgeous and so peaceful and relaxing.
Perry: What are some tools you’ve used to leverage the power of technology in your private practice so that technology is no longer a hurdle but instead an assets for you?
Jann: The biggest game changer for me was utilizing an Electronic Medical Records, that was something that I did about last summer and it took me a few months of research to figure out which one made the most sense for me but definitely incorporating that because not only was my documentation streamlined but it allows the practice to accept electronic payment which I’d been a little hesitant to do because I wasn’t quite sure which system made the most sense but simple practice has an online payment system and because sometimes I see children at daycare system where their parents aren’t necessarily present , it allows the families to then pay for their services with age say or flex serve money or their credit card so that for me was the biggest thing that affected so many different parts of my practice.
Perry: Fantastic. You know, we love simple practice and the work they do. They are such a fantastic tool for therapist across the world. What’s a quote that you hold near and dear something that’s helped formulated your perspective on life or provided guidance for you?
Jann: Certainly. This one I’ve actually held on to since high school and it is the only thing constant is change by Sincero and that has worked so will because it speaks to so many parts of your life whether personally or professionally and then all those different elements within that so professionally in the last twenty years , there have been so many changes from technology and research and Methodist of delivery tele-practice, the internet wasn’t really in active use when I started in the field so that quote has served me well over the years.
Perry: And you provide tele-health services, speech language pathology services online as well. Is that correct?
Jann: Yes I do.
Perry: What platform do you use for that?
Jann: I actually do so contract work with any agency called tinyeye.com and they provide a secure online proprietary, its their own system that allows us to connect with the student. Do our documentation and do our billing all within one system so its been a neat introduction and way to provide service to students who might not otherwise receive it.
Perry: Fantastic, I have to look into them. I’ve never heard of them before. Jann, if you could recommend one book to our audience what would that book be?
Jann: I recently read “One word” by Evan Carmichael and what resonated with me was picking one word and revolving your life around it whether its professional life or personal life and having that word frame all that you do and looking and think about that book and looking at different words and because I enjoy words, that’s what I do but thrive was a word I had set for myself in 2017 and I think for me reading that book and think about one word thrive and how that applies, my practice and what I do with families. Not only do I want these families to thrive and their children to thrive and be really amazing communicators but I want of course, my practice to thrive and I want to thrive personally and socially and it just really helps me think about- capture everything into well one word.
Perry: I love that. I’ll have to take a look at that book. I really like that concept and thrive is a great word to base your life around. Alright Jann, last question here.If you move to a new city tomorrow, you don’t know anybody there and all that you had with you was your computer and 100$ to start a new private practice. What is it that you would do on your very first day?
Jann: So prior to moving, I would have reached to Brighter Vision and said, “Hey Perry and your awesome crew, I’m moving and please update my website,” so that would’ve been done prior to day one.
Perry: That would not cost you any money as a Brighter Vision customer.
Jann: Certainly, I can send all these changes or updates and its done lickity split so that would already been taken care of but I would go and get some business cards printed out and reach out to local therapist that are working in different environments learning about the community; learning about the community , learning about what types of community resources are available and aren’t available and just asking them about different things in their community and who else they might be able to connect me with.
Perry: Fantastic, any parting advice for our listeners Jann.
Jann: If you have an idea just try it and start small, you don’t have to do anything big but if you want to try something, just do it. It might not work but it may just soar and you wont now unless you try.
Perry: So well put. Jann, it’s been great. You’re amazing.
Jann: Thank you.
Perry: I love the work you’re doing. I love your business sense and acumen. It’s been so much fun chatting with you and getting to know you better and I hope our audience was listening intently here cause you provided so much phenomenal guidance and advice; of course you can always re-listen this episode at brightervison.com/session57/. Jann, thank you so much for being so generous with your time, your expertise and your knowledge. I know speak for our entire audience when I say that we appreciate the great advice you’ve provided and therapist experience that you have shared. Thanks again.
Jann: Thank you Perry.
Perry: Thank you so much for tuning in today if it wasn’t for you guys listening we wouldn’t be doing this podcast so thank you and of course, if you have a question for us email it to us, we want to answer your questions; you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you’re interested in launching a website and getting your practice of the ground or growing it some more, reach out to Brighter Vision, we are the world -wide leader in custom therapist website design. For less than 2$ dollars a day you can get a website that’s as unique as your practice. Unlimited tech and complementary SEO so people can actually find you online. Head on over to brightervision.com and drop us a line on of our contact forms and we’ll get back to you on that same business day. That does it for today, thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week.