top of page

How To Find Your First 5 Clients as a Cash Based Practice

Starting a cash-based physical therapy practice is an exciting venture, but one of the most important aspects of launching your practice is getting your first clients.

Whether you're a seasoned physical therapist branching out into private practice or a new graduate fresh out of school, the process of attracting those initial clients can feel overwhelming. However, with the right strategies and mindset, you can effectively grow your client base and set your practice on the path to success.

During this post, we are going to explore many ways you can help yourself to attract customers and get started working with your first 5 clients.

Narrow Your Focus: Quality Over Quantity

One of the most common mistakes new cash based practice owners make is attempting to work with everyone they come into contact with. While it may seem the opposite of you what you want to do, specifying your target audience and the problems you can help to solve is important for effective marketing.

By narrowing down into a specific niche, such as helping athletes overcome shoulder injuries, you can direct your messaging and attract clients who are seeking your specialized help. Being specific not only helps potential clients understand what you offer but also sets you up as someone who seems to be a go-to person within the field.

Tap Into Your Immediate Network

One of the easiest ways to gain customers when you're first getting started is to look at your immediate network. This includes people like friends, family members, past coworkers, or other people you feel comfortable that you know.

These people already have the ability to know, like, and trust you (KLT), making them much more likely to work with you. You can read my blog post here where I dive into the benefits of the "KLT framework." Feel free to reach out to these people and simply tell them that you are starting a practice and that you are offering specific services. This is a simple way to start marketing your new practice and could even result in word of mouth advertising from those close to you.

You could also consider getting more involved in your community by joining organizations or clubs that give you to chance to meet more people and talk about your cash based practice. The important thing to take home from this section is that building relationships with people is much more important than making sales right off the bat. Starting to establish relationships, gain the trust of those around you, and bringing in your first 5 clients will set you up for success in the long term.

Effective Communication: Articulate Your Value Proposition

Once you've garnered interest from potential clients, it's essential to effectively communicate the value that you bring to the table. Instead of telling others about the license you have as a physical therapist, make sure to include something about the type of patient you work with and the specific problems that you solve. This goes back to the benefits of narrowing your focus and letting others know that you specialize in something, you're not just a general provider.

Make sure to share success stories of past clients you've worked with, even if they were from your most recent clinic job. This helps to further build your credibility and show others that you can deliver results when given the opportunity to do so.

Be completely transparent about what you charge and how it works to get started working with you. Whether that be starting with a free consultation call or booking an appointment directly with you, it's important that any barriers to this area of working with you are removed for easy access of the possible client. Clear and concise communication with possible clients is key to building trust of others and makes it more likely you will convert new leads in to paying customers.

Take It Step by Step

In the same token of establishing meaningful connections with others, there are simple ways that you can go about doing this. Offer free consultations as mentioned before, minimizing the commitment a patient has to agree to when first meeting you and finding out if you're the right fit for them. You can also offer free trial sessions to your first few clients to give them a taste of what it is that you offer and to experience the benefits of your services.

Take it step by step, focusing on getting patients through your doors in a strategic manner rather than taking the first paying client that comes your way. Each time you meet someone new or book a free consult call is an opportunity to build rapport and place yourself in a position to be a trusted and friendly healthcare provider. People tend to see much more value in this, rather than of someone who seems hungry to obtain a financial gain.

Offer Incentives and Specials

Along the same lines of offering free consults or trial sessions, you can also offer special deals or discounts on the services you're offering in the beginning. This could be something as simple as having a limited-time offer of half off of a physical therapy package for the first 5 patients that sign up with you.

You can also offer referral incentives to clients that have worked with you in the past. Encourage them to spread the word about your practice to their friends and family, offering them a discount on future services they book with you. There is nothing but benefit that can come from incentivizing referrals to attract new clients but also show appreciation to the ones that have already committed to you and your business.

Embrace Continuous Learning

Lastly, as a cash based practice owner or any healthcare provider, it is important that we see value in continuing to learn and develop as a professional. Take the time to research the latest updates within your field, and attend workshops, conferences, and seminars to help you stay in the know of how your field is shifting over time.

You can also take action in seeking out mentorship from experienced providers in your field or by hiring a business coach that can guide you throughout the process of being a business owner. Read more about hiring a business coach in my blog post here.

Collaborate with other healthcare providers that relate to your scope of practice, giving you the chance to exchange knowledge and insights, ask questions, and grow as a professional. By taking the time to invest in you personal and profession growth, you not only gain further skills in expertise in your field, but help to set yourself up as a well-rounded leader within you field. This may come without surprise, but potential clients are much more likely to work with you if they feel they can trust you to demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning to provide them the best quality care possible.


Finding your first five clients as a cash based practice owner may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but by trialing out many of the strategies outlined within this post, it is very likely you will be able to attract your first clients within no time. The quality of the client over quantity is priority, tap into your immediate network of people, and adopt a learner's mindset that will carry you throughout your business lifespan. With dedication, persistence, and a commitment to yourself and the patients you're passionate about helping, you'll soon find your practice thriving and your caseload growing.

If you're feeling stuck as a new practice owner and struggling to obtain your first five clients, get in touch with me! I would be more than happy to meet with you during a free consult call and troubleshoot ideas to get your practice up and running.

Or if you'd like a more guided approach to running your business, you can check out my blog post here where I go into detail about the DPT to CEO Coaching Program. In this program, I help practice owners just like you start, launch, and grow their practices through a series of specialty tailored coursework and one on one coaching! You can apply to the program here if this sounds like you!

Listen to this episode on my podcast

DPT to CEO the podcast


find more
bottom of page