It’s a good time to be a positive force in mental health management. An increasing proportion of U.S. adults have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn how a seasoned therapist and her partner are growing their business to accommodate more patients.
Located in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, the business offers multidisciplinary mental health counseling and a therapy clinic. Due to the pandemic, they have pivoted to remote operations for their clients with therapists based in the office, seeing clients virtually. They remain patient-focused, offering early or late, online or in-office appointments.
Co-owners Travis DeMott and Laura Richer are proving that working together as a couple can be a "win".
Demott recently left the corporate world where he worked as a sales engineer and regional sales manager for aerospace, military, and technology customers. He now serves as the business manager for Anchor Light Therapy Collective managing day-to-day operations. He also works with an outside CPA to manage payroll and other financial matters.
Richer worked in the corporate world in insurance and telecom. In 2011, she faced burnout and turned her attention to hypnotherapy. A LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor), she was in an excellent position to launch Seattle Healing Arts®, an LLC (Limited Liability Company). After a successful run, she rebranded to Anchor Light Therapy Collective.
An anchor light is the light shown at night by a vessel at anchor. The name was chosen based on the couple’s love of boating. Richer scaled the business by hiring three additional therapists. DeMott and Richer created a business plan together and made the business a primary focus.
Laura was never hesitant to get outside capital to meet growth goals. In early 2020, the business received a $100,000 SBA loan from a bank in the SmartBiz® network to help scale.
Reflecting on business ownership, DeMott reports that staffing is the biggest challenge. “There is a tremendous demand for good, qualified therapists. With the extra funds, we’ve been able to bring on five full time therapists, two contractors, a part-time therapist, and interns. We’re looking towards future growth and would like to have 10 therapists on staff by the end of 2022.”
To accommodate the anticipated growth of the Anchor Light Therapy Collective, the couple signed a lease for a 2400 square foot suite with a view of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle®. The space is being built out to their unique specifications.
A portion of the SBA loan proceeds will also go towards marketing efforts as they expand the business. In addition to improving their website, they are focusing on their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. DeMott says, “We work with a local SEO agency that has done a tremendous job for us in the last 13 to 15 months. We’re leveraging our position to solidify our brand and capture key demographics like the LGBTQ+ community and children.”
Richer states that the SmartBiz Loans application process was excellent. “There was some back and forth regarding insurance issues , but Hayden hit a home run for us. He was on top of it all and very helpful. Feedback is so important , and he was always quick to get back to us,” she says.
Hayden Payne, a SmartBiz Loans Relationship Manager in Loan Ops, guided the business through the application process.
He reports, "I had the pleasure of working with the co-owner Laura in 2019 to obtain their 1st SBA loan and have watched the business grow and thrive over the last two years. During this time Laura has checked in routinely to re-assess and plan for additional funding resulting in a 2nd SBA loan that we just closed. With their involvement in the mental health community and continued success as an exceptional small business, Anchor Light Therapy is the epitome of who we at SmartBiz strive to help most."
DeMott has a solid plan for continued growth, helped by the infusion of low-cost funding. “ The upfront capital has allowed us to scale effectively, and we plan to continue to staff up to justify new locations in years to come. Laura and my ultimate goal has always been to, someday, gross $5M in a year. We’re working hard to reach that goal.”
In addition to business expansion, the couple has a wedding date set for July 3 rd , 2022. They plan to be married on a family equestrian farm in New York.
Anchor Light Therapy Collective has produced and been featured in a variety of news articles, interviews, and TV appearances. To learn more, visit the press and media page of their website here.
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