Attracting clients is vital for any nutrition counseling business, but it’s retention that’s the true mark of success. As you build trust with clients, not only do they become long-term professional relationships, but they are also much more likely to refer friends and family. In turn, building trust among those referrals keeps your appointment schedule filling up.
Establishing trust is an ongoing process, as you help clients meet their goals and get results. Here are some ways to amp up your trust-building efforts:
Have a Professional Website
You don’t need to sink a huge chunk of savings into a website, but you do need to create one—or hire a designer to do it—that reflects your professionalism, and that requires some investment. Do some research and look at other counseling sites to see what feels like a good fit for you in terms of design and content.
Make sure that you focus on excellent design and usability. Think about what a client would want to know coming to your site and make it easy to find that information. That usually includes your bio—emphasizing your education and credentials—a description of services, cost and other fees, and contact information.
Share Your Story
Spend time on the “About” page of your website and in your marketing materials, including social media. Include a link to where you got your certification in case potential clients want to see what you studied, and always have a photo of yourself.
Tell your story—maybe you became a nutrition consultant because you lost 100 pounds through healthy eating, or faced a chronic illness that you addressed through major dietary changes. Your story will help prospects to connect with you on a personal level, especially if your story is similar to theirs in terms of a starting point.
Develop Bulletproof Processes
Although counseling sessions will be where you establish the most trust through one-on-one conversations, don’t forget that how you present yourself in more minor ways can make a big difference in how you’re perceived.
For example, put good processes in place for client intake, scheduling, invoicing, and feedback. Always be on time and reply promptly to emails or calls. Be available for questions within the scope of your contracted services. In any industry, customer service is a make-or-break strategy, and if you’re disorganized or sluggish about responding, you could easily lose the trust you’ve worked so hard to build.
Focus on Achievable Goals
It’s likely that each client will have several aims for nutrition counseling, but one larger goal, such as gaining more energy, getting better sleep, losing weight, or addressing chronic disease symptoms.
While acknowledging that bigger outcome, set smaller goals that are achievable and realistic. For example, maybe a client wants to build up to 9 servings of vegetables per day. Having her go from zero to 9 is likely daunting, but setting a goal of one or two additional servings per week—or even just one more serving for the next couple of days—feels more manageable. As the client meets goals and sets new ones, it creates trust in the process, and especially, in you as a nutrition counselor.
Obtain a Certification
A certification from an accredited organization gives you the extensive knowledge you need to excel in the field, and also assures your clients that you’ve received proper training. It provides assurance to clients that you have the type of specialized education that’s needed to be able to deliver meaningful insights and action plans for them.
Another advantage to certification is that you can get your education much faster and more affordably than you’d find with a 4-year college degree. Plus, in a certification program, you’ll be learning only about your new field, rather than studying the kind of non-relevant “foundation” courses that many colleges require.
To learn more about AFPA’s certification programs, visit our programs site. Also download the 8 Step Guide to Becoming a Nutritionist for insights on educational paths, certifications, and consulting practice tips.