You have made the decision to become a nutritional consultant. You are expecting your first client. You are so excited, and nervous! You may be wondering just how to start.
Every practitioner is as unique as the client he/she sees and we are here to tell you there is no single
right way to approach a consultation. However, here is a guideline that we offer as a starting point — knowing that there are many right approaches.
- On the phone. You are ultimately looking for success for both you professionally, and for your client. With that outlook — your business is sure to prosper. Setting the groundwork will go a long way to ensuring that. While on the phone, be sure to be clear about the concerns and goals of your client. Be sure your client hangs up with a good grasp of what he/she can expect from you and understands the fact that to proceed successfully, changes will have to be embraced. Also, this is the time to clearly explore the subject of fees to be incurred. No surprises.
- Via email. Soon after your call to arrange a meeting, send an email created to learn as much as possible about the nutritional and health status of your client. This most probably includes a lifestyle form* outlining general health, medical related issues and pharmaceuticals, general eating and lifestyle habits. It may include a food diary* outline. You may also want to send a symptomology tool, such as one or two sections of TrueView, to help narrow down areas of imbalance. You may wish to have these forms completed and returned before your set meeting. The reason for doing this before your meeting is to be respectful of your clients’ valuable time and ensure that you are well prepared. If you would prefer to sit with your client to answer the questions, then voice your preference or present that as an option.
- Face to face. The personal contact and connection is what will make or break your consultation. At the onset, prepare for a verbal review of the information that has been provided and use this as an opportunity to clarify anything that may be questionable. At this juncture, there is great variability between practitioners. Some are most comfortable beginning with basic anatomy of how digestion works and how to improve it. Then he/she may move onto the food and lifestyle changes that are specific to the situation presented. Some will offer supplement suggestions. A good practitioner will take care to not overwhelm the client with information but be sure to explain the reasoning for asking for an alteration in habits. There is a higher probability for compliance if the client understands the “whys.”
- On paper. During the actual consultation write jot notes of things to remember or address in the future, while at the same time write a “take away” document* with clear instructions as to what should be attempted to accomplish before a follow-up meeting. You, as well as the client, will need a copy of this document. A follow-up meeting should be arranged and consider inviting the client to contact you with questions in the meantime. Consider sending the client away with some quality supporting materials such as articles or websites to visit. Be sure to have a prepared client statement* or waiver signed before the client leaves.
- Follow up. Most consultants like to check in with clients. In some instances, the client may feel as though you are asking him/her to make quantum leaps. For others, even though the information was well presented, it may have been too much to absorb. This is the opportunity to remind the client that if the plan is to be as healthy as possible for the rest of his/her life, he/she needs to be slow and steady. Encourage the client to take advantage of the support you are offering. The compliance and success of your client is directly related to your professional success.
There you have it — a very basic idea of what your consultation may look like, but it is only one of many options. The most important thing to know is that your client has to decide to make the first big move toward a healthier tomorrow.
*Forms available in the CANNP Starter Kit.