Welcome back to MyRDJourney! Things have been going well around here. I’ve gained quite a few new clients with the weather breaking and more people ready to get back into the swing of healthy eating. I have a walking group launching in April and I am so excited for it! I spent some of my downtime this past month re-evaluating my business and deciding what my next “move” will be. I like what I am currently doing; however, some of the parts I love are the in-home cooking sessions and personal training. I really want to work on promoting and building up that aspect of my business this year.
Today’s post is a bit of a Q&A based on the top 5 questions I get from fellow Dietitians who are just starting out in private practice. Let’s get started!
How Do You See Clients if You Don’t Have an Office Yet?
There are a couple of options for this one. You can do in-home counseling sessions (if insurance allows), which means you go directly to your client’s home. Some perks to this would be that it is more comfortable for the client, client’s can show you products they have in their home, and you may even end up with less cancellations. Some cons to this are that you will be doing more traveling so scheduling your clients geographical smart is key. You can read more about in-home counseling here. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, you could look at shared office space (cuts down on the cost). You could also check out co-working spaces where you can rent office space for an hour or two (way cheaper than a lease + more flexible). Another option is to join your local Chamber of Commerce as many of them will allow you to use office space as apart of your membership. Lastly, you can do virtual consultations, which is very convenient; however, if you take insurance, a lot of plans don’t cover this just yet.
How Do You Get Started with Marketing Your Business in Your Community?
The first place I started with was Google. Literally. I Googled every business in my area and made a list of those who aligned with my mission. I reached out to some through email and then followed up with a call. Other businesses I just showed up and dropped off promo materials (newsletters, business cards, flyers for events I was hosting, freebies, etc). Depending on the business, an email is more appropriate first since the person you may need to talk to may not actually be available for drop-ins. You can always schedule an in-person meeting once you make that first contact. You can read more on building partnerships here.
How Do You Advertise Your Business?
Outside of what I mentioned above, I would strongly suggest an online presence in the form of a website and at least one social media platform. I consistently use Facebook & Instagram. One big thing to keep in mind is where your ideal client is hanging around. Are they using YouTube? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? No matter what platform you use, remember to be consistent with your messaging and when you post (even if it is just once per week to start).
How Do You Figure Out Your Appointment Structure?
Honestly, getting your counseling flow can take a bit of practice and even with that, you are bound to have a client through you off. Most of my counseling sessions start off with me asking the client, “Are there any initial questions you have?” (initial) or “How have things been going?” (follow-up) or “What would you like to gain from today’s session?” (initial or follow-up). Usually, clients will jump into a story or a bunch of questions, which is great! Sometimes, I have clients who are a bit unsure of what to ask or even how this interaction should go, especially if they are new to seeing a Dietitian. From there, I take the reins and start with a 24-hour recall. We then talk about where they see possible areas of improvement or positive aspects of their diet already. That is usually the first 30 minutes right there. At this point, I stop and ask if they have any questions. Depending on the time, I talk about other things besides food like exercise, fluid, sleep habits, and even family expectations. If we don’t cover this in the first session, I always weave it into the first follow-up. I end all of my sessions with goal setting and acknowledgement of possible barriers (so we can make a plan around them). All of my clients get a physical recommendation sheet with their goals and action items so they can post it as a reminder to themselves.
How Do You Go About Taking Insurance?
First things first is you want to create an account on CAQH ProView. This is going to take you a while, but it is worth it! You basically put in all of your information as a Dietitian and business owner. Once you have that completed, you will use your ID number for individual insurance companies. What I mean by this is that every insurance has its own form for becoming a provider. I started by Googling “become a provider for ______ (insert insurance company name here).” Usually, the individual insurance forms are shorter since most of your information is in the CAQH. Once you submit the provider interest form or application for each insurance company, you will be contacted by the contracting department to do all the signing. Getting in network with insurance is a lengthy process, so I would highly suggest getting started sooner rather than later if you are going this route.
If you are new to private practice, check out my blog on The First 10 Steps to Getting Started, which covers professional liability insurance, deciding pricing and more.