Being a small business owner means I need to make decisions on tough situations like whether or not I should charge a cancellation fee or what to do if a client isn’t satisfied with services. Today’s post addresses the top 5 questions I get asked about business practices.
What do you do if a client cancels at the last minute, do you charge a fee?
I do charge clients for late cancellations and reschedules. My policy on late cancellations (less than 24-hours’ notice) and reschedules is clearly stated in my practice policies document that all clients are required to sign. What you decide to charge can be a nominal fee (like $15 or $25) or the cost of the full session. If you are an insurance provider, check your contracts since some do not allow you to charge for the full session if services are not rendered.
Once you create your policy, make sure it is clear and applied to everyone fairly. I remind my clients of the cancellation policy on multiple occasions including in email appointment reminders.
What do you do if a client wants to work with you, but you don’t think they are a good fit?
I often have clients reaching out to me that may not be a good fit for the practice. Some have conditions that I do not specialize in (like with clients who have eating disorders) and others are looking for specific services I do not offer (like meal plans).
Here is one of the ways I might respond, “Thank you for your interest, unfortunately, because of ____ (Insert clear reason here) I don’t think my practice would be a good fit for what you are looking for. I would be happy to refer you to another dietitian.” One reason I might not work with a client is because I don’t specialize in that area of dietetics. For example, I often get emails from parents wanting me to work with young children. In those cases, I might say, “My specialty is not in pediatrics; however, I can refer you to a dietitian who does specialize in this area if you would like?”
What do you do if a client is abusing your time, calling, or emailing too much between sessions?
If a client is taking up a lot of my time between sessions, I will redirect them to scheduling an appointment or moving their session closer. If I have a client with a lot of questions at the end of a session, I encourage them to write down any points for us to address during the next session. A lot of this comes down to having clear policies and boundaries set.
What do you do if people (like family) keep asking for free advice?
When I first started my practice, I used to get a lot of people asking for free advice. While I will often share tips with family, I really encourage people to schedule a session with me. I would caution any Dietitians reading this to think twice about working with family members in your practice. While it may be legal to see a family member, it can get muddy. Often for family, I will provide general resources (mostly websites) and then offer to refer to another Dietitian.
What do you do if a client isn’t satisfied with your services?
You will likely run into situations where a client isn’t satisfied with your services. In these situations, I typically thank a client for their feedback, ask what they were looking for differently (could be miscommunication), and/or ask if they would like a referral for another Dietitian.
Setting the expectation for the session and services is key to ensuring we are all on the same page. Sometimes I find that I need to be clearer about my scope of practice and my area of focus. This can be accomplished in a few ways: having a description of what nutrition counseling is on my website, having clear scope of practice and consent document that each client signs, and avoiding imperatives with marketing (i.e., you WILL lose 10 pounds).
It is important to note that not everyone will like your style (and that is okay) and not everyone is ready for change (and that is not a reflection on you as a Dietitian)!
Disclaimer: Information provided is not intended to constitute legal or medical advice. All information is for educational purposes only.