#113: When Clients Flake

As coaches, it can REALLY weigh us down when clients don’t make progress. Or when they flat out flake on us. And it definitely happens! In this episode, Michelle talks about how to minimize these situations and handle them when they inevitably arise.

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Okay. Hello there, health coaches. You know what? I love, like, love, love, love what I do for a living as a practicing health coach, as a mentor for you guys. I love it. And I want to make sure that you love what you're doing too. And I think one of the things that can really weigh on us as coaches is when clients aren't making progress or when they just don't show up for us or for themselves, like when they just straight up flake, it happens. It happens all the time. So if it's happened to you, don't feel like you're the only one. And today I want to talk about that in addition to answering any questions that you have for me. So by the way, if we haven't met before, cause I know we have a lot of new listeners and a lot of new members of our group. I'm Michelle, I've been a health coach for 11 years.

You may have seen me in the curriculum at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition or doing some events with primal health coach Institute over the last year, I've been in your shoes many times. And I started this community as a no-nonsense safe space for health coaches who want to succeed. Hopefully that's why you're here. And speaking of this episode is brought to you by my free training, how to earn a full time salary as a health coach. I put this training together for you to address many of the questions that we get. Like every single week it's chock, full of practical advice, and you can get it for free at healthcoachpower.com/earn that's healthcoachpower.com/earn.

So this question that sort of spurred the topic for today's episode came from Jessica. I'm going to tell you what Jessica said here. She wrote I'm feeling super discouraged. I've been taking clients the last couple of months and it always starts out so amazing. We'll have our consultation call and set up our first appointment. They'll pay for their program. The first appointment goes great. I check in with them, give them resources. And then they stop responding to me. One client didn't answer. When I called for their second session, they told me they forgot to tell me they had to work. So I let them know per my program agreement. They would have to forfeit that appointment set up. The second appointment. Same thing told me they're too busy right now, but they're still implementing what we talked about in their first session. Another client did the same thing to me Monday morning. I called them with no answer and they messaged me hours later saying they got caught up at work. How do I follow up with this?

I know I'm just getting started, but I feel like maybe I'm just doing something wrong or this isn't for me. I know it's a lot, Jessica. And it feels bad. I'm just feels like getting ghosted by, you know, a date or somebody that you're dating or even a friend or people just kind of ghost on you. And that doesn't feel good at all, but it's particularly confusing when it's somebody who said they wanted your help paid you money to help them. And then they just don't show up. But I promise this does happen all the time. And sometimes I'm not going to say it's your fault. Sometimes as a coach, it's something that we could have done differently, right? We could, we could help mitigate this kind of situation. Other times. There's nothing you can do. It literally is just that the person is not ready.

Maybe they were on the day that they paid you, but a week later, two weeks later something's happening in their life or whatever. They are in a different mood. And it is just not a priority for them. I know myself, I have purchased things. I have bought courses. I have, I'm sure you could think of things like this too, where you paid for it, like a gym membership or whatever it was. And then you just didn't go. You just didn't follow through. And it wasn't the fault of that company or that practitioner or that brand. It was just, that's on you. Like there's just on you as a consumer to make like a wrong purchase. Okay. So like released any like feelings you're having of this totally being your responsibility. It is not, I have clients do this to me to this day and it might take on it is if someone has paid me and we're going to get back to that in just a second, if somebody has paid me for a program and then they just poof peace-out on me, I think to myself, well, they must have got what they needed.

Maybe it was, it was even just the fact of signing up with me. Maybe it's not even something that we did together, but maybe them just seeing, Oh yeah, I can take a positive step in my life. Maybe that triggered for them. Something else that they actually have to do. That's more important. I don't know. It's none of my business. This is their journey. So I try to like frame it a positive sense for myself. They're moving on. They're on their path. That's great. Okay. Now just back up a second here to the part where I said, if I got paid. So one thing I think is very important is that we do have clients paying up front as often as possible paying in full upfront, because that really helps them commit to the program that they're signing up for. I noticed a lot of coaches will do something where they're just paying per session.

And if somebody's paying you per session, that's actually incentivizing them to not have that session with you, right? You want them to pay in advance for anything that they're doing with you so that they're incentivized to show up and quote unquote, get their money's worth. So I always advocate for having clients pay in full upfront, whenever possible, you can give a small discount, you can offer a bonus, whatever you can do to incentivize the pay in full that way. They're more likely to show up for it. They feel more invested in the whole process because they literally are more invested in the process. And if they ghost, for whatever reason, you're not taking the hit because I know my schedule is very packed. So, if I make space in my calendar to work with a private client, I am basically blocking off time for that client over the next several months.

And I need to have that space open for them. Therefore, if another client comes along, I may not be able to take that client. But if someone has paid you in full, then it's not like you blocked off the space for them and now you're not getting paid for it. Does that make sense? So I think that there's several things that you can do to keep clients from flaking, but that is like first and foremost, I know you got a lot of other feedback inside the Facebook group about things that you can say to the client, things you can put into your contract, this, that, and the other, those all are good ideas. But I think honestly it often comes down to the money. If somebody feels like they're going to miss out on something that they paid for, they are more likely to show up.

So try that. The other thing that I would say is just in your coaching sometimes, especially when we're new, we're like a little much where you can be like, okay, I want you to do this and how about that and then check-in with this and do this other thing. And I want you to try this recipe and blah, blah, blah, and people can feel overwhelmed. So sometimes less is more. And if you give somebody too much in their first session, you kind of give it all away. Not only might they feel like, well, I that's, that's it, that's what I need. I got everything I need, but also they're probably not really able to implement it. So it's not really doing them a service to give them so much, they can start to become overwhelmed. And that can be part of the reason that they're feeling overwhelmed or too busy to actually meet with you because when they get on the phone with you or on zoom or however, you're meeting with your clients, it's helpful.

If you can make that a time where they feel safe and grounded. And like I often will say to my clients, this is time for you. So if you need to go get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, like feel free to do that now and not pressure them during the session. Cause they're probably feeling pressured if they're anything like my clients all damn day. So if that time with you can be like a helpful breath of fresh air and they're not feeling overwhelmed at the end of the session, that can also help them want to continue meeting. I hope that makes sense.

But the biggest takeaway of all is it's still going to happen sometimes. And you should not take it personally, just get paid up front. Okay. Another question here from Jessica and by the way, for those of you that are watching live, I am checking comments. So any questions that you have for me about these topics or about anything else, you can feel free to pop in there. And I will get to those in just a few minutes. So Jessica said, I'm looking for your ideas. My Facebook group is almost at 1000 people and I want to do something fun, engaging, and incentivizing for the members. When we hit the 1000 Mark, I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions. So Jessica, great question, wrong audience. You should be asking this question to your group, or maybe you don't even have to ask the question. You can just mine your group for the answer.

So you can literally, this is an awesome thing about having a Facebook group full of your clients or your prospective clients is they are in there talking about what they need hopefully every day, right? By the time a group has a thousand members, by the way, congratulations. Cause that's a big milestone. You're probably getting a lot of conversation in there that you can go through and see, like, this is something everybody's talking about. This is something everyone has questions about. This is what they need. Some people will say, I need X, Y, Z, and then you know what? You can give them, right? Or you can pull, you can do a poll in your group. You can ask a question. You can collect this information from them. But what I'm trying to say is we will not be able to give you the right answer.

Your group will be able to give you the right answer, because we're going to think about it as a group of health coaches. And we love to nerd out on nutrition and we love to do pantry make-overs and we love to do all this stuff, but none of that matters. All that matters is what your group wants and what they need from you. Now, this is an awesome example and talking point, because I'm going to be talking more about using Facebook groups effectively inside your health coaching business, with a full length in depth masterclass coming up. I know some of you already have heard about this and here's why I chose this topic of Facebook groups, because you guys are always asking about them questions like Jessica's come up all the time and that's how I know you want it. That's how I know it's important to you because every week there's a question like this, and to celebrate hitting 10,000 members in our own group, I'm putting this class together for you for free, but I do need your help to get to that 10,000 member Mark.

So start inviting your smartest sassiest, your coolest, like go get our health coach friends to join us at health coach power, community.com. Or if you're listening to this and you're not already a member of our Facebook group, join us. The masterclass is waiting for us all on the other side of 10,000 members. And again, it's health coach, power, community.com and Jessica. I hope that's helpful because the way I put this incentive together for this group is exactly how I suggest you do it for yours. Listen to what your members are asking for. Okay? Who else has that question today? We've got time. We've got time. Here's one from Alex. I'm going to read this one. This one gets a little convoluted. I've read it about five times myself. I'm going to read it again now because there's a lot going on here. So, listen carefully.

Alex says looking to build a seven day, eat real food challenge, uncertain whether to include this as a freebie opt in offer following with a 30 day, eat real food, evergreen template. I'm curious what to include in these basic templates and challenges. Don't eat this, eat that instead as a definite, I will be omitting grains, sugar, alcohol, toxic oils, chemicals, and dairy, grocery shopping guide food, prep guide, fillable meal, plan templates seem logical. Some basic guidelines I would like to include are some motivation tips, macro timing. What about recipes? Any other options? Do you think the seven day is worthy of charging for? I'd like to do a free beta with a handful of people, which is great for testing and testimonials. What do you think would be a good price point for a 30 day? I'm not even going to finish. This is what it sounds like inside.

So many of our heads, especially when we start our business, maybe I should do this. Maybe I should that maybe I should charge for it. No, I should do it for 30 days. No, I should offer this. I should do recipes. I assume you'll flip. And it's all getting jumbled up. Like Alex, I think you're asking about 30 different questions within this one post. So kind of like entangled that I'm having a hard time, parsing it to answer any of them. So what I'm going to do for you is ask you to take a step back, like out of the weeds, like get out of the weeds. Should I run this? How many days? How much should it cost blabity, blabity, blah backup. And here's the question to ask? What are you trying to achieve? Like at this point in your business, I know we're all trying to achieve like a profitable, long lasting career as a health coach.

But right now, like this week in your business, what's the most important thing that you need to achieve. And I'm going to answer it for you because if you're just starting out, I'm just guessing. But if you're just starting out, you probably need to build your mailing list more than anything else. So if you're thinking about offering some sort of eat real food challenge or whatever it is that you've been mulling over, that's great. Offer it for free as a list builder. See how clear that is. You want to build your list, right? As a list builder, it should be free. In that case, if you charge for it, you will make a small amount of money because you don't have a big audience, right? You'll make a small amount of money. You won't get as many people to sign up. Your list will not be growing very much.

So it's probably most advantageous for you to do it for free, offer it to as many people as possible and build your mailing list. Now, as for what to include inside of a challenge like this, when you're doing something that's just five days, seven days, whatever it's going to be. And it's for free. One thing that can happen kind of like we were just talking about in the earlier question is we can easily overwhelm people. So just be careful that you don't get into every last topic. And every last, you know, eat this, don't eat that count your macros carb cycling, whatever, you know, ferment, your own sauerkraut. Like don't give everything in this one short challenge because it can feel like too much for people and they won't do it. They won't be able to do it. Right. People are busy.

So make it something that will feel like a win for them at the end of the week, not like, Oh, I failed at another diet or, Oh, I failed at like another thing I was going to do for myself. Make sure your freebies, whether it's a challenge or it's something that they're downloading, always give somebody a feeling of having a win. Cause that's their first win with you. And it's going to make them want to come back for more wins with you because it feels achievable. Like you've made it doable for them. Okay. So less is more, less like crazy thinking in our head is, is better. And also like giving our clients less is better. Let's try to like edit it down to just the basics. The other thing that I want to say to you is when you're running something like a seven day eat real food challenge that will attract people who are thinking to themselves, I really should probably eat more real food and they'll sign up for it and it could be good, right?

They may even like feel great. You might even get some good testimonials about how your program helped them have more energy and things like that. It will not be as impactful or as useful to you as a business owner. If you are not targeting someone who has a problem to solve like a significant problem to solve, because there are a lot of people out there who are just already interested in healthy eating, you know, I'm one of them, we're probably all in that group. I don't eat perfectly all the time. I ate like a box of Joe Joe's the other week. You guys know those from trader Joe's. They're like my kryptonite. Anyway, my point is you don't want to attract people like me to your challenge. You want to attract people who actually have a big problem to solve because they're the ones who most likely to then pay you to be their coach and solve their problem, which is going to take weeks, months.

Right? And that's something they can do in five or seven days. So by targeting people who are already kind of health conscious, you do yourself a disservice. So instead of saying a seven day eat real food challenge, I liked what you said later on in your posts. I don't think I even read it. Cause it was towards the end. You said something about reducing auto-immune inflammation program. Yes. Now you're going in the right direction because you would do better for your business to build a list full of people. I'm going to say women, but I guess people who have auto-immunity because then they have a problem that they are trying to solve. They are experiencing a lot of inflammation and you may even want to be a little more specific or precise about how you talk about that. Because most normal people are not walking around going.

I have so much inflammation today. Like again, health coach might be saying that or somebody who's in the wellness space, but your average Jane is not walking around, talking about her inflammation. She's walking around, talking about her joints hurt or the weight around her middle or how she couldn't sleep. She hasn't been able to sleep at night. She wakes up every, every few hours. So you want to talk about their pain point and create some sort of challenge or some freebie that is going to attract that type of person and build your mailing list. That way I hope that helps. Here's what else I'll say about this? And I got this from Joshua, from the Institute for integrative nutrition. When I was a student there, many of you have probably heard this before, but he would say, life is long saying, yes, you can do all of these things.

You can't do them all at the same time. And that has been very, very useful advice for me as I've built my business because we do, we tend to have lots of ideas. We want to help lots of different people and yes, you can do it. You can't do it all at the same time. So the way to do them, one by one is to prioritize. What do I need in my business right now? What is the most important thing I can do for my business? And then find a tactic, find a way to achieve that goal that you need to achieve right now. Right? Versus trying to do a hundred things at once. Cause I promise you I will not work. That will not work. I've been there. I'll just let you know. It's never going to work. It may be if we had like 400 hours in a day, instead of just 24.

Rosalyn says, I still don't know where to find these clients with the problem. People got problems all over the place. What you mean? People have problems. They will tell you about their problems. They will complain about their problems. People love to complain, get anybody to start complaining. Woo. Then you just sit back and listen, you will hear all their problems. They're out there. Even through this whole crazy 2020, even with COVID, even with people being furloughed and out of work, even with politics, everything that's crazy. Stuff's been going on throughout all of this. People continued to have problems that they wanted to solve and hired health coaches this whole time. I know because I was getting clients the whole time. I hear from you guys that you've been working with clients this whole time. So even in 2020 with all the big, big problems I've been going on in the world, people still have problems to solve and they're hiring health coaches to help them.

Okay. And this I thought was a really interesting question from Val. Val says, what are some behind the scenes tasks, projects, et cetera, that a health coach could do if currently not seeing clients since the end of may have been sick and dealing with the mysterious gut issue. I'm seeing a functional medicine doctor we're in the process of figuring it out because I'm not feeling well. I'm not seeing or taking any new clients, but even though I'm currently not seeing clients, a part of me feels like I should be doing something on the backend, but I just don't know what it would be. I'll tell you, I'll tell you about the thing that you can be doing. And this happens a lot. This happens when I know health coaches who maybe are living in a different country for a period of time or they don't have a visa.

They can't be making, earning any money when they're here. This happened to me. I remember when I was pregnant with my second baby. So I had like, I knew like the next nine months I had to work. But after that, I wasn't going to be able to work for a while. So there's all those times when it's like, maybe I can't take on new clients right now, but so much you can do to build your business. This is your time for list building. This is your time for content creation. This is your time for building a platform all around, like what your main messages and you can, it's actually kind of awesome because when you're not worried about then turning around and making an offer then I feel like sometimes, sometimes we can be more free with what we're putting out there. You want to get really clear as to who you're trying to target, what big problem they have.

And then you want to be out there helping them. You just start helping, you know, you could write a blog post once a week. You could write you or a podcast episode, or you could be, you should definitely be building your mailing list. You could be emailing that list. You could be doing all of the functions that we do in our health coaching business minus the part where you make offers right now. And to whatever degree you're able with, what you're dealing with. Val, I would do that because then you are in a very strong position. When you do start making offers. I know in my own business, I had a blog. It was just like a hobby blog before I even was enrolled in health coaching school. But I was just writing about all the things I was interested in. It wasn't even targeted.

It wasn't even like strategic, but it helped me start to build a platform for people to get to know me and figure out like what my approach was to food. Do my, just my personality, you know? So then by the time I was taking clients, people were like, yeah, I want to sign up to work with you so you can be doing all of that right now, Val. Okay. What else do we have here?

By the way, I want to give a big shout out to avocado 57, who are you? Avocado 57. You left a five star review on iTunes and titled it. You might want to kick yourself for not listening sooner. I love that. And here's what avocado wrote. This podcast is absolutely invaluable. Whether you are a veteran health coach or a newbie, Michelle is a truly inspirational leader in her field. Whenever I put a podcast on, I end up listening to two or three at a time. Totally binge worthy. Yes. I have learned so much because Michelle trusts us to handle learning about the granular parts of the business. These are things we really need to know as wellness professionals. Whenever I finish a podcast, I feel totally empowered to take the next steps for my business. This is a must listen in the health coach community Bravo, Michelle.

Thank you so much! Please, Avocado 57, send your mailing address to us at support@healthcoachpower.com and reference episode number 113, because we have a little thank you gift to send your way and that's it for today. You guys keep on asking great questions and I will keep answering them. I'll be back next week. Take care.