#86: Handling Real Life Clients

handling real life clients

Today we’re going to talk about the actual “meat” of our businesses — the actual coaching, you know? The working with clients part? I know it’s cliche to say, but this gets soooo much easier with experience. I’ve seen a lot of questions about it lately though…so I’m happy to lend a hand!

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Well hey there, health coaches! Today we’re going to be talking about the actual meat and potatoes of our businesses. Or the actual, I don’t know, tofu and carrots of our businesses. Oh my goodness. I just realized my headset’s not plugged in. Give me one second. The sound quality will improve. Okay, there we go. Isn’t that so much better? Maybe we should have an episode about technology hiccups and stupid mistakes that Michelle makes every week. No, today I’m talking about working with clients and I know I’m, I always feel like kind of cliché when I say this and I’m like, Oh, it gets a lot easier with experience. Oh it just gets better with time. I know you don’t want to hear that and we’ve been getting a lot of questions about like what do I do with this client situation? What do I do about that client situation? So I’m here today to happily lend a hand to whatever you are going through, but do not worry.

We are not going to be straying too, too far from marketing and business building topics here on the podcast. In fact this December and January I’m going to be doing a special series for you, dedicated to helping you make 2020 your very best year yet and turn health coaching into a real business for you. You know, getting out of that hobby mode, getting out of that place where you kind of cringe when somebody asks how many clients you have. This is going to be our year people, so look for that series starting next week.

Now today, I also want to give a friendly hello and a virtual hug to Taylor. So Taylor, if you’re out there, hello, and I’m going to read the five star review that you left for us on iTunes. Taylor said, “I’m a new health coach and I love Michelle’s podcast. She’s real, she’s down to earth and she filters out the BS her health coaching tips have helped me so much as I embark on this new career path. I love that she is succinct to the point and addresses real questions that her audience asks. If you’re just starting out as a health coach, your lingering thoughts and fears are likely addressed in one of her podcasts. I walk away from each one with new knowledge and a sense of encouragement. Starting your own business definitely has its challenges so it’s great to have a reference of support. I also love being part of the health coach Facebook group. It’s a great place for support, feedback and new information.” Thank you so much Taylor. We are glad to have you here and thank you to all of you who have taken time to leave a review on iTunes.

Like yo, here I am. It’s like two days before Thanksgiving, crazy week for all of us, right? And every week I’m here giving away free content and answering your questions. And for those of you that take the time to leave a review on iTunes while you are just wonderful, wonderful people to offer that gift back in return, Taylor, please send your mailing address to support@healthcoachpower.com and mention episode number 85 because we have a little thank you gift headed your way.

Okay, let’s get into today’s Q & a. All about handling real life client situations. And if you’re here with me live and you have a real life client situation, feel free to throw that into the comments. I’m always happy to give you advice on the fly, but I got one here already from, this is a big one, so this is from Taylor actually, I don’t know if it’s the same Taylor.

We have many Taylors in the group, so anyway, from the same or different Taylor and she said, I have a client who has completely ghosted me. We’ve had three sessions so far and she was figuring out some things about herself that were going to be great roads to explore, but has now completely stopped responding to anything and everything I send to her. I’ve reached out three times in the past two weeks just checking in, just let me know what’s going on, blah, blah, blah, all those types of things and not a word from her. She was a little shy to start with and not doing the things that she would come up with during our sessions. So, I know she felt kind of down about it all. We broke her action plan into the smallest things I could come up with and the most recent thing she left our meeting with were to recite a mantra that she came up with daily to help with strength and self esteem and write one thing in a gratitude journal daily.

Sounds doable, right? You guys? Okay. She says, I really had hope with her as she is the perfect client in the way of needs and how much progress she could be making if she stuck to it. I know this is not my fault, but it is still frustrating. She’s my first real paying client, so I broke it down into a payment plan for her and she still owes me a bit of money. I’m planning on just taking that as a loss, but I don’t want to lose her in general. So, help. Have any of you had a client ghost you? What did you do and how can I get her attention? Again, I have been as kind as I know how to be.

Oh goodness. It sounds like dating and it’s hard. It really is hard. Taylor, I think you’re taking the right approach. And so far as you’re not getting angry, right? You’re willing to take the money as a loss. You’re not like, that’s not what you’re going to hang yourself on this last whatever, a couple hundred dollars that she owes you. So those are healthy ways to approach it. And has this ever happened to me? Yeah, of course. Of course. And I’m sure you’ve done this to somebody else. I mean maybe not a coach per se, but think of all the people you’ve hired, courses you’ve purchased, a gyms that you bought a membership to. You know, sometimes you spend money on something with the best intentions, but then life happens and you just let it go. You know, you never actually take advantage of that unlimited yoga pass that you bought, even though you really intended to, when you first dropped that $150. You know what I mean? So it’s just human nature.

And I think that in my experience, it is rarely personal. She didn’t like coaching with me or I said something or, um, it was, it was too much work or whatever. And it’s usually nine times out of 10 something going on in their life. You know, there’s a sickness in the family, they got laid off at work, they’re having boyfriends, trouble, you know, whatever it is. And their mind has just literally been elsewhere. Their priorities are elsewhere. And I mean it is kind of their prerogative. So I don’t feel it’s my job to hunt my clients down. And I’ll give you an example of a client I recently had who did this to me. And she’s a phenomenal woman and a phenomenal client in many, many ways. But yeah, we always talk about clients have to be ready, willing and able. And in many ways she, my client was ready, willing and able, except not that able because of her schedule, really busy schedule with work, having to travel, you know, just so many things out of her control, always going on, needing to reschedule.

You know, we’re supposed to have a meeting every two weeks and it turns into every six weeks or something. And again, it has nothing to do with you as a coach, has everything to do with their ability to commit. So, you know, I follow up with her when I hadn’t heard, Hey, just wanted to check in, let’s get something on the calendar. Another couple of weeks passed. Hey hope everything’s going great. Just wanted to get something on the calendar for you. Here’s a link. Right? And then that’s it. I’m not chasing anybody down and I don’t think you have to either Taylor. I mean it’s great to offer yourself, “Hey, I’m here if you need me.” But then I would just drop it like it’s hot until they come back to you. And if they come back to you within a reasonable timeframe, depending on your agreement with them, you might pick right up where you left off and there may have been a reason and you’re just like, Oh, okay, cool.

But now we can kind of get on with it. That would probably be ideal. Um, in many cases you don’t hear back or you may hear back, but it’s like months and months, a month later. And that’s what happened with my client. She did get back to me, but it was out well outside the window of what all of her sessions had expired and she said, Oh, I’d like to um, you know, use my remaining sessions or I’d like to continue working. I forgot what she said. And I basically was like, your sessions have expired months ago. What do you have in mind in terms of continuing to work together? Because she was willing to pay for another package. I was willing to take her back on cause I loved her. But if she wasn’t willing to pay for a new package, then I felt I was being taken advantage of that my expiration dates don’t mean anything.

The package she buys with me is not valuable enough that she’s going to uphold her end of it or she can’t uphold her end of it. And she just said, Oh, I see. And kind of bowed out. Okay, that’s just going to happen. No hard feelings in either direction and so Taylor, I would, I would stop trying honestly. You’ve done what you can do. Move on to the next, just move. Take it as a learning experience and you know, dust off your shoulders, keep it moving. I just quoted Lizzo you guys, I want a little credit for that.

Okay, here is another question. Okay. We have one from Margaret. She says, now remember, I haven’t seen this before you guys, so I might just have to say, I don’t know. Let’s see what Margaret has going on. She says, I have a client who has no time for anything. She’s about 50 pounds overweight but isn’t open to ideas on how to make more time, boundaries and not eating just for comfort. Not sure what I can do because I feel like I’m failing her as her coach. Any ideas?

You know, it happens. It happens a lot. Sometimes you’ll get people to come to you and they’re just like, I’m not going to cook. I don’t want to cook. Or like, I don’t want to eat vegetables. Like something that’s like pretty core to like most of our work as health coaches. I don’t want to exercise and you’re just like, okay. On the inside, you know, you kind of cringe a little bit. But I think all of these things are opportunities too to investigate further. You know, you don’t want to exercise. Well tell me more about that. Or this woman, what she’s, um, she has an open to making more time.

Well how did you decide to make time to work with me as a coach? Tell me about that. What was going through your mind? So I think it’s just always a matter of taking what your clients give you and turning it around and handing it back to them to expand on. We’re always just trying to dig and find little crevices where we can get in there. Cause some clients are tough man. They don’t want to, they don’t want to give an inch. But if you keep asking the right questions you’ll kind of get there. And it doesn’t necessarily mean Margaret that she is going to start, you know, making more time or that she is going to stop eating for comfort. It just means that you might find something else. Sometimes I get into this really, really interesting conversations with my clients about like, Oh my goodness, I have this client now telling me about her childhood being raised in poverty and the issues with her mother and her father.

And it’s all so clear why she has the problems that she has now. You know, and I, I’m not her therapist, I’m not anything close to that, but I asked the right questions. It cracked her open a little bit and just the right way to the point that like what she eats for lunch today, it really does not matter like these much larger things matter. So if you can keep, um, keep it, keep it okay. It is okay for your clients to be where they are and you, you kind of like work with them. You’ll eventually forge the path where it’s supposed to go. But that’s a great question Margaret, and thank you for bringing it up.

Okay. Who else has got a client situation that we can unpack a little bit today? I’ve got one from Kristen. Kristen said, this is kind of funny one, she said, there’s a guy who emailed me about a week ago via a physical therapy company that I partner with to provide nutrition services on that email address. So, it was a bizarre email. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I just put it aside. Then he found my actual business website and he emails me again from my contact form. It was a long-detailed email about his health and it was actually kind of funny, but before I could respond, he then filled out my application with even more details and I thought, all right, you know, this can be good even though he’s not my target market. He’s a 65-year-old man and I mainly work with women in their thirties.

I scheduled a phone consultation for Monday. Well now he’s found my Instagram and he liked a bunch of photos and he wrote a long comment on an old post and it’s clear he spent some time on my feed and is spending a lot of time looking at my website. He’s, uh, he said that he quote, reveals too much, and he’s obviously a talker, but I don’t know, now I’m kind of rethinking that call. What would you do?

Kristen, you know, my first instinct was just like, oh uh-uh. Like no thank you at all. And then I was like, maybe you know, maybe there’s no harm here. He’s 65. You know, sometimes like my, actually my mother just turned 65, so I know how she uses the internet and text messaging and it’s very, very different from how I do or certainly how even like the younger generation does.

So I’m willing to cut him some Slack that maybe he’s not quite as creepy as he’s coming off. However, being that he’s outside of your target market and being that it’s making you uncomfortable, I don’t really need to know much more. You know, we have like really limited time and energy, right? Like you and I, we have the same number of hours in the day. I know my energy is like down to like this minimum right now cause going into the holiday season and my son’s home with strep throat today and it’s just madness. I don’t got time for this. So that would be my answer. That’s like just where my mind goes. Like I don’t got time for this. Like if you’re falling outside of this structure that I have created for my business, I don’t care how good it sounds, I don’t care what opportunity it might be.

I don’t care how nice you are. I don’t got time for that cause I just don’t have the structure in place for that. I don’t have a program that makes sense for you. I don’t have a way of communicating with you because you’re 65 and I’m not used to that. Whatever. You know, people will sometimes come to me and ask for like not necessarily creepy but like off the wall things and I’m like, yeah, no I don’t do that. You know, like someone from my son’s school just came up to me the other day and was like, Oh Michelle, you want to do like a like wellness like nutrition thing for the PTA? And I was just like, eh, not part of my business plan, not my circus, not my monkeys. Even though years ago I would have been like, wow, that’s a great opportunity. And I would have spent like spun my wheels on like tens of, you know how I don’t know how many hours, 10, 20, 30 figuring something else, something out for this PTA event.

But these days I’m like, I do like one, two, three things and I do them really well and if you’re falling outside of that, I’ve got time. So, so that’s my take Kristen, but you’re going to have to let us know how it goes. That one definitely gave me a chuckle. It is funny what we come across.

Okay, here’s one from Amy. Okay. This one I have to really think about. I’ve read it briefly earlier and now I’m going to put my brain on it 100% for you, Amy. She said, I’ve been getting a few new clients lately. Yay. But noticed in the process that I have a kink, I do the discovery call and then I follow up with an email about what program matches their needs and the cost and it feels awkward. I’m wondering if there’s a better format to offer the platform to work together. How do you transition from discovery call to confirmed client? Is it just verbal on the call or do you do something more formal before they say yes.

Okay, got it. Amy, Ideally you want the yes on the call and not only do you want the yes on the call, you want the credit card on the call now it depends how you’re doing your billing. If you are invoicing somebody through PayPal, then you’re going to get the yes on the call and like immediately invoice them. Hopefully they don’t change their mind in the interim these days because I use practice better, I’m able to get the yes on the phone and immediately take their credit card number, enter it in and boom wherein we are in like Flynn. So that is like the perfect situation, which means on your call you’re not just having a consultation, you are having a sales call.

In fact, you should think about these calls… And it does make it feel a little more scary, sorry to say, but these are sales calls. We’re not doing them because we care about the person’s health history. I only care about your health history if you’re paying me. The reason I do the consultation is to sell you into becoming like client. At which point then yes, 100% you have my eyes, my ears, my everything on your health history. But the point of the sales call is to get that person to understand the problem that they’re having to understand why they can’t solve that problem on their own. And then for you to tell them why your programs slash services slash whatever are the perfect solution for the problem that they just outlined for you. And this is the cost and these are look the logistics and how does that sound?

And then take the credit card number and get it all done with. So that can happen all within a 30 minute call. If you know what questions, ask them what order. If you’re just sort of like, Oh, and then tell me about, you know, your mother’s side of the family and what’s the house like over there and Hey, what do you eat on a normal Monday? Then you’re not having the right conversation. I have so much more to say about this. Um, Amy. But yes, uh, try to close the deal. I hate that term, but cry, try to seal the deal right there on the call or else you’re going to end up with a lot more like people who just flake and you never hear from again. Now that being said, years ago before I really had this figured out, I would do what you’re doing.

I would somewhat, I’d had the conversation on the call, I was too chicken and I really felt uncomfortable talking about money. So I would follow up with my packages and price points and I would tell them which package I thought was the correct package for them and why. So I don’t think that what you’re doing is terrible. I just want you to know that if you’re not seeing the closing rate that you want, and by closing rate, I mean, how many of these calls turn into a paying client? That’s a good indication that you’ve won. You want to change something about how you’re doing it. Okay? So, um, think about how you’re accepting payment. Um, even if you can’t get payment over the phone, one thing that you can do is you can get somebody scheduled. So like I had a consultation earlier today and you know, it was the old let me talk to my husband, which is fine.

So, in that case, what I do is I schedule a time to call again. I said, okay, great. You know, when is a good day to follow up so we can talk about what your husband has to say. Okay, I’m going to call you. Then I put it on the calendar, I send them a calendar request and Hey, the first session that we would do together, let’s put that on the calendar. Now I’m going to pencil you in. I’m just going to hold that spot so that we have a time that is convenient for you and you know, then it’s there when we, uh, when we begin and this way they feel like they’re really, really taken care of. It’s almost set in stone and that helps. That helps solidify things even if they do have to think about it or talk to their husband or whatever it is.

Whew. I really could go on and on about that, but thank you for asking the question, Amy. And I hope that that was helpful.

Alrighty, here is one from Tracy. Tracy said, would anyone be willing to share any evaluation form that you use for your clients to complete at the end of a health coaching session?

Tracy, I have no such form whatsoever, so I have nothing to share with you. I think what you’re probably trying to get at is some feedback about your coaching and maybe a testimonial. And what I want to tell you is that if you give somebody form that says, you know, please rate your service or you know, something like that, you’re going to get like very, um, short, kind of terse or stilted answers. It’s not going to really have like the emotion and the meaning that comes from something that’s just organically written.

So the best feedback that I get from my clients usually comes in the form of emails that they send to me between sessions or during the calls themselves. So whenever you’re taking notes during your calls, and yes, I always take notes by hand while I’m on the phone. Um, write these things down. Like, listen, your clients will give you testimonials. My client the other day said something like, Mmm, Oh my God, Michelle, I can’t believe all it took was changing my breakfast and now all of my sugar cravings are gone. Boom, write that down. So I just kind of scribble that in the margins of my page. And then at the end, you know, I might go back to those notes and pull out some of those key statements that they made. And I’ll say, hey, here are real things that you said during our time together.

You know, would it be okay if I use this in my future marketing materials? And nine times out of 10, they say yes, absolutely. And then you’re good to go. Um, and then in terms of an evaluation form, again, someone can say like, Oh yes, I found Michelle very friendly or very helpful. But that is meaningless. It’s so much more useful again, to kind of go back through your notes and you’re like, okay, you know, and when we started working together, your skin was all broken out with eczema and rosacea and now here we are, you know, five months later or whatever it is. And you just said how your skin has never been this clear. I mean, that’s an evaluation. That’s all you need to know. Right. That’d be the before and the after, so to speak. So, don’t worry about the forms, forms are boring. Just talk to the people.

All right. I got a couple of minutes left. Let’s do another one. What do we have? Katherine said I just did a consultation with somebody as a requirement for graduation at IIN she would like to work with me, but at this point I feel ready but I don’t have a business license yet. She said she needs a social security number or tax ID so that she can be reimbursed by insurance. I’m not sure what to tell her. Has anyone had this experience starting to coach right before for graduation?

Okay, so a couple of things going on here. Catherine, I want to try to hit on them real quick. First. Yes, you can start working with people before you graduate. Please do. Please, please do. Don’t put it off. I started working with clients when I was halfway through IIN and for those of you listening, IIN is the Institute for integrative nutrition where many of us went to school.

But you know, many coaches in this community went to other schools as well. But anyway, I’m halfway through the program is when I started working with clients and by the time I graduated, I believe I had eight or nine paying clients, thus funding the tuition that I had paid on the school. Right. Paid it off by the time I graduated. Amazing. Highly recommend so you can start. There’s no reason that you can’t, you don’t need a business license. You don’t need a tax ID number. You don’t need a business bank account and don’t need anything. It can just be you and they’re giving you money and your accountant can figure it out on the other side. Should you have insurance? Should you have a business bank account? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You will figure all that out in time, but don’t put off starting to get experience working with clients.

Now, as for her thinking she’s going to get reimbursed by insurance, she is likely not. She’s really likely not. The only time, and I know this is changing and someone’s going to email me and tell me about the new health coach, blah blah blah thing that’s going on. But in real life, real practice with real clients, I have to tell you, nobody’s getting reimbursed by insurance. Insurance is not covering health care. I mean not cover covering health coaching at this moment. So that is not even a conversation to be had. Uh, hopefully in the next few years. Maybe I say hopefully in quotes cause I think it will also be a huge pain in the neck. Um, that may start to change. The only client I have ever had in literally 10 years of practice that got anything from their insurance was more about their flex spending account.

And I was able to give them a receipt with the description of services and yes, my tax ID number and then they were able to submit it and get reimbursed from their flex spending account. But not every flex spending account is the same. You know, the FSAs and HSAs. So she would really have to check with them first. And you can talk to your accountant about getting a tax ID. I believe you can do that even if you’re working as a sole proprietor so that you’re not giving out social security number. Phew! That was a lot to unpack, right? You thought it was a simple question, but it was not a simple question. A couple of different things you kind of worry about there.

All right you guys. So listen, remember next week our special series is going to begin on how to turn health coaching into a real business and make 2020 your best year yet. So keep asking all those great questions and I’ll be back next week to answer them. Take care everybody.