#36: Client Forms, Billing & Scheduling…An Administrative Nightmare?

Are you spending way too much time with tasks like billing, scheduling and trying to get your clients to actually complete and return forms to you? In this episode, Michelle discusses:

– Solutions to wasted admin time
– Why she’s newly in love with revisit forms
– Why Facebook is her favorite social media platform
– When it’s time to hire an assistant
…and much more!

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This episode is sponsored by:
Master Class: Turn Your Health Coaching Business Into a Full Time Salary

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Hello there health coaches! Welcome to the health coach power community Q&A. my name is Michelle Pfennighaus. Thank you so much for joining me today, so I don’t know about you, but when I look back over the past week I can kind of see how much time I spent actually working with clients, how much time I spent with marketing and here’s my question for you. How much time are you spending with administrative tasks? I’m talking about the billing, the scheduling, the rescheduling, the trying to get your clients to fill out forms, actually print them, complete them and scan them back to you or whatever the process may be. These things can create a gigantic problem for your income because if you’re working with a client for one hour and you’re getting paid, even if you’re getting paid well for that one hour of time, that amount has to get averaged into all the hours that you spend on the behind the scenes stuff, all of the unpaid administrative tasks, and before you know it, it could average out into ‘you’re making minimum wage. ‘

So we don’t want that. Thanks for joining me today. If you’re here live as we stream into the health coach power community Facebook group, tell me in the comment area how much time are you spending each week with administrative tasks like scheduling, billing, sending forms, sending client notes, and organizing your client records, and while you do that, I’ll let you know that this episode is brought to you by my free training for health coaches. It’s called how to turn your health coaching business into a full time salary because I have been there, my friends, I remember sitting at my kitchen table with my little spreadsheet in front of me looking at how much I had earned for the month and it was just pennies and it was painful. I want to show you how to turn that around, how I turned that around. Sign up for this free training at findyourbalancehealth.com/earn.

Okay, so what I’ve noticed is that these types of questions come in to our Facebook group left and right. It’s always, how should I send the health history form? Or when should I send the health history form? Or what questions should be on my health history form? What sort of online schedulers should I use?

And then we had this one recently from Esther and Esther said, what do you all think about? Revisit forms. I’ve been using the form from IIN with mixed success. Some clients fill it out consistently while others ignore it. For the ones who ignore it, I feel like it’s a waste. It’s a bother to ask them to fill it out each time. I don’t want to force it if it’s not helpful. They say they don’t have time. They tend to be in very busy work environments.

So, Esther, I agree with you. If someone’s not filling out their revisit form, there’s no use in pressing them on it. You’re going to be on the phone with them or you’re going to be meeting with them in person anyway and you could ask them those same questions. It’s not worth hammering them over the head about why didn’t you fill out the revisit forums. So I agree. If it’s not working for someone for whatever reason, I don’t press the issue, but I thought this is an interesting question because for years, years I never used a revisit form. I may have used them early on, like my first couple of clients and I think I experienced what you’re experiencing, which is a lot of them just didn’t fill it out and the habit just fell by the wayside and I never really thought much about it, but recently, once I started using practice better, which is a tool we’ll talk a little bit more about.

I never expected to come around and start loving revisit forums, but I gotta tell you that’s kind of what happened. So practice better is a client management tool and they automatically send a revisit form. I suppose you don’t have to have it sent, but I have my revisit form sent two days before any client appointment. I don’t have to remember to send. It just happens automatically. They fill it out and then I get an email that the revisit form is completed. And at first I thought, let’s just see how it goes. This is probably stupid, I won’t use it, but I’m loving it, loving it because I feel like then when I get on the phone with my client, I already know what we need to talk about. I already know how things have been going from last time, so I can skip some of those really basic questions.

I could just be like, all right, I understand your digestion has been really giving you a problem. Let’s talk about it. So it feels like we’re more on the same page from the get go and can make better use of the time together. Um, I also feel like it’s an opportunity for the client to even ask themselves these questions and take a moment and think how am I feeling? What has changed in the past two weeks? You know, and I, I ask my questions several, several different. I asked my clients several different questions on these forms. I ask them about their energy levels, like a lot of the same questions that I would ask them when we started working together. I have a scale of one to 10. Like, how’s your energy? How’s your digestion? Has your skin and I think it’s easy for them to just pick a number rather than typing out whole paragraphs.

So my revisit form has some questions like that where I asked them to just tune in to all those little check points of their health. What is their digestion feeling like? I don’t want to just hear about how much weight they lost or didn’t lose. Just one aspect of their health. I want to hear about all of it. Um, so it probably takes them three minutes to complete the form, but I do find it really helpful. So that’s sort of been my turnaround story with revisit forms. Now I’m thinking there may be some of you who are like, what on earth is a revisit forum. This may not be something that’s taught in every health coach curriculum. So as you probably guessed, it’s a forum that a client fills out before any of their sessions with you. Not a first session, but any, any sessions in between.

And you know, when it was me emailing a PDF to someone and they were going to have to print it out, fill it in, scan it back to me. I mean forget it, nobody ever did that. But using an online form makes it really super simple. It’s not a must have. I’ve done really, I think, good work with clients through the years never having a revisit form. But I’m really enjoying it now. Now as for those other questions that everybody’s always asking about sending the health history for, I’m in the online scheduling and all of these other administrative tasks, you know, again, I did this stuff really by hand for a long time. I just had a notebook with all of my client notes or had a folders file, you know, hanging files in a drawer in my office. And that’s how I kept track of everything.

In fact, back in those days people would give me a stack of post dated checks and I’d keep their checks and their folder. And once a month I would collect the checks for that month and bring them to the bank. Yeah, no depositing over the phone back then. So funny. So I mean I have done it the old school ways and it works. It’s totally fine as long as you have a system for keeping track of everything. I’m a paper calendar is fine. You don’t need an online scheduler, but if you are going to use an online scheduler by the way, Calendly has a free version and I use that for a long time. But then like I mentioned last year I upgraded my whole business in a sense and I started using practice better. Um, it was something that I resisted for a long time. I don’t know if you guys have heard about different management tools like Practice Better.

There’s another one out there called Healthy, which I personally have never used so I can’t speak to it, but I really, really resisted the idea of using any of these things because I’m like, why am I going to pay every month when I can just use a notebook or I could just use my hanging folders. You know, here, this little system that I have and I really thought it was going to cost an arm and a leg, so I resisted the idea for a very long time, but I am so glad that I started using it. Um, and actually next week we’re going to be having an event called how to organize and manage your health coaching business like a pro. I’m going to drop a link right here into the comments on Facebook so that if you’re interested can sign up to join us. And if you’re listening to this via podcast, then get your tushy over to HealthCoachPowerCommunity.com.

And you’ll find the link there to join us for this presentation about how to get your act together and create systems that’s going to make it easy to know when to send out the health history form. Know how to get those. Revisit forums out, how to deal with your scheduling, how to deal with, you know, rescheduling without making mistakes constantly. Because I think that was the biggest problem that I was always having was whoops, I forgot to send them that, or oops, I filed that in the wrong place or oops, I said we were going to meet at 10:00 AM, but I meant eastern time and they met Pacific time because so many little problems like that that were stunting my productivity through the years. So anyway, I hope you’ll join us for that event. I think it’s going to be really, really useful.

And if you take one thing away from our topic today, just know that you need to have systems in order to streamline all your administrative tasks and systems could be manual systems, you know, paper folders, sticky notes, whatever works for you. Um, and sometimes those systems may work better with a tool. So those are the options available to you. But at the end of the day, you want to minimize the time you spend on admin tasks because you’re not getting paid for that time. Although hopefully you’re building it into your rates with your clients. But think of it this way. If you can write client notes and get everything done in five minutes versus two hours, I think we all know what the better option is. So when I encourage you to spend less and less time with the admin stuff, now building on that.

Another question came in. I’m asked about getting an assistant. She said I’m a geek and good at inspiring, influencing and teaching. I’m bad at administrative stuff. I think I waste my time asking people to fill out agreements, make payments on time, confirm appointments, but now I’m having more expenses than income. So any thoughts?

This question made a lot of sense to me. I don’t know how many of you are using virtual assistants or heck real assistance. They don’t have to be virtual, but I think usually we’re hiring virtual assistants and if you’re not making enough money to feel like you can pay for an assistant, that’s a tough place to be. It can be a little bit like what comes first, the chicken or the egg, because if you don’t hire an assistant to get some of the admin stuff off your plate, how are you ever going to grow your business?

You’re going to be stuck doing all this stuff that you don’t know, maybe not good at. Maybe you’re not a particularly organized person, um, you know, and you’re gonna waste a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. So I know there is a gray area in there where I remember feeling like, should I hire someone, should I not? Is this going to be wasteful? Should I just do it myself? So I think what you have to really know the answer to is how you’re going to use your time to generate income. And all of my students inside Healthy Profit University know that every week we talk about how are you generating income this week? It’s something that sometimes gets lost when we were just thinking about doing our next Facebook live or posting to Instagram all the marketing bits and pieces. And sometimes we forget, oh, how am I actually going to make money?

So, um, if you know that if you had say three more hours a week that you could put those hours to good use, you could turn them into hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, then it would be very worth it for you to hire an assistant for $20 to take that work off your plate and free up your time. Right? Like, so if your time is worth x amount of money, you want to hire an assistant for like a 10th of that or a fraction of that to free up the time for you. And that is eventually what I did about five years into my business, I realized that there were things that not only was I not good at doing, but I was forcing myself to do it and it was taking me for ever like hours and hours and hours trying to figure stuff out. And when I hired my assistant I was shocked because she got it done and she got it done in like 13 minutes.

And I’m like, are you kidding me? So, I mean, it wasn’t even a matter of paying her for the hours that I was spending doing it. She did it in a fraction of the time and then I’m paying her a couple of bucks to get that task off my plate. It was outstanding and that’s when I was like, okay, now I can really focus on planning my next group program, you know, writing the content for the program, marketing the program, selling the program, earning money with my time instead of, you know, figuring out how to set up blahblahblah technical thing. So that’s kinda, that’s that space you’ve got to find yourself in. I don’t recommend that you hire an assistant right off the bat if you’re not making any money yet, you know, you really need to get to a point where you know how to make the money and you just need more time to do it. Um, I think for it to make sense to actually hire somebody. And if you want to look back in episode 35, so just last week we talked more about hiring assistance, um, the types of tasks that they can help you with, how I use mine, and also some stories about finding an assistant.

Okay. Moving right along here. Let’s see if we have any questions here. Oh, Jessica is asking how to find a virtual assistant.

Listen to episode 35, but I’ll, I’ll just mention quickly that it’s hard to find good help, right? In any industry for anything you’re ever hiring for. I would look for someone who is a career virtual assistant when I’ve hired someone who is going to help me out with a few things on the side and wasn’t a dedicated assistant, they kind of fizzled out, right? Because I have other things going on. The Assistant I’ve worked with now for five years, like this is her career. This is what she does. This is all that she does. She’s very good at it. She’s not going anywhere. That stinks. Stinks to have somebody help you out, learn all your systems, and then they decide they’re going to do something else. You gotta find someone new, train somebody new. So try to find someone who really does this for a living.

Next question comes from Laura Lee. She said in marketing your coaching, which social media platforms do you use? Which one gives you the best response with an audience and prospects?

So that’s a good question. Laura Lee, and I know you got some answers about this on the Facebook group and I could give you a whole spiel about, you know, it depends on your target market and it does, but I’m guessing you just want to know from someone’s experience what really does seem to work the best. So I will just tell you what my experience has been. I find that Facebook goes way above and beyond any other social media platform when it comes to building relationships that turn into paying clients. Now, it’s not exactly what you may think. It’s not always that, you know, I meet someone in a Facebook group and then they start a conversation with me and then I invite them to a consultation and they become a paying client.

Not so much like that, but maybe I post the link to a blog post somewhere on Facebook or other people post links to my blog posts on Facebook. Conversations get started around these topics. Um, somebody goes to the blog post on my website, they sign up for my mailing list and from there they turn into a paying client. Right? So that, I would say that’s a more likely scenario. The other thing that happens when you run a Facebook group like the health coach power community, um, is that people really get to know you. If you’re active in the group. They see you as an authority figure if you’re the owner of the group. And that can really position you well for selling your products and services as well. I mean, that’s why so many marketers run Facebook groups, right? This is no secret, but you can see how that might work for you and health coaching situation as well.

And then even if you’re running a program, if you’re running some sort of like free five day challenge, I mean what does everybody do with that? We always have a free Facebook group that goes along with it, so this is people who are already participating in something you’re doing, but now they get to know you a lot better. Facebook is just so good for that. Pinterest, you don’t get that. Twitter, I don’t know. I feel like twitter and Instagram are like quick hits, things that people kind of scroll through when they’re waiting in line at the grocery store, not something where they really go and spend a decent amount of time having back and forth conversations. So, I feel by and large, Facebook allows for the best relationship building of any social media platform. Now that being said, think about what kind of content you have.

If you’re the kind of coach who’s teaching people to cook or I’m doing personal training, you have some sort of exercise or movement associated with your practice. You may find that YouTube is a really good outlet for you because it’s a visual or it’s a video platform. It’s where people go to search. People don’t go to Facebook and search how to roast a chicken, but people go to YouTube and they search these things, so if you are delivering on like how to do this, how to do burpees, I don’t know, some sort of work out of the day, you might be better suited for YouTube and that can be really fantastic for you and again, if you’re teaching people how to do things step by step, do it yourself. A lot of cooking. Pinterest can be great for that as well. You’re not going to have conversations on Pinterest. It’s not so much of a community, but it’s where people go to find that kind of information and then they can get driven to your website and hopefully to your mailing list where that’s where the relationship can really begin. So think about what kind of content you have to offer and what platform is best suited for it. In addition to who is your target market and where do they hang out?

Okay. Here. Let’s see what we got. Any other questions coming in live?

Sharon is asking, do you use your VA to set up convert kit automations?

Well Sharon, I use active campaign now so I’m not doing anything in convert kit but same idea. I have automations running and active campaign. Do I have her set them up? I actually don’t but I could. I don’t because I find them rather complicated and I always feel like as an entrepreneur, a solopreneur like I need to know how to do all the things as much as I can because invariably something will go wrong with that automation on Friday night before a three day weekend and there’s nobody’s going to be able to fix it except for me. So I like to have my hands in everything to a degree so I really understand it and if I need to make a change, there’s a Typo, there’s a broken link, whatever. I know how to do it. So I find automations pretty complicated to set up and hard to step into something that somebody else set up. So I do them myself. I have my assistant test them for me because again, there’s always something that goes wrong the more technology you use.

Okay. So here’s a question from Stephanie. I thought it was an interesting one. She said I’m looking to step out of the box in 2019 and look for unique collaborations to grow my practice. What is the most unique or out of the ordinary collaboration outside of the health and wellness space that you have done successfully to grow your practice?

I thought really long and hard about this because I felt like after 10 years I should have some really cool story about how I partnered with, I don’t know, NASA or some sort of out of the box idea and I was really struggling to think of anything like that for you, Stephanie. But then it kind of hit me that the most important thing I think I ever did in my business, unexpected thing I ever did in my business was when I was first starting out, and some of you may know this, but a friend of mine asked me to be in a documentary that he was creating.

It’s called Lemonade. I’ll post the link later. You can watch it on Vimeo. It’s like about 30 minutes. But anyway, it was this documentary about people who left advertising and went on to do something else with their lives that was unique, right? Because it’s not like I just showed up and did a workshop with the Yoga studio or partnered with an acupuncturist or all the expected things that a health coach might do. But this was me really making a name for myself inside of the advertising industry, which I had, which I already had a name for myself in, except I used to be an art director. And now everyone’s seeing me in my, uh, my yoga pants on a big screen is very different. It is quite a juxtaposition there. And I think that was really powerful and I feel like it’s not so much that you need to step out of the usual and do something unique for the sake of doing something unique.

But Stephanie, I would encourage you to really think about who is your target market and how can you best get in front of them. Because if I held a workshop at the Yoga Studio, I was running into some women who fit into my target market, um, but not all of them. Uh, if I did something at the gym, same thing, I was trying to reach the right women, but being in that movie gave me so much cache among like all of the women and the advertising industry. And to this day I work with a lot of women who are in those fast paced, very demanding corporate jobs. And they trust me because they know I was also in that industry. And that movie really positioned me as like the go to person for health who understands the advertising industry. So anyway, think about your market. Think about where they are and how you can reach them in the world that they’re already living in. That’s really the best thing you could do. Not just do something weird and funny and different with NASA. For the heck of it. I’m just using that as an example, which may just be totally outside your target market and really just a tangent to what you’re trying to do with your business.

Okay. Let’s see. I probably got time for about two more questions and I have one here from Stacy. She said I would love to hear from any coaches who use that clean life in a group platform. I’m planning a 12 week group and I’m thinking of adding meal planning.

Excellent Stacy, so I know that I already answered you in a small way in the Facebook group. I thought I would just expand upon it a little bit and for anyone who is interested in what we’re talking about here, that clean life, um, is a tool that allows you to create meal plans, shopping lists, customized for your clients. And I’m gonna put a link for that in the comments right now. It’s findyourbalancehealth.com/thatcleanlife. It’s a great tool. And I used it a few months back. I ran a five day program that wasn’t really a detox, but it was that type of program.

And along with that I gave everybody a five day meal plan that I had created inside That Clean Life. In fact, I had 2. I had one that was for omnivores. I had one that was for vegetarians. They were essentially the same, but uh, you know, a couple of different recipes and um, and that went over really, really well. It was so easy for me to create and doing things in like a group setting is a great idea, Stacey, because I don’t know what state you’re in, but everyone’s concerned about, I’m in a red state. I’m in an orange state. It can be a little dicey giving, giving personalized meal plans to individuals, but to give a general meal plan to a group that is always going to be okay as far as I have ever learned from, from anybody like Lisa Fraley who is an attorney for health coaches who really recommends doing things in a group format.

So it’s actually ideal to do it this way. Um, so everyone loved the meal plan. They loved it. They don’t necessarily follow it, but they say things like, oh, now I understand how my week could look. It’s very illustrative. So I expanded on that five day program and I offered them to continue afterwards in a six week, a continuation program. And really all it was every week I gave them a new meal plan. That’s it. And we had a Facebook group that went along with it because Facebook groups are so great for building community and relationships, remember. But anyway, it was like a piece of cake for me. It was easy to put the meal plans together a thousand times easier than not using that clean life. And I was able to charge pretty good money. I charged I think to 99 for a six week program. They loved it a lot. I got about 50 percent of the original group signed up for the continuation program. It was excellent. It was such a great experience. So I don’t think I would ever do it any other way because it’s just had solved every problem I’ve ever had when it came to meal plans and running groups. So if you’re thinking of doing it, I say go for it.

Okay. Let’s see here. Oh Jessica saying that she uses it and she loves that clean life. I know you guys. Everyone who uses it loves it. So what else can I really say? I’m going to do one more question unless I see any come in the live feed. I’ve got one prepared over here.

So this one comes from Beth and Beth said, today we’re talking about all different, all different tools that we can use in our business. I suppose I’m saying for those of you that use Fullscript, are you set up as a non-profit or did you select the profit option? And so Beth is talking about an online dispensary, um, which basically means that you can recommend or suggest supplements for your clients and then earn a percentage of the sale. You will earn money earn up to 35 percent in the United States on every sale.

So that’s big, especially when you compare it to like a, an Amazon affiliate link where you would earn like point five percent so it can really add up quite quickly to do it this way. But Beth, I hear you. I think what I’m hearing from you is, is it ethical to earn money this way? You know, if I’m making a true suggestion to my client, you know, should I be making any extra money on that? I mean, and that is a determination that you can make for yourself. But I believe that when we are saying that we are a non-profit or a for profit business, that’s just a fact. Like, are you a non-profit? Are you set up as a non-profit? I’m not. I’m trying to make money with my business. I do make money with my business. So I definitely chose the for profit option.

Once you do that, you can decide how much of a discount to give your clients and you can decide how much of a cut you’re going to take now ever again. Everyone can choose this for themselves. I think I have it set up where my clients get like 20 percent off the manufacturers price and I get 10 or 15 percent. Um, but it reminded me that Aviva, for those of you who know Dr, Aviva Romm, she’s the one who actually turned me onto Fullscript in the first place and she has it set up so that the entire 35 percent or no, no, I’m sorry, the entire percent that she would get as income she gives to a non-profit organization. So she donates any of the money that she gets and she does that. And this may be where you’re coming from Beth, because she doesn’t want anyone to think that she’s trying to sell them supplements because she’s putting money in her pocket.

And so it’s, um, she talks about this quite openly or you know, sometimes people don’t trust you, you know, it can look bad if you’re like, here, take this list of 20 supplements by the way, you have to buy them here and I’m going to make money off of that, you know, people can see through the lines, like they know what’s going on, so the way around it. And she tells everybody if you use this link, you will save x percent off your purchase and another x percent will get donated to this wonderful charity. So that’s something to consider doing, Beth. Um, as a way to sort of navigate this ethical question, I hope that’s helpful and it’s 3:30, so we are out of time for today. But thank you so much for being here, for those of you who are here live and for watching later and for listening later, we’ll be back next week with more great questions. So keep asking and I’ll keep answering. Take care everybody.