#49: Asking For Money

Does it give you the heebie jeebies to state your prices and ask someone for a credit card number? In this episode Michelle explores:

– How to reframe your money mindset
– Locations for your photo shoots
– How to deal with a client who doesn’t submit their forms
… and much more.

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All right, hello health coaches! Thank you so much for joining me today. A few weeks ago I asked you guys, what do you hate most about being a health coach? I know it was not the most positive question in the world. I didn’t mean to inspire negativity, but I wanted to get into what’s really bothering you. Right? So the first biggest number one answer we got was getting clients, which is why two episodes ago we did episode 47 on that exact topic and now today I want to dive into these second most popular response which was asking for money. Not Surprising, right? It’s like get the heebie jeebies when you have to tell someone how much your health coaching package costs or you have to ask somebody for their credit card number. All the money stuff can get really weird. I get it.

My name is Michelle Pfennighaus. I am a certified health coach with my own private practice. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I act as a mentor for my fellow health coaches. Now, if you’re watching live, and I know that some of you are because I can see you, you have a question you’d like to for me to answer today, you have something that comes up for you as we go along, please go ahead type away in the comments and I will always try to respond to you in real time.

Oh, here’s Amanda telling me that she likes my new video background. Thank you. If you’re listening to your podcast, you can’t see my video background, but it is evolving. It is always getting better. It will be improving over the next few weeks. Anyway. I also want to remind you all of our five day challenge to create your signature program because this is starting very soon and we have over 700 coaches registered as of this recording, so to join us and create your very own signature program, you can go to findyourbalancehealth.com/signature.

Now let’s get into this idea of asking for money. I was really moved to address this topic because of an Instagram comment that I got this week. And do you guys know that health coach power community is on Instagram by the way? That’s the handle, healthcoachpowercommunity, all one word go on Instagram and you’ll find us. Anyway. Somebody left a comment and I don’t even think she’s a health coach, so I’m not really sure what perspective she was coming from, but she was throwing some shade saying healthcare is expensive as it is. Raising your prices doesn’t make it accessible to people.

[Unintelligible] just want to cater to people who can afford it to feel validated in their pricing system and in their knowledge worthiness. I’m not saying you’re not worthy of charging higher prices. I’m saying it’s a shame. It’s inaccessible to others. Capitalism at its best. She said. Ouch! All right, well point taken first of all, and I think that this idea is why so many of us struggle to ask for money because we’re trying to do a good thing in the world. Like health coaches are the nicest, most down to earth, most reliable people. I know we’re not doing this because we want to get rich quick, so asking for money, especially a significant amount of money can feel somewhat at odds with our values or what we’re really trying to do here. So is this just capitalism and are we being greedy? Just makes my skin crawl thinking of it that way, but I do understand why the commenter wrote that.

Here’s what typically happens. First of all, health coaches tend to charge way, way too little for their services, like way too little. I am shocked. I’ve been in this business 10 years and coaches are charging less now than I was charging back then 10 years, don’t you think? But just inflation. Everybody should be charging a little bit more. Anyway. The reason I say that they’re charging too little is even if their calendar was absolutely booked with clients like all day, everyday client, client, client, client, they still wouldn’t be able to make enough to survive as a business or to survive as a human being. Right? They can’t sustain the business because they can’t afford to keep in business, so they quit. They go back to working in corporate America or they get a job at whole foods like that is what happens. That means that you’re not making enough money, right?

That’s just, that’s life. So, the way I see it is that if we’re not charging enough, it’s a lose-lose situation. Nobody gets health coaching in that case that health coaches are not actively working. Right? And we have to go back to working in a job that we don’t love. So lose, lose situation. Now, as for making things accessible, most health coaches, myself included, we put out a whole lot of free and low cost content that is accessible to everybody. So we write articles, we have podcasts, we hold workshops that usually are free or they cost like $20, right? We run short and inexpensive programs all the time, but ultimately we’ve got to pay the bills, right? And we got to pay ourselves in order to stay in business. Most health coaches, like I said, we are like, you guys are down to Earth. You guys are.

Some of my best friends are health coaches. It’s true, but we have to pay ourselves or we’re going to be out of a job. Right? So asking for money or planning to make money or thinking about making money or wanting to make money. Is that a greedy thing? Is that a greed driven idea? Because I see it as a way to make sure that we can continue doing this work that people desperately need by the way, and when I think of it that way, I don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel greedy to me at all. Now if one day I am making billions of dollars like some of the top dogs and like big Pharma or you know, heads of big hospitals, you know, when we really talk about the cost of healthcare, if I’m ever in that and I’m selling a questionable products, please, I am relying on you call me out on that.

Okay. If I’m charging $2,000 to help somebody avoid sickness, avoid pharmaceuticals, increase their quality of life. This is what we’re all doing. If I can pay my mortgage and continue doing good work, yeah, I’m not going to feel guilty about that. Not For one second. So we have to shift with. This is all about right. If you own a business you have to ask for money period. Like let’s say that you’re shopping at the mall and I say this, although I have not actually show up in a mall and like I don’t even know how long. So let’s say instead you’re shopping online. You’re going to buy some sneakers. So I buy everything from Zappos. All right. There’s a little plug for Zappos. Sponsor of this podcast is Zappos? No it’s not, but I do shop at Zappos and when I go shopping is Zappos and I buy my $120 sneakers.

Does Zappos feel bad about that? Do they feel guilty? Like Oh, maybe $120 is too much. Oh, should she? She does probably doesn’t have that much money. Like of course not. They don’t feel anything about it. They just know that people are going to buy their sneakers at $120, therefore they’re going to sell them at that price and no one is calling them out. Like, Hey Zappos, that’s not cool. You know, you’re not making these sneakers accessible to everybody. Super uncool. Everybody needs shoes. Zappos, and that’s how we kind of have to think about asking for money because it’s a business. We’re not asking a friend to borrow $100 because we’re short on rent money and like feeling guilty and feeling shame. We aren’t asking money to like take advantage of someone. In fact, I would even argue that the clients who pay the most, they actually get the best results because they’re that much more invested in the process.

Have you ever noticed that with clients? Have you ever worked for someone with somebody for free and they kind of blow you off and they don’t take it seriously, but then somebody else who pays you full price, like they show up, they do the work and they see progress. So asking for money as a coach is not personal, does not need to be riddled with guilt and shame and all the rest. It is a business transaction. This is the price, and if you’ve done a good job demonstrating why your coaching package can solve a person’s big problem, they’re going to see the value. If they can afford it, they’re going to go for it. If they can’t afford it, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong. Doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. They can read your blog, they can listen to your podcast, they can attend your workshops, all the things that you’re able to keep doing as part of a business because you have a business because somebody is paying you.

Okay? So we had another related question and I’m curious if any of you watching live had any related questions. Go ahead and pop those in the comments.

We had one come in earlier from Ariel and Lisa, both of them sort of said that they worried about this. So, the question is, I keep wondering if I’m really qualified to do this, what makes me qualified to do this? Will I be able to offer a true transformative experience to my clients? Will they come away a better person for working with me? I’m not a doctor, what am I really offering to them?

I hear you, Ariel, Lisa. This is one of those big challenges that I think we all face at some point, especially when we’re first starting out, especially when we have to ask for money. We don’t really believe that we’re worth it and like, yeah, I could tell you all these reasons that you are worth it and you should like practices, affirmations and all these, you know, you know so much more than the average person and doctors aren’t even that good at helping people even though they have so much school behind them, but I’m not going to go that route.

I think you’ve probably heard all of that. Listen, next Thursday I’m going to be holding a free live training. Ariel, Lisa, I want you there. It’s called Fill your health coaching program in the next 90 days, and I’m planning – this is part of the presentation and I know because I’ve been working on it for a while now. This is the exact thing that I put into the presentation. I’m planning to give a solid practical answer to this exact problem of I don’t know enough or I don’t have enough qualifications. Can I even be an effective coach? Am I worth it? So Ariel and Lisa or anyone who’s feeling like, do I know enough and anyone who’s ready to just ask for money, fill your practice, help people get healthy and not feel a lick of guilt about it because I told you that it’s allowed. Please join me again. It’s fill your health coaching program in the next 90 days and you can sign up at findyourbalancehealth.com/fill. And this training is going to be held on. What is it? It’s Thursday, February seventh. If you can’t make it live, although I hope you will too. You can’t make the live sign up anyway because I will send you the recording afterwards and again, that is findyourbalancehealth.com/fill. And if that URL doesn’t work right now, I will fix it and it will work later. Let’s move on to some of your other questions.

So, here’s one that came from Amanda and Amanda said, how do you handle this situation? I have a new client that hasn’t returned any of the intake paperwork, including the food journal. She said, do you take time to get the info during the first session or have them reschedule?

You know, Amanda, I see practitioners who work different ways. Some practitioners are like, no BS. You get that paperwork in or we’re not having a session, you know, and that’s just like the way that they work personally. The way I would approach this as is fodder it’s fodder for your conversation. Was it difficult for you to complete the paperwork? Why do you think that is? What was it like for you to think about doing a food diary?

What came up for you? What stood in your way and in this way you may learn an awful lot about this client. Maybe she’s not doing the food journal because she is so scarred from years of doing Weight Watchers or whatever diets and the idea of doing the food journal just freaks her out. So you want to know that. So I would definitely not let her get away with not completing them necessarily, but I would use it as talking points in that first session I would go through the paperwork with her to whatever degree you can on the phone and I would create some sort of compromise on the food journal. Like for some people it’s not the right exercise, so maybe it’s something else. Maybe she’s going to like summarize what she ate for the day or she’s going to take a picture of some of her meals and send them to you. You still want to get the information, but maybe you could do it in a way that works for her a bit better and that’s how I would probably approach it.

All right. What other questions do we have today? I’m looking over here to see if anybody who’s watching has shouted out any ideas of what they want to talk about because I do have one in the queue from Shannon and Shannon says, I am super discouraged and trying to figure out how to get clients. Shannon, go listen to episode 47. She said, I know this question is what so many coaches ask. Not one doctor who I have approached has responded with anything. I’m trying to not stay discouraged, but I’m just reaching out for some more ideas. My sweet husband innocently asked tonight, what’s different about you from the other coaches? Why do you think it’s not working? I know I can put more time and money into marketing and stuff. I don’t expect clients to just drop in my lap, but I feel like our IIN training made it seem like this was something that they skipped over it. I’m sorry, I’m paraphrasing, but she said they made it sound like, oh, and then I would meet with clients, but how do you get the clients and where do you find them and how did they find you?

Shannon, I think it’s a great question and I think you’re probably right when you’re learning how to coach, you kind of have to assume you have someone to coach, right? So it’s like, okay, you have a client, here’s what you say to them, but yeah, the question is how do you get that client in the first place? So I just want to sort of offer that. I’ve had a similar experience with doctors now. Some coaches do great. I’m getting referrals from doctors so I don’t want to minimize that. It’s a definite way to go. But there are some challenges there and I’m actually. There’s a lot of challenges there but I’ll just tell you my experience has been.

I have found that when I have a relationship with a doctor or some sort of licensed practitioner and I have several and including some of the top functional medicine doctors in the world, right? Like it’s pretty amazing to me because what happens is they will refer me to their client. They will just not even giving me a gift to the client like my website or anything where you could say, oh, they checked you out, but they didn’t like you, Michelle. No, they’ll just say like, oh, I want you to call this health coach that I trust Michelle phone number. Here you go. They don’t call, they don’t call or they call, we talk and they’re shocked at, um, at the price because maybe the doctor that they go to, they’re using insurance and so to have to pay out of pocket for me, I have never felt a flow there for varying reasons and I’ve also heard of coaches who do get tons of referrals from a doctor [unintelligible] and then they lose all their clients and their kind of left scrambling. So anyway, don’t worry if that’s not working out. You’re not doing anything wrong necessarily. And again, we’re going to talk about this very problem with getting clients in the training next week. And again, you can sign up at findyourbalancehealth.com/fill.

Let’s see. Amanda’s asking, I’m struggling to market to my target market. Why? I don’t know why Amanda tell us, she said, every time I write an email or a blog post or change something on my website to speak to this audience, I start breaking out in a sweat. I know this is the right step for my business. Is everyone have this hesitation in the beginning.

I think what you’re saying is it scary to go narrow, right? Like if your website says like, when was the last time you talked to someone about your health that feel safe, that speaks to everyone, but if you’re like, I can help you cure your endometriosis or whatever, now you’re really narrowing in and that can feel scary, so we could talk about that for like a million years about why you need to do it anyway, but the short answer is yes.

Everybody gets scared. I get scared, we all get scared, but what’s even more scary is having that broad message and nobody cares about it. Nobody is coming to you for anything because when you try to serve, everybody tried to talk to everybody. Of course you’ve reached nobody, so I’ll give you a little bit of cushion here even though it really will behoove you to narrow in on your target market like you’re starting to do and Kudos for figuring this out by the way, who you want to target, what you might want to say to them. Think of it as something that’s a little bit flexible. So think of it like for the next six months I’m going to focus on X, Y, Z and I’m going to give it my all and then at the end of six months I’m going to evaluate is this working?

Is this not working? Do I want to stick with this group? Is the universe bringing something else to me that I really should be paying attention to? You know, you can re-evaluate, but for a period of time, go for it so that you can see what a difference it makes. I’ve noticed in my own business that it’s way easier to come up with content when I know exactly who I’m talking to because otherwise it’s like, oh no, what should I post to Instagram about? Should I post about what I made for dinner? Should I post about exercise? And I posted about high blood pressure. I mean, it really could be anything, but when you know who you’re talking to, it’s like you kind of know exactly what that person needs to hear and suddenly the message is so much easier to create an I find I’m getting way more engagement from the right people when I’m speaking their language, so I’m also thinking about it, doing it first on social media and in less big ways.

You know, if you just dedicate your Facebook and your Instagram or whatever to this new target mark, get maybe at first you can judge how that goes before you make big sweeping changes to your homepage, which can feel like a much bigger change. Anyway, I hope that we can talk more about that during the events next week.

I have a question here from Lorraina who says a friend of mine and I are doing a photo shoot tomorrow. Yay. Fun. She’s a professional photographer, but we need ideas for locations. We were thinking a supermarket, but I need more ideas.

Okay. Lorena, so I’ve done that. I’ve done the supermarket, I’ve done farmer’s market, I’ve done the kitchen photo shoot where you know, you’re chopping the vegetables on the cutting board, your beautiful produce out in front of you, like every health coach has that picture. So when I realized that, I’m like, oh wait a minute, like if I want to stand out, why am I doing that same picture of like chopping vegetables on the cutting board or like in the supermarket, picking out that apple on the shelf, smiling with a head of Kale, you know, and I’m making fun of it because I did all of this stuff and it’s just, you know, you see it, you see it, everybody does it.

So I really encourage you to think about who’s your target market? Who Do you want to appeal to? Like if it’s a woman who doesn’t cook and hates to cook, and the idea of cooking is scary. Maybe that picture of you chopping vegetables is not the right picture because it creates a divide between you. You know, maybe if you put herself, put yourself more in her world, you would become more relatable, right? So that’s a way of thinking about your locations for your shoots and I thought it’d be fun to also just tell you where I did my latest photo shoot, which now my God was like a year ago, but time flies. Okay. So we did my photo shoot in New York City. I mean, part of the location is always going to be where’s your photographer located? Where are you located? So anyway, for me it was going to be New York City and we shot up on the high line, which I loved the idea of being up and out of the crowd.

So we have some sky behind my head. Also some buildings, you know, it still looks like a city atmosphere, um, but we’re not like down at street level. So those are really fun to do. You feel like such a movie star too and you’re getting your photos taken in the middle of New York City and everybody’s watching a little bit. Nerve wracking, but ultimately fun. Um, we also shot down below the high line, so right at street level, uh, right on the line in the middle of the street. So every time there was a red light, I kind of run out into the middle of the street, we’d get some shots and then I’d run back and try not to get hit by a car. So, um, that was fun. And the other location that we did was just a glass building it. And it had nothing to do with the, Oh, this is the right building, or Oh, this is the right location because it was just that the lighting was so good.

The light was coming through right around 4:00 in the afternoon. You get that great like Golden Hour. And this, uh, this nice glass building had a reflection on it. You may have seen some of these pictures where I’m sort of leaning against the reflection of the building. And those came out really nicely because the lighting was so good. And then finally we shot some photos behind a hotel and they had this beautiful staircase with lots of plants growing. And the light was not so good, but it was still like a really cool shot. So we shot some back there as well. Anyway, I think photo shoots are so much fun but can be such a pain to plan and actually get my butt to do it that I don’t do them as often as I should. That’s on the. That’s the plan for next year. Do an extra photo shoot.

All right. Let’s see. I’ve got a couple more minutes, so I’m looking for your questions and I have another one here from Carly. And Carly says, how much contact do you have with your clients? How often do you check in with them? Other than the scheduled sessions? I have one class and another who may text once or twice between sessions. So how often do you talk to yours?

You know, Carly, I don’t talk to my clients between sessions. I certainly don’t text them or email them or initiate conversation between sessions. Rarely. Maybe if I come across something that I’m like, oh, I have to share this with so and so maybe I will reach out to them, but mostly I am sort of leading by example that I want most of our communication to happen inside our sessions and I’m being paid for and not turn it into a lot of extraneous text messages outside of that, but I also find that most of my clients are really busy and they don’t think to contact me, so if I don’t reach out to them, like they’re not going to reach out to me and I’m kind of okay with that.

It is an option. They can definitely email me. I mean that’s part of the package they sign up for, but in practice it just doesn’t happen that often. I don’t know if that’s helpful for you currently, but that’s my experience.

Okay, and let’s do one more question you guys. This one comes from Melanie. She says I’m in the beginning stages, so I don’t have the funds yet to buy software to deliver plans with the portal built in, etc. What do you all suggest in the delivery of nutrition plans for accountability, email, check-ins, etc.?

So, Melanie, I think you’re asking about some sort of a client portal or platform where you can log in, they can log in and as many of you know, I really like Practice Better and it’s not terribly expensive. Now that being said, I also understand when you’re first starting out, you don’t want to spend a dime on this stuff and you really don’t have to, you know, as health coaches we are not obligated to abide by HIPAA compliance rules so we don’t have to worry about using like Gmail to communicate with someone.

If you’re a licensed medical practitioner, you can’t do that, you know, you can’t send a, you know, sensitive information through Gmail, but we can. And so you can just use your normal email to communicate with your clients. If you have a meal plan that’s a PDF. You can just attach it to that email. I mean, I want to just remind you guys that there’s a lot of technology out there now, but when I started my business there really wasn’t. And yet there were still a lot of us health coaches doing great work and we just kind of did it the old school way. Like if you don’t want to set up some fancy payment processing thing, your client can write you a check, you know you can do stuff the old school way. And in some ways it keeps things much more simple. So I would encourage you to do that until you have a need to upgrade.

Okay? A couple of things you guys. So we have two events coming up this Sunday. It’s the 5 day challenge to create your signature program totally free. You can sign up for that at findyourbalancehealth.com/signature. And then as I mentioned earlier, we also have a live training. This is a one time webinar event, so put it on your calendar. It’s Thursday, February 7th to help you fill your program. So first you’ll create your program during the challenge that I’m going to teach you how to fill it. And this event is also free and available at findyourbalancehealth.com/fill.

Last but not least, I want to say thank you to Cher Soto who left this review on iTunes. She said before listening to Michelle’s podcast, I struggled to have direction as a new health coach. I often didn’t know where to start or feel like I connected with other health coaching communities online. Now having tuned in for about six months, I have gained so much knowledge and confidence with the information provided. Michelle is down to earth, practical and keeps things simple. She’s a true inspiration and great wealth of knowledge. Well, I don’t know about all that, but thank you Cher Soto and please send your mailing address to support@healthcoachpower.com. We have a little gift for you. And for everybody, if you could please head over to iTunes, leave a five-star rating and a written review, and the reason is I put out so much free content every week. you’ve probably noticed. I mean, gosh, in the next week we have podcast episode five day challenge of free training. Yeah, lots of free content. In order to keep doing that, I need your ratings and your reviews so that we keep reaching more coaches. Thank you in advance for that.

Now next week we’re not going to have a show because we will be in the middle of our five day challenge and again you can sign up to create your signature program at findyourbalancehealth.com/signature. I hope to see you guys there and then we’ll be back the next week with a new episode. So keep asking great questions and I will keep answering them. Take care of you guys.