Credibility rules the day
You won’t be surprised to learn that your value as a wellness coach – and thus the impact you’ll have and the income you’ll eventually earn – are based on supply and demand. A key driver of that economic indicator is based on your credibility. Credibility reduces the supply side of the equation (if nobody is as effective as you, then your competition is diminished and thus there is less “supply” against who you must compete). It also increases the demand side of the equation (more people will want to work with you). The result is an ability to hand-pick your clients and charge a higher rate. However, credibility isn’t given – it’s earned.
Early in your career, your credibility will be based primarily on two aspects: the quality/reputation of your certification and the image you portray as a professional. We’ve covered some of the key components surrounding the certification above in #4 so no need to expand upon that further. However, there are several ways in which you can enhance your image and thus your value…
o Is it professional? Email addresses ending in @gmail or @yahoo, etc. are fine if your clients are all friends and family. But they scream “amateur” when working with anyone outside of your immediate friends/family. Your image to the outside world begins with your email address. This may seem simplistic – and it is. Nobody will ever say to you “I selected a different coach because your email address didn’t seem professional” – but the fact is on at least a subconscious level – it matters.
o Does your email address match your website? Again – it may sound simple, but it’s standard practice for a professional. Make a decision on whether this is a profession or a hobby and move forward accordingly.
o In section #3 above, we addressed the importance of security and HIPAA compliance. This must be a given. It’s non-negotiable. Once that is in place, it then adds to your credibility because believe it or not, a very large number of coaches do not have this in place. Once you confirm the above and are able to communicate this with your clients and potential clients, then you can move into phase II of using your web portal to enhance your credibility.
o Is your wellness coaching web portal an actual tool that will help you develop and grow your business? There are many options available to you for your portal. Here are some key questions you may want to ask when making your decision:
- What happens when you begin to peel the onion? There are many cheap websites available to wellness coaches that seem good from the outside. They provide a quick start-up and are initially free or very low cost. However, as you begin to peel back the onion, you discover that they are little more than an on-line flier with some pictures and contact info. There is no secure notes system, no tools for your clients, etc. If things don’t get better as you peel back to look deeper, it’s not the tool for you.
- What is included for your investment? At a minimum (after confirming that it’s HIPAA compliant and secure) it should include an easy-to-use and comprehensive coaching notes section that allows you to track what your clients are saying, doing and planning (the SOAP note – which stands for Subjective – Objective – Assessment and Plan is the most broadly utilized note system for health care providers and would be a good option if available).
- Are there tools available for your clients? These may be components like goal-setting tools, fitness and nutrition trackers, resource libraries. If these are included, you’ll be able to more effectively leverage your time and your value as a coach.
- Is my portal selling something beyond my coaching service? There is a growing trend among supplement companies to train those individuals who are selling their product on some of the basics of wellness coaching and then set up a website offering “wellness coaching” (but focusing on the product). There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, but it’s obviously very different from the approach a certified wellness coach would take. If you have decided that supplements will make up a portion of your service offering, our suggestion would be to build a strategy in which your wellness coaching service is primary. Then, when it makes sense to recommend specific supplements, at that point you guide those specific clients to your supplement-focused website. This will help you maintain credibility on both fronts.
Bonus: Electronic Scheduling, Health Risk Assessment, Group Challenges
o We list these as bonus items, but when it comes to credibility and leveraging your time/talent, they can have an immense impact.
- Electronic Scheduling – not only does this tool make you look extremely professional, but it also saves you a lot of time. The specifics of this will vary from site to site, but the essence of this tool allows you to set your availability for coaching and then your clients can log in securely and select the time that is best for them. As you grow your business, you may wonder how you ever got by without this tool.
- Health Risk Assessment – this is a rare option for most wellness coaching websites. However, if you can find one that offers this option, it will bring a high amount of credibility to your coaching business and demonstrate to your clients immediately that you aren’t “just another coach.”
- Group Challenges – when it comes to leveraging your time, it’s tough to beat the group challenges. These are contests you can launch for your clients in a matter of minutes. They then enter their data, compete against one another, and you sit back and enjoy the ride. If available, they provide value to your clients without requiring an additional investment of time out of your schedule. And from our experience, the majority of people LOVE them!
o As a side note, these additional tools and resources provide you with a low-cost option to offer any clients who may need to take a temporary break from coaching for financial reasons, but would like to stay connected with you. You’re able to offer them a very low monthly rate (that still provides you with some marginal income) to continue to access and participate, while staying in regular contact with them in the meantime.