You’re in business. You’ve got a website (or one in the works), are forming your LLC, and feel confident and prepared in the experience you’re going to provide your clients. You’ve laid the foundation for structuring your client packages & rates, and even set up promo codes.
The next question: Should I offer a free consultation, so that prospective clients can get to know me, and I them?
This is one of the most frequent questions that health and wellness professionals will ask us. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer, and there are definitely some pros and cons. On one hand, offering a free consultation is a great way to learn about a prospective client, walk through your services, your philosophy, and approach to care. On the other hand, it can be time consuming, a waste of time, and an instance of giving away your services for free (all valid points).
In this blog post, we’ve laid out why we think for *most* providers, offering a free consultation is a good thing, particularly for providers just getting started with launching a private practice. Additionally, we’ll provide some best practices in turning a free consultation into a longer-term relationship with your new client.
Here are 3 reasons you should offer a free consultation:
1. You have a unique opportunity to explain your approach to care and promote your practice.
There is nothing quite like engaging with a prospective client directly (whether in person, on the phone, or via video chat) to build a genuine relationship. Yes, you have a website, social media, and even e-mail communication back and forth, but even a brief opportunity to outline your methodology, experience, and interest in their needs, can show case your expertise and relevance for a particular client. These days, working with a particular client is often the beginning of a multi-month relationship, and it is truly a two-way street – so you can also confirm that this client is the best fit for your practice.
2. You can begin to build a connection with your client.
First impressions are everything. If you demonstrate your dedication to a client’s needs and present yourself in a friendly, positive way in this short consultation, you will already begin to build a great relationship between you and your client. Forming a strong connection will make your client more receptive to working with you, for many months to come.
3. You can answer sensitive questions or concerns.
For clients who are new to working with a health coach, it can be intimidating / unfamiliar. A free consultation is a low-barrier way to introduce them to the work that you are doing, and show case what their work with you will be like, and what they can expect. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to talk about different plans and packages that you offer in your services, without having a client “pre-commit” to something before they are ready.
Here are some best practices in offering a free consultation:
- Remember, It’s a Free Consultation, Not a Free Appointment
- Keep it short and professional. Keep your consultation to 20-30 minutes, to prevent it from turning into a full free appointment. Limiting your time helps you give the client an introduction to your practice and a concise rundown of what you can offer.
- We recommend setting the expectation of what will be covered during this meeting in the beginning, and say that it’s the prelude to a longer-term engagement with you. Additionally, emphasize that health and wellness goals are not reached overnight, after one session, and working with you is often an engagement for several months at a time.
- Reserve 5-10 minutes to talk about next steps in working with you.
- Be Prepared
- This is your first impression, so make sure your pitch, the extent of your services, and any forms or paperwork you have, are ready before the consultation begins.
- If you are using Healthie, you can build an intake form set specifically for free consultations, if there is a set of paperwork (such as a disclaimer, billing information, or brief health history form) you’d like your clients to complete, even prior to a free consultation (Some providers wait until after the free consultation to send paperwork over, while others prefer to collect information up front, and send additional forms afterwards).
We completely understand that it doesn’t make sense for all providers to offer a free consultation, and you 100% may fall into that camp. We have seen both instances play out very successfully in private practices. To throw a curveball, what about offering a “low-cost” consultation, like this provider, as a pre-cursor to multi-month plans?