We’re eager to introduce you to Rachel Ann Hudes, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Pro Lifestyle Nutrition. Pro Lifestyle Nutrition is a group nutrition practice with locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, helping individuals and corporations reach their health and wellness goals through a holistic approach.
Today Rachel is sharing her advice on how to expand your private practice. In the past year, Rachel has managed to double her clientele, and she wants you to know how you can do the same.
Tell us about yourself and your path to become a dietitian.
My journey to become a dietitian started during my 2nd year at Drexel University. I was searching for my purpose and passion, which I thankfully found once I switched my major to nutrition (from interior design). All I wanted to do was sit in a cozy chair and read/study about how the body works!
My love for food and wanting to help people improve their health, led me to this new path. Becoming a dietitian turned into my dream, my passion, and the vision I had for my life-long career. Simply finding my passion brought, and still brings me, so much content and joy.
But I had a rough start as a nutrition major because I wasn’t used to studying so much. I quickly adjusted, and never gave up. Drexel had an amazing nutrition program and provided co-op experience.
My first hands-on experience in the nutrition field was during my co-op where I worked at the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University as the health education and outreach program assistant. I provided cooking classes, managed outreach programs, developed educational material, and worked with the North Philadelphia population. My love for community nutrition and wellness grew through that 6 month experience.
I was accepted into a community-based dietetic internship right after Drexel, which was based in Lisle, Illinois. Without question I moved to Illinois in the summer of 2010 to begin my internship and a Master’s degree program in Nutrition & Wellness at Benedictine University. Although I had the fear of not knowing anyone there and living in a new place, I was happy pursue my dream of becoming a dietitian and saw this as an opportunity to really go outside my comfort zone and grow from that.
My passion for nutrition kept me motivated and driven, and today I am so happy to be able to look back and remember how I got through that program and develop many skills that would help me in private practice and my future career.
What interested you in private practice?
Throughout my internship, I knew I wanted to have a private practice. Once I passed my RD exam and finished up grad classes I began brain storming and putting a business plan together.
The design major in me loved the idea of creating a brand and providing on-going content for it. I wanted to bring an idea to life and always have it no matter how successful I’d be. Establishing a private practice and brand felt like a hobby, as I loved working on it and today, I love running and maintaining it.
Having a private practice would also allow me to work 1-on-1 with clients and establish meaningful relationships. I wanted to help people improve their health and reach their goals by providing personalized nutrition and lifestyle coaching which being in private practice has allowed me to do.
How did you decide to name your practice “Pro Lifestyle Nutrition?”
I decided with “Pro Lifestyle Nutrition” because I felt like this name communicated that my approach would be based on lifestyle instead of a “diet.” The “Pro” was a way to also possibly attract corporate clients, which was very important to me since I wanted to offer companies employee wellness/nutrition services.
What did you use to manage your practice before you discovered Healthie? Why did you go looking for a solution?
Before Healthie, I kept paper notes and a file system to store everything. Besides my website, I had no way of really integrating technology into my practice. I was comfortable with this at the time, but didn’t realize what I was missing until I discovered Healthie.
I decided to try out Heathie because having everything in one place from charting to my calendar to client information seemed very convenient, and it absolutely is! The time I save allows me to see more clients and has given me the opportunity to really grow my practice without fear.
The time I save allows me to see more clients and has given me the opportunity to really grow my practice without fear.
How have you managed to expand your private practice this past year?
Healthie has made it so much easier for me to transition from being a single dietitian practice into one that consists of multiple dietitians. The concept of hiring and managing a group is still new, so having peace of mind that I have an amazing system I can use to keep me organized and on top of everything is priceless.
I am able to run my practice much more efficiently with the platform. Healthie has also improved my business since being able to integrate technology into my services. My clients love being able to use the app and access their nutrition goals and information in one place.
How much has your business grown since you started using Healthie?
Looking back at the past year, I have at least doubled my client load since utilizing Healthie.
How did you know it was time to expand your private practice into multiple locations?
Thank you!!! It took me a good 6 years to reach this point. Gaining the experience from working in several other part-time jobs and my own practice has allowed me to grow over time.
I was fortunate to connect with a wellness director at what would be my very first corporate account and have been working with them now for about 6 years. I have established many other relationships over time, which has led to additional partnerships and corporate/individual clients.
Recently, I got the point where I felt like it was time to bring on another RD or 2 to help manage the growth of my practice.
How does your team use Healthie today? What are their favorite features?
What I love most about Healthie is that I feel so much more organized and confident in my ability to grow my practice. The app and virtual feature provides such valuable tools we can offer clients. I also love that I can fax documents, upload and share documents with my clients and team, and have everything I need to run a private practice in one place.
Besides all the features offered by the platform, the customer service has been phenomenal. James Nelson from Healthie provides training to my team and takes the time to answer all questions + introduce me to new features. Overall the support and service has just been fantastic.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned on expanding your practice?
I have learned that besides providing customized nutrition and a holistic approach to counseling, the big key to expanding the practice has been forming relationships, networking, and just putting myself out there without pressuring myself to reach certain goals overnight.
I have learned that it’s ok to make mistakes and that the important thing is how you handle and learn from them. Starting a private practice was, and continues to be, an amazing learning experience.
Building partnerships and working with professionals at other locations has provided me with very valuable experience in starting/managing employee nutrition programs and has allowed me to improve my communication and people skills.
I have also learned that going outside your comfort zone offers so much. I have put myself in that position many times throughout this whole journey, which as allowed me to grow as a person and dietitian.