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Health Coach Tips: How to Know if a Client is Right for You

by: Jenn Maples
Last Updated: June 23, 2022

When you’re just starting out as a health coach, it might be tempting to work with anyone whose goal it is to get healthy. But not every client you come across will be the right one for you. Here’s why:

  • Not everyone is going to fit within your niche
  • Some may not be serious about making changes
  • They might not be available to meet when you are
  • Coaching styles or personalities may not mesh
  • They might be chronically late or cancel at the last minute

Even if you’re the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and accommodating health coach on the planet, by honing in on the right clients and weeding out (or referring out) the others, you’ll have a much more fulfilling and successful health coaching practice.

How do you find the right clients?

Know Your Niche

In the Primal Health Coaching Institute curriculum, we help you figure out your niche early on, so you can start visualizing what types of people you’ll be serving, what kinds of services you’ll be offering, and what you’ll name your health coaching business once you graduate.

Often times, your niche is something you connect with on a personal level. It could be based on your own health struggles or transformation. Or maybe it’s inspired by a close friend or family member’s situation. By having a niche (and knowing it inside and out), you’ll be able to target more people who are more interested in what you have to say. That doesn’t mean you can’t work with someone outside of your niche, but if you focus on athletic endurance for teens and you have a client who’s struggling with infertility, it might be better to refer them to someone who specializes in hormone imbalances.

Pro Tip: Create a list of health coaches and their niches so you can easily refer someone. You can also search the Primal Health Coach Institute directory by specialty to find coaches who focuses on everything from autoimmunity to eating disorders to mental health.

Schedule a Discovery Call

In a discovery call, you’re getting to know your potential client as much as they’re getting to know you. And it’s a great way to figure out if someone will be a good fit right up front. Ask questions about their motivation for making changes, what they’ve done in the past, including what worked and what didn’t work, and what they expect from their health coach sessions. You’ll want to cover logistics as well, like when you’re both available to meet.

Even those kind of details are important, because if you sign a client who’s only available weekday afternoons and you have a full-time job, you’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to find the time to have a session with them. Discovery calls are also the time to get a feel for a potential client’s personality and communication style. After a 20-30 minute call, you should be able to tell if it’s a good fit.

Pro Tip: Ask potential clients if they’ve worked with a health coach or nutritionist in the past, and how that experience went. Their answers will reveal a lot about their expectations, their concerns, and how they prefer (or don’t prefer) to work with someone.

Gauge Their Commitment

Even if a prospect is within your niche, the discovery call goes well, and it seems like a good match, they may not be fully committed to doing what it takes to reach their health goals. According to the book Motivational Interviewing in Health Care, clients who start their sentences with “I should” or “I wish I could” aren’t ready to make changes. They also won’t be as receptive to what you have to say, and may even act defensive.

Understanding your clients’ motivations can help trigger changes in their diet, exercise habits, and lifestyle. For instance, they may want to lose weight, but it’s not until you get them to reveal how embarrassing it is to buy two seats on an airplane or that they don’t want to get diabetes like their dad and grandfather that they start getting serious about their commitment to working with you. Showing up on time is also a sign of their commitment, so be sure to express your policies on late arrivals and last-minute cancellations.

Pro Tip: When you hear your clients go from “I should” or “I wish I could” to “I am,” “I will,” or “I’m ready to,” it indicates that a behavior change is on the verge of happening. It means they’ve turned the corner on their commitment to making real change.

Be Yourself

You got into health coaching for a reason and the world needs exactly what you have. So don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not, or focus on what someone else thinks you should do or be. Or sacrifice your values just to get more clients. Even if you have prospects that you could work with if you changed your coaching style, were available other hours, or focused on a different niche, don’t change who you are or what you do just to please other people.

You’re more than enough, and that authenticity will come through loud and clear for the right clients.

Pro Tip: Accepting and owning who you are as a health coach is not only empowering, it actually attracts like-minded clients to your practice. 

Conclusion

Not every prospect you meet will be the right client for you. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Confidently knowing who you are, who you serve, and what’s important to you in regards to commitment levels, schedules, and even personalities will help you build a health coaching business that feels effortless. Plus, it eliminates a lot of the struggles and sacrifices that can come up when you don’t take these factors into account.

How do you know if a client is right for you? Get started by following these tips. And check out this post for more resources on attracting your ideal client.

  • Know your niche
  • Schedule a discovery call
  • Gauge their commitment
  • Be yourself

Ready to become one of the world’s most trusted, experienced, and knowledgeable coaches? Get certified at Primal Health Coach Institute.

Establish clout. Elevate your career. Enrich your knowledge… with one of our industry-leading health and fitness coach certification programs.

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