Linda has been in practice since 1996 so she has a lot of experience to draw on when it comes to running her dietitian practice.
Jeff: I have with me Linda McCharles. And Linda’s going to tell us a little bit about her practice. Welcome, Linda.
Linda: Hi. Thank you, Jeff. I’ve been in private practice since 1996. I am a registered dietician. I would say that I run on a general practice, focusing on people that either have weight to lose, weight to gain, have digestive issues. I like to focus on diabetes, Type I and Type II diabetes, as well as cardiovascular problems. People with high cholesterol, for example.
My practice is a well-established practice, and I have to say that it’s been a very good practice. It’s a pleasure. I have a lot of nice people that I work with.
Jeff: Fantastic. So what are some of the techniques you’re using to get new clients into your practice?
Linda: Because my practice has been as well-established as it is, a lot of my new clients come from word of mouth. So whether it be from a group of doctors that I’ve built a relationship with over the years in looking after their patients, or whether it is, you know, client X who comes in and then goes and tells two of her best girlfriends that she’s seeing this new dietician that she really likes. It’s mostly through word of mouth, at this stage.
Linda: I do some public speaking, as well. Not as much as I used to. When I first started building my practice, I did a lot more public speaking. I did lunch and learns. And they were wonderful. You know, it’s a nice way of going out, spreading the word, getting to know people. You don’t make a lot of money at it, but it comes back in the long run, because you get a lot of new people coming to see you, and then it’s, you know, she tells a friend, who tells a friend, who tells a friend. Or it’s the wife’s husband who sees that his wife is eating differently, and she’s looking fantastic, and now he wants to jump on board, too.
When I first started my practice, I had a very small percentage of people that were men in my practice. And now it’s grown quite extensively. You know, I would say it’s probably… maybe 35, 40%, I have men in my practice. So it’s good.
Jeff: Now, I know that you have a fair amount of clients coming to see you, and so you’re obviously seeing a lot of people, as well as all the other things involved with running a practice. How do you efficiently manage your time?
Linda: Truthfully, I don’t sleep much. I start my day very early. 7:00. Again, one of the things when you’re in private practice is that you have to accommodate the people. So if somebody wants to see you early in the morning, if somebody wants to see you late in the day, from an ideal perspective that’s what you do. I try to be as efficient as I can, because you’re right, I do see a lot of people through my day. Whenever I have a spare moment, I’m usually doing phone calls, doing emails. You know, trying to keep up with the day-to-day work that comes along with counseling.
And, you know, sometimes, for example, if I see a military person, there’s a report that I have to write. I’ve tried to write my reports as I’m working with the client, so then all I have to do is fill out the, you know, particulars, and then send it off to Blue Cross. So you just try to use your time as efficiently as you possibly can.
It’s a very full day. It’s a tiring day. And I’m sort of looking for ways to improve on that, because I’m finding that it’s not running as efficiently as I would like it to.
Jeff: Now, we talked a little bit about client attraction strategies. But can you let us know a bit about how you’re marketing your business right now?
Linda: Truthfully, at this present time, there’s not a lot of marketing going on. When I first started practicing, I remember somebody quite wise telling me, “Don’t waste your time going door-to-door, you know and introducing yourself to a lot of doctors. Really focus your attention on the people that you are working with, and they will tell their doctors that they are seeing this fabulous dietician. Or they will tell their friends that they’re seeing somebody that is doing great work with them.”
And that’s been my marketing strategy all along, and it’s worked very well.
Jeff: Finally… if you could change one thing about your practice, what would that be?
Linda: You know what? That’s a really, really good question. It’s a hard question to answer, because I think that, if I’m really honest with myself, there’s a number of things that I need to improve upon within my practice that will make, you know, improvements upon it. So I don’t know if I really have an answer to that question at this time. I’m going to try and do some self-evaluation and see if I can come up with a better answer for you.
Jeff: Well, thank you, Linda. I really appreciate your time.
Linda: Truly my pleasure. Thank you, Jeff.