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Pay What You Can Nutritional Consulting

A new Toronto friend of mine, Rebecca Tracey (pictured to the right), is starting her business as an holistic nutritionist. And she sent me a text the other night asking my opinion about doing pay what you can sessions. And since this is an idea a lot of people seem to be having – I thought I’d share it with you all. Here’s the transcript of our conversation . . .

Conversation #1: Via iPhone texting

Rebecca: Hi! I want to do nutrition consults on pay what you can basis for the next few weeks while my ankle is busted (I can’t work at the restaurant)… ideas on how to  go about this?

Me: Yes. I’ve got a few ideas. Number 1 – give them mandatory homework to complete before the call.  If they dont do it in full – you reschedule the consult.

Rebecca: It won’t be a call…. Will be in person… I need them to fill out a 5 day food journal though before we meet…

Me: Cool. Make that mandatory.  Have them send it to you 24 hours before you meet.

Rebecca: Hmmm interesting! Doesn’t that make them feel like you are being… For lack of a better word… Bossy? Hard? Like a parent?

Me: Self respect. Boundaries.  That’s how it will strike people.  Very attractive. Also. How much would this cost if they were to pay full price?

Rebecca: About 90-125 for an hour… If I was charging what most nutritionists charge.

Me: Great. So make sure you tell them the price.  Like, “this is how much this would normally cost”

Rebecca: Right.

Me: I want to offer you a session that you’d normally pay $90 for. But you can have it for whatever you want to pay. However: there are three charming catches.

Catch #1: you must keep a five day food journal and send me the results 24 hours before our meeting.

Catch #2: you must be willing to give me honest written feedback (good or bad) within 48 hours of the consult. I want to learn!

Catch #3: you must meet me at X location. I have no car and can’t travel far.”

Does that all make sense?

Rebecca: That all sounds like what I would likely tell them anyway…. Except for the feedback thing.. I ask for it but not demand it. So. Doesnt all this make them think they are doing you a favor an therefore not pay you very much money? And how do you suggest having people pay at the end of the consult? Give it to me directly? Put in Closed envelope?

Me: I suggest inviting them to mail you a cheque 3 days after. Give them a stamped envelope with your address already on it. . They’ll pay.  🙂

Rebecca: Thank you!!! That all makes sense and I feel totally comfortable doing it that way.

Conversation #2: on facebook chat

Rebecca: hello! thank you so much for the PWYC tips! love it!

Me: :-):-) glad it helped.

Rebecca: it did! so you think 3 days after works for nutrition? one service i am offering is a more in depth protocol, which woudl require a follow up appt 2 weeks after the initial…

Me: have you considered making it sliding scale vs. pwyc? giving them a range?

Rebecca: hmmm havent decided which is better.

Me: you could even do ‘sliding scale of $1 – 90’ or, $40 – 90 – the key is to pick a price or range that feels really great for you. and for sure i’d make it a limited offer like, ‘i’m sitting here witha bum ankle and i’ve got time and space for 10 people. so i wanted to make it totally easy to say yes to – a no brainer’ that kind of thing.’

Rebecca: yep for sure. hmmm re: sliding scale… not sure… still seems like i am telling them the price…and i dont want to exclude anyone who cant pay the minimum… but then again, i dont want to be doing this for $5 a piece either! :):)

Me: i’ve had people pay me 10 days after a pwyc consult. my logic was – i want you to see if you get results and then pay me based on that and you might say ‘it’s a $40 – 90 but i also accept barter’ or ‘it’s $90. period. but if you can’t afford to pay cash – we can come up with a creative barter’ or ‘it’s $90 but i’ll let you pay that out in three installments so it’s totally painless – and you bring post dated cheques’

Rebecca: yeah im not interesting in bartering right now.. i have done some of that in the past and it gets complicated

Me: i would NOT do it for $5. don’t let it happen

Rebecca: what if someone pays me $5!?

Me: it’s why i’m wondering ifsliding scale with a minimum would work better.

Rebecca: also, with nutrition, i would love to be able to let people implement changes, see results, and then pay me based on what they think its worth… but compliance is such an issue that i wouldn’t want to bank on it

Me: totally. it’s why the homework upfront is so key. it gets them to start investing. and weeds out the tirekickers. if someone won’t do 5 days of homework they won’t implement your suggestions.

Rebecca: so smart! i wonder what else i could get them to do…. i need the food journal anyway, but i bet there is something else i can do that would improve compliance later on too… ohhh! what about something like ..

Me: totally. that’s exactly the thinking to have: how can you get them to vest themselves more deeply in it. you might ask them to get a ‘food buddy’ – like find someone they’ll be doing this process with

Rebecca: ha i was just about to say that

Me: nice! and before they meet you for the session they need to have set up a follow up meeting with their buddy.

Rebecca: that would be a huge help. like telling 3 close friends/family members what they are doing and having them get on board and keep them accountable

Me: totally. i’d give them a prewritten email they can send to friends and family. they can edit it obviously, but something like, ‘hey friends! i’m excited – meeting with a nutritionist soon and excited to implement what she suggests to make my diet a bit healthier and i want to ask for your support in the following three ways . . .”

Rebecca: yes, that is wonderful! oh you are so smart

Me: it’s why i get paid . . . whatever . . . people want to pay me . . .?

Rebecca: haha

If you’re in Toronto and want to book a session with her just go to her website – www.rebeccatracey.ca where you’ll find her contact info. And to see how she wrote up her PWYC offer (with my commentary) go HERE.


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