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Updated: Jun 3

Client Retention 101: Connection and Growth with Kate Costello, MS, CND, LDN

How do I foster long-term client relationships? Discover the strategies that have helped me below.

In my daily clinical practice, I rely on three fundamental techniques that have proven to be instrumental in nurturing lasting client relationships. Let’s dive in! 

Number 1: Setting Expectations 

In all client interactions, setting clear expectations is a vital step. This involves defining roles of each participant, establishing boundaries regarding time, and effectively communicating what the collaborative experience will entail. 

In the strategy call I do this by communicating the agenda for the call:

“We have 15 minutes today, I want to hear the 5 minute version of what’s going on for you, then I am going to share about me, my practice, my philosophies, and what it would look like to work together.

They share with me the 5 minute OR top 3 reasons they want to work with a nutritionist. Next, I talk about my philosophies. These philosophies serve as a guide for what our session will focus on: 

“I practice foundational nutrition before and in addition to getting into the more complex systems in the body. The first philosophy is that the body is only made of nutrients (proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, water). The second is that there are 4 deal breakers - digestion, sleep, blood sugar, and stress. Our first few sessions will deep dive in these areas.”

While these philosophies are not groundbreaking they provide a clear roadmap for the initial sessions. I encourage you to create your own philosophies tailored to your niche or client population. 

The final component of my strategy call communicates the duration of the working relationship. Unlike some practitioners who offer packaged services, I take a more flexible approach.  

“I generally work with clients somewhere between 3 - 6 - 12 months. I do not sign you on to a certain amount of sessions, I practice an on-going co-created relationship. We will work together at the pace and duration that aligns with your needs. Initially, we’ll meet more frequently, then transition to meetings every 4 weeks or so as we progress.” 

Whether you sell packages or a 1-off model, it’s essential to clearly and concisely communicate the expected duration and frequency of working together. 

These steps ensure that client interactions are built on a solid foundation of mutual understanding and clarity. Setting expectations early on not only fosters trust but also sets the stage for a successful partnership. 

Number 2: Show your personality! 

I’m a deep believer in the idea that healing happens through the power of relationships. How we present ourselves, not just as practitioners but as individuals, plays a crucial role in building and sustaining client retention. 

Embrace your uniqueness and let your personality shine during sessions! If humor is your thing, crack a well-timed PG joke. If you are naturally expressive, express! If gentleness defines your approach, incorporate language and practices nurture this quality. Personally, I am excitable, expressive, and realistic with clients. I make efforts to deeply empathize with their resistance, understand their roadblocks, and celebrate their successes because, like my clients, I encounter resistance, face roadblocks, ans savor victories in my own life. 

Keep it professional AND be authentic and genuine and wholeheartedly YOU! 

Number 3: Do not end the session before booking and follow up 

Wether you offer packaged services or not, it’s imperative to never end a session without booking or confirming the date of your client’s next appointment. This practice is, without a doubt, the cornerstone of ensuring a robust and consistent schedule of follow up appointments. As you approach the end of the session practice this very simple phrase: 

“OK, let’s look at calendars” 

Typically I direct the timeframe. If I am uncertain about the appropriate interval, try a more collaborative approach, “Let’s look at calendars, I am thinking 2 or 3 weeks, what is best for you?”. This approach encourages clients to actively self-reflect by considering what timing aligns best with their needs and progress. 

Bonus Tips from a few TNHC Supervisors 

Sunny says: “Packages! Getting clients to commit to packages is the same as getting them to commit to themselves. They have far better outcomes.” Sunny used payment plans in Practice Better so it looked somewhat like a monthly membership. She never collected payments in full which helped her have regular income throughout the months working with a client. 

Rebecca says: “Mapping out the breadth and depth of our work together during the first visit. Look at the long-term plan/big picture as well as short term plan/current goals.” 

Abra says: “Outline a clear roadmap for our work together. Find moments in sessions to remind clients of milestones they’ve reached so far in areas I’d like to continue to focusing on”

Caitlin says: “Set expectations as early as possible. In the strategy call if possible!”

Drop a comment below of what has worked for you! If you feel inspired by any of our tips let us know! 

An all-time-favorite of our clinical nutrition internship and Mentorship Program is our Teaching Clinic! Our interns observe our supervisors deliver functional nutrition consults. Folks get to learn functional nutrition coaching skills, lab test evaluation, charting techniques, herb and supplement protocols while tracking hours towards their SPE requirements. We hold the Teaching Clinic every month & have 60+ hours of previously recorded interviews available to all our interns for observational hours in our nutrition Mentorship Program.

Become a patient in our Teaching Clinic!  We offer low cost access to integrative and functional nutrition therapy with seasoned practitioners.  Our CNS Supervisors are all clinicians and each have their own clinical practice.  If you are interested, please complete the Teaching Clinic Interest Google Form, and we will follow up with you.


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