When you go into business for yourself, image is very important. Your professional image affects your reputation. Your reputation affects the number of clients you’ll be able to attract. The number and the quality of the clients you attract will affect your success as a nutrition and fitness professional.
The image you project on the phone, in your advertising, on your web site, and in your transactions with clients will directly influence the success of your practice. While your practice will always retain your personal touch, there are a few general guidelines and suggestions you can observe to help project a positive and respectable image to your clients and other business associates.
Be courteous and professional on the phone. Project confidence, sincerity, honesty, and fairness to all who call. Your answering machine should also project confidence, sincerity, honesty, and fairness. Pay attention to your voice and make sure it is controlled and comfortable.
Make a good first impression. Anyone you meet is a potential client. You never know when you’re going to gain another clients. So keep your antenna up. Make sure everyone you meet is favorably impressed with you. This means you need to make sure you are personable, helpful, attentive, and concerned about your prospect’s needs or problems. Dress for success. Pay attention to our voice. Make sure you web site gets a favorable review from several colleagues before you launch your site.
Strive for excellence. Deliver when you say you will. Deliver more than you promised. Charge what you said you’d charge. Don’t cut corners on quality. Spell-check everything. Constantly strive to improve your product. Innovate. Look for new ways to do things better and/or faster. Package your products professionally. Differentiate yourself with a high-quality product and unsurpassed service. These are the foundation for the growth of a sterling reputation.
Set up your stationery. Present a professional image by using professional stationery. Have your business cards, letterhead, envelopes, etc. designed at the same time. You can use a logo to help your clients identify with your quality services. You might consider using special paper printed with your logo and other information for use in printing your reports, invoices, statements, etc. Make sure you include contact information on your stationery so your clients can always contact you when they need to.
Set your working hours. Consider indicating your hours of operation in your stationery and advertising. Letting people know when you’re “open” makes them far more understanding when they get your answering machine during your non-business hours. Be available during your working hours or have phone coverage when you’re in session or otherwise unavailable. You may well have to work more than your posted work hours… there are lots of rules for success, but none of them work unless you do.
Set up your answering machine or answering service. The message (and voice) your clients and prospects hear should represent you as professionally. Consider indicating your hours of operation in your message. Returns calls promptly. Leave a different message to indicate extended unavailability such as holidays or vacations. Some answering machines make this convenient by allowing you to store more than one out-going message.
Set up your advertising. Work with a professional to design a professional “look and feel” for your advertisements. Advertising need not be expensive or lavish. Start out with free or low-cost ads and work your way up as you see them bringing you results.
Set up your professional web presence. If you’re running a small nutrition-related business, you should have a web presence. There’s really no good excuse anymore. The technologies you need (an image editor and the HTML markup language) are simple. The cost of a hosted site starts at under $15 a month. And consider this: your competitors are working night and day in an effort to take your existing customers away. And to make matters even worse, your own customers are actively surfing the Web and looking for these new services. Setting up a Web presence is vitally important.
Most people who are confident enough to have the desire to go into business for themselves already have a good handle on your image.