How to increase your prices as a private practice dietitian

Pricing yourself as a dietitian, understanding what your hourly rate is, calculating your expenses and planning to meet your financial goals requires an understanding of all the numbers in your business.

Increasing your prices as a dietitian or nutritionist can be a delicate process and involves managing client expectations, ensuring the value you provide justifies the higher rates, and communicating the change in price or structure of pricing effectively.

One of the activities I do in month 2 of my coaching program Thrive is doing an operational forecast. This calculates your monthly expenditure in a % using historical data if you have it, looks at what your services are and the cost of each service, then we start to play with numbers to achieve your desired income/earnings. We then look at if that number of clients/patients is feasible with the time you have to dedicate to your face to face/client facing work. There is no point committing to 20 hours of client care a week when you only have one 8 hour work day to see patients. Yes, you’ll meet your financial goals, but you probably won’t sleep or have any time on the weekends! Burnout is not fun. The need to see a high volume of patients to make up for lower fees and generate sufficient income can lead to burnout and can have long term health consequences and affect the quality of care provided.

Bulk billing here is Australia, is also not a long term, sustainable business model and here I show you why. Bulk billing typically involves charging the government set fee for a service, which is often below what you might charge as a private fee-for-service dietitian. This can result in significantly reduced profit margins, making it challenging to generate substantial income. Given these fees are set by the government, there is no ability to increase your earnings which will restrict your financial growth potential unless you want to do what I call “churn and burn” which is seeing more clients for shorter periods of time ie 3 X Medicare bulk billed patients for 20 mins each which will generate $174 as opposed to one private paying client. This will in return, increase your workload because of the higher volume of patients, longer working hours and increased stress which may not align with your work-life balance and freedom goals.

Holding space for clients and still completing all the administrative tasks and marketing of your business takes time. So to run an efficient business and continue to grow your business, it is unrealistic for you to be spending all your working hours seeing clients. This model often sees dietitians and nutritionists seeing a lot patients back to back all day every day with little to no time in business, working hours to work on the business.

Ultimately, the choice of a business model should align with one’s long-term goals, values, and financial aspirations. Those seeking financial success and freedom in their business may explore alternative models, such as a fee-for-service structure, where they can set their own fees, focus on quality, and have more control over their business operations.

Let me demonstrate an alternative for you

I speak to dietitians nearly every day of the week and I know many of you became a dietitian for reasons other than money or the financial gain. I can pretty much say that all of the dietitians I work with became a dietitian because they wanted to help people, often people just like themselves. There is always a story that connects them to their audience that makes them relatable. For example, Cate whose niece was diagnosed with Prada Willi Syndrome, well Cate now specialises in nutrition for families with Prada Willi Syndrome or Tara who is a marathon runner and now targets endurance sports athletes, or Alysha, mum of 4 with one fussy eater who now teaches mums how to navigate children with fussy eating. It’s certainly not unusual for us dietitians to have a passion for food and health but also have had events or journeyed along their life in a way that joins them to their audience. If you would like 1:1 guidance in developing your signature offer and meet your financial goals whilst working in an area that lights you up, I am not enrolling into my 6 month coaching container Thrive. I’d love to connect with you to see if we are the right fit for each other. You can book your connection call here.

So how can we as dietitians, ensure we are paid every cent that we are worth?

Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to increase your prices as a dietitian:

My top 7 tips on how to increase your rates are…..

Evaluate Your Current Pricing:

When was the last time you looked at how much you earnt, what your outgoing expenses were, how much tax you paid and what was left over. What does that calculate your hourly rate to be? I suggest reviewing your current pricing so you have a good understanding of what your rates are, what services are working well for you in terms of your business revenue, and how they compare within the market. Are you still charging the same price you did precovid? Are you still charging the same price despite doing additional training and achieving further qualifications? Are you still charging the same as you did when you first started your business, or when you first graduated?

Review Your Expenses

Try to negotiate with any location you are paying fees too, to reduce their fees so you can create a greater profit margin. If you are paying fees to work in a particular location, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Reducing these fees can directly impact your profit margin.

Assess Your Model of Care:

I strongly believe dietitians need to sell offers based on outcomes, not one off consultations based on the premise of they will attend when they want, for as long as they want so ensure your services provide substantial value to your clients.

Determine the New Pricing or Offer and Pricing

If your model of care is not helping you, you are overworked and underpaid, unable to meet your financial goals and your service doesn’t help people meet their goals long term, revisit what your offer is and how you work with clients and price accordingly. If possible, can you utilise the one to many approach and try implementing group based education or developing a course or program they can complete online reducing your 1:1 capacity.

Offer Alternatives and Emphasize Value

If you now have a high ticket signature offer, is it possible to accommodate clients with varying budgets and have a product suite with low, medium and high ticket offers in it?  This might include low cost digital products, mid tier group programs and high ticket packages. Continue to emphasize the value and benefits your clients will continue to receive from your services, explaining how the price increase allows you to maintain or improve the quality of care and expertise you offer.

Consider a Gradual Increase or a Discounted Beta Round and Continue to Increase Periodically

Rather than a sudden, significant price hike, consider a sliding scale or implementing smaller price rises over time for existing clients. This approach can be easier for clients to accept. Maybe there is a period of time where the new price is for new clients only? Notify your existing clients well in advance about an upcoming price increase and be transparent about it providing a clear explanation about the reasons for the change. You can start by increasing your prices by $10-$20 at a time. If you are moving to a package offer, you could introduce it at a lower price for founding members or do a Beta round at a lower cost for those first clients that are enrolled

Review Your Prices and Offers Every 6 Months and Increase Your Price in Small Increments at These Time Points

Keep a close eye on how the price increase affects your client base and business. Be prepared to make adjustments if necessary, based on client responses and market conditions and encourage clients to provide feedback to you. Address any concerns or questions they may have about the price increase.

Remember that a price increase should align with the quality of service you provide and be communicated with professionalism and empathy. While some clients may decide to not continue, those who truly value your expertise and service will likely understand and support your decision and there are always people out there looking for help.

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