Last week, we discussed assembling, organizing and communicating your client and patient policies. How skilled are we, as RDNs and Certified Nutrition Specialists, at truly enforcing our company policies? Perhaps your answer is “I’m a policy stickler! Enforcing my company policies is a breeze!” But in all honesty, enforcing policies can be challenging. We might feel as though clients may not like us anymore or may seek another nutrition counselor when we have to play “bad cop”.
Here are three tips for setting expectations with your clients and standing firm on your policies. Why is this important? Standing your ground positions you as a business-savvy, consistent, polished, poised and confident professional. One that deserves and earns the respect of clients.
1. Set expectations up front
To re-enforce what we shared last week, the most important thing is that you communicate your policies to every new patient, ideally prior to the first visit. Remind patients of your policies when they book appointments, and either point them to your policies on your website for completion or provide them with handouts when they arrive at their first appointment with you. Take time to answer their questions – this is important! Don’t make light of the time you take to review policies with clients, it will potentially save you from sticky situations down the road.
One potentially thorny area is getting paid - remind your clients of their responsibility regarding payment! Here is suggested language that you can share with your clients to set expectations regarding coverage and your financial policy:
Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Please be aware that some, and perhaps all, of the services provided may be non-covered services and not considered reasonable and necessary under your insurance. My practice is committed to providing the best treatment for you and we charge what is usual and customary for our area. You are responsible for payment regardless of any insurance company’s arbitrary determination of usual and customary rates.
2. Provide reminders
Providing both visible and aural reminders of your policies is another means of reinforcing policies. Place a placard with important policy information at your front desk. Include a link to your important policies in your next newsletter update. Send a gentle reminder of your cancellation policy to your no-show client via email. You’ll get a sense for how well your clients are following your policies; reinforce those policies that need reinforcing every now and then – and share them in a timely manner with clients who need the reminder the most.
3. Embrace difficult conversations
Ugh. This can be tough, but again, incredibly important if you want to earn the respect of your clients. Your time is valuable. Your clients need to know that as well. Take a deep breath, pick up the phone or have that face-to-face conversation with your client – let them know you value them as a client, but that you need to remind them that [fill in your company policy here]. You appreciate their attention to this matter, and you look forward to being able to focus on their health and wellness (rather than this administrative issue), in the near future.