When Is It OK To Terminate Clients As An Online Nutrition Coach?

by | Aug 25, 2021

As a nutrition coach, you got into this business because you want to help people. In dealing with all types of people, you’ve probably thought about how you may have clients just quit on you. But you’ve probably never imagined that you would have to terminate clients. It sounds crazy even thinking about it, right? But if you’ve found yourself with a client that brings more trouble to the table, then it may be time to evaluate if you should terminate the relationship. In this post we’ll discuss some tips to combat difficult clients and when to determine if you need to terminate them for your own sake.

Before we get started, though, allow me to introduce myself for those of you who are new around here!

My name is Tony Stephan, and I’m a dietitian business coach. I help RDs make more IMPACT and more INCOME through nutrition coaching. Before becoming a dietitian business coach and real estate investor, I was a dietitian nutrition coach. I served thousands of nutrition coaching clients over a time span of 12 years. My successful nutrition coaching business is what led me to where I am today with more impact to create and more businesses to build! Now, let’s discuss some of the most common reasons you may need to terminate certain difficult clients.

Why You May Need To Terminate Clients

It may not feel right just having the thought of terminating a client. But if they’re causing you more trouble or negatively affecting your mental health and wellbeing, then it may be the most appropriate thing for both parties involved to end the coach/client relationship. At that point the money just isn’t worth it. After all, your mental health and wellbeing is crucial in order to provide high quality services to clients in your nutrition coaching business. 

4 Types of Clients To Terminate

The consistent non-payer

This client is consistently late with their payments. They may owe you money from months before, and perhaps you even feel like a bill collector at this point! The non-payer may also try to negotiate discounts frequently yet still take advantage of your nutrition coaching services. If your client’s lack of payment has become a burden to you and your business, it may very well be time to end that relationship.

The energy-drainer

The energy-drainer says and does things that drain too much energy from you. It may be difficult to put a finger on exactly what it is, but you might also feel more anxious to hop on a call with them versus any other client. Afterwards, you’re probably feeling exhausted, irritable, or unmotivated. It’s true that nutrition coaching can require a lot out of you. Food, health, and fitness can get very personal after all — I get that. But if a client has you feeling tired, worn out, and potentially burnt out after every session, it’s likely not worth the time and energy to continue coaching them.

Before terminating this relationship, though, try to identify what it is that’s leaving you feeling drained. This takes some self-evaluation. If you’re responding to their emails and private messages 24/7, set clearer boundaries. If this doesn’t help, or if the client doesn’t learn to respect those boundaries after being asked to, then it would make sense to terminate the client.

The procrastinator

Does your client always put things off? Do they frequently reschedule sessions or fill out forms at the last possible hour week after week? This type of client may also refuse to believe that their behavior is an issue. Well, procrastinators may not value your nutrition coaching services as much.

Before abruptly terminating the client/coach relationship, try to get to the bottom of why they are procrastinating. Are they not being transparent about the other things going on in their life? If your client isn’t open to making changes or even accepting the fact that their behavior has been problematic, then it may be best to terminate the client. 

The cross-the-liner

Does a client do or say things that cross professional or personal boundaries? Or do they say things that often make you uncomfortable? I’d encourage some self-evaluation to make sure you’ve set clear coach/client boundaries and expectations. It’s also helpful to determine your own threshold of dealing with comments that cross the line, both in a professional and personal sense.

When it comes to comments that challenge your professional expertise, we should welcome feedback and criticism. However, clients shouldn’t be making snide comments as if they are the coach or nutrition expert in the relationship. While nutrition is a science, people can have strong personal beliefs about food or health that aren’t necessarily rooted in science or evidence. It’s still our job to hear them out!

When it comes to personal comments that cross the line, even in the online setting, trust your gut and speak up. If you’re unsure of what to do or how to handle the situation, seek advice from a trusted mentor, colleague or friend.

The Takeaway On Needing To Terminate Clients

As an online nutrition coach, you want to help everyone you possibly can. I get it because I was the same way! But you also have to recognize when clients are more toxic for you and your business and when it’s most appropriate to let them go. Once you’ve read through this post, send me an email at tony@tonystephandietitian.com. Seriously — I WANT to hear from you!

  • Was this helpful?
  • What follow up questions do you have about difficult clients and knowing when the time is right to end the client/coach relationship? My team and I would love to help!

If you’re a dietitian looking to start your own nutrition coaching business, you’re in the right place. I’m proud to be a part of the movement of dietitian entrepreneurs who are making more IMPACT and more INCOME! Check out some of our free resources below!

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