How To Use Community To Grow Private Practice
Learn how to use community to gain new client referrals and build wellness brand awareness. Find resources for wellness professionals at Healthie.
We are excited to sit down with Kim Rose, RD, LD, CDE, owner of Kim Rose Dietitian. Kim shares her secrets of getting started in private practice and recruiting your community to help grow your business. Thank you, Kim!
Tell us about yourself and what influenced your decision to become a dietitian.
Kim: To be honest with you, I never thought I was going to be a dietitian! When I was in college I majored in exercise physiology. I could’ve sworn I was going to be a physical therapist. But I was required to take basic nutrition and metabolism classes. As I was taking those classes I thought “hmmm maybe this is something that intrigues me.”
So I decided to add dietetics as a second major. I was taking more nutrition classes and realized that food is the basic foundation that links us together. I like to say, “Food is bipartisan.” It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, but we all need to eat to survive.
Because of that, I realized I wanted to reach clients and patients through this common avenue that we all share. I switched majors, and here I am today, as a dietitian!
I went straight into my dietetic internship at the St. Louis VA Medical Center. It’s considered “competitive,” and I didn’t have the competitive grades, but somehow I got in! There were only 6 interns, but 4 dietitians, so I was surrounded by information and education. It laid a great foundation for me to start practicing.
"I like to say, 'Food is bipartisan.' It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, but we all need to eat to survive."
Did you know what area of dietetics you wanted to focus in during your internship? How did you get interested in private practice?
Kim: During my internship, I of course said I wanted to practice clinically, because I didn’t know any different! After working as a clinical dietitian for 6 ½ years, however, I realized things were changing just a bit…
I had this big conception that I needed to work in a hospital to see clients, but I realized that I didn’t need the hospital to practice. Last October, I saw a provider who sends me a lot of her patients in the outpatient clinic at the hospital. She told me that a lot of the patients were cancelling their appointments simply because the hospital was charging them too much to see me (and this was in addition to their insurance). Since I wasn’t working the back-end of hospital billing, I had no idea this was happening! I started doing a little snooping and realized the hospital was charging quite a lot for these patients to see me.
Launching Kim Rose Dietitian let me see these clients in a more affordable manner. I didn’t want patients to have to go through a middle man to talk about their diet and lifestyle to improve their health. I didn’t need the hospital to connect with my clients on the level of food and nutrition.
What area have you focused on in your practice?
Kim: I’ve focused on diabetes and recently became a CDE [Certified Diabetes Educator] because it affects tons of people in the U.S. There are almost 30 million people who have diabetes and another 84 million people who have pre-diabetes, so it’s rampant. Especially with the population in my community, so I decided to focus my practice here.
How did your mindset shift from dietitian to business owner in order to grow your business?
Kim: What a great question! When starting my business, I knew I needed to put myself out there, which is a bit out of character for me. I started talking to the physicians in our neighborhood, and they invited me to their offices. It turns out that their wives are their nurse practitioners, so they heard my pitch, and just became excited about it! They asked for more business cards, flyers and brochures to pass out for me.
These women became my evangelists to help spread the word about Kim Rose Dietitian and to help others see what it’s all about.
At this time, I have 4 evangelists and 3 are the wives of the physicians that I work with. These individuals are going out into the community for me (1 is a food truck owner) and telling the community, “Hey, I know you have this condition, you may benefit from working with Kim.” So far it’s been quite successful!
Even the other day, I received a call from the CFO from a competing hospital down the street asking me if I wanted to come on board! It’s been amazing to see the power of word of mouth!
You have a very successful YouTube channel – tell us how you got started.
Kim: I do have a love for public speaking. My husband really encouraged me to start my YouTube channel to share all of the information that I have. Initially I didn’t know what material to create for my audience, so I started thinking… I realized that when I was a student I needed videos to guide and direct me. Ever since then, it sort of has just taken off.
How has social media helped you grow your practice?
Kim: At this time, my social presence is focused on helping nutrition students, but I do have a marketing strategy in the works to rope in individuals from my YouTube channel to my website, so that’s to be announced shortly!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since launching your private practice?
Kim: Never give up! You also cannot wear your emotions on your sleeve.
For the longest time before launching Kim Rose Dietitian, I had the idea that I would be a guest on the medical radio talk show in my community. When I called them and they declined my offer because another competing dietitian was already doing what I wanted to do, I was definitely upset. That was my marketing plan all along!
But honestly, when one door closes, another one opens. So an opportunity has opened up to work with the local newspaper to get the information of health and nutrition out there, as well as a way to market myself.
You can’t give up, you can’t be faint of heart. You have to pick up yourself by the bootstraps and keep going!
What marketers influence you?
Kim: Actually, the different billboards that I see influence me. Instead of listening to the radio when I’m driving to and from work, I just take in my surroundings and see what’s happening in my community. That’s how I realized the radio show is a big up and coming thing in my community. So I like to see what’s going on and then come up with a marketing strategy around it.
What advice did you receive from other entrepreneurs?
Kim: My mentor, who also had her own practice, told me that when you’re starting your business, make sure every legal aspect is clear so you don’t have to worry about it. Your professional credentials and liability insurance are secured, and you have a secure platform for client information (like Healthie – she’s the one who referred me). She really encouraged me to make sure my business was set up appropriately, because that was the area that I was most unfamiliar with.
How has using Healthie helped you as you build your business?
Kim: Healthie has helped me stay very organized. I’ve finally been able to transfer my pen and paper calendar online, file away charting, and have everything in one easy to find and use place. So thank you for pushing me towards that by using this platform!
How do you think technology is changing how dietitians are practicing?
Kim: A friend told me that by 2020, about 80% of the information we receive will be done through technology – video, social media, and cell phone use. So with a dietetics practice, we need to evolve with this. Individuals don’t necessarily have time to sit down face-to-face with a practitioner, but dietitians need to adapt their practice and skills to see clients from the comfort of their own homes. We need to be able to provide these services to clients who need it!
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