Today, Ashley Osterman interviews Nicole Aucoin.
They discuss the number one question from gym owners; how do I package and price my nutrition program?
Most gym owners say they have informal conversations and end up giving away nutrition coaching for free.
- Why we recommend a 12-week commitment with nutrition coaching
- How to build hybrid programs in a gym
- The most common mistakes when pricing and packaging nutrition programs
Most Gym Owners Know They Need To Be Offering Nutrition Programs To Help Their Clients See Amazing Results But They Are Unsure Where To Start.
HSN Provides A Turn-Key Solution To Save Gym Owners Time & Gain Confidence When Offering Nutrition To Their Members. Listen To Their Stories...
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Nicole Aucoin (00:02):
Welcome back to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN and HSN Mentoring, where we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated. Our mission is to empower gym owners and coaches to feel confident when talking about nutrition to their members and their communities.
Nicole Aucoin (00:24):
The number one question I get asked from gym owners is how to price and package my nutrition program. Most gym owners tell me they have informal conversations and end up giving away nutrition coaching for free. Today., Ashley asks me exactly how to price and package and why we recommend a 12 week commitment for nutrition coaching. Speaking from experience, setting up nutrition packages incorrectly will cost you money and it can also decrease your client retention, which is so important because you don’t want to start at zero nutrition clients every single month. This is an episode you want to take notes on.
Ashley Osterman (01:10):
Welcome to the Grow Your Nutrition Business podcast. I’m Ashley Osterman, director of nutrition education at HSN Mentoring and today I have the pleasure of speaking with my boss, Miss Nicole Aucoin. Hi Nicole.
Nicole Aucoin (01:24):
Hey, thanks for having me on the podcast.
Ashley Osterman (01:26):
Yeah, welcome to your own podcast. Today, we are going to talk about the common mistakes when it comes to pricing and packaging your nutrition program.
Nicole Aucoin (01:39):
I’ve literally made all of these mistakes.
Ashley Osterman (01:41):
And you are the best person to talk about them because you’ve done them. Let’s dive into it. What is the most common mistake that you find when people are pricing and packaging their nutrition program?
Nicole Aucoin (01:56):
I think the first thing comes down to lack of confidence. You’re not confident in what you’re saying about nutrition or how you’re going to help people so you under price. You’re not setting the packages up priced properly so you undercharge for your time and then you realize, oh my gosh, I’m spending double the amount of time because it’s not only the in person time, it’s all that time behind the scenes to follow up with clients and making sure that you’re giving them the support that they need, any resources that you might have to make. I’ve literally talked to nutrition coaches who spent the same exact amount of time in person as behind the scenes, but they’re only charging for the in person time.
Ashley Osterman (02:37):
Oh yeah. That could be definitely a mistake that you do not want to make. What about those who are giving away nutrition for free?
Nicole Aucoin (02:46):
Essentially, yeah underpricing, giving it away for free, I think that’s a common thing that I talk with about a lot of gyms during free calls. Nicole, I’ve been giving away nutrition for free for so long. How do I start charging for it now?
Ashley Osterman (03:00):
Yeah, that could be something that you don’t even know where to start if everyone’s used to nutrition as being just a give me free at your business.
Nicole Aucoin (03:08):
There has to be a clear black and white line of what’s for free and what’s not for free. And Ashley, we do so much free stuff at HSN HQ. We do those nutrition talks every single month. Gyms have those to implement with HSN Mentoring that has the speaking notes and a recording of us doing it. We give out nutrition tips, there’s email content. There’s so much stuff that goes out on social. We provide so much free help for clients, but when it comes to individualized support, you have to charge for your time or you’re not going to be able to scale your program.
Ashley Osterman (03:43):
That is so important because like you said, not only the in person time, but the behind the scenes time, you have to make sure that you’re appropriately pricing to be scalable.
Nicole Aucoin (03:53):
Absolutely. Because it’s not just how much you’re making, if you’re the nutrition coach. Hopefully at some point you have so many nutrition clients that you have to add another nutrition coach.
Ashley Osterman (04:03):
That is the goal.
Nicole Aucoin (04:04):
If you’re adding another coach, but you’re only charging such a small amount, how is that person going to make money and you make money off of your program? They’re not. You have to make sure that you’re pricing and packaging your programs appropriately in charging the value that you’re providing for clients. And you have to think of nutrition coaching as more of like personal training than group classes. It’s one on one time, it’s not group accountability, unless you’re doing a nutrition challenge, then it would be a little bit cheaper per person.
Ashley Osterman (04:34):
Right, right. What about if a gym or a facility has members on a current nutrition package?
Nicole Aucoin (04:44):
Which happens. This is a scenario that we work with individually with gyms. There’s not one way that I would say, “Hey, this is what you need to do if you’re looking to increase your prices.” Let me give you a couple examples. Let’s say you ran a nutrition program at a gym and you charged $99 per month. And we recommend for the first three months, it’s a little bit higher than that.
Ashley Osterman (05:05):
Right, because all the extra behind the scenes time.
Nicole Aucoin (05:08):
You have to think initial consultations are an hour. You have follow up visits at least 30 minutes. You have that in person time or that virtual time that you’re checking in with clients. The first month, you’re spending more time with clients. Typically gyms are charging, we charge 179 per month for three months. If you are charging 99 and then you end up going up to 169, 179, that’s a big jump. I would recommend that you just stay, grandfather those people in, so the 99 rate and then anyone new coming in, get started at the regular rate. You have to price and package your programs, I would recommend that you do a phase one pricing and a phase two pricing. Phase one, the first three months, it’s going to be more expensive because you have more time that you’re allotting into that nutrition program. And phase two is a little bit less because you’re not having as much time and you’re really figuring okay, I’m charging for my time. How much is my time worth? And that’s how you price and package your programs.
Ashley Osterman (06:01):
Yeah, of course, because in those first three months, especially that first month, you’re really building that relationship with your nutrition client. You’re building that rapport. You’re getting that trust. You’re spending some more time. That makes perfect sense why you would need to price a little higher at the beginning.
Nicole Aucoin (06:15):
Let’s say you are charging 59, $69. And we recommended that your ongoing coaching rate, that phase two rate was going up to 99. Let’s say. I would recommend that you give those current clients maybe the option to prepay for three months at the current rate, so that you’re not just bumping them up by 30 bucks per month by 30%. That would be an option for you. But again, we have a price increase letter that we give out to all of our mentoring clients, because this does happen and we work with gyms individually based on what the circumstance is.
Ashley Osterman (06:47):
Yeah, that’s great because you’re right. It’s not a one answer for everyone’s situation and we need that personable attention to actually help when this happens, if a gym signs up and needs to increase their pricing. Let’s talk about a common mistake that actually we hear quite often is the model of your nutrition program. A pay per appointment model versus a membership model.
Nicole Aucoin (07:16):
Okay. I made this mistake. I had an option when I first started Healthy Steps Nutrition, I had an option that was we called it a Power Hour and it was a one time consult. And essentially what I did is I spewed so much information at clients because I only had one hour with them.
Ashley Osterman (07:33):
Nicole Aucoin (07:34):
How overwhelming is it even thinking about how much you would need to tell them. It’s just so overwhelming all around. And they left bright eyed, what the heck just happened? Again, it was not a real way for me to create meaningful change with them because I was overwhelming them with too much information at one time. We had this Power Hour and then we had this one month program and the one month program was great. You got to build that relationship a little bit with the clients, you had that initial consult, follow up visit, mid point check in. Awesome. But it wasn’t really enough time to really build that relationship and help clients understand that they needed me beyond that initial month.
Nicole Aucoin (08:12):
Three months is a really good time, that’s why we recommend a 12 week program. We switched a few years ago to this and I think it’s so helpful to have a membership base instead of a pay per appointment type, because let’s be honest, no one, not no one, most nutrition coaches do not like to sell. If you’re having to do a pay per appointment type, you’re essentially selling every single time a client comes in.
Ashley Osterman (08:37):
Right, yeah, who wants to do that?
Nicole Aucoin (08:40):
And it just takes away from the value that you could be providing during an initial consult during follow up visit. Instead, if you have more of a membership base for nutrition coaching, it is so much easier to have that consultation and not feel like you’re selling every single time. It’s just part of their membership. They get initial appointments, they get those weekly check ins, it’s just part of the membership for nutrition coaching. Especially in a gym setting, people are already used to paying memberships so adding on nutrition coaching to their membership is just the standard option. People, especially non nutrition clients, we’re seeing an increase in nutritional only clients at our HQ location and people will call and they think like, oh, I just need a meal plan. We know they do not need a meal plan. They need accountability. They need support. They need someone that’s going to hold their hand and make sure that when life happens, they still stay on track.
Ashley Osterman (09:34):
Right. You need someone on your side.
Nicole Aucoin (09:35):
Exactly. Being able to talk about it and help them understand why you do a 12 week commitment and having that good elevator pitch for it is going to help people understand, okay yeah. That makes sense. Because once you say it out loud, they’re like, oh yeah, I’ve fallen for that chat before. Oh yeah. I’ve done a challenge before and I’ve fallen off. Okay. This is how this program is different. This is how this program can help me.
Ashley Osterman (09:58):
Yeah. And this is how we can continue to help support you on your longterm goals.
Nicole Aucoin (10:02):
You have to have a clear client journey. We have that 12 week initial program, but ongoing coaching, everyone just graduates to ongoing coaching. It’s just the natural progression. The price goes down a little bit, but it’s a natural progression for people after those initial three months. They go over to ongoing coaching, even members at our gym, new members at our gym, sign up for a 12 week program that includes nutrition coaching and fitness and then at the end of those 12 weeks, it automatically rolls into nutrition and fitness. Or they can continue with fitness only, but it’s a monthly membership. I’m not having to resell clients every single time they come in.
Ashley Osterman (10:38):
Yeah, absolutely. We talked about some of the most common mistakes that we see when it comes to pricing and packaging your nutrition program. Let’s hear from the expert now, Nicole, how do we price and package our nutrition program?
Nicole Aucoin (10:55):
One other thing I want to talk about before we go into pricing, well, I guess this kind of talks about it too, is you need to figure out your nutrition program packages are not based on the type of diet. People are coming to you overwhelmed because they have no idea what diet is right for them. Having them pick before there’s a sale of, do you want a macro plan or a keto plan? Is they don’t know, they’re not going to sign up.
Ashley Osterman (11:18):
Nicole Aucoin (11:19):
And if you have multiple coaches doing different things, it’s also confusing. If you have staff members that are doing different diets, not your nutrition program in house, that’s confusing. Ensuring everyone’s on the same page and pricing and packaging your programs based on accountability and support, not based on the type of diet is definitely what I would recommend. Let me give you an example with fitness. If I had a client, a personal training client, if they came in person every twice a week, instead of three times a week, the twice a week is going to pay less, because it’s less of my time.
Ashley Osterman (11:54):
Nicole Aucoin (11:55):
When we’re talking about pricing and packaging your nutrition programs, if you have an increased accountability package where clients are having appointments every two weeks, instead of every four weeks in person or virtually, it’s going to be more expensive than once a month.
Ashley Osterman (12:11):
Right. Price based on how much time you are spending helping that client.
Nicole Aucoin (12:16):
Exactly. What we do is we figure out what’s the total amount of time that you’re going to spend with a client and then for the standard package and then a higher accountability package and then you divide that up, add that total time, divide it up over three months. That’s the amount of money they pay for three months and that’s a three month commitment. At HSN HQ, we have two packages, two main packages that we offer. We have the standard accountability, which clients have initial consultation, then they have a check in every four weeks in person or virtually through Zoom. And then they have virtual check ins within an HSN app. Nutrition coaches can schedule messages to them and then they can respond back and forth. Typically recommend doing this on Fridays. And then after those three months, they convert into ongoing coaching phase two, where it’s just that monthly membership just every four weeks and then those weekly virtual message check ins.
Ashley Osterman (13:11):
Okay. And if they do need that more accountability and more support as we sometimes find, then we just bump them up to the higher accountability package.
Nicole Aucoin (13:19):
Exactly. The average gym, so at HSN HQ, we charge 179 per month for three months. That’s the base nutrition coaching price, nutrition only.
Ashley Osterman (13:28):
For phase one.
Nicole Aucoin (13:28):
For phase one. And it is more expensive than our CrossFit membership because it’s one on one time. To give people perspective, our CrossFit membership rate is 155 per month. We’re charging 179 per month for nutrition only, 155 for group fitness classes. The average gym, I would say charges between 135 and 179. I did talk to a gym recently, their membership rate for their CrossFit gym was 239 or something. Almost a $100 more than ours. I was like, you know what? You could probably charge a little bit more for nutrition coaching. You could probably go with 199 and it’s all relative. If we have a gym who charges $80 for group fitness, charging 179 per month is going to be pretty expensive. It’s all relative based on your income around your area. What are your membership prices? Exchange rates?
Nicole Aucoin (14:26):
We work with a lot of gyms in Australia. They have a different currency and they also charge weekly instead of monthly. Figuring that out and that’s actually exactly what we do during the first mentoring call with HSN Mentoring clients is figure out packaging and pricing, dialing that in because you need to understand how you’re going to package your programs together. And when we’re looking at nutrition coaching, typically what we do is we figure out that base rate, that nutrition only rate and then we layer that into fitness. You figure out your nutrition only rate and then we layer that into your fitness intake program and that’s actually what I personally do during welcome calls because every new gym that signs up, I talk to them.
Nicole Aucoin (15:06):
I want to talk to you. I ask them, “If I were someone new coming into your facility, what are you selling me on? What’s the process to get started? What am I buying? Am I buying just a membership? Or do I buy a foundations program, then a membership? Do you start people off with a six week program? Do you start people off with a 12 week program? What does it look like?” And from there we can figure out, okay, how do we layer nutrition into that? Because you need it to be a seamless process. We don’t want to have one nutrition package, then another fitness package then another. We want all of it to be easy so that someone new getting started is guided to an option to get started with nutrition and fitness on day one.
Ashley Osterman (15:49):
Nicole Aucoin (15:52):
Average person for the standard nutrition membership, 135 to 179. Again, it’s dependent on what your current prices are. For a higher accountability package, so when clients are coming in person every two weeks or having those virtual check ins every two weeks and then just message check ins every week, all the other weeks, we charge 229 per month for three months and then the price goes down. That ongoing coaching price for a standard.
Ashley Osterman (16:21):
Phase two as we call it.
Nicole Aucoin (16:22):
Phase two, yep. Is 109 for us for that lower accountability and then 179 for that higher accountability. And this is an important piece to look at too, because when we’re looking at guiding clients from a challenge, one of the benefits of going straight to ongoing coaching after a challenge is that you go right to that phase two pricing, if you commit for three months.
Ashley Osterman (16:46):
With that three month commitment. That brings us up to our next topic, what about pricing nutrition challenges?
Nicole Aucoin (16:53):
This is an important topic. I think a lot of people run nutrition challenges. I think nutrition challenges are a great way to kickstart a program. Common mistake is that you charge too low for your nutrition challenge and it’s very tough to upgrade people to individual coaching after that challenge because you’ve already given them so much and now you’re telling them they have to pay double for individual coaching. That’s really tough. I would highly recommend that your challenge price is higher than your phase two ongoing coaching price. Most gyms using our program will charge between 99 and to 129 for a 28 day challenge, 150 plus for a six week challenge. That’s group support and then you’re going right to the ongoing coaching rate. Before you figure out your challenge pricing, you need to figure out your phase two price so that you know, okay, I need to charge more than my phase two price for that challenge.
Ashley Osterman (17:41):
Yeah, makes sense. Absolutely. And then what about for existing members? We’re talking about pricing and packaging for your nutrition program, with your existing members.
Nicole Aucoin (17:52):
Yeah, so one of the best ways to get existing members bought in is through a challenge and then having a clear path to ongoing coaching. Talking about what happens after the challenge, at the beginning of the challenge. Getting existing members bought in is a conversation that I have during every single welcome call because gyms are nervous. Gems are nervous. I just invested this amount of money. I have a 100 members, I have 200 members. How am I going to get these people bought in when I have preached that CrossFit is the way to go and you don’t necessarily need to pay me for a nutrition?
Nicole Aucoin (18:27):
Starting off with a nutrition challenge and guiding people to upgrade their membership to individual coaching after the challenge is over, go back and listen to the challenge trap episode, if you’re unsure of how to do that and how to avoid the challenge trap, but guiding people to individual coaching after the challenge is over, having them upgrade their membership for at least three months to continue with individual coaching so that you have that time to build that relationship with that client. And you’re not having to resell them every time they come in for another month of ongoing coaching.
Nicole Aucoin (18:56):
The other way to do it if it’s not that time is have them sign up for three months of individual nutrition coaching and then upgrade their membership after that to nutrition and fitness. And ideally there’s one charge per month and you can easily separate the amount of money coming in through your reporting software. We’re working with PushPress right now, which is what we use at our HSN HQ location to make it easy for you to pull reports for nutrition coaching. I can easily see, okay, how much money is coming in for nutrition only memberships? Hybrid memberships? What percentage of my revenue is coming from nutrition? All of these numbers are really important to know so that you can track your trends and see your nutrition program growing or not growing.
Ashley Osterman (19:41):
Yeah. So important.
Nicole Aucoin (19:42):
When we look at gyms who really struggle growing their nutrition programs, it comes down to that free intro process. It comes down to how are we talking about nutrition? How are we guiding people to individual coaching? And a lot of times, when we look at gyms who are not doing as great of a job, it’s the person doing the free intros isn’t confident with the nutrition program and then they end up just guiding people to fitness because that’s what they’re confident with.
Ashley Osterman (20:09):
Yeah, we need to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your nutrition offerings, especially when we’re talking about even existing members getting bought in on nutrition, everyone needs to be speaking the same language at your facility.
Nicole Aucoin (20:21):
For sure. Your staff has to be on the same page. One of the things that a lot of gyms do is they’ll launch with a staff only challenge or have their test clients be the poster children, their coaches who are in front of every single class, have them be able to speak from experience because it’s so much easier to speak from experience.
Ashley Osterman (20:37):
Nicole Aucoin (20:38):
That would be one of the ways with existing members. The other thing I would talk about with existing members is knowing that it’s a lot tougher to get existing members bought into nutrition than new people. We know that. We have the data for that. Highlighting the heck out of the people that are new, that are seeing results faster than the people who’ve been with you for years. Not comparing, but man, Susie has done an awesome job. In three months, she’s lost 5% body fat. How incredible. And truthfully it’s because of the nutrition and fitness. Which area would you say you’ve had to make the most amount of changes in? Coming here is great, but you sticking with proper nutrition the other 23 hours a day is key.
Ashley Osterman (21:21):
Right. That’s that’s the combo. That’s what you need for the best result. You need them together, nutrition and fitness.
Nicole Aucoin (21:27):
When new people don’t sign up for nutrition right away, if they don’t, put in a goal setting session on the books so that you can revisit that conversation, have another sales process.
Ashley Osterman (21:38):
Nicole Aucoin (21:39):
I think another piece of the puzzle, when we talk about building a nutrition program, building nutrition only clients, you have to have people talking about your nutrition program. And if you don’t and you’re not sharing success stories of people talking about nutrition, people are not going to associate nutrition help with your brand. One of the things we had with Reverb came, our media team from Nashville. They came down to Chattanooga and they did testimonials for us. And one of the things I asked them, I said, “Hey, when you do these testimonials, I would really like to make sure that we’re talking about nutrition in every single one.”
Nicole Aucoin (22:12):
Guess what? Every single video talks about nutrition in it. And if you want to build a nutrition program, you need your clients to be talking about nutrition, which means you have to be talking about nutrition. Do an audit for yourself. If you go to your social media and there’s no nutrition, if you go to our website and there’s no mention of nutrition, if your packages don’t make it easy for people to sign up with nutrition, it’s going to be tough for you to build a nutrition program.
Ashley Osterman (22:37):
Yeah. They need to be seeing nutrition as a part of your brand. They need to be seeing nutrition coming from you before they even walk into your facility. So, so important. Nicole, you gave us so much incredible information today. We went over the most common mistakes people make when it comes to pricing and packaging their nutrition program. And you gave us some really awesome tips about pricing and packaging your nutrition program. If there is one thing you want to end with today, if there’s somebody out there who is interested in really making nutrition a part of their business, what would you say to them?
Nicole Aucoin (23:11):
Go back and look at your intake process for new clients and really figure out, what is your ideal client journey? And you have to build nutrition into that. And if you don’t, it’s going to be very tough for you to build a long term successful nutrition program.
Ashley Osterman (23:26):
Yes, absolutely. Nicole, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Really enjoyed having you and all of your great information.
Nicole Aucoin (23:33):
Thank you for being our host.
Nicole Aucoin (23:38):
So many good nuggets in that episode. Hopefully you have some clarity on the why behind we recommend 12 week commitments and why we recommend to tier base on accountability and support rather than the type of nutrition coaching you’re giving. Hopefully you’ve gone back and listened to why we recommend a habit based coaching program and if you haven’t, check out episode number 38 on why we recommend a habit based coaching program.
Nicole Aucoin (24:05):
If you are a gym owner looking to add a nutrition program, but you’re unsure where to start, we can help. HSN Mentoring provides you with the training to become an effective nutrition coach, as well as the business support to set yourself up for success and the ongoing marketing to help you build nutrition into your business. The first step to get started with HSN Mentoring is to book a free call. Go to growyournutritionbusiness.com and book a free call today.