Hello and welcome. I'm here today with Christie Hunter. She is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and owner of Christy RD a group private practice that provides nutrition counseling to individuals and work sites in Greensboro, N C and surrounding areas. Ms. Hunter earned a bachelor of science degree in nutrition from the university of North Carolina at chapel hill and a master's degree in nutrition from the university of North [00:01:00] Carolina at Greensboro. With over 20 years of experience in nutrition and wellness, her areas of interest include worksite wellness.
Disease prevention and overall healthy eating. Christie has created a unique hybrid of individual consultations and corporate wellness as a part of her private practice. Additionally, Christie is co-founder of nutrition practice network. Which offers an online membership for dietitians in private practice, including a document library.
Mastermind groups and one-on-one business coaching. In her spare time, she's an avid UNC. Basketball fan go heels and wife and mother of two teenage daughters. Welcome to today's episode. Thanks for having me. Oh, so excited. Excited to be able to chat and have you provide value about, I know you. Do so many things, and I'm really interested to hear about your, your well your experience with corporate wellness. I think that's really exciting. Is there anything that I left out from that bio for what you'd like to share with the audience today?
No, I'm just excited to be [00:02:00] hearing. Looking at other dietitians. It's successful in private practice. Yes. Yeah, well, happy to have you there. And we, we dietitians need as much help as we can get. And what I love about what you do is you have that team value because you work with a team, you've got a group practice, and a lot of the things you do are very collaborative.
So that fits really well with our brand here at dietitian boss, because I think that's a great way to help dietitians and role model is to show that collaborative team approach. I don't. I think that that's really good role modeling for people who no matter what they want to do to see that interdisciplinary kind of communication and collaboration is a great way to go.
So can you share a little bit about. How you got connected with corporate groups? Yes. So my background, even though I was a clinical dietitian. I worked at a hospital and transitioned over to the wellness department. And so I'm working with employee wellness. I kind of got to hear what like HR groups.
Looking for, [00:03:00] so my exposure and employee wellness. Allowed me to kind of hear, like, what are the executives looking at? And I'm looking at saving dollars. But they're also looking for like providing a benefit to their employees that the employees see value in. And so what I was doing that I was able to kind of hear the lingo, learn what HR critics are looking for. So when I looked to start my private practice and kind of go into that specialty,
I was able to connect with different HR groups in my area and kind of say to them, Hey, I know what you're looking for. I know you're looking to lower health part health care costs for your groups. I know you're also looking to provide it. Innocent to your employees. That doesn't cost a lot of money and since our services, right.
Are covered by the major insurance carriers. It's wonderful because employer curbs are able to provide a benefit without having a line item on their budget. So you were able to go to an HR person and say, Hey, this is awesome. You can provide this service, but it doesn't cost you anything. And this is your [00:04:00] employees are gonna love this.
They really buy into that. So by connecting with HR groups, that was a wonderful way for it to go. But with wellness, Also wellness companies, like, you know, now some of the major groups like CVS has wellness and they're kind of diving into that area as well. So connecting with those groups and kind of offering your services or local services as well. That's another really good way to get funded. And then also word of mouth, like you got.
Talk to your friends, touch people in your community. Yeah. Can I hear what their employer groups are doing. And if you hear a group that says, yeah, Really great. They're offered dates. Wonderful forward thinking benefits. You know that they're going to be more open to providing a service. And even if it's covered by insurance or additional services that you could offer for a cost.
If they're already into that groove of thinking and providing benefits to their employees that are outside of the box. So I was able to use a lot of my networking within my community to kind [00:05:00] of get connected to people in HR groups and be like, oh, you should tell them that this is what I do.
And that kind of lend me some to open some doors. Yeah, that's, that's a great story. And from what I've seen, I don't have all the stats. I'm not sure if you can fill in any of those gaps, but it's a very growing industry. There's a high need. So. I need because insurance costs are going up so much. Yeah.
So employer groups are looking to do anything that they can to reduce us insurance premiums and insurance companies are giving kind of a. I wouldn't say reducing the premium increase, but they're kind of waiting that hype for some of these employer groups that are doing some of these preventative nutrition, preventative wellness kind of activities. Yeah. Well, it's fantastic that there's a lot of angles that I want to ask you about, but I'm so glad that you're sharing this because it's an opportunity for dietitians and a growing area.
One thing I want to say, I know you're talking about employer groups and their pains, which is, you know, fantastic. But isn't it also great [00:06:00] for the people like the employees are very satisfied and happy to have these services as would. Is there anything about that you want to speak on? Absolutely. I mean, if your employer is going to offer a service.
It is nutrition, whether it's massage therapy. Sure. And they're providing it at the work site. They're usually allowing company time to take advantage of these services. It just kind of makes it a little bit easier. Plus if the employer is promoting that. Sure. It's making it a lot easier for the employee to do it.
Yeah. And not to mention, we all know right now it can be tricky, especially in this economy to find good workers. And if you can stand out as a company and say that you offer these perks and services to support your staff, you know, from the position of the employer, trying to attract staff, I don't know if that's an angle that they care about, but I've seen it from my friends, that own companies and do work with.
With corporations that it's very beneficial for people who are looking at the competitive job market and they might work for a company that offers benefits [00:07:00] versus a company that doesn't because it helps them, you know, kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. You've maybe got a busy mom or someone who wants to be able to combine wellness with what they're doing at work.
It creates that community right for the employee. Absolutely. Yeah. There's benefit consultants that are in you. And the industry. So these benefit consultants. And spell these benefit packages, right to employer groups. So another way to get connected is to talk to these benefit consultant groups.
Tell them what you services you offer. Because then they're going to go market it to these employer groups and say, Hey, you can, did you know that we have a dietitian that can offer these wonderful classes they can offer one-on-one consults to their employees. We can do health fairs. We can do. You know, cooking demonstrations, any of those things.
And this is part of the package. And we're like right there with pet insurance. Did you know that that's another very popular. I do know, I do know pet insurance has big, the pet industry is, is huge as well, because I can't remember the stats. I think one in [00:08:00] four Americans own a pet or the industry is huge, but conversation for another day. So you are sharing so much fun information that I think is important for dietitians to be aware of.
Right. What are employers looking for? How can we add value in nonconventional ways? So thank you. If someone wanted to learn more about that industry specifically, in addition to you and your resources, is there any go-to places with Statista? or anything like that about this niche within dietetics.
The standard that I look at as well, Collette, and it stands for like wellness councils of America. They are the kind of. Standard. And so that's where you would go to look for stats and kind of get some additional certifications and trainings, if you want to. Cool. They also offer a conference as well.
And it's a good way to get plugged in. Yeah. When I was earlier in my days as a dietitian, I wish I would've known about all these cool things, right. So I love being able to give back and having experts like you share what you're doing, the great work you're doing, because it is innovative. I still think not everybody is [00:09:00] aware of this area within.
Dietetics. And I know it's like, people are excited about it, but I'm even more excited for you to share the resources and your experiences as well. So thank you for that. What I love also about your story for the listeners who are maybe still working in clinical job or you're earlier on in your career.
Is that what you shared Chrissy is that when you were a clinical dietitian, you had the skills to develop relationships. See a problem. And solve it. Right. You found what their pains were. You saw what the frustrations were, and as you were building your practice, I'm not sure of the timeline, but you solved that problem. Maybe it was part-time or per diem, but then you ended up making that what you do now, as part part, I know you do a lot of things, but you made that.
Be part of your business, right. And it all started from you networking as a clinical dietitian. And that's the same for me too. I learned so much and I was able to do traditional. Marketing. That led me to grow businesses. That led me to grow income. Opportunities as a nutrition consultant when I was a clinical dietitian. And I love hearing that story from you because I [00:10:00] think it inspires the listeners no matter where they are to open their eyes and ears to opportunities.
Absolutely. And honestly, this all started. This is the funniest story and all started. I was a clinical dietitian. I was the, like the newest one in. Right. And it came to the news needed to do. Segment and they needed somebody to do it. Nobody wanted to do it. I believe it. I believe it. I was forced to do this. Okay. And I was going to do a cooking demonstration about fish. Okay. Funny.
I was very young, had never cooked fish in my home. No way. Oh my gosh. This is a great story. By the way, I love the story. Okay. So I think that the universe was taking care of me that day, because I was at the kitchen getting ready to do this live cooking demonstration about something I'd never done before.
There was a major fire that broke out. The news crew had to leave and go under the fire instead. And so like set domestic meant. Which was fine. I think it was, like I said, it was a good thing. But it just kind of led it. So [00:11:00] the whole point of the story is that. And led for me to opportunities to like, do things that other people said no to then it was like, okay, Christy, maybe you don't want to do live news stuff, but you, you talk great in French class.
What'd you do with this other class for this community segment? So then I started teaching classes. I really liked this. This is a segment. So then it led to a job in employee wellness, which then led to my private practice, which then has led to Anchorage practice. All right. That's so far is my favorite part about today's episode, even though there's been so much, so many great tips and, and stories, because that's very tangible for most dietitians to be able to do that.
I want to Brilla demystified that it. Is so complex to find opportunities. So it doesn't always have to lead to a full on business. It could just meet mean that you're doing some freelancing as a dietitian. Although, obviously becoming your own boss and creating a business is, is great. But for those of you that just want to get your feet wet and get started, who are listening. I love your story. So thank you for sharing that in terms of what I heard is that you did things [00:12:00] other dietitians didn't want to do.
So let me ask you. Yeah, I got help from other dietitians. So. Because like, again, when I was in this clinical role, 26 dietitians, somebody had left before me and started a private practice. Well, then she got so full. She was like, Christie, you should do this. Let me help you set up a private practice and then I'll get my overflow people to you.
No competition whatsoever. So then that's kind of how it started. And so that is what has led me through all of this journey. It was like I've had so many dietitians that have helped me. Yeah. I wanted to give back and help other people. And you don't want to do this by yourself. You don't know how to, you're not going to know how to be the HR, the marketing, the insurance.
Sure. Clinical you. You know, person and the counselor, you're not gonna be able to do it all. Yeah. I'm going to list the help of others, then that's exactly what you want to do. So I, yes. And in business, when you become your own boss there are so many things. And in addition to having basic financial skills that we're just not taught in [00:13:00] school and it can feel overwhelming not to mention that we have personal things.
We might be getting married or delivering a baby. And so there's just a lot going on for a dietitian to be able to grasp the reality of the skillsets we need to adopt. If we want to become a business owner in tandem with our own personal lives. But what I love is that you're sharing it. You didn't do it alone and you had a lot of support. And I think that sends a really good message. I want to give you credit though, because I am thinking that all the, you said 26 other dietitians, 24, is that what you said?
26. Yeah. So 26 other dietitians, I'm sure that did they all have the same help from everybody else, but I'm sure they didn't, you know, build things to the magnitude that you have. So there's obviously something special about, you know, you're not getting, I want to make sure we're giving you credit. Yes, you had help, but.
I want to get underneath. What made you grow to this extent that you have with being the owner of a group practice, giving back to dietitians? What do you think? Was it, was it something, some drive inside of you? What do you think motivated you to take it to where you have today? [00:14:00] Given this very empowering about being able to offer.
Other people, a job opportunity that has wonderful benefits, right? I say this too. I had an amazing boss for 12 years. I mean, I had an amazing boss that model the behavior and like addicts. Positivity that I wanted to create. And so when I'm able to have that as a model and then say, that's what I want to do.
For somebody else, this positive work experience. And for moms that they could. The able to take their kids to school and pick them up. That's what I want. Sure. That's what has pushed me to keep growing is to be like, oh, here's another person that has crossed my path that needs a job opportunity. And I can offer that.
So I'm going to play devil's advocate here, if you're that comfortable. And you like your boss that much, you still had to have some motivation for you to take your business where it is now, because it's no easy task. To have multiple dietitians working in your practice. It's not just a walk in, that's not some freelance on the side that takes [00:15:00] extreme diligence and a lot of skill building for you to be able to be in that role. So is there anything, I mean, I love that. You're saying that I'm just, there must be some something in you.
I don't know if you had. Parents that were entrepreneurs. If it's the, the motivation for the money, if you just love the challenge or really it is just that you love giving drop opportunities. Cause I find that people that are that comfortable and they have that much, that many role models in their career, they're not motivated enough to become their own boss.
Cause they're too comfortable. It's funny. So my parents did, were not entrepreneurs. They do not have an entrepreneurial spirit. So when I said I wanted to do this, they were like, I don't know about this. Darcy, this sounds crazy. Sure. I am a very driven person and I always have been. And so it doesn't surprise anybody that I am where I am. And what's interesting is that.
My husband is also an entrepreneur. As well, and our children. Look at it and they say, we don't want to add a business. There you don't complain too much about taxes and employee situations and life. And. I mean, you're right. [00:16:00] It's not easy. It's not a walk in the park every day. And some days I joke and I have a backup plan, my backup plan.
Is that if it just gets really bad, I'm just, can't do it anymore. I'm going to close up. I don't want to go and work at the bakery at the local grocery store. And I'm just throwing decorate cakes. Hey. It sounds nice. I don't need these dramatic cakes that need to look like volcanoes or anything like that. But if you just want some roses and a happy birthday, Libby, I can, I can do that. That's.
That's my thing. Well, my birthday is in December, so I'm going to want a cake anyway. You decide to become a baker or not. That sounds lovely. I like your B plan and that's very entrepreneur like to have those a plan B plan. So I appreciate you sharing that. I don't know any. You entrepreneur. And that I know in dietetics that doesn't have a contingency plan for, for business and, and the way things, especially in a post pandemic world, right. Needing to be agile with how you run things. And yeah, it's not for everybody. And again, the thing I think about business that I'd like to.
Represent is that it doesn't always have to look the same. There's a lot of smaller businesses, [00:17:00] solo practices that have maybe, probably they do have higher gross profit margins than a larger practice. And there their responsibilities look different. They might not have employees. And so there's when you do have employees and contractors, there are different skillsets that you will master versus if you don't. So there's just, you know, different levels of, of stress and gratitude when it comes to business.
But yes, the, the more impact that you want to make, I would say if you're hiring employees, Just the skill set is so different than if you're running a solo business. Yeah, very different. And I will say this too. Like I know that there's a lot of dietitians, right. That are trying to find these connections on Facebook groups and online platforms and all that stuff, which is wonderful. Right? Yeah.
It's still nothing based than in person like connection and networking and Vinci 2019. I met some people and we were kind of like, we should get together. Oh, we think they're going to start a mastermind. Do you, are you interested? And so there's seven of us that are meeting monthly and a mastermind group.
[00:18:00] And exactly what you said. We all come at it from different ways. We have three practices. But I've learned so much from collaborating with other people and being able to share my stressors in my wins with them and them celebrating with me as well. And that's what prompted me and our other owners. Form nutrition practice network was because you can't do it all on. You don't have all the skill sets and somebody else would be like, Hey, let me warn you. I tried it this way. It didn't work so well for me. Before you go down that path, just think about this.
And so with just being in a group. That appears that are on that same path as you, and that you can kind of connect with and kind of run through scenarios when in person, whether it's like on those zoom call or whatever. And then get together with them as well and handle. The email string and be like, help me. I'm in this situation. What should I do? That is invaluable. I fully agree.
I fully agree. And I think that thank you for sharing that. I love that story. And I would agree. I think [00:19:00] that a lot of dietitians are introverted and that feels very difficult for them. I've had Marie Ferguson, the owner of dietitian connection, talk about you know, being an introvert and overcoming some of those.
Difficulties on one of our podcast episodes here at dietitian boss. And it's a, it's a beautiful thing. There's not, it's not good or bad to feel that way, but I think that a lot of dietitians get intimidated. About networking. And in addition to all of the other things, especially at the beginning, and then as your company ramps up, you might not realize how much of a priority it is to maintain those relationships, which is why.
I think that joining a group like my services and like yours is great because you can meet like-minded people on the same path. So I'm, I'm a huge fan of that. And I know that it can feel challenging for some of the listeners to really understand how important it is. And so I think one of the best examples I can give is remember when you were in school, right?
Let's say maybe you completing your dietetic internship or maybe even undergrad, if that's more relatable and think about it. At least for me, I would study with my peers. We would all support each other in some [00:20:00] way in school. And without that school wouldn't have felt the same to me. And that's the same as when you're developing your career and your skills, whether they're clinical skills or whether they're business skills or both. So I love your story of how you were able to.
I come up with a business and I know Marie Ferguson dimension her again. She came up with her idea of creating dietitian connection because she attended a Jack Daly's talk or Jack. No, not Jack Canfield. Sorry. His talk at fancy. I can't remember how many years ago. I think she still has it on our website, so I love that.
Right. And that's maybe that networking story's a little bit different because she listened to his talk, but she was still at fancy. So that just shows there's a million different ways. To get inspired around people, whether it's from a far, like from a talk or whether it's like what you're saying more intimate by connecting with several people who have like-minded interests and then coming up with a business or a mastermind or some type of regular connection with them.
Yes. I mean, there's so much that you can do. And so, yeah. If you haven't go ahead, start making plans, come to fencing this year. It's gonna be in Denver and I'll be there. I'll be happy to talk to you and [00:21:00] introduce you to anybody. I know, cause I love it. Connecting other people to. Yeah, absolutely. It's a skill I could tell. You're a natural connector. You just so easy to talk to such a nice personality. So I'm not surprised to see that.
And it's also nice to be so driven in a connector because often people who are so driven. Can forget about the nuances of connecting, right? So it's nice that you can combine those great skills together for your, for your for your personality. So a couple more questions. What can a dietitian offer? As far as services.
From your perspective. So think about it this way. I think about the gear we're going to offer the same thing that you would offer in a private practice. As people coming to your office. So you can say, Hey, I'm going to come on site to your company. And I'm going to see individual employees in a confidential space. All you need to do is provide me like a conference room or something like that. And if you don't mind marketing these services, we can have employees come.
If sign up so you can offer one-on-one consults, just like the one, your. Practice, you can also have. Offer group [00:22:00] presentations, I offer a variety of classes. So for example, we did a class last month on reducing added sugars. This month, we're doing a class on like ways to handle emotional stress and eating. So you can offer these kinds of classes that are also covered by the insurance group. So again, you're just getting them employees there. They are advertising the service.
You can do this. As well, and it's all covered. You can offer cooking demonstrations. You can do health fairs. So there's multiple services that you can offer as a dietitian. That would enhance the employee experience. They're learning something out of it. They're getting something new at work, also covered by insurance and the employer wins because hopefully there's less insurance cost in the end. Yeah. That's great.
Yeah. That sounds fantastic. And is that something that you think that Mo is still new? Is this still a secret in dietetics? Cause I kind of feel like it is. I mean, well, is it, is it, I don't know how popular it's becoming, but [00:23:00] w w what do you think. I mean. I don't know that I was, to me, it doesn't feel new because I've been doing it for 20 years.
But maybe, I mean, I guess to think of it in this way, that this is something that you can offer people you're not taught that in school. Right, right. Maybe it is somewhat a new concept. Yes. Well, a private practice is still a new concept, less than 8% of dietitians own a private practice. We don't have stats on fully remote or even hybrid, but we can, I can tell you, and you can tell me that most private practitioners are brick and mortar, right? Yes. So.
So, I mean, it's still cutting edge to have a remote practice, whether hybrid or not. So I can only assume I don't want to assume without the data, but I can what you're doing. I think yes, of course you're familiar with it, but I don't think it's known as much as we might want it to be. I think it's probably still cutting edge over the listeners will let us know if I'm wrong.
Yeah. The other things you'd like, let's talk about. So maybe you're not an extrovert, right. Maybe. Maybe you thought of getting up in front of a group of people seems overwhelming to you. Sure. There's also like, think about it. Miss larger [00:24:00] employer groups are sending out some kind of communication to their employees. So maybe you're somebody that can write an article.
Maybe that is your gift, right? So maybe you can do that. Maybe you've been offered to include recipes into their newsletter. Or you can also be part of their benefits, fair, where you can like offer some kind of handout that you've created. So there's all kinds of things that you can offer without being the extroverted personality type to get up in front of a group of people and talk. Absolutely. Yeah. I think the medium can depend, I think that people get a little caught up on the medium meaning. Is it, you know, the written word or is it speaking and at the end of the day,
I just have to make sure you're getting your communication out there. Right. And we're really focusing on how you are able to build those relationships and make those connections. And. And promote. So I think that's really the underlying issue. And I've had Anna from, oh, I forgot the name of her company, the freelance writing. I'm on air on, on this episode, on this podcast. And she's talked about her work with writing. So I know a lot of dietitians do prefer to [00:25:00] write, but there's so much opportunity as well outside of just writing. That I think is impactful. The thing is like, I don't want to write, I cannot stand the right. I hear you.
Do a video. I can see it. I can see it. I could see it in your energy and that's beautiful. At least so many rights. One of my dietitians she loves to write. Yeah. So that's like, that's a skill set that she has that I don't have. So if we ever get asked to do an article or like, Put together a presentation. She's my go to on that. That's and that's again, that's where you're building that collaborative team and bringing everybody's skillset, you know, forward. She does not want to do a presentation in front of a crew. Sure.
Yep. Yep. It's great. When you can have somebody that's skill of various areas. Absolutely. And you can also use AI tools that can help you write in summarize as well. So last question. What are corporate groups looking for? Right. So they're looking for things that are going to improve their voice health.
They're looking for something that can add as a benefit that will be perceived [00:26:00] for, you know employees that look great. They also are looking for something that makes life easier. So when you're getting ready to make that first phone call, what you have to think of is how am I going to make that person's life easier? Are you going to offer to write that newsletter article? Are you going to offer to do all the, create the marketing content for them to, all they have to do is copy and paste it and send it out.
Are you going to offer to do all the class registration for them? Like they want to make sure that it's super easy and very Then what also build the trust, right? Because they're getting knocked on the door by several different. Sure, sure. By you being credentialed with insurance. Already gets you kind of some cloud and some kind of credibility with them.
So the way you kind of weren't it. And you gotta be creative, right. Is to say, oh, I'm calling you because I'm a blue cross and blue shield. Credential representative. Fact right. But that's the way that you've already built that trust from the very beginning. And so they know, okay, well, mine.
Insurance plan. They trust them. So therefore I can also trust them and you're not going to come in and try to like sell some. Crazy, you know, gimmicky kind of thing to their employees. And then they look bad in front of their employees. Yeah. Well, I love the specific examples that you gave and thank you for sharing your experiences, your stories, and your knowledge today, as well as just the, all the inspiration about what are the opportunities for a dietitian, whether they're obvious or not, because there are so many, so I appreciate you.
Role modeling that any final thoughts you want to share before we wrap up today? No, it's a great field and I'm always, I don't feel threatened with competitor competition, you know, and I'm one that likes to build other groups. Dieticians. So feel free to reach out. I'm happy to share any of my thoughts and experiences and help you get you know, experience in this area and feel comfortable in this area. So, yes.
I'd love to work with anybody and help them out too. Sounds great. Thanks so much for joining us.