What to consider before hiring a retail dietitian

What to consider before hiring a retail dietitian

Two years ago a notable life-changing event happened to me at a natural foods store when I met a registered dietitian on staff who coached me and other customers on healthy eating and nutrition. Since then, I’ve wondered why more natural and health food stores don’t have this value-added resource in their stores. But, it turns out, the trend is growing.

Registered dieticianAs more independent and mainstream supermarkets hire staff nutritionists and registered dietitians, customers have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of weight management, nutrition and meal planning in the store aisles.

In some ways, retail dietitians can act like personal trainers in nutrition, but you may have some questions to consider when determining if a dietitian is right for your store. Here are nine:

1. Should you hire a registered dietitian on staff, or contract with them on a freelance basis?

2. Do you help pay for your dietitian’s continued education credits, or do they cover those expenses themselves?

3. What’s your store’s liability when employing a dietitian? To what extent can a registered dietitian advise your customers on their diets, and do customers sign a waiver before seeking consultations?

4. When do you create a policy around hiring retail dietitians in your stores? And then there are the marketing opportunities to consider once you do hire a dietitian.

5. Is it the dietitian’s responsibility to market their services if on a contract-only basis?

6. Do you require the dietitian to blog, promote or write newsletters to educate customers about their services?

7. Do you set up in-store promotions in accordance with your dietitian’s specific area of expertise, (e.g. supplements, produce ingredients, deli counter)?

8.  How do you measure ROI around retail dietitians? Are you seeking revenue growth or merely offering a value-add to customers?

9. What are your competitors doing in this space? How can you differentiate from the stores in your area?

These are only a few questions to ask yourself before developing a nutrition program in your stores. You can learn more at Natural Products Expo West 2013 in the session on “Retail Dietitians: How Supermarkets are Marketing Wellness”.

If you’ve already implemented a healthy eating consultation program in your store, what advice would you offer to independent natural retailers? 

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