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Interview with Consultant Michelle

Michelle Toner Consultant
Michelle Toner Consultant

Michelle shares her experience on becoming a Consultant, how she found working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and what her tips and tricks are to being a successful Consultant for The 1:1 Diet.

  1. How did you become a Consultant for The 1:1 Diet?

“In 2011, my Consultant suggested I train and see 10 clients a week on a Saturday.  But at the time I was teaching and bringing home marking every weekend, so I didn’t have the time or headspace to even consider a second job. Three years later, it took a health scare for me to finally give up teaching and train as a Consultant for The 1:1 Diet. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions of my life.”

2. Did you always want to be your own boss?

“I’d always planned to go into education so self-employment wasn’t on my radar. But I’m very glad to be working for myself now. If you do extra hours or work weekends, as your own boss you know that extra effort and income is going to benefit your family and bank balance.”

3. Can you tell us a little bit more about being a teacher and how your teaching skills have come in handy?

“I really loved teaching and worked as an English teacher and head of department for 16 years. There are lots of transferable skills for teachers; organisation, mentoring, planning, goal setting and encouraging people to do and be their best. These skills are great for working with clients and with team. I think teachers make great Consultants for The 1:1 Diet– and the work/life balance, income and financial security is so much better as a Consultant!”

4. Do you make a decent living out of this business?

“Absolutely! This month I earned just over three times what I used to make as a full-time teacher. It has allowed me to pay off debts, save and we’ve also bought a holiday home in France. There are natural ebbs and flows to the year, but when you know this, you can budget with a 12-month view in mind.”

5. What are the key attributes that make you a successful Consultant?

“I really love working with people and probably register quite high on the empathy scale. I’m organised and good with detail, which definitely makes life easier – but it’s not essential! You can always learn organisation skills and routines if this doesn’t come naturally to you. I love working with a team too – they are an essential part of why I love my job so much.”

6. How have you changed your business model during COVID-19?

“I had been watching the lockdown regulations as they came in across Europe, and everyone said we were about 14 days behind the likes of Italy and Spain. This gave me a good window of time to prepare my clients for working remotely. With that said, it was still a big shock for most and a huge adjustment. 

“To keep people on track, I provide free delivery every Tuesday and Thursday and have 30 minute Zoom appointments every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  At the start of lockdown, my client appointments really changed – we spent much more time talking about sleep, stress, coping strategies and problem-solving; how to cope in such strange times. More recently, this has shifted again – people are beginning to look ahead again to 2021; they are making plans again.

“With the added driving time, I am working more hours to support the same number of clients I would usually see in June (around 70), but I am incredibly thankful to be working right now and cannot thank Head Office enough for the changes they put in place to support us all.”

7. What key challenges have you had to face during lockdown?

“For lots of my clients and team, there have been days or weeks when morale has been very low. People have been tired, stressed, they hate home-schooling, everyone’s spread too thinly or just plain frightened. They’ve lost loved ones, co-workers, and friends. Being able to provide emotional support to those who need it has been an absolutely privilege but comes at a cost. 

“I’ve worked much longer hours in lockdown and have found myself emotionally spent at the end of each day. I rarely turn my phone off and always reply to messages, no matter what time of day they come in. People need you when they need you. The kindness that we all show on the tough days will never be forgotten.

“I also support a lot of NHS staff and key workers, as well as those shielding, which has meant I need to be extra vigilant so as not to spread the virus between clients.” 

8. How have you managed to maintain sales throughout the crisis?

“Lots of emotional support for clients and lifting them up as much as I can on those tougher days. I’ve given longer appointments or extra calls when they’re needed and celebrated every tiny win along the way. 

“Some days simply getting out of bed has been a major win for clients. I’ve adapted my days to deliver meals to everyone’s doorstep to keep them on Plan. Every order gets a little something extra – water flavourings, fava beans, motivational cards and so on – it’s a major achievement to be on Plan right now. I also want my clients to remember how our brand behaved during those terrible days – professional, kind and supportive to all.”

9. How many people are in your team?

“I have 55 in my team, plus a few lovely adopted team members, who are most definitely an essential part of the family.”

10. What have been your career highlights at The 1:1 Diet?

“I’ve loved team building – we have a supportive family dynamic and a WhatsApp chat that runs 24/7. It was also an absolute privilege to win the Above and Beyond Consultant Award in 2016, and Top 50, then Gold Champion two years later. One of my favourite The 1:1 Diet memories is being invited to help make a training video for Consultants.

“As highlights go though, being able to support my husband when his company closed in 2018 has to be the top. Had I still been teaching, that would have meant packing up and moving home to his family. My The 1:1 Diet business kept us going and gave him the window of time he needed to look for his dream job, rather than rushing into something where he wouldn’t be happy.”

11. What words of encouragement would you give anyone considering a career change at the moment?

“Don’t wait, just go for it! As much as I loved teaching, if I could go back, I’d have left three years earlier. When you do make the leap, soak up every single piece of information you can as this will help you to hit the ground running and the more confident you are, the more confident your clients will be that they made the right choice in selecting you.”

12. What do you think the future holds for your business?

“Right now, I’m feeling very hopeful. If my team and I can survive a pandemic and come out with growth, we can do anything. This year we’re developing a training and mentoring programme for the entire team to bring everyone up to speed before they’re accredited as a Consultant. I’m looking forward to seeing more of my team hit silver and gold level status – you go so much further when you work together.”

Michelle’s Top Tips

  • Be kind and treat everyone the same. Make sure all your clients get the exact same excellent service; regardless of age, background or temperament. Especially those who might be struggling to follow their Step 100 per cent of the time; they need to know that you are fighting for their success even when they’re not fighting for it themselves.
  • Invest time in becoming an expert. Use the tools provided by Head Office and research like DiRECT and DROPLET. Spend time speaking with other the Consultants– the more you know, the more confident you will be in your work with clients and in your community.
  • Get involved in The 1:1 Diet community. Go to meetings, attend training days (it’s never been easier – Zoom connects us all!) Talk to others about how they run their businesses then take those insights home and make them work for you.

Want to know more about the business opportunity with The 1:1 Diet? Check out our Become a Consultant page and get the low-down on how to be a great weight loss cheerer-onner.