If helping others achieve their health and weight-loss goals is a desirable profession, consider setting up a diet center in your city. Most diet centers provide counseling and nutrition education and develop specialized weight-loss programs for its clients. Depending on the size, some diet centers have fitness equipment, offices for its staff and a kitchen for meals. Given the high start-up costs, this business venture requires serious consideration and dedication. With careful planning, your diet center can inspire your community to lose weight and get in shape.

Assess Start-Up Costs

Renting or buying a building, hiring costs, office supplies and furniture, and equipment are just a few of the costs needed to start a diet center. If you provide additional items for sale, such as vitamins and supplements, your inventory costs will need to be documented. The book, “101 Best Businesses to Start,” estimates that start-up costs in 2000 for a diet clinic were at least $75,000. Potential first-year revenue is estimated at $45,000.

The size of your venture will also determine costs. If you are a registered dietitian planning to hire one or two support staff members, your client base will be smaller, but your start-up costs will be lower. If, however, you are planning a large diet center in terms of space and staff, you will need to pay more. If you are unsure about how much money you can place towards this venture, start small with anticipation of expansion.

Determine Diet Plan

Diet centers may specialize in an existing diet, like the Zone or South Beach diet, while other centers design their own. Though creating a diet plan requires extensive testing, the marketing opportunities are wider. In addition, clients will rely on the diet center if they feel the center’s program cannot be found elsewhere.

Work with medical professionals, nutritionists and dietitians when forming a diet plan. If your diet plan offers dangerous or unhealthy advice, you could be held directly responsible for adverse effects.

Hire and Train Staff

Staff members should all be knowledgeable and licensed professionals. If the diet plan is customized, these individuals must be trained and versed in the program. Many dietitians may be knowledgeable, but diet-center dietitians should also be personable and likable. This social aspect is critical for customer retention.

Run Case Studies

Your diet center should be able to publish “before and after” stories of clients. Be willing to enroll new clients at reduced rates if your clinic is new. To attract additional clients, you must have evidence of success.

In the testing phases of your diet plan, gauge the customers' willingness and enjoyment of the program by asking for constant feedback and communication. The client may lose weight if an extreme diet like the raw food diet is implemented. However, if the client strongly dislikes the work involved to maintain the diet, it is not sustainable and will result in unhappy clients.

Advertise Effectively

Post flyers in the neighborhood at places such as gyms, university campuses and grocery stores. Online advertising is effective as well, so consider buying ad space on weight-loss oriented sites.

Pay extra to design a website. On the site, list the ways you can help your clients, like “manage weight” and “learn to eat healthy, not diet.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration emphasizes to be careful with advertising. Do not make false or illegal claims, such as your diet center’s ability to cure cancer or cause 50 pounds of weight loss in three weeks.