April 20, 2021
You love being a coach, and you’re ready to grow, whether by running a full-time coaching business or building momentum with your side hustle. You’ve got everything on point, from helping clients transform their lives to your branding and operations.
But there’s one thing that’s threatening your business and undermining every aspect of your coaching work: not having a coaching contract. A contract might feel too “formal,” or too serious for the kind of coaching work you do. It might also feel like you’re putting up hard boundaries, and potential clients might think you’re inflexible.
That’s just not true, though. To genuinely help people (with their career, leadership, accountability, or whatever), a coaching contract can help you do your best work and show your clients exactly how they can expect to see results. Let’s dig into why you need a coaching contract, and what to include so you feel flexible, professional, and supportive.
Start a business — any new business — and you’re bound to make some mistakes (we’ve been there!). But coaches, in particular, make this one mistake more than any other. They’re operating too casually, and they think a verbal agreement is enough to create a working relationship.
Regardless of whether you’re just getting started, running a side hustle, or still figuring out what kind of coaching you want to do, you deserve to take your work seriously. Your clients also deserve to know you have a plan to provide your services.
Using a coaching contract allows you to focus on your clients and their needs better. You protect yourself against those *ahem* not-so-great clients, sudden cancellations, or no-shows.
You can also formalize the working relationship, by explaining how you’ll work together, what your client can expect, and how you expect to communicate. All of this clears up questions and concerns your clients may have about booking with you. Speaking of booking...
If you’ve been a coach for more than a day, we’re betting you’ve experienced the “fragility” of the booking process. Between the discovery or fit call, the *insert groan here* discussion about pricing, and then waiting for a potential client to accept your proposal or sign the contract… it can feel a bit like you’re just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
We’ll be honest: if your current contract looks like a scrapbook of advice from a bunch of different sources or reads like Your Top 10 Mistakes, it can scare off potential clients.
A solid coaching contract communicates how serious you are about your business and how you can help your clients. It also lets them know that your time is valuable, and they need to make an earnest effort to show up for sessions and show up for themselves.
When it’s a professional contract that clearly flows and has relevant sections or clauses, it also lets your potential client know that this contract is legitimate, and everyone will be expected to hold up their end of the bargain. They’ll happily sign and you can get paid!
You’re meticulous in every other aspect of your coaching business, so why should your contracts be any different? The last thing you want is to present potential clients with a Frankenstein contract, pieced together over weeks or months.
Your contract is a crucial part of onboarding new clients and introduces them to the experience of working with you. Here are just a few elements a coaching contract should include. We’d recommend watching the full video above for more details!
Use your contract to set expectations for your client. Describe what they’ll get out of your time together, whether it’s management and leadership skills, a shift in abundance mindset, business strategy, a career plan, etc. You can use this space to highlight their responsibilities as clients and your expectations for how they’ll show up and take part in your sessions.
You’re not alone if you feel awkward discussing payment. The good news is, your contract can do the heavy lifting for you. Use it to spell out everything related to payment, from the exact amount you charge to how you’ll invoice and your expectation for payment dates.
You want to show grace and flexibility, but your time is valuable. The costs add up when you have clients regularly missing sessions or canceling at the last minute. Some coaches use this section of their contracts to establish a three-strike rule or articulate their rescheduling grace period. Well-defined policies encourage clients to take your coaching — and your time — seriously.
You’ve had clients who expect a complete transformation in their life after a single session. Your contract will let you outline your delivery process and give clients a clear picture of how your coaching process works. Use it to set reasonable timelines and expectations for change.
Avoid tense conversations in the future by including your refund policy in your contract, including the terms under which you’ll issue a refund, and how long they have to request one. Here at The Contract Shop®, we have a 14-day, no questions asked refund policy.
Not sure what your refund policy should include? Refund Recon® is full of actionable advice and strategies that can make sure you keep your money, and your booked clients stay happy.
Be clear about your qualifications, your skills, and your certifications. Let your clients know you’re not a certified therapist (unless you are) and reiterate what clients can expect from your coaching.
As we mentioned above, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what should go into your coaching contract. Please consider your individual business’s needs, and find a contract template that covers your legal bases.
You don’t have to develop and write a contract that does all these things by yourself. In fact, we don’t recommend that, unless you’re also a lawyer. We have coaching and consultant contract templates that will help you protect yourself, your business, and your clients.
Use them again and again, as you grow your client base. These customizable templates are yours to use for as long as you coach or consult!
It can feel like you’re all on your own when you’re running a business, but you’re not. The Contract Shop® has courses, contracts, and resources with actual answers you need to kick booty with your business – whether you’re offering coaching, consults, masterminds, and more.