That fresh crisp air, crunching leaves beneath your fee, pumpkin-spice everything for sale…it can mean only one thing. It’s time to fall in love with contracts. (See what I did there?). Terrible puns aside, we really do want you to love contracts. And if we can’t get you all the way to love, at least respect, understand and implement contracts in your business to protect yourself, your business and your assets.
We get it. Contracts can feel burdensome, onerous, rigid – almost the total opposite of how you want to feel about your business and how you want you coaching clients to feel about the coaching relationship. But contracts do not have to be any of those things. As my own business and life coach tells me “that’s just a story you are telling yourself.” So let’s reframe the story and see why you (and your clients) should really love your coaching agreement.
First, let’s talk about some of the agreements or contracts you might use in a coaching business.
The Client Coaching Agreement
This contract is between you and your client. It’s the foundational document for your relationship. Whether you are a business coach, life coach, nutritional or health and wellness coach, executive coach, you name it, this agreement sets the basics in black and white. Price, term, what is included in the coaching services, expectations of client and coach are all key components of this agreement. Other aspects that can be addressed in the coaching contract may include a dispute resolution provision, a termination and refund policy, method of payment, and clauses to protect proprietary, sensitive or confidential information owned by the coach or the client, such as a mutual nondisclosure clause.
The new normal is that COVID is here and may be for some time. But as live and in-person services resume, both coaches and clients need protection and assurances. Having a clear COVID policy in place and a COVID waiver for coaching clients to sign goes a long way in demonstrating that you care about yourself, and your clients.
The Retreat Agreement
Coaches know that clients love retreats! To be fully immersed, with a group of like-minded people, learning and experiencing the growth and joy that goes with it is like no other experience. Whether it is a wellness retreat, business mastermind retreat, vision and planning retreat, coaching clients want that total experience. But retreats create unique situations and legal issues that group or one-on-one coaching does not. The coaching retreat agreement addresses those things, such as who covers the costs of food, travel or lodging, what happens if there is a cancellation or change in venue, or what happens if the coach needs to amend the content of the program or schedule of events. A complete retreat agreement should also address confidentiality between the guests and include a medical release in case of emergency.
Yes, these are actually contracts! Even though the client doesn’t sign these like a typical agreement, by using your website they are agreeing to and accepting the terms. If your website is more than just a simple, non-interactive webpage, then you really need both. These set the rules for using the page, and clearly lays out what information you collect from visitors and how you use that information. Data protection is increasingly more important to people, and there are several laws that you must comply with now.
So, these are the basic, “must have” coaching contracts that you should have in place in for your coaching business. But why would you love them?
Know, Love and Trust Your Coaching Agreements
You want your clients to know, like and trust you, right? And that’s the adage for getting new clients. Why? Because people want to work with those who they know, like and trust. People will spend money on goods and services that they know, like and trust.
You should feel that way about the agreements you have in place in your coaching business. Because if you don’t, then you won’t implement them.
The first step in loving your agreements is understanding them. You don’t need a law degree to understand them. But whether you have an attorney draft your agreement or you use a template, you should get a thorough explanation of the terms and what they mean. If you know what your agreement means and does, you’re more likely to use it and feel comfortable enforcing it.
The next step is to make sure your agreement is how you want it to be – it should reflect your actual business policies and processes. If you collect payment in full up front, but the agreement says you will be the client monthly – there’s a problem. Templated, or attorney drafted, your agreement must be customized to your needs.
Finally, having a customized and clear agreement in place that you understand means you can trust it will do its job – protect you and your business. And presenting a client with an agreement that you love, will convey confidence, professionalism and a respect for your client. What’s not to love about that?