People assume that because we are attorneys, we will put a lot of difficult-to-understand legalese riddled with Latin terms that sound scary in their contracts. This is not a wrong assumption to make about attorneys (a lot of them are like that), but your coaching agreement should both protect you and not scare away your client at the same time.
Whether you are a life coach, business coach, health coach, or any other type of coach, these are some things to consider about your coaching contract:
- Consider calling your Contract a “ Coaching Client Services Agreement”
- Make sure you balance the right “tone” with the right amount of protection. You do not want your coaching contract to read like you are going to war with your client; you want it to sound like you will love your client, but if you client does not pay or is mean to you, it’s game over.
- Concise and to the point is always better than paragraphs and paragraphs of explaining things that may get lost, misunderstood, ignored, or, worse, scare the client away.
- Do not let an attorney make business decisions for you that seem uncomfortable. An attorney should explain the legal ramifications of terms, and perhaps use her own experience with businesses to explain certain clauses, but ultimately there are many business decisions that you should feel free to tell your attorney to incorporate because that is how you run your business.
- The language of the coaching contract should be the same for all clients. It is the Scope of Services/Statement of Services that will vary (including the services and prices outlined therein)
- While those who like just one document may incorporate coaching policies, goals and client responsibilities into their contract, please know that you may opt to have a separate “Business Policies” document (aka “Client Responsibilities” or “Mutual Goals” or whatever else you would like to call it). It is personal preference.
- Ensure you do not just insert legal terms randomly because you saw them on someone else’s coaching contract and you assume they will protect you. Make sure you know what the words you are putting in your contract mean.
- Remember that your Client Coaching Contract sets the tone of your working relationship with your Client. You set your boundaries and you decide how to do it.
- Make sure you clearly define your services, fees, and packages. We suggest if you have varying services, use a Scope of Services as mentioned in #5 above.
- For coaches, it is important to to discuss how sessions are scheduled, by whom, what notice is needed for cancellation and rescheduling, and any other policies you may have surrounding scheduling.
- Never forget to include compensation, whether it be in your coaching contract or in your Scope of Services.
- Clients like to know that what you are telling them in the context of the coaching relationship remains confidential. Make sure you have a confidentiality provision.
Remember, you have set up a business surrounding education, empowerment and encouragement for your clients, and you offer a valuable service. We get that contracts get a bad rap as somehow being antagonistic, confrontational, and contentious. But as we have shown you with the list above, your coaching contract can set the tone, expectation and rules of the coaching relationship in a positive way that demonstrates you care about the coaching relationship.
Since professional coaching has a wide range of objectives, tools and means of achieving goals, your agreement should also reflect those tools and means of achieving goals.
Your Agreement also plays an important role in educating the client about what coaching is (and is not) and what they can expect from the coaching process.
Now go and do what you love!
Ready. Set. Coach.