Your coaching business provides you with income. But, is that the primary reason you chose to become a professional coach? Probably not.
The reality is that purely from an income standpoint, there are likely other things that you could do with your time that would pay just as well, if not better than coaching – even as a side hustle. My best guess is that endurance sports is your passion and because of that, you want to help others achieve the same level of satisfaction and success that you’ve experienced. Am I right?
Let’s go back to the side hustle topic for a second. Most coaches are not full-time coaches, but rather do it in their free time. As such, time spent coaching is often intertwined, or for lack of a better word, competes, with other life responsibilities (i.e., full-time job, family obligations, your own training, etc…). It’s a balancing act which isn’t always the easiest to manage.
YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE
As the saying goes, time is the most valuable commodity. This is especially true for those of you that as noted above, are balancing your coaching practice with lots of other obligations.
When setting up and, or managing your coaching practice, you must take this into account – both in regard to your coaching structure, pricing, and allowable client load… more on this below.
As an independent personal trainer and coach in NYC, I travel from one client to another – with often just several minutes between each client. Therefore, if I run over my time with one client, I’ll likely be late for the next. Additionally, I structure my pricing based on time. For example, my 45-minute rate is different from that of my 60-minute rate. Pricing my sessions this way shows that I place a high value on my time, however even more important is keeping to these times. For example, if I charge a client for 45 minutes but always stay 5-10 minutes late, it demonstrates to my client that I don’t really value my time and they come to expect this extra time. This isn’t providing better service to my client – it’s devaluing myself and my practice.
TYPES OF CLIENTS
Like any business, you’re going to come across all sorts clients in your coaching practice. In respect to your time, you’re going to have clients that pay on time, provide good feedback, rarely ever cancel an appointment and respect your time and only interact with you when necessary and when prearranged. I’ll call these the ‘unicorns!’ While that’s perhaps a bit unfair as this type of client is not really rare – it isn’t most clients that are the ‘total package’ of awesomeness.
Conversely, you’ll have clients where it’s like pulling teeth to get them to pay on time, communicate effectively and will call/email you to ask your opinion on the most trivial questions such as what color water bottle they should purchase – “Will red make me look faster on the bike?” (real and serious question from a client).
When starting out and structuring your business in respect to how much communication you’ll allow, you must think big. While you might just have one or two clients to start off with, assuming that you want to have a thriving coaching practice, if you are extremely liberal with your time in regard to allowable communication with clients, you’ll soon find that as your practice grows, your entire day (or at least all of your free time) will be taken up with calls and emails.
The one caveat to this is a capped coaching practice – meaning, you only take on a maximum number of clients that you know you can not only manage effectively but can provide exceptional service to.
It’s your job to set the tone. Do you not want to take calls on Sunday? Put it in the contract. Do you just want to correspond via email? Put it in the contract.
Unless you speak to potential and current clients about the terms of your coaching practice and also have these terms in a written and signed contract, you should not and cannot expect your client to remember and therefore adhere to them.
Additionally, if you have a client that does not adhere to the terms of the coaching contract, it is your responsibility to enforce the terms.
For all of the above reasons, I strongly suggest having some form of structure in your coaching practice. For example, knowing that some clients will desire to have more communication with you than others, you might want to have a tiered coaching practice that allows for varying levels of communication. Whether it be that you allow for unlimited contact or have a distinct number of allowable emails/calls week, you must decide what is the right amount for you.
As noted earlier, perhaps you want to have a capped coaching practice where you only accept seven clients at any time – fine, just make sure that you know you can service those seven clients effectively and stay true to that number.
IT SHOULD BE FUN, RIGHT?
While any job has it’s frustrations and downsides, as noted earlier, you likely got into coaching out of your pure joy for the sport(s) and wanted to share your expertise with others. Therefore, running a coaching practice should largely be a fun and fulfilling experience.
However, without the proper structure and communication guidelines in place, your fun and empowering coaching practice can quickly become one of dread. So keep your coaching practice true to the reason(s) you started it and have fun!