You may be wondering how to hire a coach, once you’ve found a coach who seems like a good fit for you. Unsurprisingly, coaches generally make it quite easy for you to hire them, though the procedures vary a bit from coach to coach.
Some coaches get you completely signed up and ready to go on the phone at the end of the interview/free introductory call. Others will send you materials either electronically or by snail mail. Hiring them may involve filling out a form or two and/or signing an agreement. Once you’ve returned the materials, you’ve hired your coach. Others have a process that’s completely online.
Elements of hiring a coach
Hiring a coach may involve some or all of these elements:
- choosing which package of coaching services you want
- arranging for payment of fees
- giving your contact (and other) information
- signing an agreement
Let’s take a look at each one.
Choosing which package of coaching services you want
Many coaches offer different packages of services at different price points so you can find something that fits your needs and budget. You may have a choice of the number of sessions per month you want to have and the length of the sessions. To some degree, you’ll just have to make your best guess and adjust as you go, since you won’t really know how often you’ll want to meet with your coach until you start working with her.
Generally, you get a better deal per session if you sign up for more sessions per month. There’s often an unspoken message that more coaching is better, which, in my view, isn’t always the case. For more a more in-depth discussion about session length and frequency, check out this article.
Most coaches bill in advance, usually monthly, so you’d be paying for a month of coaching before you start working with your coach. Generally, clients pay coaches by check or credit card. If the coach’s website doesn’t have her fee information, you can ask her about it during the interview/free initial coaching call or e-mail her about it afterwards.
Talking about money can be awkward.
An easy question like, “What is your fee structure?” can be comfortable for potential clients to ask and for coaches to answer.
Giving contact (and other) information
The coach needs basic information like your phone number, e-mail address, and possibly mailing address, to be able to contact you. Some coaches have more extensive forms, where you’re asked questions about the reason(s) you’re working with her, what you hope to achieve, and your circumstances.
It’s usually to your benefit to fill it out. It helps you think through questions so you’re ready to jump right into coaching. It’s also an efficient way to give your coach basic information about yourself. It often ends up being essentially free coaching time, since the coach generally reads the form before your session.
Signing an agreement
Many coaches require you to sign an agreement to work with them. Some of these agreements are binding legal contracts, and others just make sure you and your coach are on the same page regarding the details of your relationship.
The agreement generally gives a quick summary of what the coach does and spells out the coach’s policies on cancellations, coming late, how to end the relationship, and other aspects of working with her. It’s common for coaches to charge you for calls that you miss without giving sufficient advanced notice, unless you have an emergency.
Some coaches require that you commit to working with them for at least a certain amount of time, usually three months, though it could be six months, a year, or any other amount.
Why have a minimum commitment?
I’ve heard some coaches explain their requirement of a minimum commitment as a way to weed out people who aren’t serious about their goals. Others say that they feel the act of committing to coaching for a certain minimum amount of time helps the client commit to his goals and take what he’s doing more seriously.
Some coaches say they aren’t willing to invest themselves in a new client unless the client is going to stick around for a few months. Some coaches feel they need a certain amount of time to give a client the results he wants, and if they don’t require clients to stay throughout that period, then the clients will be unhappy and have a bad experience with coaching.
While these points are valid, I think minimum commitments are also cause for concern, especially with longer commitment periods.
Concerns about minimum commitments
One of the concerns I have about minimum commitments is that even though a client may be committed to achieving his goals, he may realize after working with her for a while that the particular coach he’s chosen isn’t the right fit for him. You don’t want to be trapped in a coaching relationship that doesn’t work for you.
Also, goals naturally evolve and change. A person may think he’d love to do something, but when he starts doing it, he realizes it’s not for him.
I think it’s important for clients to have the space to change their minds, to leave projects that they realize aren’t right for them, without feeling they need to continue because they’ve made a commitment to work with a coach on it.
Responsible for your own results
The agreement will often tell you that the coach can’t guarantee the results you get, since your results depend on your own efforts.
Liquidated damages clause/limit on suing the coach
The agreement may also have a liquidated damages clause, which generally says that if there’s a problem with the coach, at most, you’ll get your fees returned. You’re essentially agreeing not to sue the coach for more than the fees that you’ve paid her. Most coaches are individual practitioners who couldn’t easily weather a frivolous lawsuit, and a provision like this protects coaches from the rare client who would want to work out any problems he’s had with a coach in court.
Can you negotiate different terms?
You’re dealing with one person, not a big company, and you can often work out special arrangements with a coach. If the coach’s standard terms don’t work for you, you may want to ask her if she could make some adjustments for you.