Even with a clear communication plan and format in place, your client may push the limits. Setting boundaries is a primary task for your peach of mind and your client’s best coaching experience.
- Clients may keep you on the phone longer than you intended
- They will email you more than is allowed
- They might text you for non-emergencies
- They will send you messages on Facebook, on Twitter, on Voxer, or anywhere else that is convenient for them—regardless of your preferences
Does This Work Both Ways?
Are you tempted to reach out on the weekend to answer a question or schedule a call on a Sunday afternoon because that’s when your client is available. You might think this is good business—after all, you’re building a relationships.
The idea is not the best for you. The situation will lead to burn out because your boundaries are weak. You’ll always feel like you must do more for your clients. Sooner or later, you’ll lose touch with your own health and personal space.
Setting boundaries is the answer for both you and your customers. Establish from the outset exactly what your coaching package includes, and be sure to include when contact takes place.
For example, you might say:
Your coaching package includes one monthly, 50-minute phone call with me and one question by email each working day.
My workdays are Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm Eastern, and I’ll answer all calls and emails during that time.
With this format, you are setting boundaries and have included
- What the client gets (one phone call and once daily emails)
- When she gets it (Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm)
You’ll also need to establish exactly how your clients should contact you, and what will happen if they do not follow the procedures. Setting boundaries includes specific email addresses and phone numbers or conference lines exclusively for your client use.
Another step is to create “planned responses” to send out when a client attempts to contact you outside of your established boundaries.. For example, if you receive a Facebook message (and you don’t offer this as a form of contact) you might respond with:
Thank you for reaching out, and I’m happy to help you with this big issue. For better organization of my client files, though, I do ask that you send all your questions to my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A gentle reminder for setting boundaries creates a better coaching relationship for both of you.
To keep phone calls shorter, use a simple kitchen timer. At the start of the call, tell your client, “We have XX minutes today, so I’m going to set a timer for YY minutes to remind us when it’s almost time to end. That will help ensure I can answer all your questions.”
Then set your timer for 5 minutes before the call is to end. When the timer goes off, let your client know you have 5 minutes remaining, and ask if she has any final questions before you hang up. Following this simple system will prevent those endless phone calls that trample all forms of boundaries.
Resist the temptation to allow calls to be booked outside of your working hours, or to respond to questions on the weekend, or to book additional appointments “just this once.”
Doing so will make it appear to your client that your boundaries are flexible, and will invite them to push the limits as well. After all, if you email on the weekend, it must be ok, right?
Exercise: Map Your Work Hours
Exercise: Craft Your Boundary Responses
How will you set the expectation at the start of a call, so it does not run too long?
How will you respond if a client contacts you outside your established system?
What will you tell yourself when you fail to respect your own boundaries?
Having trouble pricing your coaching program? A coach’s difficult decision to make when determining your price is to consider value to your client and the your time not only to prepare, but also to coach..
Beginning coaches in all niches tend to price their time, content and value to the client way too low. You might charge as little as $97/month, while top business coaches can easily command $40,000, $50,000 or even $100,000 per year. Where will your program fit? A variety of factors affects this answer, such as:
- A year-long program is costlier than a 6-week offer.
- Certain industries, such as business, can demand higher price tags than others.Determining your price by comparison includes the value and end result for your clients.
- Beginners will be less likely to shell out big bucks for coaching than will more advanced clients.
- If your result includes an increase in profits for business, then a higher-priced program is possible.
In addition to these elements, consider comparable programs from your coaching colleagues. What do they offer and for how much?
Exercise: Determining Your Program Price for Length
Note: You can create multiple levels here as well. For example, you might offer both a 3-month and a six-month program.
Do you follow a proven format for coaching clients? If not, consider that the best 1:1 coaching programs not only follow a proven format, but they offer more than phone calls and Skype meetings as well.
Coaching Tools Include
- Reading material (books, e-books, blogs, etc.)
- Video—either for training purposes, to illustrate a point, or to offer inspiration
- Audio content
- Simple printables to help explain ideas and concepts
Many coaching tools are easily repurposed from your own business. For example, if you have standard operating procedures or a variant of checklists that would be beneficial to your clients, rebrand them and offer as PDF downloads.
You can also create a reading list of your favorite books. Compile a list of useful You-Tube videos. Package your email responses to share.
Worksheets that offer fill-in-the-blank questions can help your clients work through complex or confusing processes, and will serve as a reminder in coming weeks or after their coaching program is completed, so they can continue to benefit.
Another option for high-end coaching programs is to send your clients physical books that will help with their growth. If you’ve written a book, another idea is to send clients a physical copy of your book, perhaps even customized for them, with notes in the margins or sticky notes to highlight important chapters.
Exercise: Plan Your Coaching Tools
What tools, training, worksheets and other resources will help your clients achieve their goals?
To achieve significant results, coaching clients needs a focused, step-by-step coaching action plan. You design your best personal coaching programs that guides the client logically through each step in the process.
Big breakthroughs don’t happen overnight, and they don’t happen by chance—as your clients have no doubt discovered by now. In fact, your ideal client has probably been struggling for a while. She’s read blog posts on the topic, watched dozens of webinars, attended conferences, read books, listened to podcasts, and still, her problem is right there–in front of her all the time.
For example, a coaching action plan designed to help freelancers get started online might include:
- Developing service offerings
- Ideal client discovers
- Pricing packages
- Creating a website
- Keywords and SEO
- Developing a sales funnel
- Creating contracts
- Marketing methods
- Sales calls
Each step in the coaching action plan is necessary, and also are dependent on one another. You cannot market your website if it doesn’t exist yet. You can’t work out pricing if you don’t know what services you offer.
Your coaching action plan, as well, will benefit from a logical flow of steps. Keeping your desired outcome as well as your ideal client in mind, think about
- Where is she right now in business and life?
- Where is she going with the help of your coaching?
- Next draw the mind map to get her there, and this becomes the steps of your coaching program.
- How long your program will last?
.One-to-one coaching programs range from a few weeks to a year or more, depending on the depth of the information and the outcome clients will achieve.
Realistically, how long will it take for your customers to work through the steps of the coaching action plan?
Be sure to consider outside influences such as:
- Day jobs—if your customers are building a business while still working outside the home, it will reduce the amount of time they have available
- Family obligations—toddlers in the house, summer vacations, elderly parents and a host of other life events can limit the time a client can dedicate to your program.
If your program includes elements that take time, consider extending the length of your coaching to accommodate them.
In step five, we’ll talk more about contact access and frequency, but for now, only start considering how long your overall program will be, and what the steps to completion include.
Exercise: Brainstorm Your Coaching Action Plan Steps
What do your clients need to learn so that they can achieve your desired outcome? Spend a few minutes creating a list, and then organize it in a logical order.
In what order should your clients cover the topics listed above?
Exercise: Plan Your Program Duration
How long will it take your clients to work through all the steps above?
“Design Your Coaching Tools”