Coach's Casebook

How do Coaches Charge?

How do Coaches Charge?

One of the early stumbling blocks to engaging a coach is the client not understanding what the costs will be.

Coaches also tend to obscure the cost of coaching by using marketing phrases such as ‘For an investment of…’

As coaches, we should recognise that people are curious about the process and the cost but without having a coaching experience, they will be unaware of the true value and so such phrases appear trite and somewhat secretive.  This can become a very real barrier to entry and I believe undermines the coach / client trust relationship almost immediately.

In my experience, coaches charge in 4 different ways depending upon how they structure their business and their brand.

Here are the 4 typical charging approaches:

1.    By the Hour!

This is perhaps the most common approach to charging for coaching.  This allows the client to be flexible with the support they are gaining and call upon the service on an irregular basis, as and when they feel it necessary.

This is good for the client as they can call for support on an ad hoc basis, gaining assistance when as the need arises.  However, if the change required is more behavioural, then regular sessions are often more effective.  Behavioural change requires spaced repetition to take hold.

This approach is less useful for the coach as a business person as the appointments must be scheduled for flexibly and cannot be relied upon making cash flow difficult to plan.

2.    Series of structured sessions.

These tend to be more ‘programmes of change’ and covering a number of features that will be beneficial to most clients.  These programmes can be more formulaic and less tailored to the client (bit not always). This is more akin to a training programme rather than a series of coaching sessions.

This provides a client with a baseline of skills for personal improvement and can also provide insight into the value of coaching without spending too much money, money sometimes being a barrier to engaging a coach.

This is a good approach for the coach as they can have a modular set of coaching session prepared in advance and for reuse depending upon what the sessions are to achieve.  They are also a low cost option for the client and so can be ‘sold’ more easily as an entry level coaching programme.

3.    Retainer

Similar to the previous approach, the coach is engaged for a set period and visits the client regularly for as long as the contract is active.  The client then has regular support and can begin a process of behavioural change in the knowledge that the coach will be visiting soon and will hold them accountable.

This approach is often much more effective for both client and coach who both know where they stand. The regular sessions provide consistency, habit and commitment to the process and outcomes.  it is a more disciplined style of coaching that I recommend.

4.    Pay for results

Pioneered by Marshall Goldsmith. payment is made a set period after the coaching interventions (1 year is typical) and based upon the results of the client as judged by the key stakeholders.

This is good for the client as if the results aren’t satisfactory, then no money is paid.
It is good for the coach in that there is a low barrier to being engaged however, there is a deal of work to be done before the client is accepted or accepts.

The stakeholders need to be identified and their criteria for success established and agreed.
These success criteria must be measurable and with little influence from the environment or any other external factors.
The client must commit to the process and agreed to abide by the process on a frequent and regular basis. This means the client must be qualified for the level of commitment and motivation.

These are the commonest forms for charge structuring you can expect in the coaching domain but is you know of any others then please add them as comments.

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