As coaches, we know that contracting is an important part of our business and an important part of our client relationship. Recently, during a contracting workshop, I learned the most common mistake coaches make in the contracting process. I would love to share that with you and maybe help you shift to avoiding this mistake moving forward.

What is the Most Common Mistake?

In the last slide of this contracting workshop, it was shared that the most common contracting mistake is that coaches start services without the signed contract. How often have you done this or have been tempted to do this? You get to your scheduled appointment with your client and they have not yet signed the coaching agreement… What do you do? Maybe out of convenience or graciousness to the client, or in fear of losing the client, you proceed with your scheduled session even though the contract is not complete. Your client could be appreciative of this, but let’s talk about why this is not the best way to start your client-coach relationship.

Ethical Standards

If you look at the ICF Code of Ethics, you will see that the contract should be completed prior to the commencement of services. Contracts exist to preserve relationships. This is important for both you and for the client. The bottom line is to make sure you have that agreement before you begin services with your client. It is important to start your coaching relationship on strong footing.

Navigating Scheduled Sessions When No Agreement Has Been Signed

So what do you do when you get to your scheduled session with your client and they have not signed the contract? You have a couple options to make sure the agreement is signed prior to beginning working with the client. First, you could give time during your session for your client to finish up the agreement. This way, you are not needing to reschedule with the client. You are using some of the time you could use for coaching, but the agreement is important enough to complete first.

The second option is to move forward with rescheduling. You can be straight forward about this by simply saying “We will need to reschedule until I have that agreement. This is for the sake of the both of us. I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what you are signing up for when you are working with me and what the expectations are in this relationship for both of us.”

Follow-Up is Key

Proper follow-up can help alleviate this. Reaching out to the client 24-48 hours before your scheduled session can remind the client to complete the agreement before the session. Put a reminder in your own calendar a day or two before meeting with the client to follow-up with them. This could be to remind them of the call information if they have already completed the agreement. It could also be the time to remind them to complete the agreement before the session or the session will need to be rescheduled. A strategy for follow-up and processes to fall back on keep you from making the most common contracting mistake for coaches. Hope this has been helpful for you!

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