What is a coaching contract?
A coaching contract is an agreement between a coach and their client that establishes the terms of the coaching relationship. The coaching client agreement should outline the roles and responsibilities of both the coach and the client, as well as the expectations for the coaching relationship. A coaching contract can help to ensure that both parties are clear about their commitments and can help to prevent misunderstandings or disagreements down the line.
Why do you need a coaching contract?
There are many reasons why you may need a coaching contract. Perhaps you are starting a new coaching business and need to establish some basic ground rules with your clients. Or maybe you have been coaching for awhile but have never had a formal contract in place.
Whatever the case may be, a coaching contract can be a helpful tool in protecting both you and your client. It can help to clarify expectations, set boundaries, and outline the terms of your agreement. Having a contract in place can also help to prevent misunderstandings and provide a reference point if there are ever any issues that need to be addressed.
What should your coaching contract include?
Here are 11 clauses that should be included in a coaching agreement:
- Identify the Parties
This section clearly names the parties involved in the contract, typically the coach and the client. It establishes the professional identity of the coach, and identifies the client, who needs the coaching services.
- The Purpose of Coaching
Here, the specific objectives of the coaching relationship are laid out. It could range from personal development goals, like overcoming procrastination, to professional aspirations, such as career advancement strategies. This clause sets clear expectations for the coaching journey.
- The Length of the Agreement
This part of the contract specifies the duration of the coaching relationship. It defines the start and end dates, providing a clear timeline for the coaching engagement.
- The Frequency and Duration of Sessions
This clause details the logistics of the coaching sessions, including how often they will occur (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly) and their length (e.g., 60 minutes per session). This helps in creating a structured schedule for both the coach and the client.
- Payment and Late Fees
A crucial part of any contract, this section outlines the payment terms, including the amount, payment schedule, and method. It also addresses late payment penalties and any applicable taxes or additional fees. For coaches offering payment plans, the details should be clearly mentioned here.
- The Location of Sessions
This clause identifies the agreed-upon location for the coaching sessions, whether they will be conducted in person, over the phone, or through online platforms. It ensures logistical clarity for both parties.
- Client responsibility
A client responsibility clause in a coaching contract specifies the commitments and duties of the client within the coaching relationship. This includes actively participating in sessions, completing assigned tasks, and communicating openly with the coach. The purpose of this clause is to ensure the client is fully engaged and responsible for their part in the coaching process, which is essential for achieving effective and meaningful outcomes.
- A Cancellation Policy
Here, the terms for cancelling or rescheduling a session are established. This includes notice periods and any potential fees or penalties for late cancellations, protecting both parties from unexpected changes.
This vital clause assures that all discussions and materials shared during sessions remain confidential. It extends to any intellectual property disclosed by the client, safeguarding their personal and professional information.
- No Guarantees Clause
This clause sets realistic expectations, stating that the coach cannot guarantee specific outcomes. It emphasizes that the client’s success is contingent upon their own efforts and commitment, protecting the coach from liability for unmet expectations.
- How to Terminate the Contract
It outlines the conditions under which the coaching agreement can be terminated, such as non-compliance with the contract terms or the achievement of the coaching goals. This clause provides a clear exit strategy for both parties.
How do you enforce your coaching contract?
There are a few key things to keep in mind when enforcing your coaching contract. First and foremost, be professional. This means being respectful and courteous to your client, and making sure that all communication is clear, concise, and polite.
Secondly, be firm. It is important to remember that you are the one in charge and that the client has signed a contract agreeing to adhere to your rules and guidelines. If they break the contract or do not follow through with their commitments, you have every right to enforce the terms of the agreement.
Finally, be reasonable. If a client is truly struggling or having difficulty meeting their goals, work with them to find a solution that works for both of you. It is important to remember that your goal as a coach is to help your clients succeed, so try to be understanding and flexible when possible.
Clauses that aren’t enforceable in a contract
There are certain clauses that are not enforceable in a contract. This includes clauses that are illegal, or go against public policy.
Illegal clauses are those that are explicitly forbidden by law, or those that are impliedly forbidden by law. An example of an illegal clause would be agreeing to infringe on someone else’s trademark.
A clause against public policy would be having your client agree to doing something sexually immoral.
Other unenforceable clauses may be too vague, or may be considered unconscionable. If a clause is found to be unenforceable, the court may strike it from the contract.
How to send your coaching agreement for a client to sign
If you have a coaching agreement that you need your client to sign, there are a few different ways that you can send it to them. You can either email the agreement to your client, or you can mail it to them. If you email the agreement to your client, make sure that you include a link to where they can electronically sign the agreement. If you mail the agreement to your client, include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can easily return the signed agreement to you.
Nowadays, most parties are using software that has e-signature capabilities. The software I recommend is Dubsado or HelloSign (now called Dropbox Sign). What I like about Dropbox Sign is that it has an audit trail so you can see when your client has opened the contract, a timestamp of when they’ve signed, and their IP address.
And we can’t talk about e-signatures without addressing a counterparts clause.
What is a Counterparts Clause?
A counterparts clause in a contract allows each party to sign different copies of the contract, and these separate copies are considered together as one complete agreement.
This type of clause is useful in situations where the people signing the contract are in different locations or can’t all sign at the same time. Once each party signs their copy, the contract becomes legally binding, just as if everyone had signed the same single document. This means that contracts can even be signed electronically, where each person signs a copy and then sends it to the next person for their signature.
Using a counterparts clause saves time and resources as it eliminates the need for everyone to meet in person or use couriers or notaries to handle the signing process. All that’s needed is confirmation from each party that they have received the copy signed by the other parties or their representatives.
Should a lawyer review your coaching contract?
There are many benefits to having a lawyer review your coaching contract. A lawyer can make sure that the contract is fair and equitable, and that it protects your interests. They can also help to negotiate better terms for you, and advise you on any potential legal risks. In short, a lawyer can ensure that you are getting the best possible deal in your coaching contract.
Takeaway: A coaching agreement is essential to your business to set boundaries.
A coaching contract not only protects you but protects your client. Without one, you’re running the risk of chargebacks and not being paid. A contract also helps attract clients who are serious because it is a legally binding contract.
Get your attorney drafted coaching contract template to protect your coaching business or coaching program from The CEO Legal Loft Shop.