In any business arrangement, it’s always wise to have legal documents in order (you hope to never use them, but will be glad that you have them). However, a coaching contract can be so much more. From describing your services to defining your working relationship with a client, coaching contracts form the guidelines for your potential relationship as a coach with your client.
If you’re worried about setting up a contract, we’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide to creating a contract, including a free lawyer-approved template to download for personal use.
Let’s start from the basics.
What is a coaching contract?
Call it a coaching contract, coaching agreement, or a coaching client agreement — in essence, it’s a legal document that outlines the terms of your working relationship. We’ll get into the details of what it’s for and what to include in it.
A coaching contract protects your business by ensuring you receive the money you’re owed. It helps set legal and business boundaries with clients and ensures you don’t get sued by unhappy customers. In and out of a court of law, this is a strong legal document listing all your service policies in one place so that all parties can access this information easily.
Why do I need a coaching contract?
That’s a great question to ask. Here are three reasons why you need a coaching contract:
While contracts help ease our minds as business owners, research shows that they help build trust in our clients as well. Contracts are an important source of information for clients when they’ve got questions or concerns about policies. Many clients expect to sign a contract. Having a thorough, in-depth legal document can demonstrate that we’re prepared, capable coaches who have our affairs in order.
Think of the coaching contract as a binding legal document and an agreement on rules and boundaries around how we operate. Have you ever run into problems with customers rescheduling at the last minute, or clients who request refunds beyond the designated period? With a coaching agreement, we can protect ourselves from these headaches.
The agreement is also how we inform our clients about our relationship and the coaching services we provide. It lets us set the terms of the coaching relationship, and outlines contact details and office hours, alongside any preferred methods of engagement.
By setting clear boundaries and detailing any grey areas in writing, we can avoid a lot of miscommunication and headaches right from the start of our coaching relationship.
3. Protect your earnings
When we’ve put our blood, sweat, and tears into creating our coaching business, it’s important to protect ourselves, our earnings, and our content. Contracts are an excellent way to do this — we can outline our responsibilities, our client’s responsibilities, payment terms, and any other associated terms. It can protect us from things like wrongful refund requests, chargebacks, and delineate what content we own and under what conditions our clients may or may not share that information.
Also, with non-defamation clauses, we put disclaimers out against negative reviews that may be untrue. We might also think about whether we want to be held responsible for the actions of our coachees on public forums and with each other.
Having put so much time and effort into our coaching businesses, we must be thorough with our contracts to uphold our rights and responsibilities in the coach-client relationship. While there’s no one way to create the perfect agreement, successful contracts have some important components in common.
What to include in coaching contracts
Think of the coaching contract as an informational document for both parties, and as a starting point for planning and refining the relationship. But remember, multiple elements in the contract are non-negotiable, and these are the ones that relate to protecting the business and assets.
Start the contract by identifying the parties involved. That includes us and the client. After that, consider the following:
- Terms of payment: Clearly include the program rates and refund policies, as well as any preferences for how and when the payments will be handled.
- Length of contract: Determine the agreed-upon duration of the coaching program and provide details about extending or modifying the agreement or cancellation policies.
- Program description: This’ll give our clients an overview of the services we’re providing, including responsibilities from both parties.
- Intellectual property rights: This protects our content and how our clients may or may not use it.
- Disclaimer: What can our coachees expect of the program? Make sure to outline what is and isn’t guaranteed and whether the advice given is medical, financial, legal, or none of the above.
- Other details: This part can vary from coach to coach. For example, we might include sections on scheduling and communications, confidentiality, resolving disputes, and how the contract can be terminated.
While this guide touches on the major topics related to creating a successful coaching contract, it’s important to adapt the contract to our specific business needs and client experience. For example, an online business might function very differently from one where the coach and coachee meet in person, and group clients will have different needs from one-on-one clients.
When do you sign your coaching contract?
Once we’ve established the coach-client relationship and are ready to move forward with the coaching process, we set a payment plan, the number of sessions included, limitation of liability, and what’s considered confidential information — the entire agreement — before we can start with coaching sessions.
Once this contract goes to the client, request that they review and sign it within a certain timeframe. Be aware of the client’s needs and prepared to field any questions or clarify details. Leave some room for revisions, depending on the specific client relationship, but be mindful of the clauses that are non-negotiable.
Once both parties are happy with the agreement, it’s time to sign the contract. After this, follow up by sending an invoice and start coaching once the payment is complete.
Coaching contract templates and examples
Coaching contracts serve as legal documents in a court of law and also provide details on the terms of our relationship. Being thorough with this document saves us from miscommunications and headaches. It also protects our business, intellectual property rights, allows confidentiality, and guards against defamatory statements.
Need some help getting started with creating a comprehensive contract for your coaching business? We’ve got you covered with these sample agreements and coaching contract templates verified by our lawyers.