Creating Simplicity Through Coaching Systems
No matter how far along you are in your coaching career, this is a great time to hit the pause button and take a look at how the systems you have in place are working for you. If you’re willing to learn from my experience, I can almost guarantee you’ll save hours of time each month, freeing you to be more present and engaged in your coaching life and certainly in your personal life!
In a world where we’re working as solopreneurs, systems become like helpful colleagues whom you can rely on to support every aspect of your practice. In this post, we’ll explore systems for three aspects of your productivity: organizing, billing and self-care.
What is a system?
/?sist?m/: A set of connected things forming a complex whole.
(Sounds like the way we might view a client, right?)
Organizing your clients
I remember the day I signed on my 10th client, sitting in the conference room after she left the office. I was thrilled at how quickly my business was growing, but feeling like I just couldn’t handle it. The amount of time I was spending organizing, tracking, marketing, filing and billing for my clients far exceeded the hours I was actually serving my clients. My note-taking skills back then were sub-par and my memory simply couldn’t remember every important nuance of prior sessions.
It was then that I began to research each and every online coaching software out there. There are a number of them to choose from (Satori, Shore, Coachlogix, etc) - you can just Google ”coaching software” to see them all. Without a doubt, my absolute favorite is Coach Accountable. John, the owner and founder, just came out with Version 3, which now includes the ability for free branding on your site. This allows your portal to be completely personalized with your colors, your logo, etc. Coach Accountable provides a very detailed file for each client, has sections for your worksheets, action items, metrics, session notes and courses.
Courses are brilliant for two reasons:
You can create a course specific to your client of a group of clients (tracking sales, weight loss, mood, chapters written, etc.).
Without your client knowing it, you can schedule messages and action items and worksheets to be delivered at a later date. For example, you can seamlessly drop a message to wish them luck at an important meeting, remind them about a deadline they mentioned during a conversation or let them know you’re thinking of them and have it delivered to them in the future. I’ll occasionally drop in an article that I think they’d love and time it accordingly for the season or day of the week. With all my clients, I help them to bookend their weeks by having “The Week Ahead” and “The Week in Review” worksheets sent each and every week. They love it.
Coach Accountable also allows your client to schedule their sessions online. You get a text to accept or reject and boom, it uploads your sessions into your calendar, both within the system and in whatever online calendar you might use.
You can use this link to get a 30-day free trial if you are interested in trying it out. And do your homework by looking at other systems. This is the one I’d be lost without, but I would suggest you play around with it and see if it’s for you.
Billing nightmares (and an optimal solution)
I used to charge the entire coaching fee up front, or worse case, break it into two payments. One of my big non-negotiables is having to ask my clients where my payment is, so getting it all up front avoids any conversations about money, until it’s time to renew. However, I realized I was much more comfortable, psychologically, receiving monthly payments.
To avoid having to invoice my client every single month, I had them fill out a secure credit card form and I’d run the payments each month, with their permission, of course. This is not optimal! It takes time and energy away from coaching and enjoying life, and inevitably every few months a client didn’t recognize the charge, creating a dispute between their credit card company and my bank. Not good!
One great solution for this is automatic billing or “subscription billing.” Your client enters their credit card one time and the rest is seamless. Most systems will allow you to set this up. I’m old school and use PayPal. There is a service fee associated with it, which I used to pass along to my client. Now, I absorb it, I personally feel that it’s a good business practice.
Tip: If you have a new client and want to spread the payments out over time, have a larger upfront fee the first month. This will cover you if your client goes AWOL.
If you’re anything like me, coaching consumes a ton of your time. Hopefully the majority of that time is being engaged in helping others get where they want to go, but there’s also so much to learn, create and experience and that requires quiet time and solitude.
It's essential to have systems that keep your energy and passion for your calling balanced. Rituals are the gifts you can give yourself in order to feel present and connected. Just as you schedule sessions for you clients, you’ve got to schedule your own personal practices and fun time. My self-care ritual is held on Sundays. I sit down for my weekly “board meeting” (party of one) and plan out my workouts, yoga classes, Pilates classes, movies, museums, studying, email review, blog writing, etc.
I find that mornings are a fantastic time to have your self-care rituals (writing, meditation, yoga, for me), but any time of day will do, as long as you make it happen. I love helping friends and clients commit to a ritual schedule and I have every single client do it, no matter how Type A they are.
I am finally controlling my coaching practice rather than allowing it to control me. I work with my clients (currently 22 of them) only three days a week, and earn a 6-figure income doing it. I owe this level of success to taking care of myself, my clients and my income to the best of my ability, and couldn’t do it without these systems to help me. They indeed contribute to the complex whole of a coaching lifestyle.
About Geraldine Anathan
Geraldine (Jerry) Anathan has been coaching other coaches and entreprenuers in NYC and nationally since 2011, and also owns a yoga center in beautiful Provincetown, MA. She loves skiing, swimming, and scary films. Connect with Geraldine through her website, Inner Guru Coaching.
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