A coaching contract is one of the most important documents you’ll ever sign in your coaching business! Not only does it legally establish a relationship between coach and client, but it also lays out expectations for both parties as well as how to handle problems that may arise.
We’ve helped a ton of coaches launch their websites online and we always double check to make sure they have all the legal pieces in place they go live. One of the biggest challenges they face is figuring out what to put in their contracts and where to get one from.
In this post, we’re breaking it all down. Let’s dive right in!
But first… a quick disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. If you are considering taking any action on the basis of any content provided on this site, you should consult a lawyer or other professional advisor first.
Table of Contents
- Coaching Contracts 101
- What Should a Coaching Contract Include?
- Coaching Contract FAQs
- Final Thoughts
Coaching Contracts 101
What is a coaching contract?
A coaching contract is an agreement between a coach and a coachee that lays out the terms of their relationship during the coaching process. It should cover all aspects of the working relationship such as payment schedule, the scope of services offered by each party, expectations from both sides with regards to confidentiality or intellectual property rights, and lots more.
But most importantly… it should detail what happens if either party decides not to continue the relationship at the end of the term. We know it’s a sticky conversation, but the last thing anyone wants is an awkward legal situation after they’ve parted ways!
Why Do You Need A Coaching Contract?
You need a coaching contract because it protects both you and the client legally. You should never coach without a contract and if a client is unwilling to sign one, you need to refuse to work with them.
A coaching contract also lets your client know what to expect from you and what your coaching process includes. Remember, if you end up in a legal situation, it’s much harder to rely on a verbal agreement, but a written contract backs up your policies and keeps you safe.
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Pro Tip: Get extra protection as an Limited Liability Corporation (aka LLC)
As a sole proprietor, If someone sues your coaching business they can go after your personal savings or personal property.
An LLC protects you personally from business debts or lawsuits that could occur. Once a coaching business becomes an LLC, it becomes its own entity, and all legalities become separate from the coach.
Becoming an LLC is super easy! We love Zen Business. They have flexible business formation plans that start as low as $49!
Where to Get a Coaching Contract?
No matter if you’re an established or newly emerging coach, there are a number of ways to get a coaching contract.
Please do not copy and paste your coaching contract from an online source. Even if you read it thoroughly and even if they say it’s a “free template”…. this is never ever EVER a good idea. It will not be tailored to your business, it may have mistakes in it, and any changes you make could create discrepancies rendering it confusing or invalid.
So many coaches we talk to have contracts that are copied and pasted from Google. We get it. We totally understand newbie coaches may have limited budgets. But listen up! Trust us when we say… this is the most expensive option.
While you’ll get a free coaching contract, it may cause you more problems than it solves. Here are two better options:
Option 1: Hire a Lawyer
The best option is to have a lawyer draft a tailored, specific coaching contract just for your business. Most likely, the lawyer will sit down with you and learn about your business, your business process, and any issues you’ve had in the past. They will then draft up a contract unique to your coaching business.
Option 2: Purchase a Legal Template
If you are a beginner, and you are not sure yet what you need in your contract, you need to at least cover the basics and protect yourself. We recommend purchasing an existing template for coaching from a lawyer.
Pro Tip – Get a Coaching Contract Template from The Contract Shop
The contract shop provides attorney-prepared contracts for business owners. This will be legally sound but it doesn’t cost as much as getting a lawyer to write one just for your business.
If you decide to go this route, we highly recommend a coaching contract template from The Contract Shop.
- Attorney-prepared and reviewed
- Ready to copy/paste into any coaching platform
- Perfect for all coaches in every nice
- Works for all coaching offers (1:1, groups, retreats, etc.)
What Should a Coaching Contract Include?
There are quite a few things your coaching contract should cover.
Outline Of Services You Provide
Firstly, your contract needs to tell your client what services you do provide (and perhaps clarify which services you don’t offer). Write about your methodology, how you approach clients’ issues and any areas or techniques that you don’t work with.
This will help clients determine quickly whether they want to hire you, and also make sure they don’t have unrealistic expectations about what they will receive.
Payment Plan With Dates
You should explain how quickly you expect to be paid for sessions, with clear examples so that your client can work out whether their finances tally up with their expectations. If you require a deposit, it should be stated in your contract.
You should also cover information about refunds, how quickly they must be requested, and in what circumstances you will offer them. Make your payment information as clear as possible so that clients don’t dispute it later.
Late Fee Clause
Specify what you will do if a client does not pay on time. If there will be an extra charge or an interest rate charged, make sure it is in the contract. This will give them no grounds to complain about being charged extra if they delay paying you.
Don’t assume that clients will simply pay on time; include specifics on what it will cost them if they delay. You may want to charge a flat fee or an increasing rate, but make sure it’s in the contract.
Ensure you have a clause about confidentiality, reassuring your client that you will protect their data and letting them know how you handle personal information. Bear in mind that you may have access to phone numbers, addresses, emails, mobile numbers, and health-sensitive information. Or if you are a financial coach, you may access bookkeeping software and bank statements.
Think about how you are going to ensure this information is kept safe, and reassure your client that you will protect it, respecting their right to confidentiality with their coach.
Intellectual Property Clause
As a coach, you may have teaching materials that you offer to your clients. Make sure that they cannot just make these available for free online. Your methods and approach have been created by you, and you will have to put time into your resources, so you own them!
Other coaches may also pick up on your material and start using it themselves, so write a clause that protects your methods and your materials. It should cover the circumstances in which the client is allowed to use the products, and what they are prohibited from doing with them.
Limit of Liability Clause
You need a clause that limits your liability as well. This will limit the amount of money you will end up owing if you do get into legal difficulties with a client (either because they sue you, or because they refuse to pay you).
This part of your contract needs to be legally binding and hold up in court, so you may wish to have a lawyer look over just this section. While this may cost money upfront, it could save you from a lot of legal problems later.
Disclaimer And Release
Your disclaimer should remind the customer that you are human, not magical, and you cannot guarantee success for them, especially if they don’t undertake their side of the agreement.
Coaching clients should be reminded of their responsibilities in the disclaimer section, which the coach can then use if something goes awry. Make sure your disclaimer covers your duties and your customers’ duties so you protect yourself from potential lawsuits.
These are just a few things that we believe every coach should have in their coaching contract. There are other sections that your lawyer will include as well.
Coaching Contract FAQs
How much should I charge for coaching?
Around $150 is the average cost of a coaching hour. It also depends on your coaching niche. A life coach charges about $200 per hour, depending on their scope of work. Executive coaches charge around $300 per hour.
How do you end a coaching contract?
If you need to end a coaching contract with a client who has reached their goals OR has not been keeping up their end of the bargain, it is best to talk with them around 30 days before they are due for another session.
Explain why you feel the relationship is ready to end and let them know why it’s time to move end the relationship. This should include progress notes and any other documentation.
Finally, if possible, recommend another coach to them, especially if they have outgrown you or if they aren’t a good fit for your methodologies. If you have a coaching contract in place, this should be a smooth transition.
As you can see, having a good coaching contract can not only protect you legally but also manages the expectations of your clients. Communication is the foundation of coaching, so it’s important to not just send the contract over for signature, but to also go through the contract with the client so there are no issues.
If you need a coaching contract, we highly recommend hiring a lawyer or purchasing a legal template from The Contract Shop.
We’d love to hear from you! Do you have a coaching contract? Where did you get it from? And have you ever had to use it in a coaching relationship?