One of my clients recently asked me if she should offer a guarantee on her 1-1 coaching services.
When I work with coaches who offer information products or group coaching programs I definitely recommend offering a guarantee. It’s smart business and standard practice to take away the risk for the potential customer of your product or program.
With 1-1 coaching it’s a little more tricky…
If you offer a guarantee during the enrollment process for your 1-1 coaching there are PROs and CONs…
=> Your guarantee can help people who might not otherwise sign up for your coaching say YES, because you are taking all the risk. If after the first month of coaching, they don’t think it’s exactly what they want and need, you’ll give a full refund.
=> It’s a bold way to show potential clients that you are serious.
=> The best coaching clients are the ones who are serious, focused and committed. If they feel like they have a back-door way out, they may not show up as fully as they would without the guarantee.
=> To be blunt, it sucks when you have to issue a refund for 1-1 coaching services. Not only has the time and energy that you’ve invested in that client gone down the tubes, it can also wreck havoc on your self confidence.
In general, I see very few coaches highlighting a guarantee on their website or as part of their standard policies and procedures. (Unlike selling an information product, where the 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back is very common.)
Instead, if a guarantee is offered, it tends to be extended verbally during the client enrollment process.
This week I attended the inaugural meeting of the Coaching Speaker Association, created by Ted McGrath. It was an amazing event and I was humbled to be in the room with people like John Assaraf, Loral Langmeier, Alex Mandossian, Ben Croft, folks from Brian Tracey International, Peak Potentials, Mind Movies and so many others.
Anyway, at the event I met a veteran leadership coach from Texas named Tim, who primarily works with C-Suite Executives and their teams. He’s been coaching nearly 20 years and despite his humble nature, it was crystal clear that he is an incredibly gifted and talented coach who has complete confidence in his coaching and other services (like 360 assessments). Tim not only offers a satisfaction guarantee, he guarantees the company will see a tangible ROI on their coaching investment as well.
I was so impressed with Tim, that I asked if he would be a guest expert on one of my upcoming Group Coaching Success Club Calls. He said YES, so we’ll be sure to ask him more about his guarantee policy then.
I’m curious what you think about this topic and if you offer a guarantee on your coaching.
Please post your comments and thoughts below. I’m so interested to hear what you have to say about this.
Thanks for being part of the C&GR Community. I appreciate you!
Thanks Michelle, the advice is still good. I wrote a lengthy comment and the internet dropped out. But part of my comment was that in terms of a client’s perspective I like the guideline from the Australian government agency overseeing our Consumer protection law, and with explicit reference to professional services (e.g. coaching):
“You can ask a business for your preference of a free repair, replacement or refund, but you are not always entitled to one. For example, the consumer guarantees do not apply if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it.”
Coaching guarantees… that’s a good question! Results are relative!
When people do what I tell them to do as a nutritional consultant, I get the results that the client asked for. However, how can I give them a guarantee when they have to do the work?! I can’t make them do the work and its the work that guarantees results… work on the wrong program won’t get the results… but my support can be so thorough and good that they want to and do pretty much stick to our agreement…So I make them follow-up with emails telling me their progress and I ask them at every step of the way if they are happy with the results so far. If there is any problem, I address it when it first pops up. And I always reinforce their happiness by repeating their words throughout my support sessions. Because of this, there is no reason to ever have an unhappy client. I’ve never had anyone not get success from my full program. So I guess I could offer a guarantee on that basis…. But I wouldn’t know how to guarantee results from a different form of coaching.
I would offer a guarantee with information products, but I don’t think offering one with 1 to 1 coaching is a good idea.
I offer a guarantee during the initial discovery session that if, I feel they have done everything they’ve agreed to and if they honestly feel they’ve given the process 100% as I have, I will refund their investment. I let them know I expect to have a conversation about the whys and hows before I do and that seems to work.
I think it’s important to let them know our coaching relationship is a partnership and that I’m unwilling to do all the work from the get go.
3P Holistic Solutions
I make a promise vs. giving a guarantee. As my coach says, “If is was just me and the work, I could guarantee the results. But because we are working with an unknown (you and your reactions) I can’t guarantee anything. I can, however, make you powerful promises about our work together.” I have used this approach for 22 years. It works. AND I have refunded difficult clients their money back as a way to have them move on. Thanks…
I was curious about this question, so I searched it on Google and stumbled across this page.
I’d love to hear what was discussed with Tim in your group coaching success club call (if you did end up having him on there).
Thanks for this discussion, it’s really helpful.
It takes guts to offer a money back guarantee. It takes even more guts to demand a performance requirement if your client wants their money back.
That is the nature of a contract, both parties agree to perform. Just be very clear on the behaviors you contract and the results that will produce. If you can’t guarantee that, then change your contract so that you can offer a money back guarantee with confidence.
I agree with you. I do not give a guarantee to my clients. However, I let my clients know in the beginning. what Coaching is and what it is not. They are made aware that my job as a Coach is to partner with them in helping them to find solutions to obtaining their goals, identifying problems and methods for solving them. My Job as a Coach is not to tell my clients how to reach goals or solve problems, but to help them come to positive solutions for themselves.
Hi Michelle, I do not offer money back guarantee. However, I offer up to three free sessions if the client needs it. I think that offering money back is telling the clients that they can be lazy and get their money back. My 1:1 program is action packed and it is up to the client to do the work. I offer 30 minutes free discovery session before taking on any client. This is to find out what the client is looking to accomplish and if my program is a fit for the client. I will not enroll you if I think you are not enthusiastic about working hard in achieving success. I also offer two payment options so that clients who are not sure they would complete the training could choose pay as you go and stop when they think they cannot continue.
Thus far I havent offer guarantees on my 1-1s and do require 1-4 months advanced payment. I always call the client for their session as opposed to having them call me. Also I always e-mail the client a call focus form a few days prior to our session. This all seems to work for me. I wonder what your thinking is about calling the client as opposed to having them call me??
I like your proactive approach mate.
Hi Dick – I think it’s fine if you want to call the client. I remember Sandy Vilas – CoachU CEO – saying that back in the day when he was coaching something like 80 clients/week he called the client and the reason was to be able stay on track timing-wise with so many back-to-back clients. -Michelle
Michelle, thanks for posing such a great question! I think that, while this “money back guarantee” may appeal to some authentic clients who are seeking help or to improve; it can also, unfortunately, attract some persons who really don’t have the best intentions (and I won’t elaborate on those types of individuals). However, I say that, EVERY client is not a perfect fit and vice versa.
In my practice, a service refund is not offered because although my clients can expect 100% from me, I make it clear that, results are also contingent upon the client’s participation, openness, and accountability. With a current 100% satisfaction rating from previous clients, I refer potential clients to my websites, so that they might view testimonials of the positive results that my programs offer, and have helped others to accomplish. I indicate that coaching is a TEAM EFFORT, and if they too are willing to bring their best efforts, they can be the next success story!
I’d rather focus on the value of discovery and/or accomplishment to help people overcome their objections than take on all the risk myself… it actually flies in the face of my coaching philosophy because I say, “I hold you capable and accountable” it’s incongruent for me to follow up with “I’ll take on all the risk.”
Hi Michelle, I agree, in fact I never give the traditional “free 1st meeting” stuff either. When a cleint pays they are getting my IP my own techniques. if you offer a refund on that you’d be working for free. And its not a good look either. I also agree selling some (but not all) products could have a gurantee, but again why sell your brains for free to a serial refunder? or to a person who may just want to copy it and use it in their coaching business. Maybe in your part of the world its different, but in Australia most will agree that selling your unique intelectual property for free is dumb.
from David in Sydney.