Client Coaching Agreement Terms – Must Haves vs. Nice to Haves

by Lisa Sigman | Business

Hey Coach!  You launched your business.  You are networking, marketing and getting your name out there.  You’re ready to start signing on clients, so it is time to protect what you are building and create your client agreement. 

Coaching Agreement Information Overload

You have gotten so much advice, seen so many templates, and are overwhelmed with figuring out what you are supposed to have in your coaching agreement. To help demystify the common terms of a coaching contract, so you can sift through all that information, here’s a breakdown of what you MUST have in your agreement (or contract, if you prefer) and some items that would be NICE to have.

The “Must Have” and “Nice to Have” Coaching Agreement Terms

Whether you are alife coachbusiness coachhealth coach, or any other type of coach, these are the terms you must have and would be nice to have in your coaching agreement.

The Parties – A Must.

Who is entering into the coaching agreement?  Is the coaching client an individual or a business entity?  You must clearly indicate who is a party to the client agreement, including yourself.  Which means identifying yourself correctly (as an individual or business entity, depending on how your business is organized.)

Services – A Must

Here, you can either clearly define your services and/or package, or you can refer your client to an attached Scope of Work (or Scope of Services) that describes the services/package and fee(s).  We usually suggest using a Scope of Work if you offer different kinds of services- allowing you to edit only the attachment on a client-by-client basis.

Coaching Practice Description – Nice to have. 

You don’t need to, but a brief description of the type of coaching service(s) you perform, or offer is a nice way to orient the reader of the coaching agreement to the terms to follow.

The Coaching Relationship and Responsibilities- A Must

This section can be a list that covers the following:

  • Coaching Relationship Generally. Such as, indicating that you are a contractor, not an employee.
  • Scope of Coaching.
  • Scheduling, Payment and Assignments.
  • Nice to have – For life, wellness, nutrition, health or similar types of coaches, you may want to include a section discussing the Client’s responsibility for their own well-being.
  • Nice to have – Consider including a section that further defines the professional-client relationship, including what coaching with you is designed to do, and what it is not designed to do.

Scheduling – A Must

Here you would clearly explain how sessions are scheduled, by whom, what notice is needed for cancellation and rescheduling, and any other policies you may have regarding scheduling.

Term and Termination – A Must

Here you will detail how long your agreement lasts as well as your policies surrounding discontinuation of coaching.  This may include reasons that the client or you can terminate and the consequences of such a cancellation.  

Compensation or Fees – A Must. 

You can state your fees here or, if you are using an attached Scope of Services, you can refer to the “fee schedule” in the Scope of Services.

Confidentiality – A Must

This section can protect both you and your coaching client.  Confidential Information should be defined, and the Parties should agree to maintain each other’s Confidential Information.

Intellectual Property/License – A Must (maybe)

If you have any intellectual property related to your coaching program or services (such a handbook you created, for example), you will need to include a section to address your ownership of this intellectual property and the limits on the Client’s use of it.

Media Release – Nice to Have

If you would like to be able to use images of your client(s) in your marketing or on your website, this is where you get their permission.

Disclaimers – Nice to Have

Depending on the type of coach you are, the services you offer, and the type of clients you work with, you may want to include appropriate disclaimers (i.e., statements where you make it clear you aren’t providing certain information, performing certain actions or that client should rely on the program in lieu of other professional services).

The “Legalese.” 

The following terms are often called “boilerplate” clauses.  Commonly they can be found in most contracts or agreements in some variation.  While a coaching contract won’t be unenforceable without these terms, including them will make enforcement easier and create even more protection for you and your caching business.

  1. Limitation of Liability. This section limits your liability if you were to ever owe the client damages in a lawsuit.  You can set the limit to what makes the most sense for you and your practice – commonly the limit is in relation to fees paid by the Client or an insurance pay-out.
  2. Warranties. Often seen in agreements in ALL CAPS, this section basically states that you are not making any promises or guarantees.
  3. Entire Agreement. This states that everything in the agreement, including any attachments, is the entirety of the agreement, and nothing that came before the agreement was signed is included.
  4. Partial Invalidity. This is a clause that basically says if one clause is invalid, the other parts of the agreement are still valid, rather than the whole contract being void.
  5. Governing Law & Venue. This section allows you to decide what laws apply to the interpretation and enforcement of the Agreement and what court system must be used – typically you will pick your state for “home court advantage.”

There you have it. You may certainly have more than what is contained above, but these are the fundamentals to any solid coaching contract.  So, whether you are attempting to create your own agreement, are using a DIY template, or hire an attorney to custom draft your coaching contract, you now know what terms to think about and look for.

Lisa Sigman
Co Founder at In The Know Legal

Lisa Sigman, is a veteran business attorney and Co-founder of In The Know Legal, an online source for DIY templates for coaches - offering attorney drafted and guided DIY legal templates for all coaching practices.

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