Lessons I've Learned From Working 1:1 With Clients
I had my very first coaching client back in September 2014, and I remember just about every detail of that first session. How nervous I was, the mistakes I made, how excited my client was at the end of it. It’s been over 2 years now of having the opportunity to work 1:1 with such amazing, driven women and I am so grateful for it.
If you’re new to the coaching world, I’m happy to share with you today some of the lessons I’ve learned from working 1:1 with my clientele. I encourage you to take what resonates with you and apply it to your own coaching practice.
- Set boundaries and stick with 'em!
The BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned from working 1:1 with clients for the past 2 years is that it’s only fun and fulfilling for BOTH parties if you’re a great match. I’ve worked with women whom I absolutely adore and are such a pleasure to work with. I’ve also worked with women whose personality, values and desires didn’t align with those of myself or business. Let me tell you, it’s not worth it to put so much love and energy into a business if you’re not going to enjoy the work you do in it.
When I have 1:1 clients who are truly my ideal clients (we share similar values, desires, drive, vibration, etc.), I have loads of fun during our sessions and online support convos. I look forward to our time together, and the transformations are wonderful. I no longer accept clients who don’t fit the description of my ideal client, but I have in the past. And when I did, I came to view our sessions as a chore, was stressed out, exhausted, and on one occasion on the verge of tears for just dreading that I still had X amount of sessions left with this client.
To paint a picture for you – there was one client I had in the beginning of my entrepreneurship (let’s call her “Lola”) who was totally not my ideal client. The worst part was, I knew this and still decided to work with her. Lola and I had been communicating via Facebook Messenger and email for about a month before a Discovery Call was finally booked. These communications back and forth were mainly about my services and what I could do to help Lola’s situation.
During our Discovery Call, my gut kept telling me Lola was not my ideal client. My gut was cautioning “V, this girl needs a mindset coach stat!” – I even mentioned that on our call but Lola said she couldn’t afford both. So, I said I would accept her as a client and we got started. You see, I’m an emotional person and have a tendency to take on the emotions of others as my own, which means I need clients who already come from a place of high vibration and have a primarily positive mindset. On a scale from 1-10, Lola was probably at a -5 with her mindset.
She rarely did the work I recommended, or followed through on her goals. She would cancel sessions at the absolute last minute or not show up at all. I would spend 2+ hours most days answering all her questions between sessions. I eventually became so low vibe before and after our sessions together that my husband told me no money is worth feeling how I was. Near the end, I offered to refund Lola the investment for her remaining sessions. She said there was no point and never did end up scheduling her final sessions. After Lola, I never had a bad experience with a client again – because I set boundaries and stuck with them.
The lessons here:
(a) Set boundaries with your time - get your potential client on the phone ASAP rather than back and forth messaging re: your services. You can accomplish so much more in a shorter time frame by simply getting on the phone and talking to each other.
(b) Be specific and direct with your potential client when it comes to what qualifies as email support between sessions. I highly recommend you put in writing in the Terms of Service and/or contract that email support between sessions will be limited to X amount of minutes per day. I see many entrepreneurs offer “unlimited” and “24/7” support – beware that this vague description could have you spending 2+ hours each day with one client. Can you imagine if every client did that? You wouldn’t have time to work on anything else!
For me personally, I cap it at 15 minutes per day of support between sessions. I communicate with my clients that if they desire a large chunk of extra support or guidance at any time, they can book another paid session with me prior to our next scheduled appointment. Don’t be shy in setting boundaries when it comes to extra support.
(c) No amount of money is worth your happiness. Set boundaries with the type of clients you work with – only choose the ones who truly light you up and are willing to do the work required of them. Make a checklist of all the qualities you desire of your ideal client and when hosting a Discovery Call, ensure all items are checked off before accepting a new client into your coaching practice.
Be a leader, but let your client take lead.
Although I offer a recommended program outline for my 1:1 coaching, I leave it up to my client whether we follow through with it. I do this because in coaching, it’s important that you create a safe space where your client feels that she is being seen and heard. This means that if something’s on your client’s mind, she’s not going to have the focus to listen and apply what you teach her until her worries and questions are attended to first.
You need to look at what her desired outcome of her session is - only then will you know how to deliver the support she's looking for so that when you ask her at the end of the hour "Did you get what you desired from today's session?", her answer will always be "Yes, and more!".
The best way I've found to accomplish this is by making it mandatory that your clients complete a pre-session form at least 24 hours before your scheduled session. Having this form completed beforehand gives you enough of a head's up into what's going on with your client since you last spoke.
You'll be able to get a sense of where her mindset is and what level of drive she has. Knowing this will help to open any necessary conversations surrounding fear, roadblocks, struggles, etc. so that transformation and breakthroughs can take place.
If you want to take it a step further, encourage your clients to complete a post-session form after each session. Having a form like this in place helps to motivate your clients to take responsibility for what they've committed to accomplishing this week.
Be a leader, but allow space for your clients to take lead - this will help them to not become so dependent on you that once your sessions are complete they feel lost all over again. Shape them into a confident powerhouse.
Allow enough time to complete assignments/homework.
In 2016 I struggled with keeping my clients on a strict program timeline. Even though I was selling 3 month coaching packages, at the end of the year I had so many client sessions I had to complete because I was too lenient on the timeline. For instance, I had a 3 month program that lasted 10 months!
I took this opportunity to look at the structure of my coaching packages and why this was happening. Part of it goes back to #1 above - I had set boundaries, but I wasn't sticking to them in terms of completing sessions each week. Another part was I realized my clients needed more time to complete the tasks I was asking of them. So, I revamped my 1:1 coaching to 1 session every 2 weeks. This allowed ample time for my clients to complete their 'homework' without feeling rushed.
Don't take on more clients than you can handle.
There are some coaches out there who take on 27+ clients a month. To me, that's insane. Because of my desired lifestyle, I can't comfortably take on more than 6 clients at a time. I remember there was a day I had 5 sessions back to back - by the time I got to my final session, I was exhausted!
I'll say it again, no amount of money is worth your happiness. Know your limit. Your clients are paying good money to work with you - you owe them 100% of your best self, and you can't do that if you're burnt out.
Never underestimate the power of excellent customer service.
One thing I've learned is how much going that step above can really create a magical and welcoming experience for your client. Be aware of how your client feels throughout the entire journey with you - from potential client, to enrolled client, to returning client.
My recommendations to achieve this include:
(a) Always be high-vibe when you communicate with your client, whether that's on the telephone, Skype or via email. Your vibe is passed onto your client and she can tell when you're not in your zone.
(b) Send your client an informative Welcome Packet upon investing in your services. This welcome packet can include things such as how to communicate with you, schedule sessions, what's expected of your clients, etc. I have an awesome blog post for you on Welcome Packets HERE.
(c) Tailor your program to your clients' needs. At the end of my coaching sessions, I always include a recorded audio of our session so my client has the opportunity to go back and listen to our discussion. I also include a custom Action Plan that I create after each session for that specific client - I never re-use Action Plans. I've found that my clients love these added luxuries and they help create a more rewarding and valuable experience.
(d) Show your client you care. If a client hasn't taken advantage of email support between sessions, I like to send a follow-up email to check in and ensure she's on the right track and doesn't have any questions. Doing this really helps to show your client that they're on your mind and you desire them to succeed.
I also like to make note of a client's birthday and send them a little something special so they know I care. It's important that you build a solid know-like-trust factor with your clients - you can end up making some great friends, getting awesome referrals, and gaining a lifelong client.
(e) Always end a session on a high note. I encourage you to ask your client at the end of each and every session: "Did you get what you desired from today's session?". Doing so shows your client you care that she's well looked after and is receiving the support she signed up for. The answer to this question should always be positive.
I hope you've enjoyed today's lessons and learned something new. There are of course so many lessons I've experienced along this journey of mine and doing the work I do. The lessons I've shared with you today are the ones I feel the most grateful for and have shaped my coaching practice into what it is now.