Why I Don’t Recommend Coaching Packages (+ What I Do Instead)
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
~ Sara Blakely
In this piece, I’m going to talk about coaching packages, why I don’t do them or recommend them and what I do instead. If you’re a coach, healer or teacher the approach I’m going to share might be a useful one to explore for your business.
Let me start by sharing my experience. If we rewind just a couple of years, I was firmly in what I call the feast and famine phase of my business journey. I was primarily offering 1:1 coaching packages and only getting a new client every month or so. Or sometimes, like buses a flurry of clients for ages and then nothing for weeks or months. I followed all of the mainstream advice and offered a variety of ways to work with me 1:1, ranging from single intensive sessions up to a 6-month deep dive package. In the middle was my Soulful Starter 3-Month Package. That package cost 2200 Euros (approx. 2500 USD). Nearly always people paid in installments, month 1–1000€, month 2–700€ and month 3 — €500€. If clients overlapped it was great and felt a bit like I had sustainable recurring income.
Finding an alternative to packages
The problem was that new clients were hard to come by, which meant that some months were okay financially and others were dire. I had never considered that the package format could be part of the problem as I had never seen any other alternative talked about online. That is until I discovered the work of George Kao. At that time (circa 2018), he was offering coaching on a subscription basis, you paid an affordable monthly fee for 2 coaching sessions a month and could cancel anytime. I was blown away by this way of offering coaching.
Everything (well nearly everything) in me wanted to implement it in my business right away, but a small niggling voice of fear stopped me. I thought about moving to the subscription model for a good year before I started to implement a behind the scenes version of it. Basically, when clients on my 3-month package (because nobody enrolled for my 6-month package…ever!), came to the end of our time together, I would offer them the option of going on to do what I called “continue coaching”.
This was a 300€ a month subscription for the same two sessions a month but was a significant drop in price for the client. After introducing continuation coaching, every single package client I offered the option of it to said yes. I couldn’t believe it! It seemed that people really liked the lower price point and monthly subscription model.
It still took me another year to introduce the subscription model as my only way of doing 1:1. I’m not sure what my fear was, but I think the fact that it was such a reduction of my fees and aside from George, I’d never seen anyone else do it that I constantly questioned whether or not I was making a huge mistake. Eventually, I bit the bullet and did away with my premium priced packages and embraced the subscription model wholeheartedly. I can safely say that it’s been hands down one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.
Suddenly, it became 100 times easier to sign up new clients. Rather than a handful of clients, I now consistently work with 15+ clients at any one time. The subscription model is an easy yes for most people and so I rarely have people say no once they’ve got on a work with me call. There are several reasons I think the subscription model has worked so well for me.
Why the subscription model works
It’s more affordable than a premium priced package, making it far more accessible for people. I think there is something about seeing a 400€ a month price tag that feels easier to swallow than a 2200€ price tag.
Given that there is no set end date, it doesn’t place a burden on myself or the client to achieve results in an arbitrary time frame like 3 months. I do ask that people commit to a minimum of 3 months so that some traction is possible, but after that, they get to cancel whenever they want.
Typically clients stay with me between 6–12 months with several clients going well beyond the 1 year mark. I truly believe that the subscription model empowers the client to decide when they are ready to end the coaching relationship, rather than feeling forced to end too soon because renewing is too costly.
Because of the price, the way it’s structured and the fact that clients tend to work with me for much longer, tangible results are much more likely, meaning that I get more word of mouth referrals and therefore more glowing reviews.
Given the success I’ve had with the subscription model, it’s something I now teach to my clients, many of whom have had similar successes. I want to share with you now a few of the logistics so that if you feel called to implement the subscription model in your business,
Eliminate other options.
Don’t add the subscription model in amongst other 1:1 offerings, this can be tricky for some people who feel that they want to give their would-be clients as much choice as possible but in my experience, having one clear way to work with me is one of the reasons, it’s been so successful. Remember a confused mind says no so a simple offering is usually a far easier sell than a suite of options that can cause confusion in the buyer’s mind.
Use a recurring payment system.
I recommend Paypal’s subscription option. It’s quick and easy to set up and means the amount is taken from your client each month, without the need for invoices or payment requests, much like other subscriptions might work.
I set it up as a button, but rather than have it as a button on my site, I get the link, which is a bit long and unsightly, so I pop it into bit.ly to get a nicer looking link and simply send these to people in an email after we’ve agreed to work together.
Some people who have tried to implement this model have mistakenly set it up just for the 3 month minimum commitment period, don’t do this. Simply state up front that the subscription runs until either the coach or client cancels it.
Ask for a notice period.
I ask for 30 days notice so that I have time to refill the spot. However, often clients don’t give this notice and while I do have a contract this is not something I would ever enforce. It doesn’t feel good to me to make people pay for a service they no longer want, need or can afford. However, saying up front that you would like at least 30 days notice before terminating the subscription is helpful.
Set a minimum commitment time frame.
The beauty of the subscription model is that the client can cancel anytime, but without a minimum commitment you run the risk of people quitting before your work together has had a chance to have any impact at all. You don’t have to use the 3 month mark like I do, but take some time to consider what feels like a good minimum commitment to you. Be mindful not to make it too long. I think the 3-month mark is good because it doesn’t feel too overwhelming for the client but it’s long enough for people to see the value in what I do and then stay on far longer.
I hope this gives you enough to consider using the subscription model in your business. If so, let me know in the comments.
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