If you are selling your services as coaching packages, instead of per-month or per-session – CONGRATS!!
Then, you would also run into this question – what to do after a client “graduates” from my 3-, 4- or 6-month program?
The client is happy with the results, and wants to have you around so she can continue to make progress and keep up the good work. But from your perspective as a coach, she doesn’t need the intensity of another 3-, 4- or 6-month program.
You want to have “Maintenance Coaching Program” in place so you can continue to support this client (and set up a recurring stream of revenue!)
A maintenance program can be very simple, e.g. 1 or 2 coaching calls a month, plus limited email support in between sessions. However, there are ways to “bring it up” to the client and set it up so you increase client commitment while maintaining healthy boundaries.
Maintenance program should only be available to clients who have worked with you in your long-term programs (I would say, 3 months or up.) I make mine available for these clients only within 1 week of finishing their programs – think about it, if they go away for a year and then come back with a fresh load of problems, it is essentially starting from scratch and the format of “maintenance program” will not benefit her nor you.
You may also want to set up rules for how long or often a maintenance client can “take a break” – again, it would not benefit either of you if she is one month on and one month off.
Plus, making it available only for while they are working with you makes it easier for them to say “yes” as they are in the middle of experiencing the results. The limited time frame also adds urgency and encourage your clients to make a decision.
Limited Email Support
Some clients may thing they can talk with you less but “make up for it” (translate, taking advantage of you) but sending you loooong emails and asking a load of questions. Make it clear that you will provide short answers and pointers in your email support, but for anything that requires a conversation or a more extensive explanation (when you find yourself writing an 8-paragraph reply), you will let her know that she can bring it up in the next coaching session.
Set Up Recurring Payment
To make it easy for everyone, set it up as a recurring payment. You can offer a monthly option, and a 3-month option. You can entice higher commitment through a 3-month billing cycle by (1) making it a better deal – e.g. $200 monthly, or $500 every 3 months; and (2) if the client chooses the 3-month billing cycle option, she can lock in the current rate for the next 12 months.
Tip: make sure the client understands that it is set up as a recurring payment. For the 3-month option, you may want to suggest that they mark the next billing date on their calendar to avoid any “surprises”.
How: if you use a merchant service, you can set up recurring payment with your clients’ credit card. If you use PayPal (free basic merchant account), you can go to create a payment button, choose “subscription”, enter dollar amount, billing frequency etc. and send the link to your client to set up the payment.
How To “Bring It Up” To the Client
Don’t wait till the last session!! I usually leave 2-3 sessions for this conversation to unfold. I would take stock of what has been achieved, and what the client still needs to work on to get a clear picture of what “next step” is most supportive for her.
You can mention that you have 2-3 sessions left in this program, and you want to ask her how you can best support going forward. I normally ask my clients to think about it and share her thoughts in the next session, so we don’t take up our session time for her to “think it through.” In the last or second to last session, you can then ask how she would like to be supported on an on-going basis (if you, as a coach, determines that she doesn’t need another “full-on” program). If she is interested in continuing the work on a “dialed back” intensity, then introduce the maintenance program and tell her the deadline she has for signing up.
Establish Healthy Boundary
Establish a set of policy that you apply to all maintenance clients so you can confidently uphold a healthy boundary. Rules like ending sessions on time, or 24-hour cancellation policy etc. that are common to programs may get “pushed” at times and you have the responsibility to maintain a healthy boundary.