The Business Side of Coaching: Building Long-Term Relationships with Clients

Why having long-term relationships with your clients is crucial to your business, and how to develop them.

I started my private coaching business when I finished my collegiate playing career almost three years ago now, and I am still in touch with the second client I ever had on CoachUp. We don’t work together often anymore but still meet occasionally, and we speak frequently. I check in to make sure he is on track and still enjoying the game.

After his first year or so working with me, he referred one of his friends, who has now become my most consistent client, working with me over 30 times over the last two years. And that client recently referred one of his teammates, who I just began working with.

This mini network has shown to me the importance of building a long-term relationship with my clients, even if I am not going to be doing a ton of training sessions with them.

One message from a client through CoachUp almost three years ago has turned into close to 50 training sessions from three separate clients - all of whom I am still in touch with.

The concept of repeat business with existing clients is a standard business practice, but what I have learned and am trying to highlight here is just how significant and important it is in the private coaching business model. Below is how you increase the efficiency (and enjoyment) of your business by emphasizing long-term clientele.

Why Loyal Clients are Important

More Favorable Earnings

Whether you are meeting clients through CoachUp and having fees deducted from your earnings, or acquiring customers on Facebook or other advertising means, you have some sort of cost associated with acquiring that customer.

The more business you can do with the clients you acquire means you have to spend fewer dollars on new client acquisition, because your schedule is already full.

In the below example, when you take the 48 sessions I have done with that one mini network of clients, I end up making about $400 more than if I only did 6 sessions with 8 clients. (This is the CoachUp average for sessions per client.)

Mini Network

Client

Earnings / Session

Sessions

Earnings

Margin

1

$52.80

13

$686.40

88.0%

2

$58.20

32

$1,862.40

97.0%

3

$58.20

3

$174.60

97.0%

 

$56.74

48

$2,723.40

94.6%



8 Clients

Client

Earnings / Session

Sessions

Earnings

Margin

1

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

2

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

3

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

4

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

5

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

6

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

7

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

8

$48.60

6

$291.60

81%

   

48

$2,332.80

81%


More Referrals

One of the reasons I am making more in the example above is that I make my entire rate (minus a 3% credit card processing fee) from clients who were referred to me. Referrals have a cost of acquisition of $0, which help you maintain your margin.

The other great part of getting referrals is that they tend to lead to working with clients who are a great fit for you as a coach, and this creates a cycle of even more long-term relationships.

Think about it - your client is probably going to refer someone who is in the same general location, who understands your personality, coaching style and skill set. They are playing matchmaker between you and one of their teammates or friends. They are not going to refer someone if they don’t think it is a good fit.

Easier Communication/Logistics

We all have tendencies and standard availability within our schedules. I, for example, typically like to do my sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings within a certain radius of my town. You know who else I know likes to do sessions then and there? Someone who I have already done 3-4 sessions with.

Once you get a location and scheduling cadence down with a client, it is much easier to sync up and set up that next session compared to a new client. This decreases the need for back and forth messages and inefficient scheduling.

If scheduling is not ideal, but possible, try not to fall into the trap of thinking the next client will be the perfect client. The grass is not always greener…

How to Develop a Loyal Client

It’s great to understand that loyal clients are the foundation to your coaching business, but better to understand how to develop a loyal client in the first place. Here are a few things I have done that I think have really helped develop a strong relationship with my most loyal clients:

  1. Remember important events and check in.

Know when your athletes playoffs are, or their tryouts for the All-Star team they want to make. Follow up before to make sure they are feeling confident, and check in to see how things went. This demonstrates to both the athlete and parent that you genuinely want them to succeed outside of your training.

  1. Leave good feedback.

Whether it’s written down or verbally after the session, make sure your athlete knows what they can be working on, and what to expect the next time you meet. You’re a coach for a reason, you know what can help - so make sure you communicate that to them. These few minutes can solidify the work you put in for an entire session. Personally, I like writing the feedback down so I can review next time I work with the client as well.

  1. Be early, stay late when you can.

Of course, this isn’t always possible, but if I’m on the field with someone, and don’t have another lesson to rush off to, I am going to go out of my way to go over the allotted time.

Big picture, this is 5-10 minutes of my time. What it signals to my client though, is that I am willing to work to make sure they improve.

Internally, I have a list of things that I want to achieve with each client that I meet. Number one on my list is that I want them to like playing the game of baseball more than they did before they met me. There are a million ways to communicate that this is a priority for you to your client (and their parents) but in my experience, it is the best way to develop a relationship and create a loyal customer who will ultimately benefit your business financially in the long run. It’s a win-win. 


Mike Weisman is on the Coach Engagement Team at CoachUp and doubles as a part-time baseball coach on the CoachUp platform.


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