If you’ve gained expertise in a particular industry and are looking to start a business as a coach in that industry, such as a business coach, fitness coach, career coach, life coach, executive coach, performance coach, relationship coach, health coach, wealth coach (to name a few), it’s vital you protect your business by having comprehensive Coaching Terms and Conditions in place between you and your clients.
These terms and conditions should also include disclaimers and waivers to limit your liability, ensure your clients know what they are responsible for and what you are not responsible for, that they are aware of their obligations and minimise the chance of issues arising down the track.
The fundamental purpose of setting out your terms and conditions clearly in writing means that there can be no misunderstandings down the track, at least minimised as much as possible. If you don’t have these in place, the obligation falls on you to explain why you are not liable. That can be extremely tough at Law without complying with your legal obligations.
Our lawyers have a significant amount of experience drafting Terms and Conditions and other legal agreements for the coaching industry. Contact us today or keep on reading for more information on the key terms to consider including in your coaching terms and conditions
Having crystal clear payment terms on how you expect to be paid for your service there can be little room for error or misinterpretation on the part of your clients. Some questions you need to think about including in your Terms could be:
How will you charge for your services? Will you require payment in advance or in arrears? Or will you offer a coaching package with a certain number of sessions? How will you charge for the coaching sessions? Package ad hoc?
If you have international clients, it’s worth including in your Terms that you only accept payment in AUD, if this is the case.
Having a cancellation and refunds policy in your Coaching Terms and Conditions may prevent unnecessary disputes down the track. If your client is made aware from the outset that if they fail to show up to a coaching session, or provide less than 24 hours’ notice of cancellation of the session, there are consequences, such as requiring them to pay a cancellation fee to compensate you for your reasonable admin costs and for the loss of opportunity of being able to offer that session time to another client, it will ensure that they either provide you with greater notice of cancellation or accept the consequences.
Of course, you should allow some flexibility on this point, say, for example, if a client was involved in an emergency or personal issue which caused them to miss a session, you may decide to waive the cancellation fee after considering their personal circumstances. This will also assist in maintaining a positive relationship with your clients.
Depending on whether your clients pay for your coaching sessions in advance, you may consider providing a refund for a session booked, if the client provides a certain amount of notice, such as 2 days or 24 hours’ notice.
Once you’ve provided your services, it’s common to have a no refund policy for those completed sessions.
Disclaimers specific to your services in your Terms are imperative. This puts your clients on notice of situations you are not responsible or liable for and areas where the client acknowledges that they are solely liable for.
For example, if you’re a wealth coach, to avoid the issue of clients mistaking you as a financial advisor, you need to state clearly both verbally and in your Terms that you are not a financial advisor and the information you provide is not to be construed as financial advice. Placing the responsibility back on the client is key by stating that the client acknowledges that they are solely responsible for any actions they may take as a result of their coaching sessions with you and that it’s their sole responsibility to obtain financial advice from a licenced financial advisor before acting on any information you provide.
If you’re a business development coach, an important disclaimer to include is that due to the uncertainty in any business enterprise, you do not and cannot guarantee results or that your clients will gain any income from your services.
For examples of disclaimers, please view our disclaimer service page here.
It’s at your discretion whether you wish to include in your Coaching Terms that your clients agree to indemnify you for their breach of the Terms and for any claims made by them or third parties in connection with your services.
This adds an extra layer of protection to your business, as it essentially means that the client will compensate you if, for example you suffer damage or a loss as a result of your client breaching your Terms, your client would need to compensate you for your loss or damage suffered.
Keep in mind that not all clients will be comfortable providing an indemnity, but it’s valuable to include in your Terms as a first port of call and then you can consider amending the Terms on a case-by-case basis, depending on your client’s response.
A significant part of the value of your business is contained in the intellectual property of your business, i.e. any documents and coaching materials you provide to your clients, and your trade marks and service marks. In order to protect your intellectual property, it’s crucial to have clear terms stating that you retain ownership of any materials you provide your clients and your trade marks and that your client’s must not reproduce, copy, commercialise or otherwise infringe or exploit your intellectual property.
You may think that a client should know that they shouldn’t copy your work and materials or use your trade marks, however you’d be surprised by what some people think they can do if they’re not put on notice of your rights to your IP and that they must not act in a manner that goes against your rights.
Running a business isn’t always smooth sailing and you may come across a customer that may have complaints about your services for whatever reason.
For more serious disputes with clients, it’s highly recommended to include a dispute resolution clause in your Terms to ensure that a client deterred from commencing legal proceedings, but that your Terms require that they follow a certain dispute resolution process first, such as a mediation process, which gives you an opportunity to de escalate the dispute, find a resolution and save yourself the cost responding to legal proceedings. If the dispute resolution process isn’t successful, then the client can consider taking legal action.
Including non-derogatory clauses in your Terms are also useful to deter a client from turning to social media or Google reviews and writing a negative review of your services. This may not necessarily stop them from doing this, but if it’s covered in your Terms, then you have recourse to contact that particular client and demand they remove the negative comment or review as it constitutes a breach of contract.
Will you be providing your clients with access to a Facebook group or group webinars where clients can interact with each other? If so, then it’s a good idea to add a code of conduct to your coaching terms and conditions which sets out appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when interacting or engaging in a Facebook group or webinar.
If a client acts inappropriately or engages in offensive or discriminatory conduct you can remove them from your Facebook group and specify that they had breached the code of conduct.
Having a code of conduct also gives your clients confidence that inappropriate behaviour won’t be tolerated, and that the community is a professional and safe space to share ideas.
Will your clients be sharing confidential information about themselves or about their business with you? If so, you should include a section in your Terms that covers confidentiality and states that any information your client’s share with you about themselves or their business will be kept in the strictest confidentiality.
Also, consider if there is any information that you are providing that you require to be kept confidential. If this is the case, you could consider having mutual obligations of confidentiality, so that your clients don’t disclose the information you provide them.
In short, no. You should not use a free coaching contract template.
There’s always a risk to using a free contract template obtained online with the intention of making changes to it yourself. This is due to the fact that the template was not drafted for your coaching business and may be missing a number of key areas that would protect you.
Another risk might be that the contract template had been prepared for use in another jurisdiction (for example, America) and be against Australian laws.
In short, yes. If you run your own coaching business, it’s vital you protect your business by having comprehensive Coaching Terms and Conditions in place between you and your clients.
It’s highly recommended to have a written contract with your coach before entering into a business arrangement with a client. If your client doesn’t want to sign a coaching agreement, we can assist with negotiations to ultimately reach an agreement.
As a business coach, there may be times when you need to end a coaching contract with a client.
Having a cancellation and/or refunds policy in your Coaching Terms and Conditions may prevent unnecessary disputes down the track.
Depending on whether your clients pay for your coaching sessions in advance, they may request a refund for any advanced payments. Our lawyers can advise you on whether you are legally required to or if you should provide a refund or not.