Here's a great note I got from a coach in the US who just this month listened to my 'Getting Your First Fifty Clients' speech online...
'David, I found the bonus recording very helpful in putting together a exploratory session to find if it is possible for my clients to move forward with their desires. I have used it with six people already and love the fact it lets people know what we will do in 30 minutes, and that I'm going to ask for a commitment on it if the session works out well.
It gave me confidence in my abilities to keep things together in a timely manner, and a tool that will help me for many years and with hundreds of clients to come! Thank you. "
Jo Cronen, USA
(To Access the speech online, or to order the new CD, visit: http://www.FirstFiftyClients.com )
Can you imagine being a fly on the wall
For some of my very best coaching sessions from the last 3 years? Listening to a client have a powerful breakthrough? Or hear me mentor a coach on building a successful web site?
Even better - Ive whittled them down to the power sections some clips are only 1-5 minutes! Check it out here:
In this article I'll cover BOTH payment methods. We'll start with the quickest method to set up, and then move on to the one that will make it easy for your client to stay with you month after month.
And - I'll tell you who I recommend if you're shopping for a merchant credit card account. (By the way - new format - I'm trialing inserting my announcements into the text of the article. Let me know what you think).
METHOD 1: CHECKS
This is great for say your first five to ten clients. Particularly if it's a face to face introductory session, and they ~hand~ you the check right up front. The biggest advantage is there is no set up required. Although I do recommend registering a business name and setting up a business account. It's more professional have them make out a check to 'LifeSkills Coaching' than to 'David Wood - all round good guy'.
A few big drawbacks though. First, you have to handle paperwork, go to the bank, and update your records - spread out over a week or more.
Second, if it's not a face to face intro session - you have to rely on them being motivated and reliable enough to mail you the check, which is also effort for your clients. It's very easy for doubt to set it after they sign up with you. So in the 24-48 hours before they send the check, and are wondering if they made the right move, have they really fully committed to the 1-6 months of coaching until payment is made?
Third, what if the check bounces or they have seconds thoughts after the fact and stop the check? I had this happen once, despite a verbal commitment to at least one month of coaching.
And fourth, every single month you have to ask for another check, and have them go through the same decision making process and effort, and face the same uncertainty.
While you DO still accept checks, I suggest: 1) Get three months payment up front if you can 2) Require them to mail the check within 24 hours, and email you within that time to confirm it's done. 3) Consider holding up sending your welcome pack and not doing the first official session until they confirm the check has been sent. That's usually when you know you have a committed client
Money orders and bank checks are even better. Foreign currency checks are also fine - your bank will probably charge a small fee and you'll have to wait up to a couple of weeks for it to arrive, plus up to two more weeks for it to clear.
METHOD 2: CREDIT CARDS
This is one of the best moves I made as a coach. When a client says 'Yes, let's set up', part of my set up procedure is to take their credit card details. Yes - what better time than when they have just said yes and are ready to commit to coaching?
When I get off the phone, I run it through the little Eftpos machine my bank gave me for free (which charges me only 1.85% of the transaction). It's instantly approved (unless they have hit their limit, in which case I know immediately instead of waiting a week to find out a check has bounced) and I email out their Welcome Pack and Receipt, and update my accounting software.
This makes a BIG difference doing it all at once instead of spread out over a week from 'Yes' to 'Check Received' to 'Bank the check' to 'Check cleared'. If in the rare case it is declined, I call them straight away and we make arrangements to rectify it (although I may put a smaller amount through so they have a deposit down).
In the days when I still took monthly payments (I now charge three or six months in advance), when the time came to charge them for the next month, I simply charged their card again and emailed them a receipt.
IMPORTANT: you need to set this up front in the agreement; something like 'I will charge your card at the end of each month and send you a receipt, unless I hear otherwise, until we have completed three months at which time we'll review our arrangement.'
Another way I have done it is to email them before I charge their card with: 'Just a courtesy note to let you know your card will be charged automatically within the next 24 hours. Please feel free to email or call if you have any questions.' Although I must say I like the other agreement better.
So where should you go for a merchant credit card account? CHOOSING
YOUR MERCHANT CREDIT CARD PROVIDER
Many merchants on the internet will try to sell you 'real time processing'. By this I mean - your customer enters their card details, and their charge is instantly verified, and the money soon deposited in your account. Personally, I wouldn't worry about this until you have a product to sell. It costs extra, and without a product you don't need it. So just go straight for a simple merchant account.
If you would like to find out who I recommend as a merchant credit card provider, and what to watch out for in the hidden fees, you can access the full text of this article online here:
A final thought: how many clients do you have to lose because of a bounced check or changing their mind before they pay - before you realise you need to take credit cards? One.
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