How to Become a Business Coach

Business Coaching Client Termination Dos and Don’ts

By on January 1, 2018
Follow these business coaching client termination dos and don'ts when you receive a cancellation notice and save your reputation--and maybe even the client.

We all dread the day that any client asks to terminate or cease their coaching program. No one wants this to happen, but it’s something we all have to deal with. When it happens, how should you respond? This post explores the most important business coaching client termination dos and don’ts.

First, keep in mind that the way you respond is critical. Not only does your response affect your client, but it also affects your reputation and your ability to get referrals. Reacting to a client cancellation notice strategically will end things on a good note–or even save the coaching relationship.

Remember: all things eventually come to an end. Sometimes this does not mean that you have failed, but rather you have succeeded. Ceasing your program might actually be the best thing for your client. Other times, it might be the best thing for you.

The Dos

What are the right things to do when your client gives you the notice?

Ask your client why. Ask from a place of curiosity, not defensiveness. Seek to understand the logic behind their decision and put yourself in their shoes, so that you can respond graciously–and take constructive criticism that will help you improve as a coach.

Review your notes. Assess your written observations about your client’s situation and their business. See if you missed any signals. Did they seem to become less engaged with the process, less interested in your sessions? Were there things you could have done differently?

Respond to your client immediately. Time is of the essence. If it’s possible, do it within a day of them sending you the notice. They might still be thinking through the decision themselves. Discuss options on how they’d like to move forward. You might be able to offer them a different package that suits them better. If their decision is final, agree on how and when your final coaching sessions will be held.

Give value. If their decision to leave is final, make sure that the last sessions are of amazing value. Consider it your professional duty to leave them in the best possible situation to continue on their own.

Give value. If their decision to leave is final, make sure that the last sessions are of amazing value. Consider it your professional duty to leave them in the best possible situation to continue on their own.

Ask for a testimonial before they go. This will be good reference for your future clients, but will also put them in a position where they will be reminded of what they have achieved with you. It could still turn them around.

Leave the door open. If you don’t want to lose them entirely, give them the option to come back. Keep in contact with them, check up on them, and use your nurturing campaigns.

The Don’ts

These don’ts could destroy your relationship, and ultimately your reputation…

Contradict your client and their reason for leaving. Your job is to discover why they’re leaving so that you can learn from it, not talk them out of it.

Threaten legal action. Do not quote contractual terms and threaten legal action unless there is a significant breach. Remember that you want to keep an open line with your clients.

Rant at your client. Never, ever lash out at your client. They already know how great you are. You will not gain anything from telling them what they will be missing. You will only leave a bad taste in their mouth.

Skimp on the last sessions. Don’t miss any of them. They paid for these sessions and the last ones should pack a value punch.

Allow them to miss the last sessions. Unless they really insist, don’t let them off the hook for their remaining sessions. This usually shows a deterioration in your relationship. Your objective is to demonstrate to them that you value them.

Allow access to your resources once the agreement ends. If you allow them to continue accessing your resources upon termination, you set a bad precedent. If another client finds out, they might also end their agreement with you. Only do this if it is part of a plan to recover them–and even then, I recommend including a time limit on how long they can access the resources after the contract expires.

What This Looks Like in Practice

Just last week, like a bolt out of the blue, I received an email from a relatively new client. It was one day after a session. This client, which had three partners, asked to terminate their agreement. I acted fast, doing two things: I immediately replied to their email and agreed to call them later that day.

After reviewing my notes, I realized that one of the partners in the business had started to disconnect from coaching. The company had received amazing results while working with me. Using the resources I had given them, they’d saved $9,000 in just four weeks. Yet, this one partner was starting to think they could do it on their own.

I decided that I didn’t want to lose the client. I reached out to the main partner in the business. I told him there were other options and reminded him of the progress the company had made while working with me. I also mentioned that I’d noticed that one of the other partners was disengaged. With three partners in the business, I pointed out that they would need one leader.

As we talked, I listened carefully to what he was saying and responded with the client’s best interest in mind. In the end, we mutually decided that an effective solution would be to downgrade to a lower program where he focused solely on stepping into the role as the business’s much-needed leader.

Before we ended, he spoke with the two other partners in the business. All of them agreed that the proposal was a great idea. In the near future, I plan to migrate them to my 2018 Group Coaching Program.

By following my business coaching termination dos and don’ts, the client was not lost completely. I rescued the agreement and my client ended up happier. I was, and am, confident that it is in their very best interest to continue–and they agreed.

For more great tips like these on building a top-tier business coaching practice, check out our FREE ebook, Secrets of a Business Coaching Rock Star.

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About Simon Meadows

Simon is the founder and owner of Sterling Business Coaching (www.sterling-coaching.com), providing online and offline coaching programmes for business owners. He created and honed these programmes during more than 22 years of real entrepreneurial business experience. He has attained qualifications in performance coaching, life coaching, team performance management, and others over more than 30 years of coaching and mentoring over 400 managers and business owners. Was recognised in the Who’s Who of Professionals in 2001. Simon has coached over 180 privately and family owned businesses in the UK, Australia, Canada, USA and farther afield. Has achieved measurable results within the Retail, Financial, Construction, Medical, IT and Training Sectors. More than 80% of Simon Meadows' clients have achieved increases of 300% in revenue and profit within the first 18 months of coaching, with an industry leading average client retention period of 39 months.

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