Monday, February 16, 2015

Discussion Paper For Introducing Business Coaching to your Practice

1. Determine why Business Coaching is to be introduced to the practice.

Common Reasons:

  • Clients have a need for this type of advice
  • Clients are requesting this type of advice
  • Clients are moving to other firms/coaches which provide a more holistic approach.
  • Delivering this type of advice can be profitable.
  • There is a potential to minimise litigation risk for “Failure to Advise”.

Common difficulties:

  • Lack of expertise in firm.
  • The opportunity cost of providing the service.
  • Potential increased litigation risk for “Failure to Advise”.
  • Lack of  processes to implement advice efficiently.
  • Finding a competent professional business coach to assist in the process.

2. Determine how the service is to be positioned.

To ensure that client’s trust is maintained for the long term benefit of the practice the “intent” of introducing them to Business Coaching needs to be fully disclosed.  Clients need to be advised as to Purpose, Process, and Payoff.

  • Purpose:    Why are you introducing them to Business Coaching?
  • Process:     How will the introduction work and what will happen?
  • Payoff:    How will the client benefit from this service and who else benefits from its provision?  (It is important that the win/win is fully disclosed).

Remember the three “I’s”.  Today’s clients want to be kept:
  • Informed
  • Involved and
  • In Control

3. Determine the structure under which advice is to be given.

It is often a good idea to start with an “Outsourced” arrangement.  This option is the least formal structure and has a number of benefits including:

  1. Expertise is immediately available.
  2. Limited training of existing staff is required
  3. Low cost – PI usually covered, office space often not needed etc.
  4. Low Risk – the arrangement can be terminated if it is not working
  5. More than one person may be required to meet the needs of different types of clients.
  6. Multiple services can be introduced quickly
  7. It is a lot easier to unwind a Strategic Alliance than a Joint Venture or Partnership.
  8. The Outsourced Professional may act as a mentor for a trainee should you decide to develop Business Coaching as a division of your business.

It is sometimes helpful to remember that value is usually in profitability not so much turnover.


3.1     Strategic Alliance

Here the Business Coach operates independently carrying their own card, giving advice under their own letterhead etc.  The Business Coach clearly indicates to the client that all advice given is to be treated as coming from the Coach.  While the Coach may consult with the referrer, responsibility for the advice is the Coach’s alone.

If the Coach remunerates the referrer for any work needed as a consequence of the referral the Coach needs to indicate to the client that this has or will happen.

The main advantage of this strategy is that it requires minimal capital, and structure, and yet enables high overall recovery rates for the referrer.

The prime disadvantage is that capital growth is limited.

3.2     Joint Venture

As the name indicates advice given under this scenario is shared advice.  It is critical that the client is fully advised as to who is responsible for each aspect of the advice.

The major advantage is the joint venture can lock in valuable skills and offer the opportunity of participating in capital growth.

The disadvantage is the costs of unwinding in the event of breakdown.  Capital can be required to pay out disaffected partners.

3.3    A Division of the Practice.

This option can (but doesn’t have to) be the outgrowth of a long-term successful Strategic Alliance or Joint Venture.

The prime advantage of this option is that it can add significant value to the referring practice.

However the major disadvantage is that the division adds another level of complexity and a different skill base is required than is usually found in the core of the practice.

The other disadvantage is being able to recruit the “right qualifications”.  Like other professions, the Business Coaching Sector is suffering the effects of an aging workforce and most competent advisers are either well established within either their own businesses or some other opportunity.

A strategy to deal with this issue is to form a Strategic Alliance with an established professional then to hire a “trainee” who can be mentored by the outsourced professional until an adequate level of competency has been attained.

4.  Determine how the referral process is to be performed.

The most important issue here is that the referrer is kept fully appraised of the circumstances relating to the client.

Permission needs to be sought from the client for the Coach to disclose to the referrer personal details.  (This usually occurs but still must be confirmed – Check your Privacy Statement).  In most cases the client will return to the referrer to seek confirmation and reassurance that the advice that has been given is appropriate.

It is important to maintain “file notes” as to activities by both the referrer and the Coach.  Remember the four levels of compliance:

3.Customer Satisfaction
4.Practice Profitability

Web based CRM systems like Infusionsoft and Referron could help to track measure and follow up referrals made..

Consideration needs to be given as to how time spent in dealing with and for the client will be recovered.

5. Examine and map the client base.

It is important to identify what types of Business Coaching particular clients and particular client groups need and want.  Remember the four rules of business:

    5.1  Choose the client whom you will serve
    5.2  Put their needs first
    5.3  Put your (the Practices) needs second.
    5.4  Do it in a win/win way

6. Establish your initial communication strategy.

It is common when introducing Business Coaching to choose “friendly clients” first.

This is understandable and probably a good idea.  However, this methodology can increase exposure to litigation through the “selection against” problem.  To avoid this issue it is advisable to write/contact all clients and offer to provide services.

A general introductory letter/communication should go to all clients with clearly identifiable needs inviting them to contact you or to come to an event.

Remember the “Bell-Curve”.  Most people need an issue raised between four and seven times in four to seven ways before they are ready to take action

Copies of these communications should be retained as evidence that the practice has operated in “utmost good faith” to protect the needs of its clients.

7.  Establish ongoing methodology

Once the generalized communications have been completed decide how Business Coaching will be revisited with clients in an appropriate way.  It is important that the methodology chosen does not leave clients with the impression that all you are trying to do is to “Sell” them another product or service.  Remember to remind clients of your intent and desire to better serve them.

The 10X Edge Event could be helpful in positioning Business Coaching as a methodology to demonstrate that you are committed to helping  them solve problems rather than to sell them things.

8.  Establish procedures for new clients:

Look at all promotional material and processes to ensure that the intent/purpose of the practice is taught to any new clients.  It important that new clients also don’t suffer from the “selection against” problem