We’re nice people. You get into coaching to help people. You have knack for understanding complex things like heart rate and power meters and you like to teach. You may not be nor want to be a savvy business person, though. So how do we as nice people deal with accepting payments from people without being total dicks?
Here are 5 tips to keeping your sanity when dealing with money, clients, and accepting payments
1. Keep a paper trail
It’s not easy work, but a paper trail is the easiest way to keep clients and customers accountable. Use an invoice system like Ballpark, Invoice Ninja or Freshbooks. This way you can always see what’s been paid or what’s outstanding and keep track of everything without losing money.
2. Be upfront about cost and expectations
Money is never easy to talk about. I struggle asking for payment from people all the time. In my other career I’m a web developer and people hire me to do work for them. Upfront, I give them my hourly rate and an estimation of how long it wil take. With your athletes, make sure you let them know right away how much it will cost to coach them and whether or not there is an end to any recurring subscription.
I recommend writing out what you’re offering as clear as possible. Have someone that’s not a coach take a look and see what they think. The best way to know if what you’re offering is worth it is to ask people that might purchase your services.
3. Never trade services without a contract and make sure it’s a fair trade
Your product is your time. Never trade your coaching services for anything without itemizing the terms. If someone is going to build out a website for you in exchange for your services, make sure you understand the value of the website. If they would normally charge $2000 for the entire website, make sure you’re offering to coach only for $2000 worth of time. When you’ve both agreed, sign on the dotted line to ensure everyone is happy at the end of the day. I came across ShakeLaw the other day and it might be a good solution for situations like this.
4. Use an online credit card to process transactions
Dealing with cash is less than ideal for me. First off, it’s dirty. Second, there’s always that awkward moment where you have to count the cash. It’s just cumbersome. Accepting checks is fine, however, there’s always the awkward moment when a check doesn’t go through. I prefer accepting credit cards only. It’s makes accounting much easier and most invoicing solution mentioned above integrate with them pretty easily.
In addition to being easy to track credit cards can be taken at any time. If you’re in person, you can use the Square app to take a transaction. Otherwise, apps like Ballpark are awesome because you can send an invoice, tack on the service fee and be done with it in just a couple of minutes.
Lastly, I like credit cards because usually, it’s connected with an email address. Collecting an email address is great for long term communication and creating an audience. An audience is important because the more people who know you, the better chance you’ll have of landing them as clients.
5. Take a deposit or initial payment before your first session
Unfortunately, there are people out there who take advantage of good natured people. Don’t offer your services unless your client is paid. You need to be strict about this or you will be financially affected. If you’re not coaching full-time yet, it’s especially important to make sure you’ve got payment ahead of time.
I think of it like renting a house. I pay for the month of August and then September 1, I make a payment for the month of September. This ensures my landlord can pay their mortgage and keep the house in good shape. Accepting payment immediately or before training ensures the best possible experience for you and your athlete.