Pricing Challenges as a Triathlon Coach

When I made the decision to start coaching, the first question I had was, “how do I price my services?”. The challenge of pricing is really the challenge of value. Or rather, the value of your time and knowledge.

Pricing your services is about the value of your time

There are several formulas out there for calculating the value of your time. For me, pricing starts with the value of an hour. That’s what I’m primarily providing my clients. I’m saying, “for the next hour I’m not doing anything else in my life except answering your questions and guiding you.”

So, what is that time worth? And how do we prevent a client from being scared away? If you’re a well-known coach, you price it however you want. People will know the value of your services without batting an eye. However, if you’re getting started like me, pricing become a lot trickier. $600/mo for someone who “says” they’re a good coach is a lot. That’s $7,200 a year! $600 a month is more than a car payment!

My answer to the question of pricing is simplicity. The decision making process for potential customers needs to be swift. You don’t want them to think any harder than they have to about spending their hard earned cash on you.

Pricing Options

Let’s look at some different options you have as a coach. When I was getting started I was amazed at all the different pricing options coaches offered. I’m talking about the number of options 1 coach provided, not the number overall. It’s insane! How do potential clients decide on what to purchase or what’s best for them?

The way I see it, there a few ways to go. Here are the few options I’ve seen that makes sense:

  1. Race Based Training PlansBase your plan on the number of weeks (8, 10, 12, etc) and offer a limited number of engagements, or meetings.
  2. Long Term CoachingCharge a monthly rate and a long term workout plan. You can be more flexible with this as it’s a long term commitment.
  3. One time coaching sessionsCharge an hourly rate for an in-person session. Possibly discount for purchasing multiple sessions.
  4. Camps/ClinicsHost all day or weekend events working on race specific details

Race Base Training Plans

This seems like a good way for athletes to dip their toes into the world of guided coaching. The plans are usually pre-written but adjusted and customized to fit the athlete. This is a cost-effective way to gain clients but not spend an awful amount of time working through planning. You can limit the engagements to one a week and use the time to inspire, motivate and teach.

Long Term Coaching

When you coach an athlete long term, you’re planning an entire year for them. You’re in constant contact and adjusting things based on how they feel, health and whatever life throws at them. Since your athlete is committing significant time to you, you can afford to discount the services a bit.

One of the things I’ve seen is coaches limit the number of engagements or interactions. I think this complicates things and makes for an awkward conversation down the road. “I’m sorry athlete but I just can’t talk to you right now because we’ve already had our two sessions. I’m sorry you really need my support at the moment, but you didn’t purchase the Gold plan.” As a coach and business offering a service, limiting contact with you is a mistake and makes you sound like a greasy lawyer.

My plan is to offer one price for coaching long term. The amount depends on what people are willing to pay and the value they perceive in my services. I think there are ways of limiting communication, as it does require a lot of precious time, that doesn’t make you sound like an asshole.

My plan is to start with email and chat. Email is great because you can answer it any time. My rule of thumb is that I should have at least a basic response within a few hours and a complete response within 24. Email should be the first point of contact.

I spend a lot of time at my computer for my current day job. In the tech world, Slack is a way for teams to communicate. Slack is basically a real-time chat solution with a lot of great features

I have a post planned to explain Slack in a little more detail.

I’m planning on using Slack in place of Skype and even text messages. My hope is that it will even limit the amount of email communication I’ll have to deal with. The nice thing about group chat is people other than myself can answer questions.

The last line of communication other than face-to-face meetings is a phone call. For these, they’ll need to be scheduled. This will allow me to control the time allotment for the call and when they occur. Of course, an athlete can call me in the event of an emergency, but as best as I can I want to control this time.

Outside of communication, I see coaches delving into nutrition as well. I’m not confident, nor certified, to claim any expertise in that world. For those that do, share your thoughts on your pricing strategy. I’d love to learn more about that.

Single Session Coaching

As an expert in swim, I recognize people may be beyond my abilities in bike or run, but they’re definitely for swim. If someone just wants my swim coaching services I’ll offer them an hourly rate. If there’s a need for multiple sessions I’ll offer a bulk discount. Something like 10% off of 10 sessions or more would be great. Depending on my hourly rate, it could be a great deal. It also builds customer loyalty if they know you’re going to take care of them as well as do a good job coaching them.

Camps and Clinics

What I love about offering camps or clinics as part of your pricing options is the price point. Depending on what your facilities (pool) can hold and cost, this can do two awesome things for you. First, it’s great marketing! You spend a couple of hours or days with a small group of people and you have their undivided attention. It’s not a 30 second spot on a radio or a banner on a website. You have at minimum, a couple of hours to sell them on YOU!

In marketing, nothing is better than “word of mouth”. You see the power of it on social media all the time. Seriously, a dress was the most talked about thing for an entire day and made it’s way to national media. How crazy is that?! You have an opportunity to make an impact to a group, which could prove to be priceless.

The second reason I love camps and clinics is the price. If I were going to hold a swim clinic next weekend I’d probably have it last 4 hours and could manage up to 30 people in the pool with an assistant. For something like this, I’d charge $125. I’ll offer an early bird price of $100 or something. For now, let’s assume 30 people signed up at $125. Let’s do some math.

Description Cost
Pool Rent $1,040 (8 lanes x $30 x 4 hours + $80 lifeguard fees)
Assistant $160 ($30 x 4 hours + $40 tip)
Snacks/Drinks ~$100
Planning Time $1,000 (20 hours x $50)
Subtotal Earned ~$3,750
Total Expenses $2,300
Total Net Profit $1,450

Not bad eh? Of course, you may spend more time/money here and there. I didn’t account for advertising or marketing, but that shouldn’t be too expensive. Your goal is 30 people, so it’s not really necessary to do something drastic like television spots. Bottom line is, camps and clinics are cost effective and profitable. You just need to make sure it’s worth their time.

Pricing that works for you

I believe that simple is better. Always. Coaching is a luxury. It’s not something people need in their life like food, clothes or shelter. They don’t even need a coach to participate in a race. So, when an athlete comes to you for your services, you need to make sure all the barriers to entry are removed. Make it as easy as possible to pay you for your services and time, not harder.

I’m going with one price point for long term coaching. That may change, but for now, I think it’s best. I have one hourly rate for one-on-one coaching and I don’t have any training plans yet. I’m working on that. It will take some time to develop and show value.

Ultimately, pricing is up to you. My thoughts here aren’t hard fast conclusions. What are your thoughts about your businesses pricing model and strategies?

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