How much should business coaching cost?

As with many service-based products, this is a difficult question to answer – but not impossible.

My aim in this blog is to help you understand what sits behind coaching programme pricing so that you have a clearer idea of what’s involved.

There are 9 factors which influence business coaching programme fees.

1: Can I call outside of scheduled sessions?

Some clients like to pick up the phone as and when – to share news, ask questions or sometimes to work through an issue – and some I rarely hear from between sessions. I actively encourage clients to view me as their partner in business and my mobile as their hotline. It’s worth checking how much ad hoc time is allowed/encouraged/factored into pricing.

2: Will my coaching programme be 1-to-1 or in a group?

Clearly, a 1-to-1 coaching programme will involve higher fees than in a group. But that doesn’t mean that group is the inferior choice.

As a simple rule of thumb, if you have employees and especially managers, you’re probably a better fit for 1-to-1. If you’re still a one-man band, are new or recently starting then the group is probably the right choice – unless you have very rapid growth and recruitment plans.

It’s worth checking 3 things: the size of the group, the experience of that group in business, and how long they have been coached for.

If it is (eg) a larger group (more than 10) of one-man bands who have not been coached for long, you might find the level of conversation is closer to business basics 101 than a board-table mastermind group. And of course, the same is true in reverse.

3: What’s included in my coaching programme?

There are some great bits of software available to help business owners succeed: for business valuations, cash management, workflow management and time logging, business planning, psychometric profiling etc. They make life easier and help drive better results.

It is well worth checking which ones your prospective coach uses and if those fees are included.

The same applies to planning sessions and ad hoc training sessions with your team.

4: How many people will be on the coaching call from within my business?

The more people on the call, the more opinions, the longer it takes to agree on a course of action. All of which means longer coaching sessions which will – or should – show up in fees.

5: How confident the coach is that they can get me results?

This confidence will be reflected in fees and this is a function of how regularly that coach gets results for other business owners. In other words, their track record.

The track record of a coach can be measured by 3 numbers: their total number of clients, their average fee per month and their average client retention in months. Argue it however you like – if you know those 3 numbers, you know how good a coach is.

6: Will the coaching sessions be on zoom or face-to-face (post-COVID)?

In the past, I’ve known coaches who gave discounts for online coaching, perhaps reflecting a deep-seated belief that face-to-face was ‘better’. You might still find coaches who will reflect a lack of travel time/meeting room costs in their fees.

This is not as simple as ‘zoom: bad, face-to-face: good’. My take is that zoom coaching is better for 1-to-1 but less effective for groups. It’s too easy for group calls to end up in a conversation between 2 people – watched by the rest.

7: Does the coach have direct experience in my industry?

This will be more of a factor if you’re looking for a consultant. It is worth finding out if your prospective coach has experience in similar types of businesses – a great coach should have a methodology that works across sectors and industries.

8: How long will my coaching sessions be?

This will come down to personal preference. Some coaches will steer you towards larger blocks of time scheduled less frequently – say a day a quarter. This would mirror the Non-Exec Director-style of influence in board meetings.

The advocates of this would argue you need a bigger stretch of time in order to get past the superficial and into the detail. The detractors would argue Parkinson’s Law: That a task will expand to fill the time available for its completion. Therefore, longer sessions are likely to be less inefficient.

Is there a ‘right’ answer? Sadly not.

I think coaching is like physical training: little and often works best. I also have a default view that things are often longer than needed: books, emails, meetings etc. So, I prefer shorter, regular meetings to fine-tune action and review progress, with quarterly & annual strategic review & planning sessions.

9: Is the coaching programme guaranteed?

As a general rule, business coaching programmes of a limited number of modules over a shorter period of time are more likely to be guaranteed – certainly vs high ticket 1-to-1 coaching. The logic I guess is that most people don’t complain unless something is clearly awful – especially if it involves a relatively small sum of money.

You should check if any ongoing coaching programme you’re considering – especially 1 to 1 – is covered by a proper guarantee.

Of course, no coach can ever guarantee results for everyone. That would imply silver bullets or magic wands.

But any coach with integrity would only take on a client if he really believed in them and their business proposition and there was clearly a good ‘fit’ in terms of character.

Against that backdrop, a coach ought to be able to guarantee that a client will be happy with their decision.

So – what should the budget be?

For an ongoing group coaching programme with a reputable coach, you should expect to pay between £100 + VAT PCM to £600 + VAT PCM. Within this, some programmes meet monthly and some fortnightly. Also, some include a quarterly planning session and others do not.

For 1-to-1 coaching, you should budget for £500-£1000 + VAT for monthly coaching sessions; £1000 to £2000 for fortnightly sessions and £1750 to £4000 + VAT PCM for weekly sessions.

I’ll leave you with one (outspoken) thought.

If you still view your coach as a ‘cost’ after 6 months, they’re probably the wrong fit.

A great business coach in London should inspire change: in your thinking, your identity and your actions. This should create tangible results in efficiency, productivity and cash flow.

Even if this hasn’t appeared in a measurable way after 6 months, you’ll know in your gut if you’re on the right track.

If you’re not convinced, grasp the nettle and have that conversation with your coach.