Steps to Success As a Coach


Hello there, entrepreneur. Welcome back! Today, we’re going to be talking about your steps to success as a coach. One of these key steps is client retention. In this blog we will cover what it is, and why you want to do it to help hit your client goals for 2023.

What is Client Retention and Why is it Needed as a Step to Success?

All right, let’s talk about client retention first. Let’s go over the definition so we’re on the same page in my book. Client retention means having a client choosing to work with you again and again, in some format. It might be continuing on with the same program. For example, I work with wellness entrepreneurs in my business coaching program where we work on business strategy as well as mindset for six months. At the end of the six months, a client can choose to carry on to another round. Maybe they’re still working on their goals from the first round and they’re so close, so they want to carry on, or they’ve completed their goals in the first round and they’re ready to set new goals. In any case, that client is retained, meaning they stay on my schedule, they’re still making progress, still getting benefit, so they go forward.

It might also mean that you have a basic entry level program or training and you retain a client by then having them carry on with you, not in the same training or program, but they progressed to the advance level training or program. That’s another level of client retention. So there’s many ways to retain your clients. There can be hybrids. You can be very creative with this.

For example, you might start with an intensive program where you meet with a client once, twice, three times a week, maybe daily, and then when they hit their goals or get out of the struggle that they hired you to solve for, then they go on to more of a maintenance program or the sessions are spread out. And just to hint, no one really wants to buy a maintenance program, so never call it that. Think of something else. If you want help with this, just sign-up for a consultation. We can work on some marketing copy for this, but that’s just an example.

They can start off in a more intensive program and then have the session spread out into more of a maintenance type style of program. It’s very common in the healthcare provider world, for example, where someone might choose to pay out pocket for a cash-based physical therapist and see them once, twice, three times a week. And as they feel better, they have their home routine, they feel stronger, more flexible, their nervous system is downregulated, they know the tips and techniques to help themselves in between sessions, then typically, sessions are spread out in a way that ensures that patient still achieves their success of being pain-free, but allows them more independence, for example.

And you might have heard a slight hesitation and pause there as I was describing that maintenance program because over the years of being a practitioner and working with hundreds of students, clients and patients, sometimes the word maintenance and how you structure maintenance, and I think this might be a whole other blog, so stay tuned, how to structure your maintenance plans that actually serve the patient and client best. Meaning, you stay in your expert energy. Because you probably realistically know the frequency to meet with that individual to ensure that they stay on track and they continue to progress. That’s why I don’t like the word maintenance, because who wants to maintain? Most people want to evolve and without buying into their stories of time, finances, or learning how to work with what’s going on in their world regarding their time and their budget. So stay tuned for a future blog on structuring maintenance programs and labeling them something else.

If you need help on creating a wellness program make sure to read this blog here: https://igniteurwellness.com/signature-wellness-program/

Why You Want To Retain Clients

But let’s get back to the client retention. One more disclaimer here. If the word retention doesn’t resonate with you, meaning it feels icky, slimy, manipulative or forced, swap it with something else. Swap it with helping a client to carry on with working with you so they can continue to achieve their benefits. Whatever one word summarizes that. The purpose of retention is both for yes, your business, but also for the client. So think about it from their perspective as well. How can retaining them benefit them? And then think of a word that summarizes that for you so it feels more in alignment with your body. Definitely don’t force it here.

Now, this may seem obvious, but I’m going to break it down for you. Why you want to retain your clients and bare bones. It’s because working with someone, the same person over and over again, requires less resources from your business and yourself. Then continuously getting out there and always bringing in new people. So the more that you retain clients, the more efficient your business and your energy levels will be because it requires more energy and resources to get those new clients again and again and again. And of course, you always want to be bringing in new clients, but really to propel your business forward in the most sustainable and profitable way, because getting new clients does require both the resources of time, energy, and money.

Then it’s the combination of yes, signing new clients and re-upping existing clients. It’s that powerful combination that will give you so much more momentum. Let’s examine this from a financial example to help seal in the importance. Let’s say you’re at a stage in your business where you do Facebook ads and in one month, to get people to a webinar, you pay Facebook $1,000 or 1K. Now, you want to know all your webinar numbers, such as number of clicks, number of click throughs, registrants, who showed up live, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But for purpose of this blog, we’re going to just focus on the end conversion, starting the end result of that ad that you paid 1k for. So let’s say on that webinar, you convert one person to your package or program, which is valued at $3,000 or 3K. So from your 1K investment, you received 2K in profit from that ad. So you are on the plus side for that ad, and in fact, that’s a really great ratio.

Now imagine that same person gets results and really loves working with you. So they decide they want to carry on and they want to carry on to the advanced level, your higher ticket program for 10K now. So when you do a good job in delivering results for your people, then you have the potential to take that 1K investment from a 2K profit to a 9K profit. That’s a big profit jump from just investing one time in your Facebook ads. So that’s one example. You’re really maximizing your ad spent here. Plus, this person is already in your world, they’re familiar with your work, they’re onboarded, they know your processes if for example, when you send e-mails, when to open e-mails or how to reschedule appointments or where to find the portal so you spend less energy educating them and all those beginner and getting familiar with your routines and your programs. So that’s a lot less energy and time as well.

Let’s take an example. If you’re in the beginning stages of your business, so you’re not quite ready to invest in ads, so in this case the resource is time. Instead of spending finances to get that new client, you’re going to spend time to sign that client. Let’s say you’re a speaker at an event or you spend time going to a network event and you get one client from one event. So let’s break it down in more numbers. Say you invest three hours for one event and you get one client that pays you $3,000 or 3K, and then so it’s three hours for 3K, and then let’s say that client renews again for another 3K. So they’re carrying on in that same program, just new goals now. So now your three hours has turned into a 6K revenue stream. You just optimized your time and again, plus this person is already onboarded, so you save time and energy in having to educate them from the beginning as well.

How To Build Client Retention In Your Program Using The Three-Part Process

Alright, so how do you build this retention into your program so it’s seamless, it’s not manipulative, it’s not forceful, it’s something your clients are held to do when it’s appropriate? So to help with retention, I have a three part process for you. They’re not exactly steps because this isn’t done in a linear fashion. This work is threaded from every step along your customer journey from when they first enter your world until it’s time for them to decide to work with you again or not. And this three step process is based upon being present in the present moment, future planning, and then learning from the past. So I’ll break it down for you.

So you want to thread in future education, future planning, and future preparing. So for example, when someone first starts to work with you, part of your onboarding process, for me, for example, my onboarding process is discovering the goals that they want to achieve within the six months that we work together. But I also take into consideration what’s their big picture goals. Where do they see themselves in three years or five years, whatever comes up most naturally because some people come to me and they already have their 10-year vision of where they want to go and what they want to achieve in 10 years. Some people, a one-year vision is far enough out and based upon the goal that they want to achieve in our six months together, and then they’re more future-based goals already planting the seed that there’s more beyond our initial six months of working together that to achieve the bigger picture goal in some fashion, whether it’s with me or with someone else, that they’ll have to keep going, keep taking the steps, overcoming the hurdles and the obstacles to get to that three year vision plan.

For example, with future-based planning, your job as a practitioner is to also educate them on what they don’t know. That’s why it’s part of your job, it’s why they’re hiring you. So for example, if you take low back pain or sciatica, they might not know how long it really takes to heal. So for example, for my own disc herniations in sciatica, it took a year and a half to fully heal. And if I’m to tell someone that right off the bat, it can be a very hard thing to hear, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that as a practitioner, they have to invest with me for a year and a half. However, I am going to educate them on the possibilities and a timeframe of the length of healing that it can be anywhere from six months to a year and a half, depending on delays, depending on how the body responds to healing, depending on what’s going on with their life or so many factors, genetics, DNA, what they eat, where they live, right? The list goes on and on and on. Stress level can really vary from person to person. So I might suggest a package and a timeframe to start.

All right, let’s commit to working together for three months, and during the process, we will come into the present-based learning. So that’s part of threading that through. So when you’re helping them to focus on the present moment, you’re getting them wins and results now, so they feel it, they walk in your door maybe feeling their low back pain, maybe feeling stressed out, maybe feeling tight and constricted, and they leave that one session feeling better, they feel taller, they have exercises to do at home. However, that healing isn’t quite yet permanent, which is why you work together each week and compounding the effects building upon it. And during the time that you work with them, you’re always celebrating the wins and bringing them back to the small wins in that present moment.

So I’ll give two examples here. The first being the entrepreneur. I had a client who signed up to work with me and part of her goal was to sign her very first clients. Also, she had some health issues she was working through and some schedule and time management issues she was working through. And when we were setting her goals and the very first few sessions, we realized, to enable her to sign more clients so she had the capacity to do the marketing, do the selling, and then deliver on the results, so she had the time, energy, and the space to do all that, we first had to clean up her schedule issues and get her health to a place where she felt like she had the energy to show up in her business.

So we worked on her health and her schedule first, and by doing that, it created the space where she could begin marketing and in fact sign her first few clients. The signing of the clients happened mostly in months five and six. The first four months, we’re doing the schedule and the house cleanup. So if she were to comment to me at month three and say, “I’m not hitting my results, I haven’t signed any clients.” If she chose to focus on that, she might get very frustrated and quit and give up, and that wouldn’t serve anyone because I would lose a client and she wouldn’t achieve her goals.

However, part of my job is to track progress of having markers of success and help her to celebrate her win. So when she, for example, ended a day on time, or she didn’t let a client session or a colleague session go over an appointment, for example, that should have taken an hour instead takes three, that was happening a lot less or helping her to manage her own health and stress reduction. So she felt like she could manage her stress to have enough energy, to have clarity in her brain and more productivity through her day. And because she was seeing those wins, because she was noticing those markers of progress and success, she stuck with it. So then towards the end of our program working together, she did start signing clients. And really those first few clients that she signed is just the beginning. It’s the door opening to so much more success for herself.

If you want to read more on developing belief in your skills and health coaching program be sure to read this blog; https://igniteurwellness.com/belief/

Let me bring in an example to the practitioner ground. When I was a physical therapist, yoga teacher, massage therapist, healing practitioner, I had a lot of patients who showed up to my office with very debilitating sciatica or back pain disc issues. A lot of the time it was multifaceted, multi-layered. They had been to many other practitioners. Sometimes I was the fifth or ninth practitioner. They saw it had been pain for a long time. And often in the beginning, they would see large shifts in how they felt, if they were experiencing a high intensity of pain, eight, nine out of 10, they were experiencing less of those days and more ability to be functional in their day-to-day. Meaning they were just able to go through their life and get more done of their normal things right in the beginning they experienced big wins. It’s very encouraging. So they kept going. Typically, a few months in those big wins would kind of slow down and plateau out, and it’s easy to miss the small winds, especially when you’re used to seeing and feeling in your own body the big wins.

So a lot of that time, it was very common for me to hear when I would ask in the very beginning of my session, “How are you doing today?” and they would answer, “Oh, the pain hasn’t changed, I don’t feel a change. I’m still in pain.” So part of your work at that point is twofold as the practitioner to outside of the session to review the session and take a look, “Okay, what can I do to help them experience less pain or their results quicker? Where  and what is in my responsibility, what is in my control”  But they’re in the moment when you have your client or your patient there in front of you, it’s also helping them again, to drop into that present moment, really feel into their body exactly what they’re feeling now. So when I hear someone, they tell me, “Oh, I don’t feel any change. Everything’s the same,” I get curious, not from a place of judgment or criticism, but from curiosity because I know, because I’ve experienced it myself, which is why I teach. You want to embody your own practices because I know that when you’re doing the work, there are days yes, that you might not feel change, but when you’re showing up day-to-day and you’re really evaluating what you’re doing, the patterns of your thinking and you’re moving and you’re making subtle shifts, there will be changes.

So typically, to help them see if there really is no changes at all, I’ll bring up the pain number scale. So I’ll bring up some objective form of measurement. I’ll ask, “Okay, what’s your pain scale right now?,” and they’ll answer, for example, “Oh, four out of 10.” And then I usually consult back to my notes and I’d say, “Well, just a few weeks ago you were telling me that it was six to eight out of 10 most of the time. So if you’re feeling four out of 10 today, what’s it been this week? Has it been mostly four out of 10?” And they think, and a lot of the time, I would say 80 to 90% of the time, they’re like, “Well, now that you mentioned it, actually it’s been about three to four out of 10 this whole week.” But it’s a small shift. And sometimes, it’s easier for our brain, being a human, brain to notice, “Oh, the pain is still there,” versus a small shift from it dropping from six out of 10 pain to four out of 10 pain. But your job as the practitioner is to help them realize, “Oh, there is actually a change.” And if there’s not, if they were to say, “Okay, no, actually I’m still feeling six out of 10 pain,” to track down why.

So that is a part of the past learning – reviewing what happened during the last week, what happened outside of the sessions, really breaking it down. Ask them to tell you about your workday. How much did you drive? What went on with your family? Was there excess stress at work? Was there excess stress at home? How did the exercises go? And when they say they did the exercises you recommended, ask them how they did them or have them show you how they did them. Any of those questions.

I usually find something from someone doing the exercises in a completely different way than I showed. It happens all the time and I’m like, “Oh no, don’t do them that way, that’s just going to make your problem worse. That is why you haven’t felt a change in your pain to access stress at work or at home.” I help them understand because they didn’t realize how much was impacting how they felt in their physical body. And all of this is awareness to them that there’s a reason as to why they haven’t felt the exact change that they want to feel.

What Really Is the Work Of Client Retention For You And Your Clients

So the work of retention is really threading in the work of helping them experience the wins and get them results and being present right now in the moment where they are in the session, and at the same time, realizing that they have a vision, a future-paced goal of where they want to go. And there’s different layers of their future goals. Some are more immediate or short-term and some are bigger picture. And some of those future goals are outside their conscious realm of knowing. And the only way that they know that there’s more possibility more available to them outside of where they currently are is for you to educate. So I’m always planting seeds in my marketing all the way to when someone is coming up towards the end of their program, maybe four or five months in and deciding, “Okay, should I continue on? What’s the next best step for me?” I’m always reminding them, “Okay, where are you now? Where do you want to go? And what might you not be considering? What might you not be realizing that you need for yourself to hit that future-based goal and utilizing the learning of the past to help them inform and make better decisions for the future?”

And in this case, using those three timelines for markers of success and progress and learning, then it’s a win-win for everyone because you have a happy and loyal client that’s achieving their results and they know it because you’re reminding of them through the celebrations and neurologically in a present moment, helping them to establish new habits and new patterns, and they’re feeling that they’re embodying that in the present moment as well as helping them to have excitement and confidence about the future and not beating themselves up over the past, instead examining the past and learning how to learn from the past so they make better decisions or more efficient decisions for the future. It really is a win-win for everyone.

So then going to work with you again for the future becomes a no-brainer. It just becomes a seamless transition. And truthfully, for a lot of my people, that’s what happens. I have people who work with me for years and years and years, and the frequency, the time, space is always very person-to-person, but the majority just keep going week after week. And the reason why is because they’re always achieving their goals and then we’re setting new goals. Or if we have hang-ups, they don’t quit or they don’t give up or they don’t doubt the process. They worked with me long enough to know like, “Oh, okay, we’re going to problem solve through this. We’ll get through this, we’ll get through this plateau or this little dip, and I’ll come out on the other side with better learning more information and I’ll know why it happened.” And then they’ll keep going. So it’s a no-brainer.

If it’s working, then they keep going and it’s efficient for everyone. And you might say, “Well, I am a practitioner who works with people in pain. What happens when they solve their pain?” Well, a lot of the times, because we’re a human being, something else shows up in our body. So there’s sometimes, unfortunately another body part to work on to solve, to problem solve. Or, like for me, I work with a lot of people with scoliosis, which may be mild, but as I feel in my own body, with my own scoliosis, it’s my practitioners that I have that “maintenance plan” with that I go to see on a consistent basis that helps me stay out of pain. And by going to them, it’s like getting my car worked on the oil change, adding windshield wiper fluids, rotating the tires, changing the tires as needed.

For me, when I go to my practitioners, it’s like a nervous system reset, a body alignment reset. So many good things happen. A reeducation of where I am and what has evolved and where I might go forward. I do the same for my people. So we might fix one problem and then we’re on to the next. Or I have people who solve their pain and maybe they don’t have sciatica or an autoimmune disease that needs more constant maintenance type work, but they have performance type goals maybe that they want to continue going to their yoga class or progressing their physical yoga postures in a way. Or maybe they want to learn how to work on their partner, with their nervous system more so they can be more productive throughout their day. So when they come to me with pain initially, it might shift to something else that’s more performance or wellness or preventative in nature


So there’s so many ways to go if you just allow your creative brain to open to possibility or what works for me a lot of the time because it works for my patients and clients and students, is their body tells me what they need or their goals tell me. They’ll just let me know, “Hey, I want to work on this, or I’m curious about doing this. Is it possible that I could work with you on it?” If it’s within my realm of skillset, I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” And if it’s not, then I’ll refer them to the more appropriate person.

So it’s opening your mind to possibility of always helping an individual in front of you continue to evolve and grow. And here’s the bottom line with retention: If you feel fearful of that, if you are fearful of running out of things to do, hitting your growth edge, the reason why I can work with people for so long on so many different levels is I’m always continuing learning, growing, evolving myself. So I promise you, if you are transforming yourself, if you’re continuing with your education classes, if you’re continuing to evolve yourself, you will always be able to work with someone for whatever, within the realm, the scope of your practice, of that new information or the new skillset you’re learning. But you’ll always have something to bring to the table. I mean, it’s true for me now. I’m learning so many ways as a human being myself. Right now in particular, I’m learning how to feel more emotions myself, process them through. I’m noticing in very small, detailed ways how me being fearful of a certain emotion, like fear, how it shows up in my business and it holds me back. And I’m also learning more practitioner skills.

You can read more on how to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset here: https://igniteurwellness.com/entrepreneurial-mindset/

So just next year, in January of 2023, I signed on for a coaching certification that works specifically with the nervous system, the subconscious brain and healing, so I can help my entrepreneurs the same way that I’m experiencing it myself, working and partnering with my brain and my nervous system to be the gas, the fuel to all that I’m doing. So I don’t have to do more. I focus on what I’m currently doing and I just dial off the notch. So I’m learning that same thing for my entrepreneurs. So in this way, now I have another skillset and a more refined skillset from what I currently have to help them know more to the next level. So then when they go to re-op, I have new tools to offer them and a new way to help them level up.

So again, carrying on becomes a no-brainer, especially when they have success and wins. So those are the key cornerstones is continuing to grow yourself and making sure that your clients are receiving those success and wins. Because when that happens, that powerful combination with working with the three timelines of always coming back to what are they feeling now in the present moment, what’s there to celebrate now in the present moment, what can they learn from the past and where do they want to go in the future. When all that comes together, it’s a very powerful combination for your people so they get the better end of the deal of getting the results that they hire you for, and then each time better and quicker and faster and easier and more results. And it’s a win-win for you because you have a very efficient, streamlined, and productive, profitable business.

Okay, so there you have it. Some tips for retention, which you might change the word to help you be more efficient and profitable in your business. I will see you next week. Bye for now!

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Alison McLean

"I help the Entrepreneur reduce stress and live a more fulfilled and balanced life."