“How do I cope with no-show clients?”
This question came up on a coaches forum I like to contribute to, and I know this’ll apply to a lot of my readers…
“How do I cope with no-show clients? A new client hasn’t shown up for two of the four sessions we contracted. Each time she follows up with really apologetic emails, begging me not to give up on her…,” the life coach asked.
Here’s my response:
Or, to put it another way…
Keeping her as a client is not good life coaching.
The life coach writes: ‘My gremlin [inner saboteur] insists that she doesn’t value the coaching and it is judging her, and suggesting I either “lay down the law” or fire her.’
That ain’t your “gremlin” honey.
That’s your professionalism and self respect.
It’s your gremlin that’s telling you you’re not allowed to to have standards. And it’s your gremlin having cocktails with her gremlin when you buy into her excuses. (I roll my eyes.)
She doesn’t want to be coached. Period. End of story. If she wanted to be life coached she’d show up. It’s that’s simple.
If I’m wrong, and she really wants to coach, make her earn the right to continue coaching with you. I suggest an agreement that you’re authorized to charge her credit card $1,000 every time she’s a no show.
That’ll let you know real fast how serious she is about coaching.
Fire her. It’ll be great for your self esteem as a life coach, and that’ll be attractive to better clients.
And ALWAYS get paid in advance.
(PS: My use of “gremlin” comes from Rick Carlson’s book “Taming Your Gremlin.” Learn more at his Gremlin Training Institute for coaches.)
I’d love to hear from other coaches, consultants, and service professionals out there… what’s YOUR solution and experience?
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Right on target again!
As coaches, we can’t help people who aren’t even willing to show up for the call. T. Harv Ecker says “the way you do anything is the way you do everything”. Makes me wonder what all that client is not “showing up” for in her own life and what impact that is having on her results.
I was wondering the same thing. Firing this client may be just the wake up call she needs.
Love this article, Thanks Morgana!
I’ve got a twist on this one that leaves me scratching my head…. I fire clients all the time, and my clients all pre-pay, but this one has me stumped. A client pre-paid a package that has three hours remaining. I am clear I need to fire the clients, and I’ve been considering refunding the unused portion of the package, along with an email letting her know why. My integrity/ethics voice says “refund and be done” but professionally, am I disrespecting or undercutting myself and my services by giving back money she has paid? Am I being arrogant? Am I disrespecting myself? I feel that she has been disrespectful to me and my ability. What IS the appropriate move here?
I have to agree with my mates! I’ve done it to–in a loving way, but yes, I’ve fired the non-committed and flaky ones after the excuses of no-shows start piling up (2 strikes, yer out!).
I totally get the impulse to give the refund, but wait a minute…
1) It DOES disrespect you and your Money Honey, and Money finds that very unattractive.
2) Do not reward your client for being a rude, irresponsible flake. How on EARTH can that be in integrity? What does that teach her? How does that serve her?
Now I’m curious. You say you fire your clients all the time. Why do you think that is?
If you want clients who are SERIOUS about working with you, be really clear about the ground rules and the consequences. Let them know you’re going to hold them to high standards. If you’re “firing clients” all the time, my hunch is you’re not discriminating enough in who take on.
I’m with Carol. I’m easy peasy understanding the first time if you have a good excuse and are really apologetic. Do it again and you’re gone.
Start at your first meeting or contact.
Either have it written,displayed, or
inform the prospective client that
“Appointments neither kept nor
cancelled with the required 24,48hr, 1
weeks notice are chargeable”
If they can’t accept that, it shows the
quality of their intention. If they go ahead
and cancel on you anyway they can’t come
back to work with you until they have paid
the outstanding bill, and if they don’t it’s
business don’t really need in the first place.
Thank you Chris. Great advice!
No room here for compassion towards a client who misses an appointment because she was rushed to the hospital or has a power outage in her neighorhood knocking out phones and internet or a call from the police because they found an elderly parent had fallen in the driveway
Of course some clients should be fired, but the lack of any discernment and the lack of any shred of compassion here that sometimes life happens is shocking and displays arrogance.
The assumption that it’s always bad intent on the part of the client is pretty heartless. Sometimes life happens.
Hi Mary. You’re jumping to some very extreme conclusions here, that have nothing to do with the question I answered.
The person who asked the question was asking about a client who had an ongoing pattern of not showing up. No life emergency. No hospital visits. Just a lack of commitment that makes helping the client impossible. And continuing to accept money from a coaching client you aren’t helping doesn’t fit my definition of ethical or compassionate…
Fire with love and compassion, so that a client is freed to get the help she needs, from the right source at the right time.
Life emergencies are a completely different scenario and would receive a completely different response.