How to create a watertight client agreement

5
minute read
Your client agreement helps each client relationship run smoothly with minimal room for misunderstanding.

Hooray, you’ve signed a new PT client. What next? Verbal agreements and a handshake won’t cut it. Here’s how to boost your business systems with a professional client agreement.

What is a client agreement?

A client agreement is a formal document that sets out the expectations of the trainer/client relationship. If you don’t have one, you are assuming that clients will just know what to expect. This can easily lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

A client agreement helps each client relationship run smoothly with minimal room for misunderstanding.

A good client agreement includes expectations on both sides, the exact nature of the service you’ll be delivering, and clear instructions about cancellations, refunds and other logistical issues.

Do sole traders need a client agreement?

We’re all familiar with the contracts from big companies or waivers from events. But do sole traders like Personal Trainers, instructors, coaches, physios and nutritionists need client agreements?

The answer is yes – in fact a client agreement is arguably more important when you have a smaller client base. A client agreement helps each client relationship run smoothly with minimal room for misunderstanding.

Why do trainers and coaches need a client agreement?

As a PT, instructor, or coach, you are selling a service. Selling a coaching relationship is totally different to selling something tangible like – say – a car. With the car, people can clearly see exactly what they’re getting and roughly understand what you get when you buy a car. They’ve probably bought cars in the past, and they know exactly what to do when their car needs repairs.

Selling an intangible service – like Personal Training or coaching – comes with certain challenges. Most people won’t know exactly what to expect (and there’s no industry standard).

A watertight client agreement benefits both of you. The client knows exactly what they’ll be getting, and understands what to do if they need to cancel, ask for a refund, take a break, or make any changes. You will be confident that the client has agreed to the important details that protect your time, stress levels, and income.

Are client agreements legally binding?

Client agreements are legally binding as long as they are considered fair to the consumer. Whilst it’s unlikely that any client will challenge your client agreement, it is advisable (but not strictly necessary) to get legal advice when you first draw up your client agreement.

What should you put in a client agreement?

Terms

Ts & Cs ensure you and your client have the same understanding of the service. You should set out what you will do (and what you will not do).

Revenue

One of the key benefits of a client agreement is securing your revenue streams. Include how and when payment should be made, and any details about deposits, late payment, cancellations etc.

Intellectual property

Be clear about who retains ownership of any materials generated for clients, including plans, programmes, membership to online groups or apps.

Disputes

Include clear information about how any disputes would be handled.

Liability

Clarify your liability and details of relevant insurances.

13 things you could include in a client agreement document

The nature of the relationship

What is the nature of the coaching relationship? Be clear about what they can expect from you and what you will help them achieve.

Definition of services

In the terms, you should be clear about the exact nature of the service you’re selling. What do you deliver, and what do you not do? What can they expect? Where are the boundaries of your service? When might you refer out?

Commitment of effort

You might choose to include an area where clients agree to their side of the partnership. What level of commitment do you expect and why? What will happen if they don’t show this commitment and how will you measure and communicate this?

Equipment required and/or provided

Where will you deliver your services and what equipment will you provide? Will they need to bring any equipment of their own?

PAR-Q requirement

What steps will need to be completed before the coaching commences? This will likely include PAR-Q but could also include other steps specific to your service.

What happens next?

Do you need clients to do any tests before coaching commences? These might include fitness tests, body composition tests, completing a food diary, or supplying medical information.

Fee structure

What is your charging policy and how often do you review this? Make clients aware of annual rises in fees if applicable, how to purchase extra time or bolt on services, and whether they can expect a discount for increasing their sessions.

Payment policy

How should clients pay, and how far in advance do you need payment? What happens if payment is not received by this time?

Refund policy

Can clients ask for a refund? If so, what’s the time period, what information do you need, what does the process look like from both sides?

Lateness policy

What happens if a client is late to a session or online call? How should they let you know? What’s the timeframe for rearranging vs cancelling, and what exactly happens in terms of refunds, rebooking, or losing the session? What is your policy for emergencies?

Cancellation policy

Set out a clear cancellation policy for cancellations by the client, and a separate one for cancellations by you (it might happen!) How will it be communicated, how many days or hours’ notice do you need or will you give, and what happens next?

Liability and insurances

Include injury liability waiver and give details of any relevant insurances for accident or injury.

Declaration of acceptance

Your client agreement should end with a section for both parties to sign and date. Striive includes digital agreement signing system which helps protect you as you grow your business. See more about these features below.

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Striive has your agreements covered

  • A digital agreement system which removes paper copies
  • Every new client signs your agreement when they sign up with you
  • Create multiple agreement templates if you offer different services
  • Agreement versions tracked automatically so you know when a client is out of date
  • Clients also complete a digital PAR-Q when they sign up
  • Easily connect all of this to your own website
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