When I started out in business my life really sucked. I mean like it really sucked. I had been unemployed for a long time, I was still raw about not having a stable place to live for sometime and as you can tell by my “So Positive” language, my confidence was as high as my bank balance.
As I started my business, that was the “Big Turning Point” for me. As I say often in public speeches before many, “Every day my life unsucked that little bit more and now it is almost Awesome!”. That always gets lots of laughs and these days I love looking back on my “Not so Awesome Days” with humour and positive reflection.
When I started out, I hired someone to Mentor me and they TOTALLY RIPPED ME OFF. Really poor quality advice, they just screwed me around and you guessed it – they locked me into a 12 month contract and if I even thought of leaving they would have sent the debt collectors after me.
It was quite a horrible experience and this gave me some great insight into how Contracts suck when it comes to Consulting. I get in other industries contracts are very important (e.g. when there is say upfront expenses by the vendor or complex situations) and they have their place.
In terms of Consulting, Marketing, Mentoring and Coaching – I could never from a “Client Viewpoint” ever figure out why you need contracts. You aren’t putting any costs up and I have heard all sorts of arguments of why they are important. They are basically poorly disguised arguments from the Consultants to get more money and “Lock People In” with lame justifications such as “Oh it holds the clients accountable”, “It’s really for them”, “It’s to make it more easier for them” – really?
I have even known some Coaches to charge 6 month up front deposits. Why? You know why!
The funny point about my borderline rant here is that I am anything far from alone on this topic and when I started out I said “NO” to contracts on my clients. I am month by month, no deposits and people can use me month by month as long or as little as I like. At the time, some of my colleagues (who most are back at work now) laughed at me saying “You suck Edward, you got to put contracts on them to hold them accountable and earn the big dollars”.
I knew this was wrong and I went in the other direction. Today, I often get asked by many quite innocently who are Awesome Coaches, Consultants, Mentors or say Marketing People like myself “Should I have lock-in times for clients?”.
I am the first ones to always say no to this. Quite often, Coaches who I have known with 12 month lock in contracts usually have big problems with their clients. What if say their client is finished at 3 months? What then happens? Do you hold them ransom for 9 months more? Many take the “YES” road here and this usually ends up in two places.
1) The Client takes the pain and when they finish they declare war on the supplier (No referrals or Goodwill).
2) The Client just breaks it anyway and moves on.
Either Way it doesn’t lead to a sustainable business situation and my advice on this one is NO LOCK IN TIMES! Why?
1) Easier to sell and you get higher conversion.
2) People come and go and come back as they please giving you higher satisfaction.
3) Some people just need a few months or so.
4) They leave loving you and gladly refer!
That is, the “No Lock In” method works better, is more sustainable and you will have clients that support you.
My advice? Don’t be greedy and don’t do the lock-in contracts if you are a Coach, Consultant, Mentor or the like unless there is a really good reason (say you are putting on staff for a period to cover a big client or something like that). The top Consultants I know let clients come and go as they please and they have endless streams of referrals.
Love your work and thank you for reading my borderline rant! Here is to flexible terms.
About the Author with No Lock-In Contracts:
Edward Zia is a Marketing Mentor, Consultant, 4Networking Leader, Speaker and Lover of Awesome Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners based in Sydney Australia. He spends his days helping the business community with Ideas & Strategies to help his clients get more profitable clients with greater ease, success and automation.
To learn more, visit www.excellenceabove.com.au and he so invites you sign up for Free Awesome Sales & Marketing Strategies + Ideas. If you like what you see, check out his Online Success Course “The Awesome Marketing Vault” – right here and love your work!