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Group Coaching Models That Leverage Your Time

by Marcia Yudkin

If you’re a coach, consultant or professional service provider, sooner or later you’re going to run smack against the logistical barrier that you can serve only so many clients one-on-one. In addition, you can charge those one-on-one clients only so much. This seems to create a ceiling on your income, as well as keeping you working hard if you want to earn a higher-than-average income.

The solution to this challenge involves developing one or more group programs that allow you to earn more in less time and with less energy on your part.

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For instance, if you charge $200 an hour for private consulting and have an eight-hour group coaching program that costs $500 a person and you have six people in it, you’re (trust me, I did the math) $1400 ahead. If you have more people or charge more, you’d be even more ahead than if you spent those eight hours in individual sessions. 

Five Group Coaching Models

How to structure your group coaching program? Let’s simplify the infinite number of options by talking about five program models.

Model #1: Goal-oriented Class. Your coaching program has a specific goal that participants should be able to complete by the end of a certain number of weeks or months, such as completing a business plan, having a presentation ready to go, implementing smart SEO techniques or being able to pass a professional certification exam. 

As long as you have a way to get a class like this in front of those who want to reach the goal and you price the program wisely, it’s relatively easy to sell. It requires preparation, structure and support materials, but once you create those, you can reuse them for years as you repeat the class with new participants.

Model #2: Master Class. You’ll often find this model at music conservatories, writer’s conferences and acting schools. Participants bring in something they are currently working on, they perform a portion of it and the maestro (the expert) stops them, critiques what they did and shows them how to do it better. It’s instructional not only for the participants but also for everyone watching and listening. 

In fact, quite often there’s a distinction between participants and auditors at these sessions: Those who get critiqued pay more. The maestro doesn’t do any preparation at all, just steps in and coaches according to what the person needs. 

This model could apply to people pitching their business to investors, writing web copy, decorating homes for sale, designing restaurant menus and much more. It could be a one-time event or something taking place once a week, a month or a quarter for a set fee.

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Model #3: Support Group. With this model, there’s a topic everyone in the group is working on in some way, and the leader facilitates discussion, suggestions and advice that moves the participants beyond their stuck points. Everyone takes turns each session under the guidance of the leader. 

Usually you charge for this kind of group coaching according to sessions that last a certain number of weeks, but people are often willing to repeat and keep on coming as long as they feel the support is useful to them. 

Model #4: Problem-solving Mastermind. Here people come together with peers to brainstorm solutions and techniques around their work, professional life or their dreams. Although there are many leaderless mastermind groups, others have a paid leader who functions like a facilitator. When I lived in Boston, I knew a couple of people who ran such groups for executives for a living. 

As with support groups, there’s no weekly agenda other than taking turns, and the leader might charge participants by the month, the quarter or the year. 

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Model #5: Drop-in Online Group. Some call this model a “coaching club” or “coaching gym,” since just as with a gym, you drop in at a certain online location for coaching when you need it. The coaching takes place on a members-only, password-protected blog, forum, discussion board or private email list. Clients pay a monthly (or quarterly or annual) fee, and it’s up to them to take the initiative to use the service.

Your personal preferences and area of expertise will probably get you leaning toward one or more of those models. Keep in mind as you form your plans for launching coaching groups that they are beneficial in other ways besides boosting your income. 

They make your knowledge and skills accessible to people who may not be able to afford one-on-one work with you, they keep your instincts sharp, and participants usually end up with more well-rounded learning and deeper understanding of what you teach than with one-on-one coaching or consulting.

Copyright 2012 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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