Nearly all of my coaching is remote. I have 16 one-on-one clients and only two of them live close enough to allow face-to-face meetings on a regular basis.
I also have my SWAT Inner Circle Group (Simon Ward Athlete Training,) which currently has around 150 members. This has been in existence for five years now and continues to grow organically. The type of coaching I provide to them is more hands-off—with me offering programs, resources and guidance through weekly webinars and via our exclusive Facebook group.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not found coaching remotely to be a restriction. In fact, it has given me a great deal of freedom. Work to live, not live to work, right?
The current COVID-19 situation presents all coaches with some challenges, but with these, we also have opportunities. Maybe now is the time to revisit the way you coach and how you interact with your clients? Below, I have outlined some of the practices that have helped me to build out my remote coaching business.
Build a Network
Okay, so you might not see your clients regularly, but they can still get regular coaching. Seek to forge alliances with coaches who you know and trust. For example, I have an athlete based in London. In order to get feedback on their swim technique, I reached out to a local swim coach that I know personally and asked if my client could visit them once-a-month. I trust this coach to deliver honest feedback to both myself and the athlete, as well as to have the integrity not to try and poach clients. The reciprocal arrangement means that I will do the same for their clients if they are in my area.
This isn’t just restricted to swim coaches. I have a network of strength trainers, physios, nutritionists and psychologists around the world that I can connect clients to if necessary. Rather than weaken my position, I feel this enhances what I can offer to prospective clients.
Use Technology to Communicate
Thanks to technology, the world is a very small, well-connected place. I currently use Zoom to have face-to-face chats with clients all over the world.
Zoom also enables you to connect with a large group of people at the same time and even to broadcast live through Facebook, making it very easy to deliver live workshops to your tribe. Most smartphones now have excellent cameras with video, so if you don’t have a coach local to that athlete, it is very simple for them to take a video of themselves performing any manner of exercises for your feedback.
Of course, you can also create content for your tribe. You are limited only by your imagination, but some suggestions include video tutorials on YouTube/Vimeo, podcasts, webinars, infographics, PDF documents and so much more.
The SWAT group has members with a wide range of skills, and your training groups will be similar. Find out who has what skills and try to use them to enhance the value of the group. You may find that there are several people who live near each other who could ride and run together (not right now of course, with social distancing). Equally, they may have business skills that can benefit other group members. How about a physio, masseur or personal trainer that you can refer people to in a particular area? What about the best bike shops in specific locations? The list is endless and gives you massive scope to add value to your coaching service.
Build a Community
In the current COVID-19 predicament, a group of people supporting each other is a wonderful thing to behold. It extends beyond that. In SWAT we have created a supportive community using Facebook. We have an exclusive group page where members can post questions about training, races, equipment, and know that they won’t be ridiculed for asking a “silly” question. Members post their race reports and provide a lot of encouragement for each other. As the page admin, it is hard work to curate a page and make sure it stays polite and useful rather than descending into a group full of sales messages and silly videos.
The downside of working from home is that you can feel isolated, but this is easily remedied. As I mentioned earlier: “Work to live, not live to work.” Having clients in different locations provides a fantastic opportunity to travel and visit them in their home location. You can do solo visits to higher-paying clients (you may even find that they host you during your stay), and for others in your group, you can organize a live meet-up where you invite them to a venue and run a training session or hold a Q & A session. Once the COVID-19 pandemic has resolved, we can truly seize this opportunity.
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to create or further develop your remote coaching business. Now is the perfect time to rethink your approach and maybe reinvent yourself and your life.
If I can be of any more help, please do not hesitate to reach out. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org