If you’re a business coach, you don’t always have to speak to your clients live.
Appointments are great for keeping clients on track. But while having appointments allows for consistency in your practice, they come at the cost of urgency.
Many challenges can be resolved with voice message instead of a meeting. For example, if a business owner has a question about an upcoming staff review, they can lay out the issues in three minutes over Voxer or Slack by recording their voice. Their coach can listen to the voice message and respond with good advice within a few hours. The client solves the problem as it happens.
The alternative is for the client to write their challenge on a notepad; carry the notepad to their meeting a week or two later; struggle to remember the full context of the challenge; and talk to the coach–usually after the moment has passed.
Asynchronous coaching is unscheduled coaching. It literally means “independent of time.”
It can be done over email (which takes awhile), over video message…but I find audio message the best. Voxer is great, because it’s harder to ramble and people can’t speak over one another. But Facebook audio messages, Slack audio messages and even recorded audio sent over text can work well.
Audio (and video) also allows the client and coach to convey things beyond the written word – tone, stress or calm. While it’s easy to take a written email in the wrong context, the tonal quality of voice allows the listener to pick up on inflection.
For example, I once had a potential client say, “I just need to get my business in order and profitable before I hire a coach.”
This is a really common fallacy that many entrepreneurs share.
instead of writing a reply like “That’s exactly what a mentor will do with you!”, I send a four-minute voice mail. I shared a story from my childhood: how, after years of being overworked and taking courses at night, my mom finally relented and hired a housecleaner. We were all glad she was getting help. But the night before the housecleaner would show up, she would clean the house from top to bottom. This happened every week. She didn’t want the housecleaner to see our messy house (it wasn’t.)
Then I asked if that’s how the client felt about their business: that they didn’t want their business coach to see the mess.
The potential client sent back a voice mail.
“First, I can’t believe it’s actually you instead of a bot! Second – haha! – that’s exactly what I’m doing. How do I get started?”
A quick voice mail also has retention value.
In 2023 so far, the best new retention strategy we’ve employed is a simple one: a two-minute voice mail from me to a new client.
After their second call with a mentor, I get a brief update on the client’s progress. I send the client a short voice mail thanking them for their focus and dedication to the process; then thanking them for their investment in themselves; and finally, praising the mentor they’re working with.
I’m not booking a call to chat with them or showing up at their next appointment; I’m just throwing a little gas on the fire–and they don’t even expect it!
One more example: during Think Week, I finished each day with a four-minute Voxer message to Bonnie Skinner of LevelUp Coaching.
Bonnie is my mental fitness coach. She helps me with decision-making, confidence, stress reduction and more. We work through big decisions together all the time.
These daily messages were a succinct recap of the decision to be made; the path I chose; and the rationale. Bonnie would respond a few hours later with some feedback. But a lot of the value came from SENDING the message: it allowed me to summarize the decision for myself; iterate on it as simply as possible; and make it permanent. These daily summaries were like hitting “save game” on my progress.
I also use weekly asynchronous check-ins in our META program. Every week, other business coaches working with me are required to send a 3-minute audio check-in on Friday.
They cover: Wins for the week / challenges for the week / and what I can help them with right now.
Many say the check-ins are one of the most important things we do every week. It keeps the work tempo very high, and solves problems quickly for the client. I share the template for these calls in our Two-Brain Business Certified Mentor program.
Now, here’s the largest concern most coaches have about asynchronous (unscheduled) coaching:
“Won’t this mean I’m always on call?!”
The reality is that while a client can send you a voice message or text at any time, you don’t have to respond right away. In fact, I often give a better response if I think about their message for a few hours before I hit “reply”.
If you’re a business coach, I’m sure you’ve had these moments: a client asks a question during their scheduled call. You give the best answer you can in the moment. They leave the call with a strategy.
But, a few hours later, you’re walking your dog or driving–and you think of a better answer, or a different strategy. So you quickly send off a note:
“Hey Jay, after thinking about it some more…”
Asynchronous coaching works best if you set the expectation that your response will be thought-out and well-considered before you send it.
These are the quick conversations that happen in the moment, when the obstacle is right in front of the client. The value to the client is great: they can sometimes help solve their own problems just by iterating it out loud. And hearing a response from their coach allows them to copy the inflection, tone and intent–not just the words. They feel like “When I needed my coach the most, she was there!”
Of course, asynchronous coaching can’t completely replace the important, scheduled mentorship appointments. These are the times blocked off for long-term planning; strategic thinking; and focus. But good asynchronous coaching is more than a text check-in or an accountability message; it’s real, in-the-moment, on-the-ground service.
A final note: please don’t try to automate this. Inserting a bot into your coaching practice erodes trust, builds skepticism and countermands the purpose of having a real coach. If you send the same “Hello Chris, this is Amy from BizzyCoach! How are things going this week?” message every Tuesday at 9am, your clients will stop responding, then stop trusting, then stop being coached.
You must view asynchronous coaching as part of your practice, not another ‘add-on’ to be automated.
Where can asynchronous coaching fit into your coaching or mentorship practice?