Should You Have A Signature Service?

Signature service

It is generally accepted as lore that if you want to be a Very Important Coach Indeed – or, in fact, be able to purchase Christmas gifts for your loved ones – you must have a Signature Service.

A signature service, also known as “Off The Shelf”, “5 Step Program”, and a few other things that enterprising gurus have trademarked – basically means factory coaching.

The client comes in one end, goes through a prefabricated set of steps in a pre-assigned set of time and hocus pocus alakazam, comes out fixed, whole, and ready to refer rich friends to you.

So. Is a signature service right for you? Will your practice crumble without one? Let’s find out.

A signature service needs at least one of two factors to be present. (Having both is better.)

1. The coaching topic itself lends itself to a prefabricated system in the first place.

Some topics lend themselves to steps. Others don’t. Yoga For Beginners – yes. Find Your Passion – maybe. Work Through Your Grief – probably not.

2. The coach is the type of person who likes that sort of methodical, prefab process. Not everybody does. Some people color code their file folders and have realistic to-do lists every day. (My esteemed partner, for example.)

Other people institute a paper-full office policy and officially only read written communication scribed in magic marker or crayon. (Moi.)

The former would be good at signature coaching packages. The latter, not so much.

Unknowns, enigmas and spanners in the works.

A big part of your decision about what kind of coaching package to offer comes down to what your customers are looking for and how possible it is to give it to them. Just because they want it to be a simple process doesn’t mean it can be.

We’re talking about unknowns and x-factors here. Unknowns are the things you don’t know about the person coming in. Where they are in the process, for example. You may have a six-week program that your client may not be ready for.

If we offered a signature service called “Get Your Book Launch Ready in Six Weeks,” we don’t know where you are. You can give us your money and when we take a look at your product and list size, it may come out that you need a lot of work before you’re even ready for week one.

On the other hand, you may have already done so much that you don’t need the first two weeks of the signature program. Oops, looks like you’re not hiring us. Sucks to be me. You just don’t know what unknowns are out there.

Then you have the x-factors, the things that could throw that Spaniard in the works. There may be something unique about a client’s situation that actually means the process in the signature service doesn’t apply to them. They may legitimately not be able to use pieces of your process. They may have a more complicated situation than your easy-peasy, cookie-cutter process can handle.

Basically, the fewer unknowns your client has, the better candidate you are for an off-the-shelf service.


If you are offering something like weight loss coaching, the process generally doesn’t change no matter how much weight the client has to lose. You can also predict a range of “special cases” to factor into your process – wheat allergies, bad knees, busy schedules – and create a system that can accommodate them relatively easily.

In other words, the chances of being able to say “Just go do this” for the vast majority of your clients is high.

If you are counseling spouses of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder, the process can be anything but straightforward. The unknowns and x-factors here make this situation a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a taco.

So the chances of being able to say “Just go do this” for the vast majority of your clients is very low.

So that’s the basic guideline. The fewer the unknowns, the lower the chances that an x-factor could hose you, the better a candidate you are for an off-the-shelf program.

A quick and easy way to know if YOU are a good candidate for offering an off-the-shelf coaching service.

Someone suggests to you that you create a standardized system, a formula of sorts. 12 weeks, standard process, same for every client. What is your response?

1. This is my idea of heaven.
2. This is my idea of hell.

Your homework for today.

Read this blog post again, think about it, then do whatever you like. No matter who tells you that it’s a crucial, must-have-or-you’re-going-to-the-food-bank… they’re just plain wrong.

We have never offered a signature package and we are still alive and kicking. Other people would die without one. So much depends on what you like to do, what market you’re in, and what your customers want.

And that’s up to you to decide, based on all your unique factors, which neither your gurus nor I have access to. If it seems like a good idea for your topic and your personality, go for it. If it only seems like a good idea for your bottom line, think hard.

Further reading:

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.