According to the ICF, the average cost of a coach in the U.S. is about $150 an hour, although some don’t charge by the hour but by the month or by the year. So you need to ask how often your coach will want to speak with you or whether you have flexibility. For instance, your coach may want you to speak with her every week but you may feel once every other week is enough. Is the coach open to those terms?

You don’t want to choose a coach just because he is low cost, or assume that the coach is great for you just because he charges a lot. You must consider your chemistry as well as the work style and experience level of the coach. Also, keep in mind that if you find the right coach who can help you grow your business, the return on your investment is likely to be a multiple ranging from four to 10 times the fee you pay your coach. Studies by coaching and consulting firms such as MetrixGlobal and Manchester Consulting (now owned by Right Management Consultants) found about a 500% to 600% return on an investment in coaching. Keep in mind, these studies were based on results of executive coaches with experience and professional credentials.

Coaches that get the most referrals charge the most because this is a one-on-one service and there are only so many hours in a day. Tracy Beckes, for instance, works with some of the best-known financial planners in the profession, including Norm Boone, Dick Vodra, and Cheryl Holland, and she has gotten glowing word-of-mouth referrals by working with a handful of leading planners, most of them fee-only practitioners. Beckes says she charges $6,000 annually for 11 sessions over 12 months, and she asks for a two-year commitment and a $2,000 retainer. The first four sessions generally last 90 minutes and then her sessions last an hour or less, and she also spends several hours preparing for each client session by researching solutions to their problems. While Beckes says clients almost never hire her to help increase their incomes, “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with who have quadrupled their income.” Beckes says she has the experience level to get an MCC certification and plans to get it. However, her coaching practice has grown so rapidly that it has not been a priority. Still, she recommends finding a coach with credentials.