We’ve talked before about how to raise your business rates, and whilst daunting, it is something you should be doing year on year (until you realistically can’t raise them any further without a truly niche offering).
But have you considered why you should charge more for your services?
Yes, there’s the one or two obvious reasons – you haven’t had a decent holiday in the last three years, your car’s on its last legs (although not necessarily the reasons you’d give your clients) but there’s another more notable reason… you.
It’s easy for us to get bogged down in the day-to-day and at times feel like a general dogsbody for some clients, which when confidence levels drop, can make us feel like we simply can’t increase our rates.
But you can, and you should.
And you’re going to, right after reading this article … or at least I hope you do.
Here’s why you should charge more for your services.
1. You’re so busy working for clients that you’ve no time to market your own business.
Working flat out, most likely means you have a good client base. Clients who want to continue working with you. Clients who value you and are happy to keep passing along the work.
Clients who aren’t worried about how much work they throw your way because your rates are affordable.
Great that you’ve got all this work. But because you’re flat out now, it’s impossible to make any more money. There just aren’t any more hours in the day.
So, if your time is fully allocated, you’ve hit your ceiling. And in order to make more money, you’ll need to charge more for your services.
2. Your new client discussions focus on what you can do, rather than what you’re worth.
You’re charging too little if all you do on a call is list the type of tasks you’re able to do (or perhaps you’re new to the VA world and unsure how to approach client calls. If so, check out Want More Clients? Preparation & Positioning is Key article for helpful tips).
Instead own the meeting. Lead it. Offer ideas. Suggest ways of working. Best practices. Streamlined processes.
Because here’s the thing, positioning yourself as professional, knowledgeable, reliable, proactive and supportive, rather than ‘just an admin assistant’, automatically dictates your worth.
3. Prospects don’t question your rates.
When it comes to ‘that time’ of a meeting when rates are discussed, if you give your rate and no questions are asked, it’s (maybe) time to charge more.
The rates discussion isn’t a discussion to add-on to the end of a call. If done right, rates have been subliminally discussed throughout the entire meeting. Your initial call with a client should be to find out about their business and support needs, but as touched on above, it should also be about you illuminating your worth throughout.
Which means that by the end of the call when the client asks for your rates, you’ll state them with confidence. Knowing that you’ve already outlined the value you will bring to their business.
If they choose to walk away, good. It leaves you to focus on the clients who are looking for quality over cost.
4. You’re providing more value to the client
Naturally, your skills will become honed over time. You’ll become more competent and knowledgeable in your field. Perhaps your quality of work has improved. The attention more detailed.
And as a result, you’ll bring added value to that client’s business.
It’s only right to be remunerated for it.
Acknowledge the added value you’re now offering and outline a plan for increasing your rates with those existing clients.
5. You haven’t raised your rates in the last 12 months.
And finally, the no-brainer – if you haven’t raised your rates in the last year, it’s time to go ahead and do so.
You’d ask for an annual pay-rise if you were employed wouldn’t you?
Bumping your rates
For new clients it’s easy – state your new rates without alluding to the fact they’ve been recently raised, and they’re none the wiser.
For existing client’s it’s a little trickier and may need an individual approach.
Here are a couple of suggestions when structuring your pricing change:
1) Raise rates incrementally.
Say you’re charging £22 per hour now, and you jump to £30, that’s going to make some clients run, even if they love working with you.
Think about it, that’s an additional £8 per hour which works out to be a 36% increase.
In recent years, pay increases have hovered around 5%, so bear that in mind when increasing your rates.
2) Be selective.
This is two-fold.
- Review your client’s businesses and understand what their budgets are.
- Decide the clients you really want to continue working with and those you’re not so bothered about, if any.
By defining those, you’ll have a better idea of what you can realistically up your rates to for each client.
My caveat to this approach is to bear it in mind only if you really want to continue working with a client because you get a lot of enjoyment for that role, but you know they have a tight budget that you’ve perhaps squeezed already in a previous pay rise.
Then, for Client A who you’d like to continue working with but has a stretched budget, you state your increase at 3%.
For Client B with a bigger budget, you may state your rate increase is 5-10%.
Yes, you may lose a client or two in the process. But the reality is that you’re unlikely to lose any money.
And ultimately, you free up your time (by losing those low paying clients) to market your business and find clients who are looking for value over cost.