In this episode of the podcast we’re talking about some pretty scary territory for any freelancer – raising your rates. We have a few quick tips for making the process painless for you and your clients.
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In this episode of the podcast we’re talking about some pretty scary territory for any freelancer – that is raising your rates. We have a few quick tips for making the process a little more painless for you and for your clients.
Tips for Smooth Transitions When You Change Your Rates
Many freelancers and virtual and virtual assistants set their rates low when they first start out so that they can attract clients. And that’s always a good plan. But if you’ve been doing things for awhile, then you probably already know that you want to earn a little bit more for each hour of your time as you build stronger relationships with your clients and you improve and grow your skills.
It can be difficult to say to your existing clients that you’re going to change your rates. You might be afraid that they’ll leave you, you might be afraid that they’ll be angry with you, there are all sorts of scenarios that run through your head when you’re ready to change your rates.
In most cases, I can honestly tell you that none of those things are going to happen.
I do know that me saying that to you doesn’t really make you feel any better about doing it, so we’re going to go over a few quick tips for raising your rates, keeping things simple, and making it much less scary for you and for your clients.
Tip #1: Give your current clients plenty of notice and plenty of time before the rate change goes into effect.
It’s never a good idea to send out an email out of the blue on a random Tuesday announcing that your rates are going up effective immediately. That is going to scare people away and that is going to cause a little bit of turmoil that you don’t want to have to deal with.
Instead, give your clients four to six weeks notice. Send out an email, send out a reminder, and send out another reminder. Let them know that they can place an order up until a certain date at the current lower rate.
Decide how much notice you want to give based on your own billing cycles and do what makes the most sense for you. For example, the last time I changed my transcription rates I actually gave my clients nine weeks notice and I made the rate change correspond with the beginning of the next quarter so that it would be easy for everyone to remember. Things worked out really well, no one complained, and a few people didn’t even notice the rate change.
You can also make this work in your favor. You can set up a special in between now and your rate change offering a “buy now and save” type of offer where they can reserve time with you in advance at the lower rate and still be getting that lower rate after your rates changes. That way they feel like they’re getting a little bit of a reward – and in a way they are, because you value them as a current client and you want to offer them the best service you can.
Tip #2: Be honest and be transparent about it.
It does not need to be a dark and scary secret that you’re changing your rates. Just be up front and let everyone know.
Now, if you’re raising your rates by a really big increment, let the client know why you’re doing it that way and let them know that since you first started working together your skills have improved, you’ve developed systems, and the marketplace has probably changed quite a bit.
Maybe in the beginning you were just finding your feet and now you’re established in your market, you know what you’re doing, things are getting done faster. Maybe now you even have extra skills to bring to the table that you didn’t have in the beginning; you’ve learned things, you’ve grown, you’ve expanded.
Be honest – your clients are going to appreciate that. You are perfectly entitled to ask for more money even without a reason. And you certainly do not need to apologize for asking for a higher rate.
Your time is just as valuable as your client’s time. Please, don’t let them make you think otherwise.
Just a little food for thought here… If a client does feel the need to argue with you about the value of your time, then they might not be the type of person that you really want to work with long term.
I realize that might sound a little bit harsh, and I’m sorry if it does, but it really upsets when clients do not value the time of their virtual assistant. Your time is important. Your time is valuable. Your time needs to be respected just as much as theirs does.
Tip#3: Know and accept that it is absolutely okay if some of your clients choose to stop working with you right now.
Like I said earlier, the good news here is that most clients aren’t going to do that. Most clients will understand and they’ll want to stick by you when you do raise your rates. In fact, many of them will congratulate you for raising your rates and for expanding your business, and for growing your skills and being able to help them in new ways.
However, there are always going to be a few people who will go elsewhere and seek a lower rate. Sometimes that happens even when you’re not raising your rates. Your rate could be steady for months at a time and a client goes off looking for a lower rate.
Don’t worry about it!
Remember, even if you only raise your rates by a little tiny bit, it still means that you are earning more for the work that you do. You can afford to lose a client or two in the beginning, and you can fill up your schedule with new clients or by offering additional time to other existing clients. It’s all going to work out in the end, everything is going to be fine, and everyone will be happy.
Don’t panic if a client decides to go and find a lower rate somewhere else.
Just to put your mind at ease a little bit more, a little tidbit from my experience over the last 10 years of helping clients is that when a client goes seeking a lower rate, oftentimes what they end up finding is a lower quality of service. They come back to you in a few months, sometimes a little bit longer or a little bit sooner, and they let you know how much they appreciate the hard work you put into what you do for them and they are more than happy to pay that higher rate for your service now that they’ve seen what some of the low priced competition is actually offering.
Tip #4: Have confidence in your abilities.
You can do this. You can grow your business. You can ask for higher rates. You can build strong lasting relationships with your clients.
To wrap things up today, I’m going to hand the microphone over to Alicia and she’s going to talk eliminating self-doubt so that you can grow your business and get past those obstacles no matter where you are in your virtual assistant business today.
We’re going to wrap things up there for today. I want to thank you again for listening here at VAhelper.com. If you have a question or a topic that you would like us to cover, please leave us a comment on the blog or use the big purple tab on the right hand side of the website to leave a voice message. We’d be glad to cover anything that we can help you with.
Thank you again. Have a great week!