Does thinking about pricing your services creates unnecessary anxiety and stress for you? Are you wondering how to balance the requirements of a successful business with fairness to your clients? In this video, I’ll walk you through the proper ways to price your services for optimal revenue at a fair level to your clients.
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My name is Sasha Raskin. I’m a Number 1 Best Selling Co-Author in 12 Countries, a Doctoral student in Counseling Education and Supervision, a coach, a psychotherapist and an adjunct faculty at a graduate counseling program at Naropa University.
One of the things I’m enjoying the most is helping other therapists and coaches build their successful private practice so that they could actually help the clients they were taught to help, and thrive themselves. I’m almost always fully booked, so my ability to work with individuals is limited. That is why I’ve created this program to deliver powerful results and create a community where you will feel supported by each other!
This program’s primary goal is to help you build a thriving private practice, in a fun and authentic way. Counselors and coaches invest an incredible amount of time, money, and effort into building their helping skills. However, when their training ends, they usually find themselves lacking the business skills that are needed to start and run a successful private practice, feel isolated, discouraged and not knowing where to start.
I believe that to be truly helpful to others, therapists and coaches have to learn to thrive themselves and definitely know how to get clients whom they can help.
This is where this program comes in. If you’re willing to learn and work hard, a 6-figure private practice is within your reach in a year – 2 years. This program will give you a clear outline, and detailed instructions on how to get there.
How To Build A Private Practice
Hi. Sasha from the Six Figure Practice here. Today we’re going to talk about pricing strategies for your business. Whether you’re a coach or a counselor you probably had moments where you were not clear on what is the best way for you to price your services. And I get it though, so many moving parts in it and all of those contributors deserve to be looked at.
Now, as a helper I was many times stuck myself, about meaning coach or counselor or both, because there is this delicate balance of I need to have a business that can sustain itself and even lead me towards financial freedom. And on the other hand there are many clients who cannot afford higher fees or can afford very little and there are clients who definitely can afford high fees and also actually expect that from someone who is an expert. So there is so much confusion around what to charge, how to make decisions in terms of what is the best price to put on your service, because how do you put a number on helping others change their lives? So I get why so many of my clients feel stuck with that.
Now, what’s most helpful to keep in mind is that there is the ability to experiment with different pricing and there is a range and you can make decisions in terms of what is the best pricing to put on your services today, because you will need different numbers for different stages of your business.
So in a moment you’ll see a video where I talk about those things. A quick heads up, the video quality is slightly lower because it was a Facebook Live video and Facebook compresses Facebook Live videos. The audio quality is still good, so I hope it won’t bother you too much. While you watch this video or listen if you’re during something else doing that, think about kind of the emotional part and the thoughts and beliefs that you have about what you deserve and don’t deserve, about the actual intention behind you putting that specific price that you have right now on your services – is it from a place of fear, being rejected, losing all your clients if you’re under charging, is it from a place of greed maybe? And of course, it’s so much complexity in this, so it’s totally worth unpacking it.
The biggest one that I see at least in the counseling profession is this belief that real work is done in the trenches, which many times leads to counselors living paycheck to paycheck and hardly paying the bills which doesn’t do anyone any good. So that’s one belief to look at.
Without further ado, enjoy this video.
You’ve been trained to help others, you have all this compassion and all those skills, now when you’re building your own business and building your private practice how can you even put a number in it, on helping others change their lives? And it’s a tricky one, right? In a perfect world you wouldn’t need to worry about it at, right? But since you want it to be something that’s sustainable you need to be very clear with how you monetize your services. And fees is being the main part of that.
So let’s say you’re just starting out, how do you actually decide on what to charge? Well, if you’re a counselor in a way it’s decided for you, at least the range is, in the ACS code of ethics you’re supposed to charge something around what the other counselors around you charge. With coaching you can charge, you can do it for free, you can charge one of my coaches for one-on-one work he charges 100,000 a year. So there’s a range in coaching and there’s a range in counseling as well since if you check the prices around you for counseling you’ll see that it might start with 30 bucks or even like with some agencies it can be $5 up to 500 bucks a session. So how do you actually decide on your fee when you’re just starting out? And also when is the right time to actually update your fees, give yourself a raise?
And the balance here is, of course, on the one hand you want to sustain yourself, sustain the business, and since it’s a business you have all those expenses. So you want to make the numbers work. On the other, you have this desire to help as many people possible and not everyone can afford any fee.
Now, there’s also the part of in different parts of your private practice journey you’ll have different needs. From the get go you need cash flow, when you’re just starting out you need to get as many clients as possible and it would just make sense that you would offer the easiest way for clients to choose you by potentially offering them a lower fee. And there’s the additional part of you have to have those four psychological successes in terms of, okay, I’m doing this, I’m a counselor or a coach, I’m charging for my services – and that would help you grow your business. So my advice would definitely be when you’re starting out start low and then when you feel you are full, give yourself a raise.
Now, what will allow you to do that one is not putting any fees on your website or anywhere publicly, or at least putting if you have to, for example, in Psychology Today you can put a range. The reason is that you can actually be flexible with clients. You can have a sliding scale if you want to and you don’t need to advertise it in advance, because different people can afford different fees.
It’s kind of like the airplane ticket situation where pretty much everyone on the plane will get charged a totally different number, and that’s by design. You get the seat that you can afford based on what you want on the level of comfortability.
Now, once we have a sliding scale at first you need to be very clear on two numbers – the first one is the number that you would like to have for your service that would be the perfect number. For example, just for the sake of round numbers, you’re just starting out as a counselor or a coach and your perfect number for your service would be 100 bucks an hour, right? Just for the sake of a round number.
And the second number you need to know is the lowest fee that you’re willing to offer that you would still feel comfortable with. The last thing that you want to see happen is during a session you feel kind of frustrated and maybe kind of knowing inside that you’re under charging, it’s not good for you, it’s not good for your client. So for example, I might if I’m just starting out say, “Okay, 50 bucks an hour would be the lowest fee possible that I’m willing to offer if asked for a sliding scale. And the perfect one for me is a hundred.”
So in order to actually make that happen and not feel uncomfortable during a consultation call it’s important that (a) you remember those numbers, (b) you feel comfortable saying them out loud. So for me what was very helpful when I was starting out was just literally repeating those numbers in front of myself in the mirror. It kind of sounds silly, and better practice it not in a real situation.
Now, let’s say you have five clients, right? You started from scratch, you got maybe two clients said yes to 200, three clients said they really would need a sliding scale and you offer them 50 and they said yes. So maybe at this point you want to start experimenting with your pricing. For example, one day you might decide, “Okay, I have a consultation coming up, I’m going to say 125 instead of 100 and give myself a raise. I still know that I have a sliding scale, so I can offer that. But my new sliding scale just for the sake of this one consultation call would be 75 and not 50.” And trying to do that and seeing what the response would be. So that’s for new clients.
What about the old clients? Let’s say you worked with a client for a year, one possibility to upgrade your fees would be to say something like, “In two months from now I’m going to increase my fee by $25,” for example. So you’re giving enough time for the client to get ready, and they, of course, can make a decision if they want to stay or they want to go. And you’re increasing it not by very much honestly, but those 25 would accumulate for you across four weeks and multiple numbers of clients.
Now, what I’ve seen is with pricing your services is that there is almost no correlation or a very slight one, surprisingly , between the feed that the counselor charges and the length that they’ve been counselors, the amount of years. Where I do see a very clear correlation is between the confidence that one has in saying the number out loud and the number itself.
So for example, a counselor might be working as a counselor in private practice for 10 years now, and they still charge the 100 bucks they were charging 10 years ago. And that’s totally fine if that was their decision. But what if they really feel they should be charging more and they’re just afraid of saying the new number out loud for many different reasons – (1) what if my clients leave me, (2) what if I’m robbing people, I want to be helpful, I don’t want to overcharge. And the good old feel of rejection of hearing no, that’s a big one as well of course.
And you might have a counselor who’s working in the field maybe for three years, having some good success and definitely having those first maybe 2,000 hours under their belt, so knowing what they’re doing but still not having the same experience of the person with 10 years of experience, and they might be charging 150 and not 100, just because they allowed themselves the opportunity to say the number out loud, to ask for that number and having the experience of one of the clients saying yes to that new number. And that’s something important.
So what about coaching then? With coaching you have some more flexibility than with counselling in terms of the way you price your services. And the goal here is to move from charging by the hour to charging for a coaching package as soon as possible. By the way, if you’re a counselor, offering coaching services is definitely something you should at least consider and that’s because (a) it’s a totally different population, so you’re just increasing your reach by doing that, second you will be able to offer so much value as a counselor who maybe slightly adds more goal-oriented work to your coaching than if you would just be doing counseling. And all the freedom honestly that it allows you. There is no agency that is looking for documentation and notes and whatnot – you have the total freedom to do your own thing and charge whatever you want honestly.
Again, the beauty of having different pricing for different people is that you can offer higher fees for people who can afford that. And if you have higher paying clients, you can afford yourself to even do pro bono sessions if you want which is great, right? In my mind it actually is a better model than just offering low fees to pretty much everyone.
And there’s this weird thing that with some clients who have high income, they would choose the counselor that actually charges more or the coach that charges slightly more because it … well, it feels suspicious. “Why if I talk to five counselors and maybe all of them charge 150 and this one counselor that I thought is a good fit but they charge only 50, what’s wrong with that person? Maybe they don’t have the experience.” So I think this is important.
Now, as a coach how do you move from charging for a coaching session to a coaching package? At least in my experience it was definitely much easier in my coaching practice to start with charging by the hour, at least for me because as a counselor this is something I’m used to and from my own experience of going to therapists for years this is just the model I feel most comfortable with, felt most comfortable with.
Now, there is beauty in coaching packages because first of all you get to work with a person for at least the amount of time that you agreed on, for example, 12 sessions package, it is a pretty standard one, I do 12 or 24 sessions. And it allows a streamlined effective work in terms of you set a clear goal for the end of those 12 sessions and you work towards that. And a person doesn’t quit in the middle because they are committed to a coaching package already, so you can actually make sure together that you would actually reach that goal, because there are dips in energy for all the process so you just kind of take off the table this constant – should I schedule another session or not – they can just ease into I get 12 sessions and now I want to make the best out of it and actually work on my stuff. So that’s very helpful.
In terms of business-wise why coaching packages are better is because you can get cash flow faster if you charge for the whole coaching package upfront which allows you to grow your business faster. For example, you can let’s say you’ve been paid for the sake of a round number 5,000 for 12 sessions coaching package upfront, and now you have money to invest pretty much for a year of Google Ads advertising if you pay 500 a month to Google. And that’s great because your business actually the more it grows the more cash flow it will need, and at some point you will even want to outsource tasks that you do not want to do on your own, so for example, a personal assistant, so that allows you to do that.
Now, with coaching packages also what happens is that you can control or make your business revenue more predictable, because if someone signed up for 12 sessions and even if you offer the payment plan let’s say five payments of 1,000 a month you know that would be coming in and you won’t have a client leaving you. Now you might ask, and this is something that actually I was very scared of, what happens if I sign up a coaching client for 12 sessions and then I’m stuck with this person, right? If it’s not a good fit. And that’s why it’s so important to have a pretty long consultation call and make sure that you feel it’s a good fit and they feel it’s a good fit.
So that kind of opens up another subject which is do I take on every client, potential client, I talk to that wants to work with me or not? And the short answer, the trajectory, is at the beginning of your business you’ll probably pretty much say yes to all clients. Later on, you’ll be able to say, “Actually this is not fit. Oh, this person would be a better fit for you.” So you will start to refer out.
So if you think about expertise, pretty much in every profession let’s say a doctor, it’s kind of expected that the fees will go up with time. So it’s interesting to think about why that is not the case usually with counseling. And counselors are afraid and sometimes clearly do not want to increase their fees for year. And if it’s by choice, that’s great. If it’s coming from a lack of awareness that your business is not very profitable because you have expenses in your business and you don’t know your numbers or if it’s coming from a place of fear, then it’s a problem.
And you can definitely at least do an experiment of slightly increasing your fees with one client to an amount that would feel good to you, and see what happens. And you might be surprised if it’s the first time you’re doing it when you say to your client, “Hey, in two months I’m increasing my fees by 25 bucks,” and the client just says yes, okay. And all of those fears that you experience, the fear of your client saying no or them saying they’re leaving kind of just goes away. And repeat, you do the same with the next client. And they say, “Okay, not a problem.” So that’s super important.
When my clients do that with their clients, increase their fees, they pretty much every time there’s at least one client who says, “Well, it’s about time you would raise your fees.” So I think that’s an interesting one.
So I hope it’s been helpful. If you just sign up either on Facebook or Instagram you can definitely watch it later. So I guess the biggest takeaway that I would like for you to get out of this conversation about structuring your fees is that your fees are not set in stone, you can experiment and see what works for you, what feels right for you. And keeping in mind that this is a business and it’s not just about revenue, your expenses need to be accounted for as well.
Maybe to conclude, there is this interesting story that Steve Chandler tells in one of his books, he’s a great coach and a public speaker, he’s saying about when he … about his journey as a public speaker, he didn’t really know how to price it and when he looked at the fees of all the public speakers out there the range was so big, so that just made him more confused. And he said, “Okay, I see that this public speaker who is just starting out they charge 1,000 and this public speaker also that just starting out or been doing this for a year they charge 3,500.” So he decided in advance on Mondays and Wednesdays I’m going to say that I’m charging 1,000. Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m going to say that I’m charging 3,500. Totally random decision. And he’s saying that he was so surprised to find out that the amount of yeses that he got for both proposals was pretty much the same.
So enjoy experimenting with the fees and you’ll find that it’s probably less scary than you thought it is.