There’ll inevitably come a time in your VA business, when you want to raise your prices. I recently delivered a VA Mastermind for four awesome business owners and the topic of raising your prices came up for discussion. The two more experienced members of the group wanted to spend some time focused on this subject – and I can see why. For many VAs (as with any other business owner), the decision to raise your prices is an easy one – the biggest hurdle however, is knowing how to tell your existing clients.
Initially, you just need to know what you want your new prices to be. This is often dictated by the industry average or the particular skills you’re offering. However, you also need to know when is a good time to increase your prices, as well as how to best to tell your clients.
When to increase your prices
This is a twofold strategy – firstly, you need to know when can you tell you’re ready to increase your prices. Here are the different ways you can tell you’re ready:
- You’re moving away from hourly rates or are changing your pricing structure.
- You have a heavy workload already.
- You’ve improved and/or added new skills.
- You want to let go of certain clients.
- You’ve realised you’re undercharging!
Secondly, you need to know when it’s a good time to tell your clients that you’re raising your prices. The best time is after they’ve shared a win with you. The simplest way to do this, is to either ask for their feedback on your service, or wait until you’re holding their review. The next best time to tell your clients, is when you’ve made the decision – otherwise you’re just going to put it off!
Get prepared for your new prices
You need to decide how exactly that price increase will look. Are you going to add an annual or six-monthly increase into all your contracts, moving forward? Will you be raising your prices to match inflation, will it be for a certain percentage, or are you opting for a set amount? Will your new pricing be more inline with what other VAs are charging (an important one, if you’re currently undercharging!) or one that reflects those new skills you’ve learnt?
Once you’ve decided, you need to:
- Update your website sales and services pages.
- Create a standard price increase letter for future use (if opting for a regular increase).
- Update your contracts, ready for new clients.
- Check what notice you need to give to each client – what’s agreed in their contract.
How to tell clients you’re raising your prices:
Now’s the time to tell your existing clients that you’re raising your prices. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved, along with sample text you can use:
Remind them of the value they are getting from working with you:
This is where you can recap on the feedback you’ve received from them (see earlier) or remind them of the value they’re currently receiving from you.
If you’ve had a recent review call:
Hi [client’s name]
Following on from our recent review call, I’m so pleased to hear how happy you are, now you’ve achieved [ a specific target they wanted to reach]. I’m always so proud to help and support my clients, as they grow their business.
OR, if you haven’t had a recent review call:
Hi [client’s name]
I’m so pleased that, over the past x years, I’ve been able to help you grow your business. I’m so proud that I’ve been able to provide you with essential administrative support such as [list a couple of examples on how you’ve specifically helped them].
Explain why you’re writing to them:
Now’s the time to let them know about the price increase, along with any reason you’d like to share, over the decision to increase your pricing:
As you may have seen on our website, our rates have increased since we began working together. These new prices were bought in to [Use this area to briefly explain your price increase. Not to justify, but to clarify. For example: ’enable me to continue providing exceptional service and even more focus to all of my clients, old and new, whilst ensuring the quality given is always of the highest standard’]. However, in order to bring my existing clients more in line with my published rates for new clients, a rate increase of [the percentage or amount of increase] is necessary.
Give them some notice
It’s only polite to give your client’s a little time to decide if they’re happy to continue with you, as well as get used to the new rate. Check existing client contracts to ensure you’re adhering to any notice periods already agreed. If you don’t have any notice periods mentioned, give them a ‘loyalty adjustment period’ of between 30-90 days.
This new rate has already rolled out to new clients however, I wanted to offer a transition period for my existing clients. As a thank you for being such an awesome client, I’d therefore like to give you an extra [whatever notice period you’d like to give them] days on your current rate – with the new rate coming into effect for you on [date the new rate will start for them].
How this increase will benefit them
Now is a good time to remind them of how long they’ve been on your old rate, as well as empathising over the impact it may have on them. But it’s also a prime opportunity to explain what raising your prices will mean for them too. What they will gain from it:
I’m extremely committed to your success and, whilst I appreciate this rate increase could impact your business, I believe the benefits far outweigh this. Not only does it mean you continue to receive the high levels of service you’re currently used to, it also means you’ll have access to additional new services, such as [highlight your new skills or remind them of other benefits they can gain from this].
Give them a new agreement to sign
Thank them for their loyalty and offer to refer them, if they’d rather not go ahead:
Please could you take a minute to read and sign the attached new service agreement, detailing the new rate, and return it to me via [your preferred way of receiving this]. If you have any questions about this price increase, or if you’re not in a position to continue at this new rate and would rather be referred, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I appreciate your understanding in this matter and very much look forward to continuing to provide you and your business with the high level of administrative support you’ve grown to expect and love!
Points to remember
As with any change in your business, your client could always walk away and say no, and it’s no different when you’re raising your prices. If this does happen though, don’t take it as a reflection on you and your services. Clients can choose to walk away for any number of reasons – from limited finances, through to using your increase as a sign to change themselves!
Before you make any rate increases, you need to clarify whether you can live without this client. Do you need this client on your books? Can you financially afford to lose them, if they decide to go? Do they regularly refer you to others, or do you gain in another way, by keeping them? On the whole, clients who are happy with the level of service you’re providing, will decide to stay with you. If they don’t, they’re simply opening a space for someone else who is ready to work with someone of your calibre.
Finally, remember it’s always going to be a little scary, raising your prices. However, rather than being scared of it, look at it as a sign of your belief in yourself and your abilities. Be confident in your abilities. Remind yourself that you are worth this new rate – and focus on providing your clients with the best level of service you can.