Whole Warrior Solutions blog
How much does a cup of coffee cost? Good cafe's have pricing strategies that account for expenses including the cost of labour, target market (consider coffee snobs), resources (the actual cost of the coffee), packaging, cleaning, insurance, capital equipment, marketing, supply and demand, and pandemic economic fluctuations. It's the same in human services except we don't sell coffee, we are 'selling' or providing our tools of self! Would you like full cream, or almond milk, and sugar with that?
Pricing can be a really distasteful concept for start up entrepreneurs, counsellors, empaths, spiritual workers, disability support workers, nurses, and other helping professionals to put a price on themselves.
We are not selling a product but a service. It is our tools of self that we come alongside our clients with in order to help them. That's gold! Yet, I've noticed a negative culture or attitude in certain communities about pricing. Think about the NDIS or disability field. Yes there is a Pricing Arrangements guide formerly known as the Price Guide. I've noticed there seems to be a trend in the privatised and competitive disability field of undercutting. I see many Disability Support Workers selling themselves short when it comes to the skills, qualifications and life experience that some workers have. They charge really low hourly labour rates, wave half the transport and do the first home visit for free! This leads to onboarding a large 'case' load which can contribute to less ethical standards of work and burnout. Even chaos for some start ups when a crisis occurs for a participant as business growth occurs too quickly. This type of business model can negatively impact the participant or client unless the business has the systems, infrastructure and skilled labour to provide a high volume of service. Consider your business model and do no harm.
Like me you may be thinking, but I want to help as many people as I can in my counselling and coaching practice at Whole Warrior Solutions. Yet, in developing my Pricing Strategy I had to be realistic and keep it in line with the Business and Marketing Plan that provides the pillars that underpin my business model. Even my Clinical Supervisor said stop working for free and know your worth, you have many skills and much experience as a key mental health worker and start up coach! Once I actually decided on my Schedule of Fees and stuck to it, with set promotions, capped a number of scaling fees for private customers, and implemented consistent short notice cancellation fees, it also reduced my stress. Intake to invoicing became easier, more consistent, not having to look up a client service agreement every week to check the price I had offered the session for and improved accuracy. Attendance at appointments also increased and the DNAs went down. This in turn improved my productivity as it reduced my non-billable administrative hours. Ultimately it meant I could also find more balance between work and home life. The boundaries of the service agreements became clear and consistent which in turn benefited the client who received a quality service.
Perhaps you're an entrepreneur helping people and are not sure about how to price your services? Considered doing a skills audit. What lifestyle do you want, do you have time to do 10 new intake assessments per week, how many hours per week do you have available to provide a high standard of service or care? Work out your business mission, values and at what point you break even after expenses so you can stay in business to do what you set out to do. After all a staggering 90% of small businesses fail (Forbes)! Participants have choice and control to select their providers within their limited budget. Price point is one consideration, however other factors are crucial including worker skills, experience, reliability, communication, team work, and most importantly trust.
Yes an NDIS Provider can advertise their services at the capped or top rate of the Pricing Arrangements guide. However, for those that don't have a profession behind them, limited or no work experience they may choose to start their pricing at the lower end. Consider Arnott's biscuits and their pricing strategy. Arnott's provide a premium product, quality ingredients, premium packaging, extensive distribution, they used to have red glossy branded trucks with the parrot logo, and premium shelving space in the grocery shops with high cost gondola ends for shelf visibility. Also, when I studied marketing, research showed that Arnott's would never discount their biscuits. This was written into their Pricing Strategy which complimented their overarching Marketing Strategy. I don't know about you, but I do enjoy a quality biscuit and Arnott's business has certainly lasted the distance with premium pricing for a premium product (despite selling it to an overseas buyer doh!)! Fancy a Tim Tam or a lesser quality biscuit?
So if you are a start up entrepreneur, and want to learn more about developing a Pricing Strategy and Marketing your human services agency ethically, do get in touch. I have a limited number of places available for my Start Up Business Coaching Package. I not only share from my own experience as an entrepreneur, 21 years in human services, but also from my 13 years experience in corporate marketing. Yep I've priced it accordingly as it is a service of value to budding entrepreneurs. The testimonials are evidence of value for service. 'I'm mind blown every coaching session! Learning so much and putting it into action in my business!', Sidra Rasheed, Dignified Caring. It is by investing in your business start up you will find your ideal customer and be able help more people in an ethical way! Isn't that after all why we are in the helping profession!
So now when you look at that cafe price list above, and think about hanging a price tag label around your neck, you may wear a new lens in your glasses! Pricing Strategy is a mindset about knowing your worth and considering supply and demand. Developing and applying an ethical and sustainable Pricing Strategy to your Schedule of Fees in your human services agency is essential. Knowing where to pitch your services in a competitive market is a skill. Let's talk further about whether you want to help a few clients or a lot, and how to balance your lifestyle and business goals! I'm offering a limited number of Power-up Business Coaching Enquiry Sessions and would love to help you manifest your start up dream!
Love & light
Learn more at www.wholewarriorsolutions.com.au
Tania Gorry is a counsellor in private practice at Whole Warrior Solutions based on the Central Coast of NSW. Tania has a passion for supporting people living with disabilities, trauma, stress, anxiety, depression and grief and loss.