Yesterday Joel and I were on a coaching call with one of our clients who has recently realized the need to raise her rates. She's realized that if she values herself and her services, she deserves asking for a decent rate from her clients.
As we were talking we discussed the possibility of offering a discounted rate to a client we really like and enjoy working with. This is a viable option at times. But sometimes the better option is to stick to your rate, work less hours, and enjoy your work even more. What do I mean?
Let's say you have a prospect you really want to work with or a client that you want to continue to work with. They say they need you 10 hours each month and can't afford your $30/hour rate ($300 for the month). They can only afford $20/hour (at 10 hours per month that would be $200). You know that you can't work for $20/hour because you value your services and it wouldn't be fair to your clients paying you a higher rate. After talking with the client and finding out what the most important tasks that need to be done each month are, you realize you can do those tasks in 5 hours each month. The client realizes the other tasks that need to be done and would have taken the other 5 hours are tasks that they can do fairly simply. They really need you to do more detailed tasks that more fully utilize your skills.
So you both agree to the higher rate of $30/hour for only 5 hours each month (total $150 month). Sure that's $50 less than you would have made if you'd agreed to the $20/rate for 10 hours each month. You're also only work half the time you would have been. And the client is going to give you the tasks that utilize your skills - tasks you'll enjoy. They'll take the more tedious tasks and manage them on their own. You also have 5 hours available for another client at $30/hour.
You end up working less hours, doing the tasks you enjoy, and getting paid the rate you're worthy of. Your client will value your services more and give you work you enjoy. You'll value yourself and business more. You'll feel happier and less stress. And you'll have time to take on additional work that you enjoy and continue getting the rate you're worth.
It's scary to stick to your values when you know you need to make a living and there's an opportunity to make some money. Too often we compromise our values so we can make the immediate buck. In the long run, though, sticking to your values pays off.
I've done this. I've had a client pay me the higher rate for fewer hours so I can do the tasks he needs the most help with. He takes on the ones that are less fun but easy for him to do. He's one of my best clients.