Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. You want clients who value your relationship and appreciate your talent.
“Price is what you pay, value is what you receive.” Every day, as business owners, we must show our value. We show our value to our clients, employees, industry partners, family, and friends. I recently read an article that talked about getting paid for what you are worth. Regardless of industry, every business owner wonders if their price is too high, too low, or just right. As an architect, engineer, or contractor, you have years of experience and knowledge to provide to your clients and should be compensated well for it. Your services shouldn’t be discounted. EVER. Your services, talent, and experience are worth every penny you charge to your clients.
If something takes you 30 minutes today, but it once took you three hours, your years of experience have made that a much easier task – hence why you have different hourly rates depending on positions/years of experience. You’ve learned how to be more productive, but you’ve also seen that problem many times before so you can apply what you already know. It doesn’t require spending hours researching, asking around, or trial and error. You just know the solution to the problem. You complete the task or request of the client almost by routine. Your research time and experience has saved your clients time, money, and headaches, which is exactly what your clients want.
But how do you actually show value to your clients? There are five crucial things involved in this process:
- Education. As a professional services provider, you might find it hard to justify (to yourself and to your clients) your lump sum fee or your hourly rates. First, educate your clients about what this fee includes and the experience the team brings to the project. It’s part of the business development cycle that the client sees the value in the services you provide. For most owners, their projects are no small sum of money and likely the biggest investment they will make in their business. They need to understand why your fee is what it is. (These are the factors that differentiate you from others.)
- Proof. The second step to showing your value is to prove it. This can be done through providing testimonials, letters of recommendation, and references from your repeat, satisfied clients. You can talk all day long about how wonderful you are, but having your client hear someone else talk about how wonderful you are is much more effective! Word of mouth marketing is still the strongest form of marketing. When you purchase a table at an event and invite clients and prospects, this is a great way to prove your value. At some point throughout the night, the prospect and client will be talking about your firm and the experience they had with you. Obviously, you have brought a client with whom you have a strong relationship, so they are going to sing your praises. This happens quite often, so be strategic when inviting clients and prospects to events. It can make a world of difference in your business development efforts.
- Confidence. Be confident. This sounds so easy but if you waver or seem hesitant in what you are wanting, the client will see right through this. You must be confident in the fees you are requesting for your services. When you give them the proposal or fee structure, give the client time to comprehend it. Don’t immediately assume they aren’t going to pay that fee. Wait for them to respond. You don’t want to be arrogant, but you want to be confident. No one wants to work with someone who rolls over at every negotiation tactic. You are worth what you charge, so don’t let the fear of offending a client keep you from charging what you deserve.
- Listen. Listening is part of showing your value, because it demonstrates that you care about the other person’s opinion. You will also learn by listening to your client and asking good questions. If you listen, you’ll understand what their hot buttons are and communicate the value you bring to the project. You probably have clients that hire you because they like your work and your people. They don’t haggle you over fees and rarely comment about your price. (Honestly, this might be the time to raise their fee.) Being a good listener helps in all aspects of life. Listen to your clients. They will tell you.
- Walking away. You must be willing to walk away from a prospect or client that isn’t willing to pay you what you are worth. That’s very difficult but you must do it. We are all very fortunate right now with the amount of work architects, engineers, and contractors have, so you’re probably turning away projects because you are too busy (not necessarily because of fee or price, although this should be a deciding factor when pursuing additional work).
Showing the value that you and your business have is instrumental in the success of your firm. Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth. You want clients who value your relationship and appreciate your talent. You’ve earned it and you’re worth it!
Lindsay Young is president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.