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Massage Today
August, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 08

Raise Your Rates and Get More Loyalty From Your Clients

By Irene Diamond, RT

Many experienced therapists are charging the same rates for their services that they've charged since they started their practice. Usually the reason they don't (or won't) increase their rates is not because they don't feel they are worth more, especially after a few years in practice and taking more continuing education,but rather because they are afraid their clients won't pay a higher rate.

If you're in need of more business and want to charge higher rates for your services (doesn't everyone?), but are not sure how best to do it, you don't need to be afraid anymore even in this economy. There is a way to increase your income for every session plus get more clients in your door, all while providing excellent customer service.

I have a concept I share with my high-level coaching clients, called "Serve & Sell." The basic premise of "Serve & Sell" is the higher the level of service you provide to your clients, the more you will actually sell of your services. It is simple to raise you rates, but you must do it in a pro-active, client-focused manner. You can't just spring a new rate on them when they walk in the door. You can serve your clients at a higher level, and if done well, you can use it to gain a higher level of loyalty by honoring your current clients with a way to continue paying your lower rates. Here are my six steps to help you raise your rate and retain and regenerate clients.

Step 1

Decide the exact date your new rate will go into effect for existing and past clients.

Step 2

Decide what your new rate(s) will be. I usually suggest you base your new rate on the true value you believe you provide to your clients. Think about a rate you feel you are worth AND what I call the OMGTWSWI, which is the rate that the client pays for your service and still walks away saying, "Oh my gosh, that was so worth it!"

Step 3

Send all inactive and active clients a fun, up-beat letter or newsletter by postal mail. E-mail is too easy to miss and doesn't have the same level of importance attached to it. In your letter explain that your service rates will be increasing on (the date you picked), and also advise them what your new rates will be. Now here is the crucial part: You must justify your new rates in your letter but be careful with how you do it. The hard truth is no one cares about the fact that your rent has increased, your insurance costs have soared and your roommate bailed on you so now you are stuck covering all the expenses yourself. Instead of focusing on the financial elements of your practice that only affect you, explain all the benefits they will get from a session with you now. Remember, they care about what will benefit them and their experience with you. If you can show them what's in it for them and how they can receive a higher level of service from you, they will accept paying a higher rate. They must see you are now providing them more value for higher bucks.

Some examples of benefits you could mention to justify price if they apply: you've acquired X more years of experience; taken X hours of classes and higher education courses; mentored with a specific expert, trainer or educator; purchased a new piece of equipment;re-decorated your therapy space; added on or built-out new areas of your facility; added more staff; added longer hours or weekend appointments; added additional service; or invested in higher levels of infrastructure to support your business like online booking, accepting credit cards, etc.

Step 4

In the newsletter, give them the opportunity to lock in your current lower rates if they would like, by pre-paying for as many sessions as they would like, at your current rate.

Step 5

They must make their pre-payment by a date you pick prior to your rate-change date. Give them at least five days from the date they will receive the mailing to make their pre-payment.

Step 6

Determine what their redeem-by date will be so they know they must redeem their sessions by that date or their prepayment simply becomes a credit on their account rather than a guarantee of a number of sessions. You decide each client's redeem-by date based on the number of sessions they pre-purchase and most importantly, based on the frequency of visits you determine is best for them. For example: Mary only needs to see you once a month for maintenance sessions, so if she pre-pays for six sessions, she needs to redeem them within six months. But, Sam sees you once a week, so if he prepays for six sessions, he will have a six-week redeem-by date. Once their pre-paid sessions are all redeemed, they understand they will then pay your current rate at that time. The understanding is that they themselves have complete control over how long they can continue to see you at your lower rates based on the number of sessions they lock in. Be very clear, though, on when all their sessions must be redeemed or you risk having a client come in years later and you must then honor your old rate.

Start quoting your higher rates immediately for new clients. See how it feels to say it, and see how they respond to it. Be sure to say it with confidence, rather than stumble over it. If you get a ton of push-back, you might have shot too high, but in most cases you will find there is no resistance to your higher rate and actually I've seen most therapists kick themselves for not raising their rates sooner. This system is a win-win! You get a nice cash advance and a guarantee those pre-paid clients will continue to come back and see you. And they are thrilled because they get your lower rates locked in for as long as they want.

Prior to sending the newsletter, make a quick phone call to each of your past clients. Simply let them know you are going to be mailing them your new newsletter which will include a special gift. Verify that their mailing information is current and confirm they would like to receive it from you. This helps you clean up the addresses before mailing so you save on postage returns and more importantly, it peaks their interest and they look forward to receiving your gift. Sometimes, just making the phone call will result in a new appointment or a gift certificate sale right there and then.

Your special gift to them should be simple. Choose one from these ideas or make up your own special gift:

  1. Book their next session with you within two weeks of receiving the newsletter and they receive a "BOGO" --Buy One - Get One offer for themselves and a friend.
  2. A FREE 30 minute certificate for themselves.
  3. A FREE $25 gift card to give a friend.
  4. A FREE 30 minutes added to their hour session.

Keep in mind, even if your past clients don't come back in right away or respond to your offer, you have accomplished three important business growth elements:

  1. Raised your rates to a rate you feel is more appropriate for the level of service you are providing.
  2. Cleaned up your mailing list so you won't waste paper and postage the next time you mail.
  3. Reminded clients that you are still practicing, should they or a friend of theirs need you in the future.

Irene Diamond, RT, is the founder of the rehabilitation technique, Active Myofascial Therapy ~ The Diamond Method and creator of Successful Massage Therapist.org, the world-wide online resource for massage therapists. Irene is honored to be inducted into the Massage World Hall of Fame in 2013 for recognition of www.theDiamondMethod.com and www.SuccessfulMassageTherapist. Irene's next Active Myofascial Therapy seminar will be held August 2012 and therapists can register at http://TheDiamondMethod.com/Learn-AMT/Certification. You can also find tips from Irene by visiting the Women In Business Blog at www.massagetoday.com/wibb/.

 

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