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Massage Today
August, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 08

The 7-Step Pricing Strategy for Holistic Programs

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC and Michele McGrew

In our last two columns, we walked you through the steps to create rich holistic programs and private retreats. Ready to take the leap? Fantastic! Now we can guess your next question ... "What in the world do I charge?!"

To set a fee for a single session, you probably checked out what other therapists were charging and then chose a similar rate. But when you offer high-end programs, you're no longer a follower. You're a leader. So those old price comparisons don't work. Instead, try our 7-step strategy for pricing your programs and retreats accurately and with ease.

Step #1: Discover Your Ripples of Impact

Ever wonder what your work is worth? Here's a hint: It doesn't matter which modalities you practice. Or how long it took you to master them. Or even how many certifications you have. The value isn't even what happens in session; it's what happens in your clients' lives as a result of your therapy.

To get a quick peek at your ripples of impact, imagine you're following your favorite client around for a day. Then ask yourself:

  • What situations do I see them in that show me they are feeling healthy, balanced and energized?
  • What are they doing differently at work and how is that affecting their income?
  • When they are happier at work and making more money, how is that changing their home life and their relationships with family and friends?
  • When they are enjoying those results in their life at home, how is that transforming their self-worth and future potential?

The more you trace the healing effects that are flowing through your client's life, the easier it is to uncover the true worth of your work. And to price your programs accordingly.

Step #2: Set a Powerful Positioning Price

Once you get a vivid picture of the impact your therapy has on your client's career, finances and relationships, it's time to set a "positioning price." That's the highest fee you could imagine charging for your particular program.

Notice we didn't say it's the highest fee you'd feel comfortable charging. Because this shouldn't feel comfortable yet. If it does, you're not stretching yourself enough. And you're not stretching your clients, either.

Money is a powerful tool for healing. Instead of holding your clients back so you can stay comfortable with your old fee structure, use your new fees to inspire clients to invest themselves more fully in their own healing process. Ultimately, this is about charging what your clients are worth. Here's an insider's tip: Full-day retreats can easily start at $1,000 to $2,000. And six-month healing programs often start at $4,000 to $6,000.

Step #3: Decide on a Fast-Action Savings

A fast-action savings is the reward you give clients when they make a quick, committed decision to work with you. The amount will vary depending on your positioning price. What won't vary is how long the fast-action savings is available: only 24 to 48 hours. Why so short? Because after 48 hours, old fears and habits kick in. So even if your client wants to invest in your program, their reptilian brain may cry "Run!"

But when you gift them with a juicy savings for taking fast action, you're also rewarding them for making a healthy change in their life. They will still have plenty of time to make a balanced decision. Yet not enough time to talk themselves out of investing in their health and well-being through your services.

Typically, in a program that's priced at about $1,000, a fast-action incentive should be at least $100. Any less and it doesn't feel rewarding enough to take immediate action. For a $4,000 program, a savings of $200 to $300 up to $1,000 could be right, depending on how motivated you are to enroll your first few clients.

And here's a bonus tip: Whatever you do, never call your fast-action savings a "discount." When you discount your services, you also discount yourself in the eyes of your clients.

Step #4: Determine the Deposit

For every program you offer, we recommend charging a non-refundable deposit that's 10% to 20% of the total investment. Why? Because of that old habit called fear we mentioned earlier. No matter how honorable your clients' intentions are, without a deposit they can back out of their commitment to themselves and to you at any time.

Charging a healthy deposit is a healing tool in more ways than one. We've seen it happen time and again. A client pays the deposit and suddenly all kinds of healing starts to happen. It's as if their commitment sends a message to their body that they are ready to make a change. And there's nothing more beautiful than a committed client taking responsibility for their own healing with you as the guide.

Step #5: Break Out the Payment Plan

To make it even easier for clients to say "yes" to your program, we recommend offering two payment options: full-pay and a flexible payment plan. The full-pay plan is actually completed in two steps: First, you get a non-refundable deposit to hold your client's space in the program. Then you set a date before the program begins when the balance is due.

For clients who prefer to pay over time, try our handy Payment-Plan Formula:

Positioning Price
- Fast-Action Savings
- Deposit
+ Service Charge
÷ Number of Months in the Program
= Monthly Payment

The payment plan service charge should be generous enough to cover the extra time it takes you to manage the continual billing. And healthy enough to get your clients to seriously consider your full-pay option. And finally, make sure all the payments are finished before your program ends. This allows you to wrap up the experience on a high note with everything complete.

Step #6: Decide on a Full-Pay Bonus

In addition to giving full-pay clients a financial incentive, reward them even more by offering other bonuses. This can be anything from an extra private session to a hand-selected floral essence, a custom-blended essential oil or a special meditation audio they can download or get on CD.

There's no limit to the variety of bonus incentives you can offer clients who pay in full. But, you will want to limit the number of bonuses. Offering too many can feel desperate and out of balance. Instead, choose a few that you know are beneficial and exciting for your clients to receive.

Step #7: Get Set to Accept Credit Cards

Whew, you're almost finished! This last step of our 7-step pricing strategy is all about making it easier for people to invest with you. Because once you're charging higher rates, your clients are going to want to pay by credit card. So, you need to be ready to accept them.

A PayPal business account is a fine first step, but it's not a smart choice in the long run. It's not considered as professional as processing a credit card through your own merchant account. So when you're ready to add more streams of income to your practice, you'll be set to accept even healthier fees.

Click here for more information about Sharon Desjarlais, CC.


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