How to Raise Your Rates ... Without Losing Your Clients

By Sharon Desjarlais , CC

How to Raise Your Rates ... Without Losing Your Clients

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC

Have you ever felt guilty about telling your clients you're going to raise your rates? Mindy, a CranioSacral therapist, struggled with this awhile back. It had been a couple years since she had last upped her fees. She knew she did good work, but she worried about turning her clients off—even driving them away.

That's why I suggested she send them a letter I call a "Gratitude Sandwich." When she did, her clients shocked her with responses like these:

  • "Heck yeah, you're raising your rates. You should have done it a year ago!"
  • "Thank you so much for your touching letter."
  • "It's about time."
  • My personal favorite, "It wouldn't matter what you charged. I'd be there."

So, how do you raise your rates without losing your clients, or your integrity? Here are six steps that will surely get the job done.

Step 1: Decide on the Exact Date

Thinking about raising your rates is fine, but that won't make it happen. Instead, you need to be intentional about it—choose the date your fees will go up and get it on the calendar. That way you won't forget, or be tempted to weasel out of it.

Step 2: Measure the Value of Your Work Accurately

Most therapists make a big mistake, they believe their value is in the time they spend with a client. But your worth is never about the time, it's about the transformation. It's about the outcomes your clients get, and how those results change their lives.

Think about it. What gets to happen for them when they're free of pain and stress? When they have greater range of motion? When they're breathing deeper, focusing better, even sleeping more soundly? That's where you'll find the true value of your work. To measure it accurately, make a list of every potential outcome your therapy provides. Don't stop until you've got at least 30.

Then look for the tangible effects of those outcomes. Imagine you're following your favorite client around for a day. As you're watching over her shoulder, you're seeing or sensing her in situations that show you she's experiencing the benefits of your work.

How is she responding at work when she's flexible and free of pain? How is she empowered to think more creatively, and even generate a healthier income? When she's at home, what's she doing with her kids now that she's energized and grounded? How is she responding to her partner? Her friends? Even her big goals and dreams?

Remember, no matter how talented you are, you'll discover what your work is worth in that transformation—not in the treatment room.

Step 3: Craft Your Gratitude Sandwich

This is a letter to your clients that begins and ends with appreciation. Then you tuck your fee increase in the middle. Here's how Mindy's Gratitude Sandwich began, "I am honored to have the opportunity to partner with you on your journey to health and well-being. I deeply respect your commitment to becoming whole, and living a full and rewarding life." And here's how it ended: "I appreciate your support during this journey of growth, and I look forward to continuing to partner with you to help you achieve vibrant health and well-being."

So, what do you love about your clients? The Gratitude Sandwich is your opportunity to open your heart and share.

Step 4: Place the Rate Change in the Center

Now, how do you tuck a fee increase between those layers of gratitude? Easy. Tell your clients when your rate will be effective, but whatever you do, DO NOT state the new fee. Instead, tell them the difference between the old rate and the new one.

Let's say your session fee is going from $125 to $140. You'd tell your clients you're changing the rate by only $15. Notice how tiny that is compared to $140? It may feel like a big gulp to you, but it comes across as only a small bite for them.

For some added oomph, reinforce your clients' decision to invest in themselves. Here's how one of my other clients did that in her Gratitude Sandwich: I also want to let you know that starting on [date], the investment for a session will change, but only by $20. The good news is, you'll continue to enjoy a multitude of benefits:

  • Feeling deeply relaxed and fully present as pain is eliminated from your body and mind.
  • Generating sustained energy and focus throughout the day. So you're able to go for that restorative walk or yoga class in the evening.
  • Awakening refreshed and renewed from a solid night's sleep. You'll feel the fatigue slip away.
  • Moving with ease and grace every moment of the day. So you can do things like lift your arm to put on deodorant without aid. Or walk with confidence without a cane.
  • Feeling pliable, flexible, fluid and radiant!

Step 5: Urge Your Clients to Stock Up Before the Rate Changes

At this point in the Gratitude Sandwich, it's wise to give your clients the opportunity to prepay for sessions they can use throughout the year. That's a gift for them and for you. When another one of my clients emailed her Gratitude Sandwich to her contact list, she brought in an extra $1,000 over the next two days.

Step 6: Just Send it

By this time you've done your best, right? You've decided on a date to raise your rates. You've measured your value accurately. You've crafted a heartfelt Gratitude Sandwich, and you've given your clients the opportunity to stock up on their sessions. The only thing left to do? Just send it. Like Mindy, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised by the results.