Pricing is a tricky thing for most therapists. We want to make a good living, but we also want to be generous. If we’re business owners, our pricing must be designed to cover expenses and generate an income. Despite this fact, many therapy practice owners don't have a specific plan and policy for pricing. A pricing policy includes, at minimum:
- Your per session rate
- Your pricing structure (e.g. if you charge a separate assessment fee, if you offer packages, when and how you offer discounts, etc.)
- Whether or not you’re willing to slide your fee, and if so, under what circumstances
- If you require a client’s proof of income to slide your fee
Documentation of your sliding scale (for example, match a level of income to a fee price, ending at your lowest acceptable fee)
Having a pricing policy is important, because it communicates to clients their initial and potential investment, and it helps hold you accountable to your desired pricing (especially if sticking to it is a struggle).
In this post, I cover 3 strategies for pricing your services to reach your #1 business goal. That’s right; your prices can serve you, but using them in conjunction with business strategy is key.
Download the Pricing Policy Checklist, and create comprehensive pricing that works for you and your business!
Goal 1 | Getting Licensed
While this isn’t exactly a business goal, getting licensed is the first step to accomplishing future professional goals. For this reason, deciding how you want to accomplish this step is essential. Some new graduates decide to open a private practice soon after completing graduate school. Others decide to finish the licensing process before determining their career path.
Regardless of your choice, if getting licensed is your #1 goal, then the accumulation of clinical hours may be more important to you than earning your desired income. The following strategies can work for you at this stage:
Look for a full-time job in a clinical position
Having a full-time job in your field allows you to earn a good deal of clinical hours while also earning an income.
Volunteer at a local nonprofit, or at your place of worship
You may already be connected to organizations that would be willing to partner with you in order to serve their clientele. This type of collaboration is a win-win.
Offer a sliding scale, or a very affordable fee
Establish a fee that you believe is affordable based on the average price of therapy in your geographical area. Also, determine your lowest acceptable fee. This gives you a range of pricing options in order to attract a certain volume of clients.
Warning: Keep in mind that your pricing is also directly related to the type of client you attract. This may not be a concern while you are accumulating hours for licensure, but you may want to employ other pricing strategies once you are licensed.
Goal 2 | Establishing yourself and your business
After getting licensed, you may be ready to offer new services, begin or expand your business, or develop an expertise. During this time, you will want your pricing to establish your credibility and be able to support your professional growth.
Research the average price for your services in your geographical area. Consider the range as well as what you’d be comfortable charging on the continuum. Your comfort level is an important factor, because if you are not comfortable with your pricing, or if you don’t believe your services are worth their price, then it’s likely you won’t consistently communicate their cost and their value.
Packages allow your clients to receive a discount for upfront purchasing, and they give you you an indication that clients are committed as well as some income stability.
See the checklist at the end of this post for examples on how to design packages.
Goal 3 | Changing the focus of your business
While you may think you will be in your current business (or field) forever, the truth is that our careers tend to change as our lives and interests change. Even if you remain in the same field, you may want to move from private practice to consulting, from face-to-face counseling to online counseling, from teaching to writing, etc. After you’ve chosen to move in a new professional direction, the following strategies will help you transition:
Begin to slowly adjust your schedule, so that you are working in your current position only during your preferred times. This may mean cutting back on evening or morning hours, eliminating weekend work, or only working a certain number of days per week. This strategy will help you add time for your new, desired projects, so that they eventually can become your entire focus.
On their podcast, 1 Day Business Breakthrough (episode #25), Pat Flynn and Chris Ducker mention a common strategy for transitioning from one professional focus to another: Double your prices. This will allow you to make the same amount of money in half the time; it will also attract less clients, so that you can begin to eliminate your current services.
Today, I’ve explained 3 strategies for pricing your services, so that they are tied to your business and professional goals. These strategies allow you to use pricing to serve you, rather than determine it arbitrarily or solely on client needs. If you’d like to learn more about how to be generous and still generate an income, it's the topic of this post.
I've put together a simple checklist to help you create a policy and pricing that works for you. You can download the Pricing Policy Checklist, and a special bonus: How to Design Packages, here:
In the comments below, let me know:
- Which of these strategies are you currently using, and how's it working for you?
- If you aren’t using any of these strategies, which would fit your current circumstances?
- Need help crafting your pricing? Contact me!