It’s a common question many therapists ask themselves as they grow in their career.
“Should I raise my rates?”
And then there’s all the follow-up questions…
“Should it just be for new clients or my existing clients?”
“What kind of notice should I give?”
“How do I word it in an announcement?”
“What if I lose clients?”
“Can people in my area afford it?”
As you can see, it’s not just about “should I” but also about all the other circumstances that come along with this major business decision. And while we can’t cover it all in a single blog post, I want to tackle the major issue. So we’re going to look at 4 questions to ask yourself to know if it’s time to raise your rates.
Are your clients aware of the value you provide; and do they respect that enough to pay your new price?
When a client becomes accustomed to paying a certain rate, it can be a bit shocking when that rate increases, and this is probably the #1 fear of most therapists. But if you prepare ahead of time, before you ever put the pieces into place to actually raise your rates, you’ll be far better off.
People will continue to buy groceries and other retail products even when the price goes up; sometimes with a bit of reluctance, but they see these things as necessities, so they make adjustments to accommodate a new price. Services are no different. Some people may have more reluctance if you raise your price by $10 than if their grocery bill goes up by $10, but if they value your services, and see it as a necessity, not a luxury, then that reluctance is easily shut down with a little bit of self-reasoning.
That’s where it’s your job to educate them on the value of your services. This is a key that I think is often overlooked when people discuss price increases. This is the first step in knowing if it’s time. If you have taken the time to educate your clients and they truly respect and value your work and time, then yes….it’s time to raise your rates!
How long have you been at your rate?
If you’ve been charging the same rates for a long time, you might want to strongly consider raising them. You’re not just charging for your time, there’s a lot of other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Every CE class you’ve taken to enhance your skills and learn new techniques. Investments into new equipment, supplies, decorations, etc. A basic cost of living adjustment; many employers, and even the US government give around a 1.5%-1.7% raise per year to account for changes in cost of living expenses. The hours of experience you’ve gained over time that have fine-tuned and enhanced your skills.
Prices for everything in society go up regularly. Why would you charge the same today as you did 5 or 10 years ago when you were fresh out of school?
How does it compare to your competition?
While I don’t think anyone should base their rates solely on other local therapists, it is still an important consideration. If you’re going to raise your rates higher than most everyone locally, you better be prepared to explain why. You have to give an incredible massage experience or offer some unique skill-set in order to justify charging a considerably higher rate that all the other competition. Again though, if you’ve been practicing for a long period of time and have a lot of classes and experience under your belt, that’s reason enough. You don’t need to offer some crazy modality; just skills that set you apart.
For example, most therapists in my particular area of Tennessee charge about $50-$60/hr, depending on the modality. I, however, charge $100/hr regardless of the techniques I’m using. Clients pay for my time and expertise, period. Also, I offer a unique set of skills that not many in my area do. While I love to provide spa services and don’t mind at all to give a 2 hour relaxation massage, I love the puzzle of complex orthopedic conditions, post-surgical rehab, and the like. Most of the therapists in my area stick with the traditional offerings of Swedish and Deep Tissue, and their prices reflect that. And even though I charge around twice what most therapists here do, I stay booked a year in advance because people recognize that what I do is different.
What kind of income do you have at this rate?
This is a question that a lot of therapists don’t seem to consider. You have to run the numbers and see what you’re actually taking home at the rate you’re at, and is that sufficient to you? If not, then it’s time to consider raising your rates. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many clients you can see in a day, so your pay can be somewhat capped (without adding in passive forms of income of course). Figure out what income you want, and then break down that number to determine what rate you need to charge to get there (remember to take out all your overhead costs!). Compare it to what you charge now, what the competition is charging, and consider your skills and experience. If all those things line up to make you comfortable charging that amount, go for it!!
Usually I tell therapists that if you’re even considering raising your prices, it’s past time to do it. But these questions can give you some deeper insight into what’s really going on in your business and your market to determine if it’s the right move to make right now.
If you find that you’re ready to take those rates higher, don’t ever be ashamed of it. Be proud to say what you charge. Be confident that you have the skills to back it up.