ep003: The 3 Big Pricing Mistakes Practitioners Make – and How to Fix Them

Business Revolution Podcast Joanna Sapir

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How you price and package your services can be one of the most important factors in your business success.

That’s why, in this episode, I’m sharing the three biggest pricing mistakes practitioners make that stop them from having profitable and sustainable businesses. I’m also going to show you how to fix those mistakes so you can have a business with long-term clients and steady, predictable income.

In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:

  • The negative impacts of pricing your services incorrectly
  • The danger of pricing your services based on what others in your industry are charging
  • The specific factors you should consider when determining your pricing
  • The common misconception new business owners have about what profit is
  • Why it’s not up to you to determine what your market “can afford”
  • A real-life example of how I made a major pricing mistake in my previous business
  • What I should have done differently and how that lesson applies to your business

Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:

Joanna Sapir is a business strategist and coach helping innovative wellness practitioners build more profitable and sustainable businesses. She's on a mission to build a movement of people creating a new vision and reality for our future as humans on earth.

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Full episode transcript

In today’s episode I’m talking about pricing your services properly…

Because how you price – and package – your services can be one of the most important factors in your business success. 

The wrong pricing gives you a business in which: 

  • You might be barely getting by in some months.
  • You might be working more hours than you’d like in order to make the income you need or want…
  • And you might be hustling all the time to book sessions, because you need that income.

It’s your job as the owner of your business to learn how to price – and package – your services so that your business provides for you everything you need – the salary you need, the time off you need and the help you need in your business. 

Your pricing and packaging are key factors in determining whether your business provides for you what you need. Your pricing and packaging are key factors in determining whether your business is profitable, and sustainable. 

So in this episode I’m going to be sharing:

  • The three big pricing mistakes that practitioners make that stop them from having profitable and sustainable businesses.
  • And I’m going to show you how to fix those mistakes so that you can have a business with long-term clients and steady, predictable income.

So let’s dive in…

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So let’s get right into the 3 big pricing and packaging mistakes practitioners make and understand how to fix them.

The first most common mistake practitioners make in pricing their services….

is that they start by looking at what other people in their field are charging, and come up with their own price from there.

Now, it’s fine if you know what other people in your industry or field are charging. 

But what you don’t know is what their business expenses are. You don’t know what kind of personal income they need. You don’t know how much they pay in taxes. You don’t know how many hours they work. You don’t know how profitable their business is. 

How much THEY charge really has nothing to do with your services and how much you need to charge. 

And so what I’ve seen happen when practitioners have made up their pricing based on what others are charging – I’ve seen this over and over – is that their business starts growing to the point where they’re booked full, working all week seeing clients…

And they’re still not making enough money! 

So to make more money, they’re booking more and more sessions to the point where:

  • They don’t have time for exercise, self-care, rest and relaxation. 
  • They don’t feel like they have enough time to spend with their kids, their partners, their friends and family. 
  • They feel chained to their business, because if they stop booking sessions, the income stops.
  • And you hear them say  “I don’t have time..” and “I’m so busy” when anything comes up

That’s the hard way of finding out that your pricing is off.

So how do you fix this..

So how do you figure out how much to charge for your services?

Your pricing needs to be based on several factors that include:

  • Your businesses expenses
  • Your personal financial needs – that means your salary
  • The lifestyle you’re seeking to live 
  • How much time you want to be working in your business
  • Your tax situation
  • Whether you have employees or plan to
  • And your profit goals

All of these factors need to go into the pricing of your services.

So at the most basic level: you take all of your business expenses – and that includes your salary, and you get a total that your business needs to make each month. 

You divide that by the number of client-facing hours you want to be working.

Ok, the 2nd most common mistake practitioners make in pricing their services is:

Pricing your services based on what your market “can afford”.

We need to unpack this one. 

Here’s the deal: really, there’s no such thing as being “able to afford” something or “not being able to afford” something. It’s entirely subjective…who’s to say how much you can afford to spend on something?

Only you, right? You get to decide whether you “can afford” something or not.

I know, I know…financial planners wish it weren’t so. They believe that there are specific formulas and calculations for how much someone “should” spend on one thing versus another. And many of us do try to stick to these kinds of budgets. But we often don’t.

Let’s look at how people actually spend, ok?

For example, how much do you spend on groceries every month?

I spend about $1000 a month. And I never really thought much about that until I saw someone else’s budget laid out, and they had $400 a month for groceries, for the same number of people in their household that I have.

At first that blew me away. They spend so much less than I do! What are they buying?

Then as I thought more about it, I wasn’t surprised at all.

You see, I very intentionally buy high-quality foods, and they cost more. I buy all my meats from local ranches that raise pastured animals. I buy organic produce and products, and when it’s imported I buy free-trade.

I choose these foods based on health, the environment, and on my desire to support a local economy and companies that I know are paying their employees a living wage. Those are factors I look at when I choose what foods to buy. 

How I choose to spend my money is a reflection of my values.

How anyone chooses to spend their money is a reflection of their values.

So if someone tells you they “can’t afford” your service, what that really means is that they don’t value it, it’s not something they value enough to use a portion of their income on. 

Their statement that “I can’t afford that” is a reflection of them and their values, not of your service.

Now, If you’re a wellness professional you will often have clients that are coming to you broken and coming because they want to be fixed, they need to get out of pain, right?

I remember having a conversation with a chiropractor, and she was talking about this. She had this client that called that morning, and he was in pain, stuck hunched over and could barely walk.

He was hoping to be seen as soon as possible, so she made a spot in the morning for him and he came in.

This was actually the 3rd time that exactly this same thing happened, and each time he calls it’s this urgent situation, he’s in a lot of pain, and he has to take a sick day off work…so this back issue has definitely disrupted his life.

The chiropractor is telling me how the guy came in that morning, she did her thing to help him, he felt better, and she told him, “Look, you really need to come in more regularly and while you’re healthy so that we can prevent episodes like this.”

And he said, “Yeah, I know, but I just can’t afford it.”

Ok, so here’s the thing: it turned out this guy, the client, was in a circle of friends with the chiropractor’s partner. And the chiropractor happens to know that this client had season tickets to their local major league baseball team.

I just looked up the cost of season tickets for my local team, and they range from $2000-$5000 depending on the seats.

When the client says he can’t afford to see the chiropractor more frequently, it’s not a statement about how much money he has.

It’s a statement about his values and what’s important to him and how he doesn’t or does want to spend his money.

Whether or not he recognizes it, he values whatever it is that he gets from having season tickets to his baseball team – whether that’s status, or escape- I don’t know, but he values that more than his health. 

Again, he may not even recognize this himself. He tells himself that he can’t afford regular chiropractic care, even though he comes in pain every few months, but he tells himself that season tickets to baseball are totally worth it!

The point is this: What people are willing to spend their money on, or not spend their money on, is not a reflection of how much money they have, but what they value.

People spend money on things they “can’t afford” all the time. I know I do it. And on the flip side, many of us don’t spend money on things we should.

If you are pricing your services based on what you think your market “can afford” or “will pay” it’s a mistake…

Again, your pricing needs to be based on profitability, using all those factors I mentioned earlier. 

When you price – and package – your services properly, you:

  • Attract long-term clients who value your services and the benefits they receive from a long-term commitment to receiving them.
  • Don’t have to go hustling all the time for new clients and you can stop constantly trying to get new people “in the door”.
  • Can actually help your clients solve their problems at the root and reach their long-term goals!

So all of that hints at the 3rd and final pricing mistake…and this one is big because it’s about more than simply pricing.

It’s about whether you are truly being the best practitioner or coach that you can be in your work with clients. It’s about whether you can truly say that you are a Champion for your clients, helping them achieve their big, long-term goals.

I know that you are really good at your craft, you’re experienced, highly-skilled and you really want to help your clients.

But have you structured your services to do that?

If you’re selling your services by the hour or by the session, then the answer is no.

The 3rd big pricing mistake is offering your services by the hour or by the session.

And I know offering your service in terms of sessions, or hours, is just “the way everyone else does it” in your field. At least that’s how it seems.

But here’s the truth:

It’s not the way everyone does it. It’s not the way the most successful practitioners and coaches do it. 

And it’s not the way to do it if you truly want to help your clients make transformations in their lives or health. 

I will never forget the client that taught me this lesson…

This was my first or second year in the fitness business I owned, very early on.

His name was Greg, and he came to my business for personal training. His goals were to look good and lose a little fat around his midsection. For him, it was all about aesthetics.

So he bought a pack of 10 personal training sessions, because that’s the kind of thing I offered at the time.

Well the first week he came in for 2 sessions. Then the next few weeks he had one. Then he skipped two weeks, came in twice, skipped another week…and then, right as he was getting close to completing his 10 session pack and would hopefully re-up, he started complaining that he wasn’t seeing results.

Ugh! He wasn’t working out consistently. And he had made no changes in his lifestyle or nutrition. 

I tell this story now and we can see how obvious the problem was: he simply wasn’t doing what he needed to do, to see results. Right?

But here’s the thing: that was my fault for selling him a pack of sessions.

I should have designed and sold him a program that would provide the results he was looking for…something like:

  • 6 months of working out twice a week
  • A nutrition plan
  • Sleep tracking
  • Recovery work to do at home
  • (fill in the blank)

How would that have changed things?

He would have seen the results he wanted. He’d be looking and feeling great and telling everyone about my service. He would have realized that it was a no-brainer to continue the training even after the first 6 months. And I’d feel happy and respected and proud and so connected to my client because I was helping him achieve the long-term results he was looking for. Not to mention the cherry on top, that I’d have consistent and predictable income over those months.

It could have been so great.

But Greg didn’t get results, so he didn’t buy a new pack of sessions (no surprise).

And he left my business as a client that was unserved by me and still had a problem he needed solved. That was my fault for not setting up my service model to truly get results for Greg!

A per session or hourly model is not set up to provide your clients the results they’re looking for.

So what’s the right way to package your services?

With a program designed to truly help your clients achieve what they’re really after.

Your programs or packages should be based on providing great results for your clients. Single sessions don’t do that.

So instead of thinking in terms of sessions, think in terms of what your clients need in order to achieve their goals. Design your service packages with that in mind.

Sell them the results, the solutions to their problems, not your hours!

You’ll have happier clients that way, AND it’s more fulfilling for you as the practitioner because you get to have these long-term relationships with great clients where you get to help them at a deep level and see them achieve what they’re really after.

You get to Champion your clients and their big goals!

Now from a business perspective, just think about it why an hourly or session-based service model doesn’t work well: if you’re just selling session-by-session, and you don’t get paid unless someone comes in and uses the session, then you never know how much money is scheduled to come into your business next month or the month after that.

So your income can go up and down, drastically. You can have days where you’re slammed, and days where you’re twiddling your thumbs. Sometimes a client will cancel a session and then you’re out of the income you thought you’d get. Right?

Every month, you have to continually work on selling more hours or sessions in order to create revenue.

And maybe you’ve been paying the bills just fine each month. But will you be able to pay the bills next month?

It’s an unsustainable model. A sustainable business is one where you can actually forecast – not estimate or hope, but forecast – exactly how much money is scheduled, via automatic billing, to come into your business next month, and the month after that, and the month after that.

And if, in your current business, you are living month to month in what feels like an unpredictable roller coaster, you can fix this – and the fix starts with designing a service model that provides ongoing, real results to your clients….

And pricing those services properly.

Designing your services to help your clients truly meet their goals, and then pricing those services properly, is one of the three action steps of The Client Champion Formula.

The Client Champion Formula is my business framework for practitioners to build predictable income. 

When you implement the Client Champion Formula in your business, you:

  • Attract long-term clients who value your services and the benefits they receive from a long-term commitment to receiving them.
  • Don’t have to go hustling all the time for new clients and you can stop constantly trying to get new people “in the door”. 
  • Can actually help your clients solve their problems at the root and reach their long-term goals!

The awesome part about it is that it’s not only better for you as the business owner – because you make more money and have steady and predictable income – but it serves your clients better too.

You can learn the whole Client Champion Formula in a free training which you can access here

I hope you’ll check that out, the Client Champion Formula is both an assessment and an instructional tool. So you can use it to see exactly where your strengths in your business are, and what the holes are, where the gaps are – so you can see exactly what to work on in your business to make it more profitable and sustainable. 

And…if you want my help doing that, working on your business with you, teaching you, mentoring you, you can apply for the Business (R)Evolution Academy – which  ismy 6 month flagship program where we implement the Client Champion Formula in your business. 

Schedule a discovery call for the Business (R)Evolution Academy here

Alright friends, see you next time.