Raise Your Fees

When I talk to bookkeepers about their pricing, something that comes up time and again is raising fees. There is a certain resistance to this by bookkeepers. More often than not when the topic is discussed I hear things like "My clients won't pay any more" or "If I raise my prices they'll leave."

This is one of those times when the fear of doing something is a lot worse than actually doing it.

We often convince ourselves that bad things will happen, so avoid it at all costs. Our clients are also in business. They have the same fears as we do.

Take a look at the world around you and think about what has changed since the last time you increased your prices. The chances are that other things have gone up, so in real terms, you're earning less.

Raising your prices doesn't need to be a frightening thing to do. Let's look at ways you can go about raising your fees and charging what you're really worth.

Don't listen

The first is not to listen to your own fears. The excuses you are making are probably not even based in reality or backed up by research.  These are just the voices in our head, our negative self-talk, that prevent us from seeing what is truly possible.  

Remember how much hard work it took you to get the experience that your clients benefit from. That's all worth something.

Do the sums

We're bookkeepers! Have a clear understanding of what you need to earn. Look at your costs and your lifestyle. To get the lifestyle you want, where do your fees really need to be?

Do something different

One of the easiest ways to increase your fees is to look at other methods of pricing like menu pricing. This moves the focus from cost to benefits.

Bookkeeping is not a commodity that can be easily compared. Make sure you're not packaging yourself in such a way that your clients think that you are.  

Little and often

Have a set time of the year where you raise your fees by a little amount. Inflation plus a few percent. It's easier to raise your fees by a little each year than by a huge amount every 5 years. Remember, your clients expect prices to go up.

Write to your clients in plenty of time, give them a good amount of notice and explain why your prices are going up.

Rank your clients

This is something we should all be doing at least quarterly.  Take an A4 sheet of paper and draw a verticle and horizontal line.  In each box write an A, B, C and D.  Assign each client to a square. 

A clients are amazing.  They are the clients you just love.  They value your time, pay quickly, give you everything you need without asking.  If you filled your practice with these clients, you'd be a happy bunny.

B clients are not quite so great, but not too far away.  Maybe they do one or two things that displease you, but on the whole, they don't make you want to hide under the desk every time they call you.

C clients are not your worst, but they don't delight you either.  If they were to leave tomorrow you'd miss some things about them (probably the money) but your life wouldn't be much worse.

Then there are the D clients.  If they chose to leave you'd hold the door for them.  They make you really miserable.  You think you need their money, but you probably don't really.  They constantly bring you problems but never paperwork.

When you increase your prices, start with the D clients.  They are your guinea pigs.  When you raise your prices with these clients and they don't all run for the door (they won't, unfortunately!) you'll get the confidence you need to do the same with the C, B and even A clients.

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