I got an email today from someone who has been in my training courses. She was telling me about a client closet appointment. Feeling like the woman wouldn’t want to spend more money on her services so soon, she volunteered to do a little shopping for her and “I didn’t charge her.” She added, “I get anxiety about charging. I suspect I make things up about money that aren’t even true.”
Oh boy, do I know this one! I know it personally. I used to make up all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t suggest additional appointments for my clients. I worried about sounding pushy. (I now offer “next” appointments all the time and my clients are grateful.) I also know it from coaching other consultants.
I bet if all of us got together we’d have a gay old time confessing all the ways we haven’t charged for our services or have grossly undercharged for them.
I think at least two things are at play
1. Our industry is relatively young. There aren’t hard and fast rules about charging. And it varies from place to place.
2. In our business we work with clothes, makeup, hairstylists, and maybe even cosmetic professionals in order to help our clients. It could sound fluffy and frivolous.
Of course our work gets amazing results. A client may get a $20,000 raise. Another one may get elected to office. Our work brings awareness to a company’s brand or someone’s personal brand. Our work brings peace of mind to clients who have had low self-esteem. (Clearly, we need to get together and also talk about all the benefits our clients receive!)
I have to say I had a real advantage when I started my business 30 years ago. It was called fear.
1. When I officially launched Inside Out, A Style & Wardrobe Consulting Company, I was a single mom with three kids. The divorce papers hadn’t even been signed. I hadn’t earned my own money in twelve years.
2. I’d taken courses in image consulting and knew that’s what I loved most. But if I didn’t treat image consulting like a true business, I’d have to go out and get a “real job” at Macy’s, starting at minimum wage. That wasn’t going to support my family living in Marin County, CA.
3. I was afraid I’d become a bag lady on the streets within a year (no exaggeration!). I had to build a clientele…soon. I had to put myself out there even though I was scared.
One thing really helped me
I thought to myself: I have to act like a professional to get paid like a professional. When I focused on how to give excellent professional service, it was easier to feel comfortable getting paid. I didn’t discount my rates because I couldn’t think of a single other profession that discounted their rates.
As I write this, I’m thinking about a motto I shared in one of my books: You’re worth full price. I meant it about clothes and sale prices but it could remind us of our worth in business.
I’ll have much more to say on the subject of money. It’ll be part of the discussion in next week’s Confident Consultant Class when I talk about Tackling Sticky Situations with Just the Right Words. You’re welcome to join in.
Until our next conversation about charging for our services, just remember, you are worth full price. You do great work in the world!