As the owner of a PR firm, nothing scares me more than raising my rates.
But, as business grows, costs go up, and you gain more experience and connections, you deserve to get paid more for your expertise. I've learned that the process of increasing the price of services is a bit like pulling off a Band-Aid; it's necessary, you just have to do it quickly, and it is never as bad as you think!
So if you, like me, know it's time to raise your rates, here are some things to keep in mind to make the whole process less nerve-wracking.
1. Increasing rates is a normal part of running a business
This seems obviously, but the first step is really just figure out your increase, and then notify your clients a few months in advance. Depending on the relationship, you may want to schedule a meeting to ask your clients for a retainer increase, or have a conversation during an end-of-quarter review.
Of course, actually sending out that notification or putting that meeting on the books is easier said than done. The big fear around starting these conversations is that a clients tell you your work aren’t worth the new price. But speaking from personal experience, I don’t think any of my clients have ever said “no.” Some want to negotiate (which should be expected), but no one has scoffed at my increases. Sometimes getting more money is simply just as easy as asking.
2. Your expertise and relationships are their own form of currency
Even though your contacts and knowledge are somewhat intangible items, they are what allow you to accomplish great things on behalf of your clients, and are therefore worth a good amount of money.
If your client is being unreasonable about your rate increase, this could indicate that your client doesn't understand the value of what you do. Then, you have two options, figure out how to better demonstrate the value of working with you or your firm, or consider that this client isn't a good long-term fit. After all, you could be spending that time securing and then working for higher-paying clients who won't low ball you.
3. Celebrate and remind clients of what you have already accomplished together
Don’t be afraid to showcase your kick @$$ achievements! In PR, the more placements you are getting, the more people are willing to pay you. Each year, you should be adding on to your portfolio. When you go to ask for a retainer increase, don’t forget to talk about some of your latest and greatest media hits, as well as any investments in new technology, training or services that allow you to sever your clients even better. By asking for the increase with a series of client and agency wins to back up your request, you remind your client that paying a little extra is worth is for the results you are capable of getting.
4. Believe you are worth it
Sometimes the hardest person to convince that you need a raise isn’t your client, it is yourself. You might not feel like you are worthy of a rate increase, but if your exceeding client expectations, consistently securing new clients and building a significant portfolio of media placements, this is simply not true!
If you have consistently been producing quality work for your clients, then you definitely deserve to be compensated. You don’t want to be your own worst enemy when it comes to earning more money. Once you start seeing that your clients are usually willing to raise your rate, you will be more confident to do so in a way that is respectful of client budgets and your own professional growth.
Photo Credit: ilmungo