“What do you charge?” the attorney asks. Your attorney clients will ask this question of you when they are getting seriously interested in hiring you. Does the topic of money make your mouth dry and your hands sweat? Do you dread that point in a conversation when the attorney says, “So what do you charge?”
Many LNCs feel this way. In fact, many small business owners have the same reaction. You’re not alone. Most of us have difficulty talking about money—especially when it comes to quoting prices for our own work. But if you’re going to be successful in business, you have to get over it.
What do you charge? It is all about your mindset
You know your LNC skills help attorneys. You’ve seen it in their responses. You also know that it costs money to make money. It costs money to run a business. A business is just a hobby unless it makes you money.
What do you charge? You MUST charge a fair rate for your services, or else you will join other LNCs in the rush to the bottom of the fee schedule.
You cannot charge staff nurse rates and survive.
When I hear of more LNCs who charge $25-$35 an hour in an effort to get work, I know they will not be successful. You cannot cover your costs at that rate, and you show your inexperience and desperation by agreeing to work for those rates.
Yes, I know that some companies will subcontract work to an LNC at those hourly rates. If you have no experience or little overhead, you may agree to work at that low rate on a temporary basis. But you should also be thinking of how to increase your compensation from other sources of LNC work.
The first rule for declaring your prices with confidence is simply to practice. Talk to yourself in the shower. Tell your dog what your rates are. Stand in front of your mirror and say in response to the question, “What do you charge?” “I charge $XXX.00 per hour.”
The more you say your rates out loud (not in your head) the more natural it will be for you.
Even if you’re on the phone or writing an email, smile when you say your rates. Your tone of voice changes when you smile (as does the “tone” of your typing), and that tone can convey confidence and authority, not to mention professionalism.
Smiling conveys confidence. If you waiver when responding to the question, “What do you charge?” you will convey your discomfort.
Listen to yourself as you speak to potential clients. Do you say things like, “Well, normally I charge…” or “Actually, my rates are…” or “Do you think that $XX.00 will work for you?”
These (and others like them) are all wishy-washy ways of talking that do not instill confidence in your client, and worse, they make you sound like you don’t believe in yourself.
Don’t be wishy-washy. It is an invitation to an attorney to negotiate your fees. Rather than squeaking out a timid, “Um, I charge, like $125 an hour,” straighten your back, smile. Say, “My rate for LNC services is $125 an hour. I require a 10 hour retainer. Please make the check payable to LNC ABC services Inc.” And then…
When we’re nervous or feeling intimidated, we tend to talk. We want to fill the silence with something, anything, just to avoid having to sit there uncomfortably and wonder what the other person is thinking.
But guess what? He or she is just as uncomfortable with the silence, and psychologically, the one who speaks first is at a disadvantage. So when you’re talking price, avoid the urge to fill the silence (especially because you’re most likely to try to justify your pricing) and let your potential client take time to respond.
I know of a person who always carries a cigar with him when he makes sales calls. He uses it as a prop. After he quotes his rate, he shoves the cigar in his mouth to make him stop talking.
Try this when you are asked, “What do you charge?” When you quote your rate over the phone, cover your mouth with your hand to stop blurting out any comment that will fill the silence.
Will speaking with confidence always land you a new client? No. But being able to share your pricing in a clear voice when you are asked, “What do you charge?” will help potential clients know that you’re confident in your skills, and consequently, that you are the right LNC for them.
Get a different perspective on starting a life care planning business by listening to Linda Husted discuss the steps she took. Check out our podcast, “Growing a Life Care Planning Business” at this link.