Recently I took on a new client. I find it a “best practice” to discuss rates after I know what type of work the client wants, the software programs involved, the research needed, and the deadlines. Although I have a rate chart and stick to those rates, there are times when I need to deviate from those guidelines.
My new client was referred to me by one of business associates. He contacted me by phone and laid out what he wanted me to do. He didn’t know that much about me, except that the person that referred me raved about how knowledgeable I was in several areas and I was a virtual assistant.
If I have to reach out to get clients, I stick to my rate schedule, but in this case, I gave him a discount, because he contacted me. I enjoyed our initial consultation, which is always free. He knew what he wanted, when he wanted it; he just didn’t know how to do it. That’s where I come in.
After speaking with him, I told him I would draw up a contract and outline what I could do for him, my fees, and state the deadline in the contract. He liked that idea and I got to work on the contract right away. He seemed eager to begin.
I emailed the contract to him. He signed it and returned it to me almost immediately. He emailed me some of the documents he wanted me to work on, but he also made a comment. He told me that he had contacted several virtual assistants prior to contacting me. He said a few were unprofessional and didn’t follow up with him as I did with a contract. He felt very comfortable signing a contract, because each of us knew the expectations and limitations of the project.
He also told me that my rates were very reasonable. To tell you the truth, I really hated to give him a discount, because I could really use the money, but he did contact me. He was straight-forward about the work to be done and the deadlines.
I don’t regret giving him the discount. He has given me more work and promises to give me more work in the future. My rule of thumb is to have a new contract signed for every new project. It keeps things simple and in order and there is no confusion.
Many times in internet groups, I’ve seen posts about what to charge for rates, how to determine your rate, and are your rates comparable to other virtual assistants in your area. I think honesty is the best policy and if someone reaches out to you, they should be rewarded with a discount. You should have a rate schedule for services, but there should be room for discretion.
If I had not given him a discount, he probably would have only given me the one project. Because I showed him my professional demeanor, treated him to a special discount, and then got the project done correctly, on time, and within his budget, he felt valued and told me he would like to do business with me in the future.
Rates can be a sticking point. You have to determine the amount of time it takes to complete the work, what’s involved with the assignment, and then determine how much to charge. Setting your rates is a comprehensive process, because a new client can become a retainer client, if the rate is right. If not, you run the risk of losing a client and future business.
You may believe your rates are fair, it’s really your client that judges your business by your rates. That’s
Why Your Rates need to be What Your Client Expects Them to Be
For more information on my virtual assistant business, click on Virtual Colleague, LLC.