Virtual Assistants who charge by the hour eventually reach an income plateau since there are only 24 hours that they can work in a day.
|Lowest Earning VAs||$25,000||$2,083||$481||$12|
|Highest Earning VAs||$47,500||$3,958||$913||$23|
According to ZipRecruiter, one of the largest recruiting firms in the USA, very few VA’s earn more than $19 per hour.
You want to keep raising your rate as your experience grows. Your experience notwithstanding, there are customers who will not be able to afford your services.
Below are some tips to help you increase your rates without losing your customers.
1. Ensure You are Worth the Raise
For an employer to agree to increase your income, you need to be an indispensable asset by always delivering awesome service.
There’s only one way to know if you are indispensable. If a client keeps telling you that you are doing an awesome job, then you are indispensable.
Again, if a customer has given a testimonial about your work either verbally or through email, then you are worth the raise you are demanding.
If the client has not talked about your awesome work, you either need to assume they don’t consider you indispensable or you need to ask for feedback.
If the customer doesn’t feel that you are an asset to their company, you need to up your game so that you can become that valued asset that the employer is willing to pay a higher rate.
2. Understand the Client’s Negotiation Nuances
If in the course of negotiating for how much the customer needs to pay you he makes an expression such as “is that all?” or “it’s surprising how cheap your services are”, then you need to raise your rates.
Failing to do this will make the customers think that your services are not of high quality.
3. Asking for a Raise is Expected
Have you noticed how the utility bills continue rising over time? Even better, have you noticed that $100 used to go a long way when you went shopping ten years ago but it no longer covers the many expenses it used to nowadays?
Clients expect that at some point you will raise your rates. Obviously, they will not be amused by the extra coin they have to part with, but they will not be surprised. After all, they also keep raising the prices too.
4. Don’t Apologise for Asking for a Raise
Don’t feel stressed, scared or embarrassed for raising the rates if you are worth it.
A price increase is part of running a profitable business and therefore, you need to come across as somebody that is confident of his exceptional quality of work.
Don’t forget the fact that being a virtual assistant is like running your own business. If you have a mindset that increasing your rate is bad, you need to get rid of it.
5. Specialise to Become an Expert
Once you have specialised on a subject, you will become an expert and this will allow you to increase your hourly rate.
For example, you can specialise in marketing, content creation, or social media and then charge more for the higher knowledge and skills that you have.
How to Get the Wording Right When Asking for Better Rates
If you have previously gotten a glowing testimonial from your client about the quality of your work, when asking for a raise remember to quote it.
You can, for example, write something like “ thank you for the glowing testimonial. It goes to show that you value what I bring into the business”.
Remind the client of the big benefit that they accrue by working with you. You can mention things like;
- how you understand the business
- how you work well with the team
- how much volume of work you can do in an hour
- how using your services saves the company both time and money
Finally, you need to let the client know that it has been wonderful working with them and you would love to continue the healthy working relationship.
People continue denying that they love being flattered, but it always goes a long way.
Why a Client Might Refuse to Pay Your Increased Rates
When asking for an increased rate from a customer, be open to the fact that they might refuse your request. The following might be the reasons why they refuse:
- Below par performance – The client might feel that your services are not good enough and that you are not giving them value for the money they pay you. If that is the case, you need to ask the customer what you need to do to become a more valued asset in their business.
- Rates were increased recently – It is important to ask for a big raise at once instead of asking for small increases regularly. You do not want to appear pesky to your clients. If the rate recently came up, first offer good services before you ask for an increase.
- Increase too steep – You might have asked a very high increase in your rates such that they have gone out of what the client can afford. When increasing your rates, ensure you have an idea of how much the client is willing to pay.
- The client is cheap – There are clients who will pay peanuts regardless of how well you deliver the expected outcomes. If you get a client like that, ditch them like yesterday.
How to Get the Client to Accept the Higher Rates
- Deliver quality work – Valued virtual assistants go out of their way to ensure that they make the life of the client easier. They work very hard to save the client some money and always deliver quality work no matter what.
- Raise the rates regularly, NOT too often – Raising your rate every year is more likely to yield results than doing it every six months. Ensure that you account for the inflation during the year before you ask the client to increase your rates. After all, even big corporations review the employees’ salaries every year.
- Be subtle with your numbers – Whenever you increase the rate at which the client pays you, always make sure that it is not in round numbers. If for example, you want to get an increase of $5, ensure that you give the customer a figure like $5.25. This gives you a room to negotiate.
- Upgrade to higher paying customers – Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to please a customer, they are not willing to pay you for your exceptional services. In such a case, be on the lookout for higher paying clients that are willing to pay better for high-quality work.
Remember that there is only so much you can do for clients that don’t have the budget for your higher rates or are unwilling to invest in their business. You are better off replacing them with customers that are willing to spend money to make money.
Whereas you might feel that it is self-defeating to let a client go, there are many business owners around the world who are willing to pay a higher rate.
Realise that every hour that you spend on a lowly paid task is the time you could be spending better by getting a higher paying task.
Therefore, if you have the ability to charge $20 an hour instead of $15 an hour, you are losing money.
Avoid being on the wide base of the pricing pyramid because you are in business not charity.
You are not trying your hand at running a business, you are actually running one.
Clients expect you to charge higher as you gain experience. You shouldn’t feel guilty when the time comes to hike your rates.
After all, the reason you set up your virtual assistant business is to earn a better income.
Photo by peoplecreations / CC BY