So the past two weeks we've been talking about money! But there's one topic I didn't touch on then that I really should now, and that's setting your prices as a 'not covered by provincial health care' practitioner. In other words, you are able to set your prices yourself and clients are paying you directly.
Here's a question for you all:
When you set your prices, what did you do?
Did you just go with what other practitioners in your clinic are charging?
Did you search Google for local clinics and make notes about what others are charging?
Did you do a quick survey of RMTs (or other practitioners who do what you do) on Facebook to ask what they charge?
Did you go eeny-meeny-miney-moe and pick something?
Other than the last method (please, no one do that, ok?), those are all perfectly valid methods to research pricing in your area.
Note that I said research.
When you set your own prices, you need to think about a number of factors, not just what other people in your area charge. The fees others charge are simply an indication of what clients are already paying.
Before I continue, let me mention that as health care providers you do need to set your prices within a reasonable range. You're probably well aware of that. So of course, I am not going to suggest you set your fees so high that no one could afford them, or so low that you're doing your profession a serious disservice.
This whole question of 'what do I set my fees at?' is a large part of the reason why professional organizations like the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario (RMTAO) publish a fee guideline every few years. It's a good starting point for setting your own fees.
But many RMTs I speak to tell me that the suggested guideline is just not feasible for anyone outside of metro Toronto. No one in their area would ever be willing to pay that much. If they charged that much, they would quickly have to close their business because no one would be willing to book.
It is true that you do need to consider what the local market is willing to pay. But that doesn't mean you should just charge exactly what everyone else in your area does without any further thought, out of the fear that people aren't willing to pay more than that.
Ask yourself this: Are you really exactly the same as every other RMT in your community?
Have you been in practice many years and have a lot of experience?
Do you have extra training?
Do you go that extra mile for your clients?
The value of what you have to offer is a huge factor in setting your fees. People are willing to pay more for things that they value. If your treatments and clinic have that added value, the clients who appreciate that will be more than willing to pay extra for it. They won't nickel and dime you and tell you the therapist down the street charges 10 dollars per hour less.
Those people who are only focused on price? They aren't the best fit for you, your skills and your business. They don't understand the hard work that goes into every treatment and don't truly value what you do. They just care about who is the cheapest. So don't worry about them. If they want the lowest rate, let them book with the therapist with the lowest rate.
Of course, there are always situations where people do understand the value of what you do but are not in a financial position to pay for it. This is why you can always allow for a sliding scale, so people in genuine need can still have access to treatment. Those folks are not the ones I'm referring to here.
Don't undervalue yourself and what you do out of fear. If you've taken the time to do extra education or build a clinic with lots of extra services and perks, you should charge accordingly. Don't be afraid to do it!