When we dream about our businesses and how they fund our futures, we tend to think big: take that amazing trip, build the dream house, buy the expensive car. That all sounds pretty good, but when it comes down to it, you'll never get there if you don't price what you're worth.
I know the phrase "you need to price what you're worth" is a major buzzword in the creative industry, and that it encompasses a lot of different topics. Today, I'm writing to those of you who are too afraid to charge enough/more, and in doing so, aren't growing your businesses. And if this is you, you're certainly not taking care of future you.
Are you undercutting your competition to make the sale? Are you afraid to raise your prices in case the inquiries dry up? There are negative consequences to this, and it goes beyond just having a small paycheque. Listen up: I've got something to say to you.
You're hurting the rest of the industry and you might not have thought of it that way before. If you're a side hustle, or part time, or trying to launch your business, or just too afraid to raise your prices, you could be seriously damaging the wedding industry by undercutting your competition. Undervaluing your worth and your services means that any couples who meet with you are going to then undervalue the worth of that service as a whole - not just your particular service.
You might be a wedding planner who is just launching your business, so you're not comfortable charging what you're worth yet. Or you might be a florist who just really wants to book a wedding and so you undercut the quote of another florist. Whatever your situation might be, what you're really doing is damaging the public perception of value to your industry as a whole. After meeting with you, couples are going to sub-consciously evaluate the value of what your entire industry does. Suddenly, wedding planners aren't able to make as much money. Florists lose their bottom line even more than they already do.
So, how do you go about raising your prices?
1) Seriously consider a few aspects of pricing:
a) What you need to make in order to "make it." This number is going to be different for everyone - it might mean a $40K income or a $140K income. How many weddings at what average price point do you need to take on to meet your goal?
b) What is the perceived value of your specific services? Based on your skillset, your individual services might be more valuable than that of your competition. That's okay (in fact, that's great). There aren't that many people out there who can provide a classical string quartet. Your services could be in higher demand, meaning that the value of what you provide is automatically higher.
c) You need to KNOW YOUR COSTS. This isn't a fun thing to figure out (trust me, I've tried several times and also given up several times!), but it's so important to know what our costs are in order to understand how much we need to charge our clients. It's not fair to you to be running a failing business simply because you don't know your costs!
2) If you're just starting out, or if you're trying to raise your prices, gradual increases are a great way to go. With each new client who books, raise your price by $100 or $200. Little by little, you'll get to that pricing sweet spot. You may want to add a clause to your contract that tells clients they're not allowed to divulge their specific price. It doesn't make sense for a new service provider to be charging as much as established businesses, and you can certainly feel free to mention to your clients that they are getting x pricing because your business is young. It's all about the way that you say it. And then, those gradual increases with each booked client will bring you to where you need to be!
3) If you decide that you want to lower your prices, do it for a specific reason and make sure your clients know. Maybe it's that dream wedding or the dream vendor team that you really want to work with. It's okay to offer a price break to get in the door once in a while, but make sure that your client or vendor partners know that you are doing something special for them.
The bottom line is that every event or client that you take on should be profitable. Each area of the wedding industry has different pricing standards and profit margins. If you don't know what those standards are for your area of expertise, then do some research, talk to other people, seek out some experts and ASK.
You deserve to get paid!
I recently talked about a few other areas about pricing that you might be interested in: