A common question among both new and seasoned coaches and trainers is how much to charge. This is often a difficult question to answer as there are several factors that come into play. Some of these factors are:
- In respect to experience, let’s use lawyers as an example. A new associate at a law firm won’t be able to bill the same amount per hour as a partner. Why? Because they don’t have the years of experience as a senior partner.
- When referencing education, I’m not specifically referring to having an undergraduate or graduate degree. In regard to coaching, education more typically refers to attending workshops/conferences and gaining certifications/certificates.
- Your rate will largely be dependent on where you live and where you are marketing your services. For example, your rate will be substantially different if you live in NYC versus a rural market. Note, this has no bearing whatsoever on your education or skill level. It is simply based on what the market will pay for a service.
- Typically the more niche your market is, the more you can charge. For example, the cost for an hour of generic coaching will typically be less than for an hour of a detailed gait analysis session.
IT’S ALL ABOUT VALUE!
When I was working in NYC as a personal trainer, a prospective client balked at my rate despite them making over nine times more per hour as an attorney. Why? Below are some potential reasons:
- As this individual had not worked with a coach/trainer before, they were likely unaware of what the going market rate is for an experienced coach in NYC
- They perceive their field (law) to be of a higher value than that of sports/fitness.
- They received quotes from other trainers/coaches that were much lower than my rate.
At the end of the day, you must believe that the rate that you charge is based on what you are worth for the market that you are in. Additionally, for a client to pay your rate, they must believe that the value of your service is worth the cost. Additionally, you should be unapologetic about the rate that you charge, so long as you truly feel that your services are worth that amount.
Going back to the attorney that balked at my rate, it is my belief that he truly viewed fitness/coaching as a profession that anyone could do and that there was little, if any difference between coaches. Therefore, why would he pay what he viewed as a high rate to someone that in his opinion did little more than count to 12 and tell him what intensity to run at on the treadmill? In other words, he didn’t see the value in what I was offering and likely, what the value of a qualified coach/trainer is as a whole.
As a basic example, would you pay $100 for a box of cereal? Probably not and if you did, it better be some damn good cereal! Conversely, would you pay $100 for a Ferrari? Probably.
Why is this?
You believe that a Ferrari has more value than a box of cereal and therefore you are willing to pay more for it. While an extreme example, it drives home one’s perception of value.
Trainers and coaches often fail to understand that it also their job to educate prospective clients on their value. For example, when interacting with a new client, I almost always email them my bio which denotes that I have a BS in Kinesiology, am a certified corrective exercise specialist through NASM, have over 20 years experience, worked at some of the top commercial and corporate facilities in NYC, raced bikes internationally/ran track and cross country collegiately and founded UESCA, a science-based endurance sports education company.
Now, is this all just a bit narcissistic? Perhaps. However, the point of doing this is not to brag but rather to demonstrate my value to a potential client and therefore, also a way to justify my rate and therefore my value.
What do local coaches charge? What do online coaches charge? What credentials/experience do they have?
By doing research, you will be able to come up with a rough price range as to what price you could be charging. For argument’s sake, let’s say that based on your experience, you feel that you should charge three times what the highest rate is in your area. If you feel this way… go for it. However, you must understand that at the end of the day, the market will determine what is an acceptable rate to charge. In other words, you’ll likely acquire few, if any clients.
As pricing typically functions on a bell curve from a revenue standpoint, you’ll likely want to position your price somewhere in the meat of the curve.
Therefore, while you must price your service based on your value, you must also take into account what the market will bear.
While there is certainly a marketing angle to pricing your coaching services below everyone else, you risk devaluing both yourself and your services in the eyes of potential clients. You do not want to come off as “cheap,” as this can have a negative effect on your reputation as a coach, and will also likely determine the kind of clients that you attract.
Lastly, if your rate is low to begin with, you risk not being able to raise your rates to a reasonable level in the future. Remember, there is only so much of a rate increase that a client will view as acceptable and therefore tolerate. When pricing your services, you must look long term versus short term.
It should be noted that some coaches keep their rates low to make coaching accessible to most everyone – and that is fine.
In summation, while the acquisition of clients is important and pricing strategy is certainly a factor, it should not come at the expense of your reputation, value or the sustainability of your coaching practice.
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