Is Now the time to be resetting your fees? Your running costs have increased, and this is not a temporary situation. Can you be available to those that need you, and also be a profit -making business?
Running a responsible business means you should have the solid foundation of knowing that your fees cover your costs, but there is much more to consider once you have that sorted. Here we cover some of the critical areas to think about when setting your fees, and help you reflect on how working online can be a real advantage for your business. To begin, your basic costs can be categorised like this;
- Practice costs – these include rent, cleaning, reception, advertising and stationery.
- Professional costs – training and supervision, as well as professional indemnity insurance and membership fees of professional associations.
- Personal costs – income tax, national insurance contributions and any other administrative or marketing expenses you incur personally that relate to the services provided in your private practice.
Deciding which costs to cover
The first step to setting your fees is to decide which of your costs you want to cover with the fee paid. You should consider only covering the cost of the service itself and not any hidden or underlying costs that can be significant but difficult to understand. These include:
- Fixed costs, such as rent and other overheads
- Variable costs, like transportation for home visits
- Living expenses, such as taxes and student loans
- Costs of doing business, such as technology and marketing
- Costs of training others and yourself (if applicable)
- Costs of investing time or money in yourself or others.
It is your right to make a profit. Profit means you are making more money than it costs for you to live
Making a profit
It is your right to make a profit. Profit means you are making more money than it costs for you to live (the government calls this the “poverty line” and it changes every year). You need to make enough profit in order to pay yourself, support your employees, continue your education, and market your business.
You have every right to earn a living wage. You deserve to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others in turn. There are many pricing strategies that will help you achieve this goal: set fees by appointment type, frequency rates, or sliding scale for specific populations with special needs. Using a combination of these strategies can be beneficial as well!
how much profit – align your business to your finance goals
Your business will only achieve financial independence when it is profitable. A non-profitable business is a hobby, and it certainly isn’t a career. Profitability in your business should be determined by your personal goals. If you want to put £25,000 toward your pension every year, or you want to have the ability to spend £5,000 on a holiday every year, these are goals that determine how much profit you need. You can also determine profitability based on an arbitrary amount of annual income that you would like to make. You can aim for financial independence – which means making enough profit from your business so that it supports all of your monthly expenses as well as providing desired levels of savings and retirement funds.
You have every right to earn a living wage. You deserve to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others in return.
Allowing people to access your services
When you start working for yourself, it’s easy to get caught up on a few things: namely, how much should you charge your clients? And how can you make sure people are able to access your services?
It’s totally up to you. But here are some guidelines that I’ve seen work in this sector over the years.
- Find out what the going rates are in your area of expertise, your business is national, and international – not just local anymore. This will be a good baseline to get started. Look up other therapists who work in your field and discover what they charge their clients.
- Start charging more than you think is comfortable. If you’re used to working at an agency where people pay £0 – £40 per hour, transitioning into private practice will feel like a big leap—especially because there’s a lot of fear around pricing yourself too high or too low as a business owner (read: imposter syndrome!). From personal experience as well as watching others grow their businesses, I’ve seen that it’s really not about how much money comes out of someone’s pocket— of greater importance is how much value they receive from working with you! So long story short: don’t worry about setting your fees too low or too high; just set them where they need to be so that the work feels worthwhile for both parties. It may sound cheesy, I truly believe the services we provide should be properly rewarded.
- Make sure the way in which people access your services is safe, private and sustainable – keeping quality at the forefront of your mind, especially in the areas of privacy and security in technology.
Get a return on your investment for all that training
As a therapist, you’re committed to helping people through counselling. But you can’t help people if you’re going out of business. That’s why setting your therapy fees is so important. You need to make sure that you charge enough money to cover the cost of your training and operating expenses, and hopefully put some money aside for retirement as well.
If you undervalue your services, then it’s hard to sustain your practice in the long-term — which is bad news for everyone! It means fewer people will benefit from counselling and therapy services like yours. And that means that ultimately, less people will get the help they need to change their lives for the better.
Of course, figuring out the right fee structure can be tricky. So, what should you do?
your fees are based on the value that your clients attach to what you offer them: not just sessions with a practitioner, but sessions with *you*
Creating the right value in your clients’ eyes
For me, thinking about services that take place online is an area to be regularly evaluated.
The simplest way to do that is by telling them what makes your service so valuable.
This means offering them a real sense of how much effort, training, and expertise went into becoming the therapist you are today—and how much more investment it took for you to become who you are as an independent professional.
Ultimately, your fees are based on the value that your clients attach to what you offer them: not just sessions with a practitioner, but sessions with *you*. The more they understand why you’re worth it, the easier they’ll find it to pay your fees without complaint or resentment—and even return regularly because they know they’re getting great value out of each session.
What sorts of services could you offer
What specific and/or range of services can you offer? Whatever feels right for your practice. Here are some options:
- Treatment sessions. A traditional one-on-one session with a client. These may be in person or online via video conferencing. A quality service will use a specific platform like isosconnect, rather than generic business tools.
- Smaller appointments. Anything from 15 minutes to an hour, to be used as needed by clients who want a quick check-in or follow-up call after treatment sessions.
- Workshops and speaking engagements. If you have specialised knowledge or skills, share them! Also consider teaming up with other experts for joint workshops (and sharing the fees). Take a look in the practitioner directory inside isosconnect.
- Consultations and mentoring for other therapists and professionals like social workers and educators in your field who need help with specific clients or cases.
- Training programs that teach others how to provide therapy in your specialty area; these can also include seminars, weekend intensives, webinars, etc.
- Online courses that are similar but more extensive than training programs and seminars; they might include multiple modules over several weeks—you get the idea!
Finding the right price for yourself allows you to have the right therapeutic posture so that your clients benefit from the best.
You will be able to help more people if you are able to set fair pricing. You can always change your mind
Setting your fees can be one of the most challenging things about running a practice, but it is also one of the most important.
Consider how much time and effort you put into your work, as well as your expertise and understanding in supporting clients. If a client has been experiencing problems for a long time, it might take more than just one session to get results. You may also have on-going contact with them over a period of several weeks or months.
You may want to look at what others in your field charge before setting your own fees – but remember that charges vary depending on experience and qualifications, location, type of service provided and other factors. The services of a clinical psychologist are likely to cost more than those of an unqualified counsellor offering short term counselling sessions from their living room!
Regularly evaluating your skills, training and fees will keep your business on the path you choose, aimed at the results you have planned for.
TopTip – You could always go through these steps with a friend, colleague or look at a business with a similar model to you, financial planners and accountants can suggest new ways of working you may not have thought of before.