#33: Pricing Your Health Coaching Services

After many years of running a health coaching business, Michelle admits that pricing is still tricky territory! In this episode she shares:

– 3 perspectives on pricing your products and services
– The best way to get yourself out there to attract clients
– What you need to get your business started…on a budget!
…and much more.

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Master Class: Turn Your Health Coaching Business Into a Full Time Salary

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Well, hello there health coaches! Welcome to the Health Coach Power Community Q & A. my name is Michelle Phennighaus and I have been a health coach for a pretty long time and one thing that still to this day causes me to hem and haw a little bit is pricing. In fact, I think most coaches waver when it comes to pricing, there are no hard and fast answers here, but it does go beyond simply knowing your worth. I mean that’s certainly part of pricing yourself to know your worth, but today we’re going to hit on three really tactical perspectives that you can take when determining how much to charge for your services and if you’re here with me live and we are live streaming over at healthcoachpowercommunity.com. Here’s what I want you to do. You could tell me in the comment area what is the highest price point that you can possibly imagine charging for a six month health coaching program?

Go ahead and pick a number that makes you sweat a little bit and then also think what is the very lowest amount that you can imagine charging just as a thought exercise, give me your high and your low. This episode is brought to you by my free training for health coaches called how to turn your health coaching business into a full time salary and you can sign up for free at findyourbalancehealth.com/earn. That’s e a r n earn. In this training we kind of do the math and we talk about what you’re charging, how many sales you’re making, and how to make it all add up into the salary that you want to be earning. So go to findyourbalancehealth.com/earn to sign up today. So as I mentioned earlier today, we’re going to go over three perspectives on pricing as illuminated by a couple of different questions you guys have been asking me lately, but if you’re here live and you have other questions, you just go right ahead and ask in the comments and I will answer those too.

The first one came from Jennifer and I think this question has been asked in many forms over the course of the past few years in our facebook group. Jennifer said, can anyone provide me with what the going rate is for health coaching? I’m in Michigan and I’m a recent IIN graduate. She would like hourly and package rates of possible.

Well, Jennifer, thank you for bringing this up and this is a good time to talk about one of the most basic ways to determine your pricing. I think that for all of us, we started working or first jobs, uh, for me it was bagging groceries at Shoprite and then babysitting and then working at the hallmark store where I would leave every day just reeking of Yankee candles and then all of these jobs that we have, we’re paid hourly. In fact, that may even continue even up through a professional career.

When I was freelancing as an art director, I was getting paid hourly, so it is very comfortable in some ways to start with an hourly rate for us as a health coach and it’s good to generally know your rate, know how much an hour of your time is worth, so how do we do that, and certainly not the end all be all to pricing yourself, but it is a good place to start and I suggest that Jennifer, if you’re in Michigan, you should go look for yoga instructors, massage therapists, personal trainers, these types of practitioners in your area and see what they’re charging for one hour of their time and so we’re not talking about taking a yoga class and what that costs. We’re talking about if you were going to do a one on one, a private yoga lesson, like what would you be paying for an hour and the same thing for a massage, an hour massage, an hour of one on one personal training so that you can compare.

I think these are practitioners who are sort of in the same ballpark as health coaches. We’re not going to compare our rates to the rate that I’m a chiropractor or a doctor uses. Clearly they would most likely be charging more. Umm, not necessarily, but most likely charging more than health coach. A health coach has completed a year of training. Yoga teachers, maybe it’s a 200 hour training, a 500 hour training that they’ve completed. We don’t have our PhDs, most of us. That’s what I’m trying to say. So compare your hourly rate to other practitioners in your area and that’ll kind of give you a sense of where to begin. Right? And so for me, I live in New York and when I started my business I lived in Boston. So we’re talking about the east coast and 10 years ago when I started my business it was about $100 an hour.

$100 an hour you could get a private yoga lesson. Of course it depends who and how much experience they have. So again, you might want to look at people who are more of a beginner more in their first year of business, if that’s where you are, to start getting a range for what would be appropriate in your neck of the woods. Anyway. When I was starting out, I felt pretty comfortable with $100 an hour as like my base hourly rate. And then from there you can do the math. If you’re going to be working with someone for 10 hours, then you would charge a thousand dollars just as a starting point. Then of course you’re going to have to think about, well, there’s administrative time, travel time, potentially, you know, all the other bits and bots. They’re going to add into how much time you’re spending with this client and pad your pricing accordingly.

I think that is the most tactical, straightforward way to go about it. And Jennifer, I also wanted to offer you some information that I just this past week. So many of you know, I have an online program called healthy profit university and I do live calls with our members and so these are all health coaches and I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of them the other day and we were talking about what they were planning to sell and at what price point. So with no judgment, I’m not going to insert any of my opinions around this. I just want to share with you what the going rate seems to be based on some of the feedback that I got from our members. So, this is a new members of healthy profit university, relatively new coaches. And here’s some things they threw out. One was going to be charging $900 for a six month program.

That’s 12 sessions. Another was going to be charging $1350, same thing, six months, 12 sessions and said $1500 for six months, 12 sessions. Um, so those are hour long sessions. So we’re talking about 12 hours at those different price points. So there you go there is a starting point for you, Jennifer. I hope that’s helpful. By the way, over here, Sharon answered my question when I asked what is the most you could imagine charging for six months and what’s the least? Sharon said the least was 1200, so that’s putting her right into the prices that I just rattled off here, I had just said a 900, 1350 and 1500 were sort of the prices that our members were speaking of. And Sharon said the lowest you could imagine is 1200 and I would agree this is sort of the lowest that you’d probably want to go.

Um, with the highest being $2,500. All right Sharon. Well I suggest that you think about what it would take to raise your rates to $2,500 because as we’re going to talk about in this next question or this next bit, pricing is not just about how much is my time worth. Okay. So here I’ll read you the next question and then we’ll get into this, this other perspective on pricing.

This one came from Carly and Carly said, I haven’t meeting with a potential client next week. This will be my very first client, hey Carly, she says I’m halfway done with the aim program and this person has expressed to me that she’s very interested in my six month program and I have a good feeling she would sign with me. What should I charge? I was thinking about half price of what my rates will be when I graduate or do I go even lower and chalk it up to getting myself out there and getting some experience.

So Carly, what you’re talking about here is a different aspect of pricing. Sometimes our goal is not necessarily to make a certain dollar amount. The business goal here for you, Carly, is to get experience. So it is really important that you get experience when you were first starting out and it doesn’t actually matter how much the person pays you, right? I’m assuming you’re not relying on this income to pay your mortgage this month. So in the beginning really the business goal is we need to get experience. So I think it’s a really smart idea to perhaps give a discounted rate to those that you’re working with while you’re still in school. I always think of it as being an intern. I went to northeastern university, which is a school, so when I was in college I was working at jobs for college credit and getting paid hourly and you better believe they’re paying me less than someone who had graduated.

Right, so this is again very common. People understand this concept of, you know, working while you’re still in school. So Carly, I think that is a totally okay. Great idea to offer an introductory rate. I did that when I was still in school and I don’t really see a downside to it – unless you’re charging so little that the client you’re working with isn’t taking you seriously and isn’t taking the program seriously. So let’s say that you’re charging $20 a month and it just feels like pocket change to your client. Hey, they’re gonna cancel the session. They’re not going to show up. They’re going to make excuses. They’re not going to prioritize it because they are literally not invested. And the same thing goes for working with clients for free. If they’re not invested with money, oftentimes most of the time they’re not going to be invested in the process at all, so that’s not what you want currently.

You want experience with somebody who is going to show up and do the work and be invested and get results so that you get a great testimonial and you both have a great experience. So anyway, back to perspectives on pricing. This to me is all about marketing and positioning. Sometimes we price a program very low, not because we’re worried that other people won’t have, you know, they won’t have the money to pay for it, so I have to price it low. Sometimes we price it low because we want it to be an entry level program or product in our business with the intention of upselling them afterwards. Sometimes we price something high, not because it’s necessarily a quote worth that much like we’re going to spend that many hours with it, but because we want it to be perceived as a high end program, we want to attract a certain type of clientele and pricing in this way works as part of your marketing.

Not so much as just a desperate number that you pull out of the air, hoping that someone’s going to work with you, so I just wanted to put that out there because Carly, I think part of what you’re doing right now is this sort of positioning of yourself like, Hey, I need to get experience. What do I need to do to make that happen, to get the right kind of experience? And so anyway, follow your gut and go ahead and charge a lower rate. If that feels right to you, just don’t go too low. And I would also say don’t hesitate to raise your rates. This goes for everybody if people are signing up really easily. So if you find yourself with five, six, seven, eight, nine clients and all of them have signed up without an eye at the price, you can go ahead and raise it.

All right, so that would be a couple of questions and this brought in sort of two topics at the same time, topic of meal planning and the topic of pricing.

So Lori asked, has anyone been asked by a client to create a seven day meal plan?

I think that’s pretty common. Lori. People love the idea of meal plans and you know, there’s all those services out there where you can sign up for meal plans really, really cheap and get them emailed to you every week with a shopping list even. And sometimes it’s even a, you know, gluten free or Paleo or whatever, you know, special kind of meal plan that you want to get. So this is something people know is available to them and they see some value in it. So I’m not surprised that they were asking you for it.

But then Jessica put a finer point on it when she asked, how much would you charge for creating a meal plan and shopping list for a client as an add on to the cost of their four month program?

So yes, everybody loves a meal plan. No, it’s not always easy to price these things. Now, first of all, I have an event coming up this Thursday. So if you are listening to this live or soon after we’re recording, um, it’ll be Thursday the 20th. We are doing a free live training to show you how to not only create meal plans but help your clients create meal plans really, really easily using the tool that I use myself called back clean life. So I’m just going to drop the link into the comments right now. If you guys want to go ahead and sign up for that training, I highly recommend it. This is a tool that when I learned about it, I just about cried from happiness because creating meal plans can take for a river and when you’re talking about your hourly rate, you can’t charge an hourly rate for making meal plans.

If the meal plan is going to take you three hours, nobody’s going to buy a $300, one week meal plan. So this tool is essential for cutting down the amount of time that it takes you to put something like this together. Okay? So there’s that. Please join us on Thursday if you can. But now I want to talk about another aspect of pricing. We talked about I’m hourly, which again doesn’t work so well in the case of meal plans, although you do want to consider how long is this gonna take me just to keep things on track for yourself. You may also consider the marketing or the positioning. So for example, last summer I ran a six week program and really if I’m honest, the only thing that I offered during those six weeks was a meal plan each week. Yeah, there was a facebook group.

Yeah, there were a few other things going on, but the meat of the program really was just a meal plan every week, so it was six weeks and I charged $300. So if you think about it that way, that’s $50 a meal plan. That’s kind of ridiculous. Who’s going to pay $50 for one week meal plan? So depending how you package your meal plans, you can charge more or less. And this because there was a facebook group, because I marketed it as a whole program, people paid a lot more than they would pay if I said, hey, I got six meal plans for you, that would probably go for like 15 bucks or 20 bucks or something pretty cheap. So think about the marketing of these things and try not to sell a bullet points. You know, like if you tell someone like I’ll sell you a this, this five page booklet, that sounds really cheap by the way, this is the booklet for my new treadmill desk, but I’m just holding it up as an example.

But instead if I sell you the results of this booklet, you can charge a whole lot more. Right? So if you’re selling a result, you’re always able to charge more than if you’re selling. Just the thing. And the question to ask yourself, and this is not just with meal plans, but with pricing, any of your services, any of your programs, what is the result worth to this person? I can say I have a six month coaching program and it costs $1,500. What do you do? That means nothing that’s worth nothing to someone who’s already healthy, already has everything under control. They don’t have any problems though. The program is actually worth nothing to them, they don’t need it. But for someone who has a lot of weight to lose and their doctor’s telling them how vital it is to their health and they’re on several medications and they’re prediabetic and all this stuff is going on.

If you can say, I will help you lose weight. The weight your doctor is asking you to lose, I mean that’s worth a lot to them. So you always want to think about the problem you’re solving and what the value is to that problem. So let’s go back to meal plans. Lori, if someone asks for a seven day meal plan, what is that worth to them? I’m guessing that a whole whole lot because there are meal plans out there that can be purchased really cheap online and it can be fairly customized as well. Um, so Jessica saying, if you’re going to be creating a meal plan and shopping list for our client as an add on to the cost of their four month program, Jessica, I would not separate that out as a separate cost and make it an add on. I would include it as part of the package, the package that is helping them lose weight, the package that is reducing their, uh, lowering their blood pressure, whatever the promises of your package, whatever the result is for the client, put the meal plans into that.

It’s like the how, it’s how you’re going to help get them to that result and the result is worth the big bucks. The meal plans themselves are worth a little bit. So that is my advice to you around that. And for anything that you guys are selling, just remember that question. What is solving this problem worth to my client? I was just talking to a coach the other day actually about this. Um, she’s a new coach as she wants to help women with endometriosis. And as we were talking, she was telling me about the cost involved with the surgeries that women with endometriosis have to undergo and not just once, but sometimes it’s every three years, every five years, whatever. And these surgeries, I’m sure some of it is covered by insurance, but they ended up paying thousands and thousands and thousands out of pocket for the surgery.

And I was like, that is awesome. It’s not awesome that this stuff is not covered by insurance better, but it is awesome that you can actually put a dollar amount to the problem that this woman has. Sometimes you can’t so easily put a dollar amount against it. But if she knows she’s going to be paying $10,000 for that surgery, unless you can do something to slow down the progression of her condition, you know, that makes it very clear argument for why she might hire a health coach for maybe $2,000. And then maybe she wouldn’t have to have surgery so soon. Right. So anyway, the dollar amount and what something is worth makes all the difference in pricing yourself. What other questions do you guys have for me? What are you struggling to price? You can go ahead and tell me in the comment area now I know this is not an easy answer or an easy like boom, here’s what you should charge.

End of story. There’s always a lot of gray areas when it comes to pricing, but I wanted to offer one last bit and then I have a couple more questions that I’m going to be answering for you, but um, one last bit just on the pricing subject. When you’re pricing something, I want you to also to remember to put a price point on your services, on your products and your programs that makes you feel excited. You should see a sale come in. Let’s say you have an online course and you should see a sale come in and you should think, ‘YES!’ you know? You should get up out of bed in the morning thinking like this is great. Should we be working with your clients? Feeling enthused about the work you’re doing with them and if you’re not, if you’re charging too little, you run the risk.

I know it doesn’t feel like this in the beginning, but I promise you it will happen if you’re not charging enough, you can start to feel a little bit resentful and you can start to think about all those extra emails they’re sending you or whatever, how she’s text messaging you everyday that one client of yours who is so annoying and it can quickly turn into this feeling of resentment and then of course you’re not showing up in the way that you need to to truly help your clients, so it is to their benefit and to your benefit to charge in a way that makes you feel excited. Alright, let’s move onto a couple of other questions that came in over the past week and see how many we can squeeze in.

Danielle says, as I am just starting out, I am feeling overwhelmed with getting clients and social media being the only outlet. Does anyone have suggestions of ways to start acquiring clients other than through social media outlets?

Danielle honey, who told you that social media is the only outlet. Oh, no, no, no, no. That would be a terrible thing. I mean, what about all of us health coaches that were working back in the day when we didn’t even have social media? No, no, my friend. You do not need to rely on social media. In fact, social media can kind of be a beast to get working for you. I mean we all dabble in it all day long, but to actually make it part of your business structure, it takes a lot of work and I know you got some of this advice already on the facebook group, but I just want to reiterate to you, Danielle and to everyone that the best and fastest way to start getting clients is with live in person events, speaking engagements, workshops.

You get out there in person and you meet someone face to face that is worth like a thousand times. What you can accomplish by like having a new fan on facebook or a new follower on instagram? One to one in person. Real time connection is worth everything. So get out there, get to that Yoga Studio, the gym, the spa, wherever you know, figure out where your target market is hanging out. Go there and hold events and they’ll just do it once. Do it again and again, and that is one of the most amazing ways of putting yourself out there, getting clients, getting exposure. It’s going to do a lot for you on a lot of levels. I hope that helps. Okay, so Sharon is asking Michelle, do you think it is advisable or ill advised to have an affiliate link in my gateway opt in Freebie.

It relates to one of the problems I want to solve as revealed benefit. Okay. So Sharon has an optin maybe as part of a blog post and to have an affiliate link within the optin she’s asking is that good or bad? So let’s say that I have a blog post and it’s about healthy breakfast and you can opt in, you know, maybe I have a healthy breakfast recipe and I say, okay, put your email address here and I’ll send you my cookbook. 10 healthy breakfast that you can take to work. Great. And you download it. And then I think, Sharon, what you’re saying is within that download, maybe there’s a link because maybe I’m talking about Bob’s red mill oat bran and I linked to it like an affiliate link.

I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see any reason that you wouldn’t do that Sharon, but I wouldn’t take it too far because let’s say that, you know, now you’re sending somebody clicks on it and they’re going to Amazon and then the next ingredient they’re clicking and they’re going to vitacost.com and then they’re clicking on something else and now all of a sudden they’re buying a juicer and suddenly they don’t need you anymore.

So. So I would say use it, use it sparingly. So if there’s a real reason that you’re recommending this one particular product, then yeah, sure. Linked to it and make it affiliate link if you can. But by all means you don’t want to be too distracting. Hope that helps. Okay. I’ve got four more minutes, so I have time for a couple more questions if you guys have any. I have one here from heather and heather says, after a health coaching call with a client, do you send a followup email that recaps the conversation?

You know, heather, I don’t necessarily recap the conversation and I don’t send a followup email per se either, so let me tell you what I do. I use practice better and you guys have probably heard me talk about practice better before. It’s a whole client management system that accepts payments and does your scheduling and also allows you to write client notes. So I love this because I essentially can take my scribbles from my notebook that I did while I was talking to a client and put them in a nice neat format and share them with the client. Don’t necessarily recap the conversation, but I do talk about action steps for sure. Like here are the things that we agreed you were going to focus on for the next couple of weeks and then I’ll bullet point those things out. I use it as a place to link to maybe a book that I mentioned or recipe that I want to share.

You know, any sort of follow-up notes and anything that maybe I forgot to say or think about later that I didn’t say during the session I can put into those notes and then I just have to hit one button and it gets saved to the practice better website so that I can always access those notes again, which is really super cool because I can go back and refresh my memory really easily and it also gets sent to the client automatically. So that’s the way that I’ve been doing it. Um, and I keep it pretty short so I noticed that sometimes health coaches spend like hours, an hour maybe after the session, like typing up perfect notes and recapping every bit and including every resource they can think of and it’s just overkill for your clients. Probably not even going to read these things if they’re busy and most are.

So I do it like I would say 70 percent is for my benefit because I’m just collecting my thoughts and recapping for the sake of my own coaching style so that the next time I can refer back to the notes and like 30 percent for them on the chance that they’re going to read it, read it and um, and click on any of the links and, and actually go check out any of the resources. But this is kind of open to how you want to run your business. Um, I will put a link for practice better over here in the comments or for anyone listening you can go to find your balance health.com/practice to check it out.

Alright, let me do another question here. Rebecca’s saying I plan to charge the same price per one on one session to every client starting out. But if someone seemed like she would be a more complicated case, I feel like I want to charge more to take them on, but that may not be fair because another client could become more complicated down the road. And then I can’t change the price because we already started. Does that make sense? Not sure.

A new client would be okay. Knowing she is being charged more. Yeah, I think that would be really tricky because sometimes the clients seems like it’s going to be really simple and it’s not. Or vice versa. So how do you judge? But one thing you can do is you can assess, okay, what are the health issues going on with this person? I don’t know how engaged they’re going to be with the program. I don’t know what their personality is going to be like. I don’t know if they’re going to reschedule every five minutes and be a pain in my butt or not. But you can at least assess how many health issues you’re talking about, you know, is this person had a lot of things going on? Are they on 10 different pharmaceutical drugs or you know, you have someone else over here who just wants to lose three pounds and that’s it.

I think it’s appropriate to say, listen, we have a lot to work on here. It takes time for the body to change. Therefore, I recommend my and you might have like a six month program or a 12 month program for a person who clearly just has more to work through. And then for someone who has less to work through, I’ve even had people come to me where I’m like, dude, you’re kind of just a hobbyist. You’re already pretty healthy. You just want to learn more, so that’s cool, but I don’t think we need to work together for six months and I’ll tell them, you know, so your goals are such and such. I don’t think you need my larger higher price packages. I think a two month or three month program would be perfect for you and that’s just a really authentic way of making a sale that is appropriate to each client.

Um, just based on, based on their health issues and everyone can kind of nod their head and agree and say, oh yeah, that sounds like it’s the right choice for me. It helps them make a decision if you have two or three different sized packages. All right, it’s 3:30, but I’m going to do one more.

Emily said when first starting out, what are some things that are worth the investment photos of you for your website or your marketing? A logo?

Oh Gosh, no, not your logo. Don’t do a logo. Forget the logo right immediately. Thank you Emily. Um, things that you need, you need a headshot. It doesn’t have to be professional, it could be something that, you know, your friend takes of you. Just get some nice outdoor lighting. Obviously you’re going to need a computer. You need a phone. Childcare, if you have kids, that is an essential and nobody thinks about that as a business expense, but it really is.

Um, I’m a big fan of starting real, real slim. You know, you had a notebook, you got a pen, you don’t need a lot else. You have a phone, can do all your sessions by phone. You don’t need office space, you don’t need a, you don’t need that kind of overhead. You can keep it pretty bare bones. So the only thing that I would say you definitely need when it comes to a tool is an email service. And frankly, if you use Mailchimp, that’s free to for your first, like I dunno a couple thousand subscribers, you need all that stuff. You don’t need to spend a lot of money in different investments. There are great tools out there, but I would kind of wait until you have a problem that you’re trying to solve. Like for example, as I mentioned earlier, when I would try to put together a meal plan for like one of my group programs, I hated it.

It would take me for forever. I think I literally did not run a group program a few times just because I didn’t want to deal with the meal plans. So when that clean life came along, which we’re going to be talking about on Thursday, and I learned how to make meal plans, look at the split using their software. I was like, oh my God, this is amazing. This solves a problem for me. Yes, I’m going to pay for it. So just wait until you have a problem with what you’re currently using and then make the necessary upgrades. I hope that helps. Okay, everyone. It’s been a pleasure being here with you today. Keep asking those great questions and I’ll be back next week to answer them. Take care.