For Veterinarians: No, You Shouldn’t Charge What You’re Worth
When visiting my clients in clinic and we’re reviewing financials for ROI on marketing, our discussions often turn to clinic pricing for services. Without fail, veterinarians will always say; “I have to charge what I’m worth.”
My response … No, you shouldn’t charge what you’re worth!
There’s so much emotional devastation that follows the “charge what you’re worth” thought process. The top 3 most difficult tasks for veterinarians is presenting a treatment plan. It’s a scary pricing discussion. Often, veterinarians will have a member of their team present to the client. Why? Veterinarians believe that their worth is connected to their clinic pricing. Their worth is dependant on a client saying yes or no to a treatment plan. It will make you neurotic believing you should charge what you’re worth, because it reinforces the idea that our deepest worth as a person is connected to the price on a treatment plan.
If you ever have any take away from anything I share with you, please make this the most valuable:
Your worth is not dependant on how you price your services.
Do not charge what you’re worth, because you are not for sale.
You are not your business. You are not your success. Nor are you your failure.
YOUR WORTH IS PRICELESS!
If more veterinarians could start to understand this concept, the fear of presenting treatment plans would cease to exist. That “pit in your gut” feeling when you have to present a treatment plan, or worse, when a client refuses to pay what you have presented, becomes much easier to digest when it’s not about you personally. They’re not saying no to you … they are saying no to the price. A “no” will no longer take away from your self-worth.
If you look back at where “charge what you’re worth” came from, it was born with the best of intentions. It was created on the backs of those trying to do good for the world, trying to make a difference, people that were charging very little or nothing for the services they offered.
I’m in favour of charging more and feeling good about it. I’ve stood with a treatment plan in my hand presenting to a pet parent of a sick pet. A treatment plan that was likely more than what they earn in a month. I was confident in my explanation of costs associated to make Fluffy or Fido feel better, as cost was never connected to me as a person.
You have to price your services taking yourself out of the equation. You have to price your services based on what your services are worth. Your services are always the value of your price, which is totally separate from you personally.
Factors To Consider To Determine Pricing
It has to go beyond fixed costs (supplies, mortgages/rent, electricity etc.), labour costs (staff and veterinarian wages) and inflation.
Your client first and foremost. Your client will always define and determine your value. If your reception area is sitting empty, and the clinic down the street is booming, you likely need to consider some relationship marketing to understand why. Value is comprised of price but also the client care given to determine worth. It’s what your client believes your service is worth to them. Charge for the value you’re bringing to clients.
You must know your market. A regular cup of coffee can range anywhere from .50 at the corner store, 2.00 at Timmies and up to 3.00 at Starbucks. Never be the .50 cup of coffee. The 3.00 cup can be a lonely place carved out for a niche market. Landing around the Timmies 2.00 cup can be a comfortable place to be.
Though it may be tempting to have a pricing strategy of undercutting the clinic down the street by charging slightly less than they are, this is an unsustainable solution. What if your competition decides to lower their prices as well, then you’re trapped in a race to the bottom until you are both out of business. Understand what your entire market looks like and how you fall into range with the services they offer and then price your services accordingly from there. Do not let your competitive pricing be the main differentiator you use to determine the cost of your services.
Remember: if a client doesn’t see the value in your services, let it go. It’s not a reflection of you.
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