In his awesome Empire Building Kit, Chris Guillebeau talked about his frustration with service providers who don’t publish prices on their websites. If he can’t easily figure out what he’s going to pay for a service, he ends up annoyed, discouraged, and very often in search of a different provider.
I happen to feel the exact same way as Chris. I hate having to hunt around like Indiana Jones for a price on a website or — even worse — get on the phone to call someone who generally only wants to upsell me on additional products or services.
The phone call thing is usually a deal-breaker for me. I just find it easier and more pleasant to navigate an initial encounter with a service provider if I can simply click “No thanks,” get right to the shopping cart or appointment scheduler or client portal and be done with it.
I realize that not all service providers have shopping carts on their websites, and that many services require an initial consultation with the client in order to figure out the scope of the project before a quote can be given.
But it’s a simple and legitimate question, really, the answer to which is worthy of knowing up front. Roughly how much is this logo design/therapy session/tax return gonna cost me? Even an approximate answer is surprisingly hard to find on the web.
Chris was referring specifically to designers, copywriters, and programmers. But the same lack-of-pricing-transparency can be said of virtually any service industry, from coaching to plumbing — and most definitely accounting.
For example, I just Googled “Asheville CPA” to find out which firms on the first page publish their prices.
I didn’t see a single price for anything.
Not an hourly rate, which is the conventional pricing mechanism in my industry, nor a range of prices for particular discrete projects such as “income tax preparation.”
So when I was designing and writing my “Services” page, I remembered what Chris said. I took the completely opposite and apparently contrarian position to publish my rates on my site.
(And by the way, “Services” is my single most clicked page. For most sites, it’s the “About” page. Lesson: People are obviously more interested in knowing how much my services cost than in who I am.)
Should You Publish Your Prices?
Like most things in life, there are two sides to everything.
On one hand, maybe you don’t want to put people off in case your rates look too expensive.
Maybe you need a little flexibility to negotiate terms, depending on the client, the circumstances, and/or general demand in the marketplace.
And you’re probably not delighted with the idea of your competitors seeing your rates because they might then either undercut you or position themselves as the “reassuringly expensive professional.”
But on the other hand and as Chris pointed out, you sure as heck don’t want to put people off by NOT publishing your prices either!
Maybe potential clients will simply assume you’re too expensive, be too afraid (or irked) to ask the price, and simply go elsewhere.
People appreciate clarity and openness. It saves them getting anxious about asking or getting embarrassed if they do ask and then can’t afford it.
Creative professionals in particular don’t like talking about money, so pointing clients to a fixed price list is often easier than negotiating in person. A fixed list of rates is also a great way to prevent you from undercutting yourself because someone is a friend of a friend and expects a deal or because you don’t believe your services are “worth it.”
I believe that the small business owners whom I serve are on a budget just like everyone else in business, and it really helps them to know up front how much my services will cost.
Stay tuned next week for my thoughts on various creative ways to publicly price your services!
In the meantime, I’d love to know your answers to these questions:
Do you publish your service prices on your website? Why or why not?
What happens if you Google “your town + your service”? Do your competitors publish their prices?
Leave a comment below!
(Photo by 24hourmoon)