This week's episode explores the topic of raising your rates for the services you offer, including different theories around it, signs that it's time to raise your rates, and my experience putting my rates up this summer. Tune in!
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[00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.
[00:00:56] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome to the podcast. [00:01:00] Today, we're gonna be talking about raising your rates and an experience that I had recently in the past month or two, raising my rates for my private clients. I know that this isn't a situation that you may find yourself in if you are working for studios or working for other people, because they might be setting your rates for you, but if you are in a position where you have clients that you are working with them directly, there isn't an intermediary that's working to set prices. I just wanna share my experience of raising my rates for my private clients and what I thought about, the choices I made, how that all went down.
[00:01:44] As much as I love to offer advice and suggestions, I'm also recognizing that this is just my personal experience. This is just me working with my clients in the city of Chicago. So we've got a very niche [00:02:00] market and a specific situation that I found myself in. But I do think that it's valuable to share this experience because there's- I don't know if I wanna say worry, but there's like a lot that goes into the business of being a Pilates teacher and being a studio owner, even if it's a solo studio and you're going to people's houses or you're renting space and teaching classes. But if you're working as an independent contractor or if you're like me and you are an LLC, you are your own business. And part of running a business is having revenue, receiving money for the services that you're offering.
[00:02:40] And I feel like in the wellness field, maybe yoga more than Pilates money is almost a taboo subject. And you almost like don't wanna think about the money because you know, the work you're doing is so valuable and the money stuff can be stressful. It has been stressful for me in the past. And I don't [00:03:00] wanna say that I'm all the way done and that I'm not stressed about it or that I even get nervous about this process that I'm gonna share with you, but it is part of the business. It doesn't have to be scary. And usually things get scary because we aren't confronting them. And the more we ignore them, the scarier they seem. So we're just gonna jump in today and talk about how to raise your rates and my experience doing that.
[00:03:24] Back in 2020, I cut my rates because of COVID, and I was worried that I wouldn't be making any money. There was actually a period where, you know, studios shut down. And this was prior to doing virtual teaching, where I really went from teaching all the time, lots of places to teaching one class virtually through one of the studios I was working at. And so there was definitely a lot of panic. And I don't wanna say that it was the wrong choice to cut my [00:04:00] rates, but it definitely was a choice that had consequences. And that was that when I did start doing virtual teaching, I was getting paid less for my time.
[00:04:11] If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn't have cut my rates because what goes into your rate? It's part of it is your time. Part of it's your experience. Part of it is the equipment or the access to equipment that you're providing. If people are coming to your studio and using your reformer, there's overhead costs for the studio and the reformer, and that's being, you know, offset to your client as well. My logic behind cutting my rates was now people didn't have access to the equipment. So I said that I'm worth less because you're not able to do all of the things you were able to do before.
[00:04:57] I've since changed that opinion. [00:05:00] And now I think that what clients actually are buying from us is a solution to their problems. And their problem could be that they don't exercise on their own. It is very hard to have that discipline to exercise on your own. It is much easier to have someone to guide you and tell you what to do and hold you accountable. So that's one thing that we're offering.
[00:05:25] It's your expertise. They're buying your knowledge and your ability to adapt exercises and present a program and work together to create a program that fits their needs, that they enjoy, that they wanna keep doing. Otherwise you would just watch a YouTube video. There's so many amazing videos on YouTube. You couldn't even watch them all, you know, and do all of those exercises.
[00:05:53] But part of it's you're sharing a social and an emotional component because you [00:06:00] are with another person in a room, a zoom room, or in a physical space, and they care about you and they wanna know how you're going, and they will offer challenge incrementally and they will, you know, back it off when it needs to be backed off. And so that whole interplay, that whole exchange also happening is part of the value that you add.
[00:06:25] And I guess where I changed my opinion the most now is that Pilates, especially, exercise in general, is valuable regardless of the equipment that you're using. So I no longer think that my rate is tied, especially for private sessions, should be tied to what we're doing whether it's a mat class, a reformer class, a Cadillac. I personally think that what I'm offering, and like I was also going into people's houses and I'm just getting kind of back into doing that as well, is that [00:07:00] that convenience is worth more than what we're doing, because you can have a super effective mat workout. You can have a super awesome reformer workout. It's not dependent on what you're doing. Mat is not less beneficial than reformer. You know what I mean?
[00:07:18] So I had all of those thoughts kind of kicking around in my head. And I know that I have my own micro business and I have my private clients and I didn't want to price out the clients that I have. I wasn't trying to cut down my client list, but I'm also aware that I had people at all different price ranges because they had come to me at different pricing ideas. And so people would be paying for single sessions. People would be paying for packs of sessions and at different rates, and it was much harder to track than it needed to be for the, you know, 10 people that I'm working with.
[00:07:59] I wasn't [00:08:00] quite at the point where I was resenting my clients or thinking that I deserved to be making more money because that's definitely a flag. If you are feeling resentful or like really not looking forward to it or not thinking it's worth going to teach your clients. Like that is a really big sign that it's time to raise your rates because you should feel neutral at worst and excited at best, I would say, to go work with people.
[00:08:28] I take it even further. I really enjoy the people I work with. I feel really close to the people I work with. Not quite to friendship level, but just like a really strong working relationship. And maybe that's weird to say, like, not friendship level, like it's still a professional relationship, but I really like the people I work with and it makes going to work awesome. So I would take it even that farther, if you can, to really enjoy the people you work with. Like that's a huge plus. [00:09:00]
[00:09:00] There's a couple theories about raising your rates. One theory is that you should raise your rate as high as you can, as high as the market allows. That you should charge as much as people are willing to pay. And it's okay if some people leave when you do that, because you've raised your rates to the point that you can work for fewer hours and make as much or more money. And the idea is that you will then attract clients who will pay that higher rate. And it's okay to lose some clients. That is a totally valid theory. That is a thing that you could do when you're thinking about raising your rates.
[00:09:40] For me personally, as a micro business, who wasn't, again, trying to price out my clients, but I did wanna raise my rates. So I was thinking a lot about keeping my clients, wanting to feel good about teaching in terms of what I was making for the hours I was working. And I [00:10:00] wanted to reflect the market rate, knowing what other private Pilates teachers in my area were charging, knowing what other studios in the area were charging. And then also knowing my clients and a lot of people who pay for like one-on-one private Pilate sessions. They tend to have some income or they are well off enough that they can afford this service at the rate that I was offering. And then if I raised it $10, they would, it would still be okay. They would still be willing to pay that and be okay with that. I'm not causing an undue financial burden.
[00:10:39] Once again, just reiterating that the rate that you're setting is not an hourly rate. You're not saying, oh, I make, you know, $40 an hour, $60 an hour or a hundred dollars an hour, because what we're giving our clients when we work with them goes beyond that one hour of service, we're giving [00:11:00] them confidence. We're giving them strength. We're giving them connection and community. And we're helping them meet physical activity guidelines, which if you listen to last week's Pilates Students' Manual episode, is the number one way to reduce all cause mortality. So we're giving people wellness and benefits beyond the one hour that we're seeing them.
[00:11:26] So when you're thinking about your rates, I really tried in my own head to shift away from, oh my gosh, I'm making this much per hour, to this is the value that I'm offering and that's what my rate reflects. My expertise, my knowledge, my experience, my value that I add during the session, but beyond the session as well.
[00:11:52] Coming up after the break, I will share with you what I did to raise my rates, how I let my clients know, how it was [00:12:00] received and my advice to myself and potentially you going forward. That's coming up next.
[00:12:12] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, too. Be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There, you can make a one time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month.
[00:12:31] Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now, back to the show.[00:13:00]
[00:13:09] Raising my rates was something that I had put off for a long time. I was like, I'm totally gonna do it in January. And then I was like, I'm totally gonna do it at the start of the second quarter, because that's like a business thing to do. And then I was like, I'm totally gonna do it at the start of summer or after this holiday. And it just kept getting pushed back. And I recognized that that was me trying to avoid conflict and I put my foot down and I was like, look, I am setting a day and let's make this happen.
[00:13:42] So what I did to raise my rates was first, I notified all of my clients by email a month ahead of when I was raising my rates. I sent them a very cordial, very detailed email that shared how much I [00:14:00] valued working with them and how happy I am to work with them and all of the benefits that I've seen them and how far they've come in their classes and all of this, you know, feel good stuff.
[00:14:15] Then sharing that, you know, I haven't raised my rates since 2020 when I actually lowered my rates. And in order to better reflect market value, my growing experience and the value of my time that I'm raising my rates to X per session. And I do single sessions and then I do packages of 10 sessions. So a single session is more expensive than if you buy 10 all at once. And I shared that. That's what my rate was. This is what the increase was going to be. This is when it is going into effect.
[00:14:52] Kind of to soften the blow, which again, only postpones the rate increase, but this is the, the [00:15:00] compromise that I reached with myself. But to soften that blow, I said, I would be happy if you purchased another 10 pack of sessions, or if you wanted to, if you had been buying single sessions and you wanted to purchase a 10 pack of sessions, that I would honor the lower rate, the older rate, if they purchased it before the rate increase. So I did my rate increase in July, and I said, if you purchase a 10 pack of sessions prior to July 1st, I will, you know, honor those sessions. And then you can do the rate increase when you buy a new package of sessions.
[00:15:35] What was great about that is that I had a few clients who were buying single sessions, which per hour is more money. And if that's what you want, that's awesome. It is, in my opinion, a bit more difficult to track because they're only buying one at a time. It kind of- it's not that your relationship is not as [00:16:00] strong, but you just don't know if they're going to have a session this week. And if you're going to get paid versus being paid all at once up front, which is really handy, it's easier to track on a package. I just keep tracking my calendar.
[00:16:14] And it also got those people who weren't on packages to say, oh my gosh, So much value. That's like $15 less if I buy a package of sessions because it's on the older rate and they're like, yes, I would definitely love to do that. And so I encourage people to buy packages, which is nice. It encourages that longer term relationship, even though I'd been seeing these clients for more than a year, it's still like nice and stable and I enjoy. As I mentioned, it's easier in bookkeeping. I got everyone on all the different rates that everyone was on onto the same rate, so I can track that much, much, much easier.
[00:16:49] And then when clients had used up the extra package that they had purchased, I sent them a reminder email and said, Hey, just so you know, [00:17:00] that new rate is going into effect when you buy this new package, please, you know, in your next check or your next PayPal, or however you're paying, this is what the rate is for your next 10 pack of sessions.
[00:17:12] Because I sent them that email so far in advance, I was also able to talk with them in person. And, you know, also put in that email, like if you have any concerns, like, please reach out. Like, I would love to chat with you about it or explain more and then talking with them in person as well. You know, did you receive my email? Do you have any questions?
[00:17:33] It was very positively received by my clients. I know that I have an excellent relationship with them and they appreciated the openness. They were more than willing to pay that increase. They agreed with me that the value that I was adding is worthy of the increase that I was asking for. And if anything, they congratulated me, which I didn't expect. And they're like, yeah, I totally think that that's right.
[00:17:59] Kind of a [00:18:00] funny side story is like, when your clients give you a raise on their own, like you didn't ask for a raise. I had one client who was like, look, I have been paying you this for over a year. Now I am giving you a raise. And I was like, oh man, I really need to raise my rates if my clients are raising my rates on me. So that's kind of funny, if you ever get to that point, you know that.
[00:18:23] I think the biggest learning thing or the advice that I have for myself going forward is that make raising your rates a routine thing that happens every year, because you gain more experience every year as a teacher. Even if you don't do any continuing education, you still taught for another year, which is hours and hours and hours of experience that you now have to draw on. Inflation is a thing. I never thought I would be talking about inflation on a Pilates podcast, but that's part of life and inflation is [00:19:00] happening. So the cost of things in general is going up and to meet that, you've gotta also raise your rates.
[00:19:09] Your time is more valuable as well as you have more things going on, you work in multiple places, you have responsibilities and other things. And the time that you allocate for your work is more valuable because of all the things that you're doing, as we shared in the first bit, the value that you're adding is incredibly valuable.
[00:19:31] And getting clients, your clients, especially when you're working as an independent contractor and you're setting your rates yourself, but so training your clients that I am going to raise my rates every year. Not so much that it, this is a non-negotiable, but just like, this is a thing that I do. Like I've gone to massage therapists and every year their rates go up 2 to 5% and it wasn't like, oh my gosh, your rates went up. It's like, yeah, that's what you do every year. It could even happen [00:20:00] multiple times a year, depending on how much you're increasing your rates.
[00:20:04] I guess at the end of the day, teaching Pilates is still your job. It's how you're making your living either part of your living or all of your living, and you should be paid for what you're worth and the value that you add in what you're doing, what you're providing. And part of that is just raising your rates.
[00:20:25] I'm not gonna say it's not tough. It was tough. I wrestled with it, but I feel so much better now having done that. So if you were looking for a sign that wasn't your clients just increasing what they're paying you, if you were looking for a sign, this is it. You should definitely raise your rates. You will feel better afterwards.
[00:20:46] Huge thank you to all the supporters on Buy Me a Coffee, including our newest supporter. Denise, I appreciate you joining the project and supporting it. It's really made possible through listeners like [00:21:00] you, and I hope that I'm also able to offer some value through this podcast. So thank you for your support. Have a great couple weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:21:19] Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a Pilates teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness, check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:21:43] The adventure continues. Until next time.