If you hire me to do a website for you and it takes me 40 hours to do it, would you pay me $6,000 dollars? What if it takes me 20 hours? Should I charge only $3,000 because it takes less time and effort?
I used to think that indeed, if something takes less time to do, then I should charge less.
But there is a problem with this approach. Charging for time punishes me for being good!
As I have built many websites, I can work really fast, I have a lot of prebuilt components that I know how to integrate, and I can foresee and prevent a ton of problems. This means that I can produce a quality site much faster than a couple of years ago. But because I put less time into it I get less money for much better work. The better are more efficient I get, the less money I make.
Because of this conflict, there is always a counter pressure that says: “don’t work fast, don’t be efficient… because the slower you work the more you can charge the client”. When I charge for time-spent there is no incentive for me to deliver high-quality work fast, other than my personal integrity.
An alternative way is to do “value based pricing”.
This means that you should charge what is worth to the client, regardless of how much time or effort you put into it.
This may sound unfair to you. I know that was my first reaction! Just because I have more money to spend this means I should be charged more? That sounds like a rip off!
So let’s look at an example.
You have realized that you have more mobile users on your website than you used to. But your website is not mobile friendly! This means you are potentially losing a lot of customers.
After crunching the numbers you realize that if you got 10% of the mobile users to buy from you, you would double your annual revenue from say $200k per year to $400k. So that is an increase of $200k per year.
Do you think is fair to spend $20k to get that increase in revenue? That is 10%. I think it is fair. And there are people willing to spend 50% to get that increase because they will continue to generate the new revenue year after year.
So the question should not be how much does it cost, but rather how valuable is this to me and how much of that value am I willing to spend to get it? 10%, 50%, 80%?
Why would you spend 50% and not 10%? The answer is that spending more reduces the risk of failure. You know the saying “don’t spend a lot of effort to solve a small problem and don’t spend little effort to solve a big problem”.
Why is value based pricing important to your business?
The short answer is that it gets you to think on how you can add value, instead of how you can cut costs. There is no limit on how much value you can add, but you can only cut costs so much before there are no more ways to cut.
And when you think about value, instead of cost, you get clarity.
Here is what I mean. When a client wants to hire me to do something I try to work with them to determine the value of what it is they are trying to do. And in some cases, they realize that they were focusing on the wrong thing. They were willing to spend money on a change that did not actually add any value to their customers.
Thinking about value first made that clear and allowed them to make better decisions on how to serve their clients!
This post was inspired by Chris Do from TheFutur. Thank you, Chris!