How to Set Your Virtual Assistant Rates and PackagesJun 26, 2019
One of the first things you need to get well and truly sorted before you start seeking out paying clients is to establish how much to charge for your time.
Given that many new VAs struggle coming up with their hourly rate, it’s no surprise that they tend to drastically under-price.
I’m here to help you avoid this scenario! By following this simple method, you’ll be able to come to an amount that reflects your professional expertise. Here’s what you need to do:
- First things first, it’s important to do some research and see what other Virtual Assistants in your country are charging (hourly rates vary significantly from country to country, so you want to ensure you’re ‘comparing apples with apples’).
- Once you have an idea of the general going rate, grab a pen and paper and write down the dollar amount you think is a fair per hour rate for your VA services.
- Then, I want you to write down another amount but this time it should be way over what you’d ever think of charging per hour.
- Now that you have those two figures written down, find the middle figure between the two. That median number will be your hourly rate.
Are you freaking out? That’s okay! If you’ve done it right, you should be feeling a little uncomfortable!
Once you have your base hourly rate set, you can start putting together service plans.
Service plans are packages comprising a set number of hours per month, and they're truly a win-win for both you and your clients.
Because getting your clients to commit to a service plan will give you peace of mind, better cash flow, and the ability to schedule and plan other work and business activities.
For clients, a service plan means they have a guaranteed VA on hand for a certain number of hours per day/week, and it means they get rewarded for their commitment by paying a slightly reduced hourly rate. The more hours a client commits to (i.e. the more extensive the service plan), the cheaper the hourly rate could become.
In my VA business, we initially started out with four service plans, but after some trial and error, we reduced that number to three. It’s true that offering too much choice can prevent people from making any choice at all!
Three service plans work exceptionally well for us, so I like to suggest this as a starting point to other Virtual Assistants.
To give you more of an idea what these plans might look like for you, we've listed our three service plans in more detail:
- Our entry-level plan is 10 hours per month. This sort of plan is ideal for clients who require assistance with a few small, yet regular jobs/projects each month. Tasks could include things like creating monthly e-newsletters or providing regular weekly bookkeeping support. Clients who sign up for this entry-level plan will pay a slightly lower hourly rate than they would if they were just using our VA services at random throughout the month.
- The mid-range service plan is 25 hours per month, which works out to be about an hour each working day, so it's an excellent plan for clients looking for regular daily support with things like inbox management, larger monthly projects such as full-spectrum marketing services across multiple platforms, or an accounts processing role. Again, the commitment a client makes to be on this larger service plan is reflected with a reduced hourly rate.
- Our largest service plan is for 45 hours per month. We describe this plan to our clients as the equivalent of having a full-time staff member on board. A Virtual Assistant who is completely focused on a client’s business for a few hours each day is a force to be reckoned with! (Remember, clients don’t pay for breaks, late starts, or office chats, and every hour is tracked to ensure time spent is 100 percent productive.) This plan works out to be the most cost-effective as it is the maximum level of ongoing commitment and therefore the lowest hourly rate.
The terms and conditions you set out for your service plans will be unique to your business, but one thing I strongly recommend is that you invoice your service plan clients in advance.
You should be paid for the month ahead by the 7th of that month. This will help your cash flow and ensure you/your team get paid for your work without any delay.
Also important is putting in place a service plan cancellation policy (ours is one month’s notice) to give yourself time to sort out your schedule, your team, and to enable you to find another client so there is no cash flow disruption.
Additional to our set service plans, we offer ‘fixed fee’ plans for specific services such as social media management and bookkeeping. The services you offer will differ depending on your VA expertise.
Keep in mind that some services are far too variable to create fixed plan pricing for (i.e. inbox management), so it’s best to stick to tasks that you can quantify and control.
Before you launch fixed price plans, we suggest offering the service as a trial to a couple of clients free of charge (in exchange for testimonials if all goes well).
Using social media management as an example, you would provide a month’s service that might comprise 20 posts across two platforms (eg Facebook and Instagram). From there you can work out exactly how long it takes you to create content, reply to comments and inbox messages, and track analytics and effectiveness to create a valuable service for your client.
By piloting a service, you can work out any kinks, while establishing a fixed price you feel is fair for you and your client.
Once you have your fixed price sorted, there is no need to advise your client of how much time you used; your client simply gets the same great service for the same price each month, no matter how long it takes you! With fixed fee plans, the ultimate goal is to streamline. If you can automate or use a tool to assist with getting the job done faster, great! The better your bottom line/profit margins will be.
The last couple of things I want to cover off when it comes to creating attractive and functional VA service plans are:
- Suggest to clients that they start their first month on a regular hourly rate (essentially a trial and not a service plan). This way, you both get a feel for the tasks you will be doing and how long things will take. It also takes the pressure off them as they don’t have a set number of hours dictating how much work they can give you. Keep them up to date on the hours you're using and then at the end of the month, you can both take stock and decide which service plan is best.
- It’s your business, so if you can be flexible, great! If your client requires a regular number of hours that don’t fall into one of your existing service plans (i.e. a regular 17 hours each month) let them know that you can come up with a tailored service plan to suit their needs. If that’s not great customer service, I don’t know what is!
How do you feel after reading through all my pricing tips and tricks?
I’m hoping the answer is prepared and/or pumped!
Are you ready to sit down and start creating your own service plans?
If you only remember two critical points from this blog, I hope they are:
- to always invoice and get paid in advance for monthly service plans, and
- not to under-price your skills and experience by setting an hourly rate that doesn’t reflect your value.
You’re worth the price that I’ve helped you identify; I promise!
~ Sam + Jo xoxo
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