I came across this question recently on a general business forum and offered my view which I have adapted below for ambitious professionals. I’d be interested in what conclusions others have reached. In my experience very few firms have even considered the point.
I can only recall one occasion when I have seen specific reference to the fee levels of a professional adviser on a website. It was a menu of prices for completing basic tax returns and the extras for each supplementary page (together with a caveat that additional fees would be quoted and charged if the client’s records were a mess – or words to that effect).
My view on the other forum was to suggest that the service provider indicated an entry level price – to keep out the time wasters.
Beyond that a service business has a choice:
– Commoditise each service and quote typical prices so that those that take longer than average are balanced by those that take less time than average (this is the menu approach outlined above);
– Give indicative prices or price bands but make clear that each case depends on exactly what is required in order to provide the desired outcome in individual cases (this is a variation on the menu approach outlined above).
– Not to mention any specific prices – which is by far the most common approach adopted by providers of professional services.
The advantage of the first route is you avoid spending time negotiating fees. The corollary is that you could spend additional time and effort before the work is agreed but you have no facility to reflect this hassle factor in your fee. It also denies you the facility to highlight the value side of your proposition. Everything is just down to price. It’s not an approach that would be adopted by many ambitious professionals I don’t think.
The second approach enables you to maximise your fees and to take account of all surrounding factors including the amount of time and effort it has taken to win the piece of work in question.
The last approach is, in some ways, akin to the expensive clothes shops that have garments in the window but do not put price tags on them. If you go into the shop you know it’s going to be expensive. Is that the impression you want to give?
In practice the first approach is generally preferable for low value work. The middle approach is better for high value work.
Some might say that the final approach is used by those who are unsure and don’t mind confusing their audience. However in the context of professional service firms it is the predominant approach so there’s not much chance of confusion. But just imagine if you became the first to break the mould and to give some indication of your fees for recurring ‘compliance’ services on your website. Do you think that would increase or reduce the number of enquiries you receive and the number of good new clients you create?
There’s an obvious question that visitors to my BookMarkLee website might like to ask me in the light of my observations above. I look forward to hearing from you!