In the coaching world, the search for an easy answer to setting the “right” price for your services can be likened to a search for the holy grail; there are tons of clues out there, but the true answer doesn’t seem to exist.
Are you itching for someone to just tell you what you should charge for your services?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear cut answer to your question.
To this end, we have developed a tried-and-true set of steps that will help you to confidently set your prices and rates, knowing they cover your personal and business expenses while (gasp!) seeing a profit as soon as possible.
First, we’re here to tell you something that might surprise you.
Many coaches who are starting out make two common mistakes when calculating their prices and rates.
What are they?
- Inaccurate calculations of business expenses
- Not accounting for the time it takes to keep a business running
The money your clients pay you for your hourly services and programs doesn’t all go into your pocket. First, you have to cover costs, and what is left will go to you.
Second, coaches often calculate their hourly rates assuming 100% of their work hours will be booked by clients. If you did that, you would have to work overtime to do all the things that keep your business running, like paying bills, administrative tasks, marketing, and program creation. Your rates and prices need to cover the time spent on business administration and development.
Talk about a recipe for burnout!
The truth is, as an AFPA health and wellness coach, nutrition coach, or fitness coach, you already have what it takes to make your coaching business succeed. All that is left to do is add a price to the real-life value that you add to your clients’ lives.
How do you go about confidently setting rates for your coaching services and programs?
Here, we tell you about the five factors you need to consider when setting your rates, and then walk you through the steps to do so.
5 Factors to Consider When Setting Your Rates
One of the most common responses to the question “how much should I charge for my coaching services?” is—it depends.
We know it’s not the clear-cut answer you might have been hoping for, but the services you can offer as a coach are as varied as coaches are unique.
The “right” price for your service depends on factors having to do with:
- Your business
- Your clients
- Your niche market
- The business environment
- What’s included in your service
We describe different elements of these factors below, and we encourage you to analyze where your own business stands in these different areas as you read on.
Not too long ago, most health professionals chose the city or town where they wanted to offer their services, and their strategy would be focused on capturing clients from that area.
Now, with exponential growth in telehealth, geographic boundaries are blurring, and it is not uncommon to offer your service to clients from across the country (or across the world!).
Even so, depending on the niche you serve, it might make more sense for you to continue to offer in-person services.
In-Person or Geographically Specific Businesses
If you offer your coaching services and programs in person or cater to a specific area, you’ll need to consider how this could influence your clients’ willingness to pay. Businesses based in large, metropolitan cities and affluent towns generally charge more for similar services offered in rural areas. Expenses are lower in rural areas and small towns, as is average income.
To get an idea of how income for health professionals differs across the US, you can check out the data by occupation and location on the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
Online Coaching Businesses
Taking your coaching business online opens many doors for your growth—you have a much larger pool of potential clientele, and you can use digital tools to multiply your income. However, by taking your business online, you also have much more competition.
If your business is based online, you’ll need to place importance on the other factors we mention below for calculating your rates.
Want to make the most out of your online coaching business? AFPA has plenty of resources focused on taking your coaching business online:
- How to Start Your Online Nutrition Business
- Tools and Tips for Bringing Your Coaching Business Online
- How to Expand Your Online Nutrition Business
- Tips for a Successful Online Holistic Health Coach Business
- 22 Tips to Start Your Personal Trainer Business
- How to Become a Personal Trainer Online: Follow These Steps
- 7 Productivity Traps for Online Coaching Businesses
What You Bring to the Table
The services you are able to offer are only limited by your knowledge and your creativity. You gain knowledge through education and experience, and you apply your knowledge through your creativity.
When you sell your services, focus on the value that they offer, not on the features. Unlike a focus on features, value added will communicate the impact of what you bring to the table on their lives.
Here are three elements related to your knowledge and creativity that increase the value of your services:
- The more knowledge you have, and the more ways you can apply it creatively, the more value your services gain.
- The more creative you get with identifying a large-scale, unmet need and using your knowledge to offer unique services that meet those needs, the greater value you bring to individuals and businesses.
- The more experience, education and uniqueness you bring to the table, the greater the value of your services.
Your knowledge will make you the best at what you do.
Your creativity will make you the only or the first coach to do what you do.
Together, more people will be willing to pay for your services.
Here are the different pieces that fit into optimizing your knowledge and creativity to increase your service value.
Anytime you are offering services that set out to improve a person’s health, your certifiable education is extremely important. In fact, in most states, it’s illegal to offer some health services without certifiable education. Anything above the minimum requirements to legally practice will only add to the value of your services.
What is your educational background? What degrees, certifications, and credentials do you have? As you complete more education to close in on your niche, you’ll be more likely to be considered an expert in your field.
Make sure your potential clients are aware of your education and background; when a potential client is comparing service offerings, these will make you stand out.
It can be difficult to place a price tag on experience, but it is one of the main components that will increase your value as a health coach. When you are just starting out, or if you are still finishing up your education, gaining experience with clients in clinics and gyms is invaluable. In these contexts, you put what you learned in the textbooks to the test.
You learn how to adapt and modify techniques and tools for different clients’ needs. With experience, you also learn more about the needs of your specific niche.
Needless to say, as you gain experience, so does your value. Keep this in mind as your business grows over time—your rates should reflect your current experience as a coach.
Creativity is at the core of an entrepreneur’s spirit. You can be very knowledgeable about key lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the risk of chronic disease, but unless you know how to apply this knowledge in your business plan, it won’t actively increase the value of your service.
The more creative you are with:
- Identifying an unmet need
- How to approach health and coaching problems
- How you address clients’ needs
… the greater value you add to coaching service offerings.
Are you having trouble getting creative?
Take a moment to look around and think inward. What have you noticed in your coaching experience? What works? What doesn’t? What would make it work better? Are there populations that could greatly benefit from coaching but are being ignored? Before you became a coach, did you or a family member have an unmet health or fitness need?
Keep in mind that your niche can be based on anything, including an emotion, a need, an experience, or an identity. Here’s some reading material to help inspire you.
Learn How You Can Become a Certified Holistic Health Coach Online
Your Target Client
Who is your ideal client? As you gain a better understanding of who would most benefit from the services you offer, you’ll be able to identify a better price point.
A great tool you can use is a client avatar.
A client avatar is a representation of your target client with real data to support descriptions.
Use demographic data from government websites and market research reports to gain a better understanding of your potential clients’ needs, activity, and the amount of money they’d be willing to spend.
You can also create your own surveys to gain valuable data. Send the survey to friends, family, co-workers, and current clients to collect information about:
- Their income
- Current health behaviors
- Unmet needs
- Willingness to spend
- Current spending on health and fitness products and services
- Feedback on your service offerings
Once you build a better picture of your client avatar, you will have an easier time setting your rates, confidently knowing that your rates are acceptable.
Supply and Demand
This well-known concept in economics is generally used to help fix the price points of products, but it is also useful for helping to understand what might be an acceptable price for the services you offer.
Applied to the health and wellness coaching field, the “supply” is the current coaching service offerings, where the demand is the desire to purchase a coaching service and clients willingness to pay for it. In the coaching industry, concept of supply and demand helps us understand that:
- If the demand for coaching services increases while the supply doesn’t increase at the same rate, the price for coaching services increases.
- If the supply of coaching services within the same niche grows, but the demand doesn’t increase, the price for coaching services decreases.
Of course, there are many nuances to applying the concept of supply and demand to any service industry, but the concept is still useful for helping us to understand how to direct our coaching business.
Based on the economic concept of supply and demand, to charge more for your coaching services, you want to find a niche where the demand is high but the current coaching service offerings are low.
However, keep in mind that in practice, you can be very successful in a niche with plenty of competition. In this case, what will make you stand out is the uniqueness of your brand, your value, and how you deliver the service.
The Nature of Your Services
Here are a few “truths” around client behavior that may influence what services you want to offer and how much you want to charge for them.
People are willing to pay more for:
- Services they believe will help them achieve their desired goals
- More inclusive services
- Services that they want but that are hard to find
- Personalized services
- One-on-one time with a real coach
All of these factors might not fit into your business model, and implementing them won’t necessarily equal greater income for you. For example, even though a single client would be willing to pay $100 an hour for one-on-one fitness training, if you can get ten people to pay $20 for a one-hour group fitness training, you will have made double in sales than what you made with one client.
However, if you can find a way to make the interaction feel more personal while still tending to various clients simultaneously, people will likely be willing to pay more while you capitalize on the benefits of group services.
Okay. Now that you have a better idea of the elements that influence your pricing, let’s dive into calculating your coaching rates, step by step.
7 Steps to Calculating Your Coaching Rates
Unlike other industries, there are no industry standards for coaching. Additionally, there is such a variety of ways to apply your coaching services, including direct, one-on-one hourly rates, group programs, and access to automated services, there isn’t a sure way to calculate industry standards.
However, the lack of industry standards doesn’t mean you can’t confidently set your coaching rates. Here are the seven steps to calculating your coaching rates.
Calculate Your Business Expenses
The first thing to think about as you calculate your rates is everything you have to spend money on to offer your services.
Some of the most common expense items include:
- Marketing and advertising
- Professional fees
Ideally, you should calculate your business expenses by month. For items that are not monthly expenditures, you can choose to have months with higher expense budgets or divide the cost over the several months that the items will be used. For example, if you pay for software yearly, you can budget for it monthly by dividing up the total cost by twelve and adding it to each monthly budget so you have standard expenses.
Set Your Ideal Hourly Income
The next step to calculating your rates and prices is to set your ideal hourly income. Ask yourself, not considering expenses and fees, how much do you want to make as a professional? At the end of a 6-8 hour working day, how much do you want your business to pay you?
If you aren’t sure where to start, this is one way to calculate what you want to make.
- Calculate your monthly salary minimum.
Do this by adding together the following: your monthly personal expenses (rent, mortgage, groceries, insurance, education, entertainment, schooling, etc.), monthly savings goals, personal investment goals, and others.
- Set a number of hours per week that you will work, including everything you need to do to keep your business running.
This doesn’t only include the time spent directly with clients, but it also includes the time you spend creating content, doing administrative tasks, building programs, and marketing. Remember that burnout is very common in the health and wellness coaching spaces, so make sure to be realistic and set aside time to rest and socialize.
- Calculate the total number of hours you plan to work in a month.
- Divide your monthly salary minimum by the number of hours you plan to work. This is your minimum hourly income.
NOTE: Your minimum hourly income is not the same as your hourly rate.
- Your minimum hourly income is what you will have in your possession without taking into account your expenses, deals and discounts you may offer, business investment goals, and your clients’ willingness to pay.
- Your hourly rate is what your clients will pay for your service by the hour, and it will cover your hourly income, the time you spend doing administrative tasks, expenses, and business profit.
Let’s take an example.
Your minimum monthly income is $3,500, which is what you need to cover your budgetary needs. Since you take classes most evenings, you aim to work 30 hours a week (or about 135 hours a month).
Minimum monthly income ÷ Working hours per month = Minimum hourly income
$3,500 ÷ 135 hours = $25.93 per hour
Your minimum hourly income is about $26. This is an important number to keep in mind when calculating your pricing.
Set Your Profit Goals
Net sales, or net income, is not the same as profit. Net sales include every penny your business takes in before subtracting expenses.
Since most small business owners and entrepreneurs take all the profit as their variable income, it is often confused with what is equal to what the entrepreneur makes.
In this model, AFPA suggests something different to help drive your coaching business to success.
Here, we propose that your profit be what your business makes after it has paid you your minimum hourly income. In other words, consider your salary an expense. Anything made in addition to that is profit.
How do you set a profit goal? It depends on what you want to do with that profit. Some ideas include:
- Building an emergency cushion
- Pay down or refinance a business or personal debt
- Use it to grow your business
- All of the above
Depending on what your immediate needs are, you can make decisions that will save your business from unexpected circumstances, free yourself of financial burdens, or invest in yourself.
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s say that you have a minimum profit goal of $400 per month for your business.
Set a Sales Goal
This part is easier than you might think. Now that you have calculated your:
- Business expenses
- Personal minimum income
- Profit goal
You can establish your sales goal. How? Add together your monthly expenses, your minimum income, and your profit goal.
Monthly expenses + Monthly income goal + Profit goal = Sales goal
$2,100 + $3,500 + $400 = $6,000
You have a minimum sales goal of $6,000.
Remember that as your business grows and your expenses change, you will likely need to recalculate your sales goal.
Divide Your Sales Goal by Work Hours
This step will give you a concrete tool to calculate the cost of the programs and services you develop.
Take your sales goal and divide it by the number of hours you plan to work.
Sales goal ÷ Number of working hours = Cost of work hour
$6,000 ÷ 135 hours = $44.44 per hour
The cost of your sales goal is $44.44, or about $45.
EXPERT TIP: Consider Package Rates to Increase Client Retention
We’ve talked about hourly costs and program costs, but a popular pricing structure is a package rate.
In the coaching world, it is common to charge per hour for your services. However, for many reasons, it can be difficult for clients to commit to multiple sessions if they feel like it is disjointed from a program or package.
One way to increase client retention and leverage your earning is by offering package rates. You can bundle your services for a unified price that seems to reflect a discount. The advantage is that you have secured greater income for that individual client.
If you choose to offer package rates in addition to hourly rates, remember that your hourly rates should generally be higher.
Calculate the Time Investment for All of Your Services
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of price calculation. Keep in mind the $45 per working hour we calculated above.
The next step is to make a list of all of the services and programs you plan to offer and the time investment needed to develop, carry out, and follow up with each of them.
For example, if for every active hour of coaching a client, you spend about half an hour prepping for your sessions and following up with them between sessions, your time investment for one coaching hour is 1.5 hours, or $67.50.
For the programs you develop, remember to consider the time you invested in researching, preparing materials, recruiting clients, carrying out the program, and following up with clients.
NOTE: Add a cushion to each of your services to cover the time you spend on keeping your business running in general. For example, if, of ten working hours, you spend two hours doing administrative things, make sure to dilute those two hours of work over your eight hours of actively working.
Determine Minimum Clients per Service
By now, you know how much time you invest in each of your services.
Believe it or not, you are just one step away from setting your rate!
For one-on-one services, take the number you calculated for the time cost. In the previous step, we calculated that for a one-hour session, you will invest about an hour and a half of time, and if your hour is valued at $45, the cost is $67.50. THIS IS YOUR MINIMUM HOURLY RATE PER CLIENT. It will cover your expenses, minimum income, and profit!
This could go up depending on your niche, your geographic area, and other factors we mentioned above, but reducing this rate means you will be cutting into your profit and your own income, and could potentially even be losing money.
For programs, you’ll have to estimate what a realistic number of clients you think you will be able to capture and any additional investments you’ll make for the program in addition to standard business expenses.
Let’s take an example: You have a 3-month healthy eating program that you calculated will cost you $5,000 to develop, including expenses, minimum hourly rate, and profit goals. Based on surveys, you think clients would be willing to pay $200 for the program. Your goal is to enroll a minimum of 25 clients.
Setting your rates and prices is one of the biggest headaches of starting and maintaining a business. It can be especially difficult when you have a service-based business where the value you provide is often intangible.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a guessing game. You have the information you need to calculate your minimum rates at your fingertips. You can confidently set these rates knowing they are worth it.
Any elements that add value, like increased demand, greater experience over time, and your clients’ willingness to pay, will only increase your business income.