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To discount or not to discount?

It is the age-old struggle of the practitioner. For most of us we get into practice because we want to help people and the money thing is secondary.

So when it comes time for payment or people ask about our fees it seems natural to discount. But at what cost? The less we make in practice the more we have to work and the less time we have for the other aspects of our lives. I’m not suggesting we are defined by our income and nor should we be. However being able to make a living is part of being in practice. If you aren’t doing that it eventually will limit the amount of people you can help because you will burn out.

I have a no discount policy because I have had to learn to be firm on my prices and value myself as a practitioner and what I offer my clients. However I do make exceptions, I know I am a walking contradiction. My approach is I only provide discounts for people I absolutely know are struggling to afford the treatment like pensioners, low income earners etc. I also provide discounts for people who need more than one treatment per week to make it manageable. I also provide additional consultations at no cost for people needing 3 or more treatments in a week once I reach a certain number of paying clients in a week. I never discount outside these rules. I also make a rule that any treatments I give for no charge require an input from the client by way of a charitable donation or time for someone who needs it as long as they are able. The ‘pay it forward’ concept. It creates an intrinsic value to the service that is being provided rather than it being considered ‘free’.

So for me I am finding the balance between being able to help people who really can’t afford it and being able to make my own way in the world financially.

Discounting to attract new customers can be a minefield as it can get to the point where the payment received is so little it fails to make it worth your while. Yes it is a way to get people through the door with a view to creating a returning client. However the discount in the first place has a tendency to attract the type of people who are looking for discounts and as a result not wanting to pay full price. This sets us up for the uncomfortable conversation about an ongoing discount, which can very often be the request of the client. By creating the discount idea you have essentially set a precedent of your service being undervalued. It also has the flow on effect of us beginning to believe we are not worth it.

The other aspect of ongoing discounts is it can after a while get messy trying to remember what discount you give to who.

My preferred alternative to discounting is to offer a complimentary 15-minute consultation that doesn’t include treatment to discuss how you might be able to help a potential client. I have used this many times over the years and found it very effective. It gives you the opportunity to put your knowledge on show, explain to the person what might be going on for them, how you would go about treating it, what additional tips and advice you can provide and shows them you know what you are talking about.

When considering discounting it’s important to look at whether it is really worth it in the long run and does it attract the type of client who is more likely to be committed to their health. As in life there are no absolutes but for me the no discount policy with the exceptions above has and continues to work well.

With thanks to Jeff Shearer for this article

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