Putting a Value on Your Expertise

I went out for dinner the other night and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I didn’t mind paying a premium, because it was delicious and I don’t have the skills to make it at home. The chef probably prepared the meal in half the time it would have taken me to attempt and botch the job. But I am not paying for his time. I am paying for the years of training and his talent.

Anyone who eats in a restaurant can relate to this pricing model, one that considers time and materials and also the skills and experience of the person delivering the work. Unfortunately, all too often small businesses fall into the time and materials trap, forgetting that expertise has a value and should figure into the pricing calculation. We spend a lot of time talking about this balance in our office.

Time: Allison is the fastest writer I have ever worked with. Using only completion time, customers would pay less for her work than projects completed by a less experienced writer. That makes no sense. It creates a situation in which there is an incentive for Allison to work slower. That is a lose-lose situation.

Materials: It’s not just the material, but what you do with it. A good WordPress theme sells for $30-$80. But building a good website is about more than just downloading a theme. There is a lot of expertise that goes into modifying the theme to create something truly original that meets a customer’s needs. From designing custom buttons, backgrounds and sliding images to rewriting the code to add or remove columns from the home page, when Peter and Whitney are done with a project, a theme will look dramatically different then the original version.

The theme is just the starting point. For us, the web design process is equal parts design, marketing strategy and training. We can deliver each of these elements because of our expertise and education, and we have learned to include the value of that expertise into our final price.

The next time someone questions your price, remember that your pricing has little to do with the amount of time you spend solving a problem for a client and a lot to do with the time it took to amass the knowledge that allows you to solve the problem at all.

photo credit: US Army Africa via photopin cc