The Best Way to Charge for Your Services

Many personal chefs are unsure how to best charge for their services.  Should they include groceries or shouldn’t they?  Should they get paid in advance or afterwards?  Should they charge a set fee or an hourly rate?

There is a lot to consider and while there is not an absolute right or wrong answer to these questions, I am going to argue the following…

Don’t Charge By the Hour

There are a number of really good reasons why you shouldn’t charge by the hour.  They are…

  • Clients will be more likely to question the time you spend to accomplish your task
  • Clients will never know exactly how much they are going to pay you each time you service them which can make budgeting for your service more difficult
  • You may hesitate to charge for all the hours you worked (this happens a lot!)
  • You aren’t being compensated for the value provided which goes way beyond what you are paid for your time
  • You aren’t being rewarded for doing a good job – as you become more efficient at what you do, you put in fewer hours and make less money and that doesn’t seem right, does it?
  • Charging by the hour makes it impossible for you to accurately bill your client upfront so that you get paid in advance for your services

From what I can tell, the main reason personal chefs charge by the hour is because they are unsure how long a task will take them to complete but figuring out the average hours it takes you to complete a service shouldn’t be that hard to do.  And once you know what that average is, charge something that will compensate you well even if your service takes more than the average amount of time to complete.

Include Grocery Costs

I’ve spoken and helped many personal chefs over the past couple of years and most of them say that the amount owed on their grocery bills doesn’t vary much.  So why charge separately for groceries?  Doing so creates extra administrative work, and you increase the likelihood that you will never get compensated for your food costs especially if a client ends the relationship before paying you for the groceries you purchased.  And this situation does happen.

Some of you may worry that if you do include groceries into your overall pricing that there may come a time when your client wants you to buy lots of costly, high-end, specialty foods.  If that does happen, view it as an exception and ask your client to compensate you a certain percentage more on a one-time basis to cover for the extra cost.

And since organic produce is more expensive than non-organic on a consistent basis, you may want to have a standard (less expensive), all-inclusive price for your non-organic option and a premium (more expensive), all-inclusive price for your organic option.

The client benefit of being charged an all-inclusive price is that they always know exactly how much they owe you week in and week out.  There are no surprises.

Get Paid in Advance

There is no reason you can’t get paid in advance for your service.  It becomes especially easy to do if you include grocery costs and set a regular (not hourly) price for your weekly service.

And consider being paid in advance for more than one cook day.  To give your clients incentive to do so, let them save x% off of your regular price if they pay for a set number of cook days in advance.  By doing so you both win.  Your client pays less for your service and you improve your cash flow.

The other advantage to being paid in advance is you won’t have to spend time chasing after clients to get paid.

Accept Credit Cards Not Checks or Cash

So few personal chefs accept credit cards, and I don’t really get it.  Some of them have said that they don’t accept credit cards because of the extra expense, but you can cover for the extra expense by including it into your all-inclusive pricing.  It’s not that much extra money.  It won’t make the difference between someone hiring you or not hiring you.

In addition, it makes your clients’ ability to pay you easier especially if you set them up so that their credit cards are billed automatically on a monthly basis.  Your clients won’t have to take the time to write checks or go to the bank to get cash.  The payment process will become smooth and automated.  What’s not to like about that?

And keep in mind that checks can bounce and if you wait until your check clears, you won’t be able to start servicing your client as quickly.

As for cash, it is harder to keep track of it unless you keep a cash receipts and payment journal either handwritten or electronically.  That’s a more labor intensive way to track the money you receive than if everything automatically appears on your credit card statement.

So what do you think?  Do you think you should get paid in advance by credit card and charge an all-inclusive price that is not dependent upon the hours you work?  Why or why not?

The Power of Packaging Your Services

TakeawayAre you a personal chef who has struggled with any of the following situations?

  • Not getting paid for groceries
  • Trading hours for dollars
  • Inability to forecast how much you will be making from one month to the next because you don’t have a clear sense how long clients will stay or how often they will need your personal chef services
  • Experiencing scheduling conflicts due to last minute clients calling for help
  • Giving away too much time for free only to have prospects walk away

If yes, here’s what you can do to avoid these situations in the future – consider packaging your services.

Packaging Example #1

Offer all-inclusive pricing so that you don’t charge for groceries separately, and be sure you also get paid in advance. By doing this you are streamlining the way you get paid, and you won’t end up footing the grocery bill if your clients don’t hire you again and can’t be reached.

Feeling uncomfortable including grocery costs? Don’t be. Most personal chefs I’ve coached and talked to have pretty consistent grocery costs no matter the client. I bet many of you do too. And if you don’t, take a look at your average grocery costs over a period of time and charge that. By doing this, sometimes you will end up a little bit ahead and sometimes a little bit behind, but in the end, it will all average out.

If needed, charge a separate price for organic versus non-organic ingredients.

Packaging Example #2

Give incentive to your clients to pay for a certain number of cook days over a certain period of time up front by offering them a special savings. As an example, let’s assume you charge $675 per week for five meals for four people (groceries included), and your client would like to hire you twice per month. Why not give her a 20% savings if she pays for 3 months of service (6 cook days) in advance. That means she would pay $3,240 instead of $4,050 which is $810 in savings.

Getting paid in advance for a period of time is a smart way to do business. And for those clients who don’t want to pay a large amount up front, they don’t have to.

Another tip – Ask clients to schedule their cook days at least a month in advance and if possible, have them pick a specific day of the week you will be servicing them.

Packaging Example #3

Instead of offering a kitchen assessment and meal preferences discussion for free, include these activities into a “getting started” package that includes the following…

  • In-home kitchen assessment
  • Meal preference discussion and questionnaire
  • One cook day

A “getting started” package gives your clients the opportunity to try you out first before making a longer-term commitment. Charge more for your time for this package because you always want to give people incentive to sign up for a longer term commitment, but they at least have the option not to do that if they don’t want to.

What I love about a “starter package” is that you get paid for your time even if someone doesn’t become a long-term client. No more taking the time to meet with prospects for free only to have them not hire you or hire you for just one cook day.

Packaging Example #4

Think of ways you can package your service to help clients with a very specific problem. I’ve mentioned this approach before in previous blogs, but it is worth repeating.  For instance, during tax season, offer an “Easy Meals for Tax Season” package to accountants and tax specialists. In the spring, consider offering a 3-month personal chef service specifically tailored to help your clients get their bodies bathing suit ready for summer. Offer a series of cooking classes so a group of people can learn how to cook gluten free.

When what you are offering helps people with a very specific issue they want resolved, they are much more likely to see how your services are essential rather than a luxury. Price will become less of an issue the greater the value becomes in your prospects’ eyes, and finding creative ways to package your services can be just the thing to increase the value of what you offer.

There are lots of potential advantages to bundling things together. Take some time to think about what kind of packaging ideas might work for your personal chef business and try them out.

What do you think about the idea of packaging your services? Why do you or don’t you like this idea? What, if any, service packages do you offer now?

Why Discounting Your Services is Harmful (and What to Do Instead)

Discount for Personal Chef ServicesDiscounting personal chef services is not an uncommon practice.

The rationale is often that it is better to have at least some business than no business at all, but this is far from the truth.

There is absolutely no point in taking on business in which you are underpaid and overworked. You will get frustrated pretty quickly by doing this and the work you used to love you will start to hate.

In addition, you will soon find it hard to make ends meet financially, and such a business won’t be sustainable. In the end, you may be forced back into a job working for someone else and have to give up on your dream of running a successful personal chef business.

Keep in mind that if you fill your business with low-paying clients, you won’t have room for the ones who will pay a premium for your services, and they are out there. You may also get a reputation for being cheap, which is not a great reputation to have especially if you are offering your clients lots of personalized attention and care.

Other reasons personal chefs lower prices or charge virtually nothing at all follow:

They are cooking for….

  • Friends who they want to help
  • Charities that they want to support
  • Families who have done something nice for them in the past

These aren’t good reasons to charge less.

Your friends can become loyal, paying customers, and you need them to pay your full price. By charging them what you should for your services, they will value them more.  They will also view you as someone who is actually running a business instead of having a hobby.

Giving your services for free to a charity is a worthy thing to do, but don’t do it until your personal chef business is thriving or you will become a charity case yourself. In addition, don’t say “yes” to every charitable event that comes your way. Instead be strategic about which charities you will support by looking at your finances, determining how much you can give to charity in terms of money and time, and then selecting the charities you will support during any given year.

Paying back people for a favor is nice but don’t do it through your business. Find a way to pay them back by using your personal time and money. You could buy them a thank you gift, send them a card or cook them something special.  Just remember that if you decide to cook them something special, don’t link it to a service they wanted to hire you for.

So the bottom line is, if someone asks you for a discount, don’t give it and if you feel the need to give a discount because of some of the reasons mentioned above, don’t do it.

Instead, ask yourself why you feel the need to discount your services. What is the underlying reason? Often you will discover some money beliefs that don’t serve you anymore. There may even be an underlying sense of fear – fear of asking for money, fear of rejection, fear of appearing greedy, fear you and your services aren’t worth the money, etc… that makes you feel the need to discount.

And if you are discounting your services because you fear you won’t get enough clients unless you do, consider what if anything you can do differently so clients no longer bulk at your pricing.

For instance, are you communicating your value effectively? Have you branded yourself and your business well? Are you targeting the right prospects? If you can’t say a resounding “yes” to all of these questions, it’s time for you to figure out how to better package, price and market your business to the right audience so you can charge what you are worth and still get clients. Need more help with this?  Sign up for a free Client Attraction Discovery Phone Session with me.

What experience can you share about discounting your services? If you have discounted them in the past what was the reason you did it?  How did it make you feel?  Were you glad you discounted your services or not?

How to Easily Add a New, Lucrative Income Stream to Your Personal Chef Business

making money with computer conceptOne of the reasons personal chefs struggle to make the income they desire is that they aren’t sure how to break through the cap on their income.

Another has to do with the fact that losing even one regular client often ends up being a big hit financially, and it isn’t always that easy to find another client quickly.

So this got me to thinking.  What can I do to help you solve this problem?

And here’s what I came up with…

When I was running my health coaching business, I created and launched a successful spring cleanse program that can bring in thousands of dollars in extra cash without a lot of hours of work once the program is set up.

And as a personal chef, particularly if you are one who is comfortable teaching and talking about nutrition, adding a spring cleanse to your list of service offerings is a no-brainer.

Here are the advantages of offering a spring cleanse:

  • It’s not a physically taxing way to earn money and you are earning it doing something with food, nutrition and cooking – your area of expertise
  • There is no cap on your income because the spring cleanse program is a group program with no limit on the number of people who can participate
  • You can host a spring cleanse live but also virtually (via phone, email and a private on-line group forum) which will enable you to expand your customer base outside of your immediate area
  • It’s a great way to offer something to people who feel they don’t want or can’t afford a personal chef but who want to improve their health through food
  • You can use a spring cleanse as a way to start building a health consulting / coaching arm to your business
  • Some of the people who go through the spring cleanse with you will be interested in getting further health coaching or personal chef support once the cleanse is over which can easily lead to significant residual income
  • You can make simple modifications to your spring cleanse and launch another cleanse at a different time during the year bringing in even more money

So what do you think?  Are you excited about the idea of adding a spring cleanse program to your service offerings?

If you are, you’re going to love my all new, private program called…

Spring Cleanse 101 – How to Design, Market and Launch a Successful Spring Cleanse Program to Generate More Cash for Your Personal Chef Business

During this very special, private program I’ll share with you everything you need to know to lead an amazing spring cleanse this year that can easily generate thousands of extra dollars in sales with less time and physical effort than it takes to service your personal chef clients.

Want to learn more?  I am opening up just 20 spots on my online calendar for you to schedule a Spring Cleanse Discovery Phone Session with me so you can learn more details about this very special, private program and determine if it is a good fit for you.  This is a free, exploratory, no pressure call.

But please, only schedule the Spring Cleanse Discovery Phone Session if you are serious about the possibility of including a spring cleanse as one of your service offerings to expand your reach and boost your income.

To Grab Your Free Spring Cleanse Discovery Phone Session Before It’s Snatched Up Click Here

How to Generate Money Quickly

Dollar Banknotes on Young Male HandEverything is going along just fine with your personal chef business.  You are booked during the week and have a good catering event to cook for now and again.  You feel as if you are really making your personal chef business work.

Then, all of a sudden, a couple clients leave and your catering event opportunities dry up.  The referrals that were coming in on a regular basis have disappeared.

Now what?

Ideally, you want to design your business so that you minimize the number of slow months you experience.  You also want to anticipate any times of the year that are typically slow and plan for them by setting aside money during the busier months to cover.

But what happens if your business isn’t yet designed to reduce the feast or famine moments?  What if you didn’t anticipate or plan for a slowdown?  What do you do?

Here are 7 simple tips you can implement to generate cash quickly:

Tip #1:  If you usually get paid after you have provided your service, consider allowing clients to pay for several weeks or months of your service in advance.  To make this an attractive option for your clients, offer them some savings if they pay upfront.

Tip #2:  Invite your list and past and present clients to a special dinner party for a fee (Choose a dinner party theme that everyone will be thrilled to attend).  Be sure you let them bring a friend (not a family member) for free.  The person they bring could become a regular client.

Tip #3:  Offer a special occasion sale on one or more of your services (as long as this is something you don’t do often)

Tip #4:  Ask colleagues for a referral or see if they could use help for one of their upcoming events

Tip #5:  Ask your clients for a referral or see if they would be willing to send an email to their contacts about their positive experience with your personal chef services while mentioning that you have a recent opening

Tip #6:  Follow-up with your warm leads and past clients by phone and offer a short-term service that they can easily say “yes!” to

Tip #7:  Think of a quick, easy add-on service your clients may like and pay extra for

Always have a plan in place on how you are going to handle slow cash flow times.  You will feel much more in control of your situation knowing how to handle money emergencies with grace and ease!

What have you done in the past to generate money quickly during a dry spell?  Please share your thoughts and comments below!