Keys to Helping Clients Accept a Rate Increase

Developing a prudent strategy and using savvy tactics can improve your chances of success when raising your rates.

by Josh Elsesser

You’ve reached the moment of truth: It’s time to increase your rates. But how do you get clients onboard with paying more? Increasing your rates requires a strategy for avoiding roadblocks and anticipating objections. First, you must banish your doubts about the necessity of a rate increase (learn more below). Next, you’ll need to develop tactics to sustain you through the arduous process of asking for more money.

Keep the following points in mind as you work out your strategy.

Start With a Script

Write a script of what you want to say, then practice it. I am not suggesting you recite a memorized script like a robot. Just take the time to write out exactly what you want to convey in the conversation with your client, and vocalize it. Practicing the script will help you stay focused and avoid rambling.

Rehearse the conversation multiple times with several people in various role-playing scenarios. Inevitably, when talking to clients, you’ll face a situation you have not foreseen. Role-playing the conversation, especially with different people, will deliver a variety of perspectives and allow you to be much more prepared. Here’s a sample script for reference:

“Christine, I’m raising my rates from $75 to $80. I haven’t increased them since we started working together. This new fee will take effect on [insert date], and you are free to purchase as many sessions at the current rate until then. I enjoy having you as a client and hope you understand the change. Do you have any questions?”

Give Current Clients a Break

The last time I increased my rates, I allowed existing clients to remain at the same rate as long as they continued to train with me. All new clients paid the new rates. This advanced my long-term goal of improving cash flow without worrying about losing clients.

Raising my rate only for new clients allowed me to say thank you to my long-standing clients for continuing to trust me with their fitness. There was a caveat, however; I made it clear they could stay at their rate as long as they continued to train without a break. If they took any time off, they would pay the new rate when they returned.

Here are a couple of other options:

  • Impose a smaller increase on current clients. For instance, if you’re raising rates from $85 to $90 per session for new clients, you could charge existing clients $87. Make sure you tell them they’re getting a better rate as a thank-you for being a valued client.
  • Start existing clients’ new rate 3–6 months in the future, so they have plenty of notice.

Give Current Clients a Break

The last time I increased my rates, I allowed existing clients to remain at the same rate as long as they continued to train with me. All new clients paid the new rates. This advanced my long-term goal of improving cash flow without worrying about losing clients.

Raising my rate only for new clients allowed me to say thank you to my long-standing clients for continuing to trust me with their fitness. There was a caveat, however; I made it clear they could stay at their rate as long as they continued to train without a break. If they took any time off, they would pay the new rate when they returned.

Here are a couple of other options:

  • Impose a smaller increase on current clients. For instance, if you’re raising rates from $85 to $90 per session for new clients, you could charge existing clients $87. Make sure you tell them they’re getting a better rate as a thank-you for being a valued client.
  • Start existing clients’ new rate 3–6 months in the future, so they have plenty of notice.

Offer a New Service

If you’re queasy about charging more for the same services, consider offering a new service that earns you more money per hour without asking clients for more money.

One way to do this is to offer small-group training (two to four people). Training multiple people at the same time requires more planning than one-on-one sessions, but even if you charge a lower per-person rate, you can end up making significantly more per session overall.

If you start offering small-group training, plan your rollout carefully. Make sure your clients understand how small-group sessions differ from one-on-one training and that you’re able to support people of different abilities in the same session.

Be Creative With Options

If you have clients who will not budge on price, offer to move them into a less popular time slot. We all have certain hours that are harder for us to fill. Tell your rate-conscious clients they can stay at their current rate if they’re willing to move to one of these hard-to-fill time slots. For example, perhaps a client works from home and it’s easier for her to be flexible with her daytime hours than it would be for a client who commutes daily. You might have a difficult time filling the 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. weekday time slots, so this could be a win-win.

Another idea is to offer incentives for referrals. For example: Clients can avoid a price increase by bringing you a new client (or two). This serves both parties, as you may gain new clients—at your upgraded rate—while current clients will feel more valued. Your presentation is important here; you don’t want to suggest the referral option as an ultimatum or a veiled threat. The point is to incentivize clients and present the idea as an alternative to a rate increase. You might say, “I am raising my rates modestly across the board. Would you be interested in staying at the same rate while referring a friend or family member who might be interested in working with me?”

Remember the Value of Strategy

The longer you stay in business, the greater the imperative to raise rates. Whether you’re recouping the cost of additional education, offsetting cost-of-living increases or investing in expanding your business, sometimes you have to charge more. Admittedly, the prospect can be equally rewarding and terrifying.

Having a strategy that helps you add more value to your services and avoid potential pitfalls is essential to successfully increasing training rates. Create your plan, practice your approach and be ready for the unexpected.

Meet our experts

Author_Elsesser_bw JOSH ELSESSER, , based in San Clemente, California, is a fitness industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience developing and coaching new and existing trainers and helping them build successful fitness businesses.

The information provided is without warranty or guarantee and NASM disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information. Learn more