One of the many (many!) questions facing a personal chef just starting out is whether or not to put pricing on your web site. (To back up a second, perhaps you’re first wondering, “Do I need a web site?” To which the answer is, absolutely, unequivocally, resoundingly YES! Our clients are busy people, who will pay you to cook healthful, delicious meals for them because they lack the time (and in some cases, the inclination) to do it themselves. Busy people use the web to find stuff they need, because they can do it whenever they have a minute (you wouldn’t believe the number of web site requests I get that come in about 11 o’clock on on a Tuesday night.) So, yes, have a web site that at least says who you are, what you do, where you service, and how to get more information. (Which makes me realize, I should do a what-should-I-have-on-my-web-site? post in the near future.))
I didn’t have pricing on my web site for the first couple of years I was in business, because frankly, it was scary to declare what I thought I was worth, in writing, for the world to see. It can be hard to stick to your guns and say “I know it takes X hours to plan, shop for, prepare and package 3 meals, so I’m going to charge $Y.” It’s hard because A) you may not really know how long it will take yet, and B) you’re uncertain, you don’t want to scare anyone off, and you can’t imagine anyone’s really going to pay you what you think you’re worth. So, you hedge it and wait til the initial client consultation to share pricing.
The problem with that? It can waste your time. If you’ve had a phone conversation, sent a questionnaire, traveled to the client’s home and spent an hour talking about their needs, you’ve invested a lot of time already. If they now balk at your pricing, either you’ll walk out with nothing, or accept a lower price. I’ve done both, and even though it’s great in one sense to have the business, eventually I’ve always ended up wishing I stuck to my guns. When you say “Sure, Mr. Client; you can pay me $225 instead of $250,” you’re announcing to that client forever after that you can be lowballed. You may get lucky and everything will go smoothly, but you’ll more likely end up getting nickel-and-dimed by the client, which will drive you crazy. Or over time you’ll add other clients who will pay your regular pricing, but you’re still stuck with the Discount Client, and now you realize you’re not making what you’re worth every time you set foot in their house. Over time that can breed a feeling of “Hey, why the heck am I selling myself short?”, until you face the decision of whether to “quit” the client to make room for those who will pay your actual prices. (Note to self: another good topic for a future post.)
In short: post your pricing, so prospects who can’t afford you will weed themselves out before calling or requesting more info. You may get fewer calls, but they’ll be more qualified. And that makes for a happy chef, and happy clients, and just general happiness all over the place. And who doesn’t want that?