A week ago we took a look at the first of three ba-a-a-d habits, one that gets in the way of a new advocate’s success.
I say “new” advocate because, without learning to overcome that bad habit, an independent advocate won’t be in business long enough to become an old… er…. more experienced and successful health or patient advocate or care manager. Sounds dire, right? Yeah. It’s that ba-a-ad.
This week we’re going to take a look at a second ba-a-ad habit; one that has become an “aha!” moment for more than one advocate – even one who has been moderately successful before learning this great tip.
The second bad habit is this:
2. Answering the Question “How much do you charge?” by responding with your hourly rate.
Read that bad habit again.
New advocates are often puzzled when I say that, but those who have successfully moved a potential client into contract and payment know exactly what I’m saying.
Think of it this way:
Say you go to your lawyer and you ask her to draw up a contract for your new advocacy practice. “Sure, I can do that for you!” she responds.
Whereupon you reply with, “Great! How much do you charge?”
She responds, “I charge $250 per hour.”
Hmmm… Do you have any idea how much that contract is going to cost you? No. You don’t.
Why? Because you have no idea what the work entails, nor how many hours it will take her to do the work.
Further, you begin doing the math in your head. OMG. It’s going to cost you a small fortune with no limit on the high side. Even if you ask her how long it will take to try to quantify it more closely, she won’t be able to answer because there is little or no chance she has ever drawn up a contract for an advocate before. She has nothing to base an answer on. She has no idea how long it will take.
Do you tell her to go ahead and get started? Probably not. You’re afraid that contract will break the bank! Especially when you realize you have a less-expensive option for getting the contract you need.*
That’s an identical scenario to your conversation with a potential client. She will ask what you charge, but you can’t give her an accurate answer, because you don’t know yet what needs to be done, or how long it’s going to take.
So many new advocates simply reply with their hourly rate, as if that answers the question. But if you quote an hourly rate, with no “cap” to what it will cost, they will not say yes.
So what do you do instead?
If you’re a member of APHA, you can learn how to replace this bad habit. You’ll shift the conversation ever so slightly, giving yourself an opportunity to figure out what needs to be done, while getting paid for your work, and providing the client with a test run for working with you.
You’ll find yourself writing contracts, doing advocacy work, and getting paid for almost every potential client who calls you. That makes it worth it to break that habit, right?
Next week we’ll take a look at the last ba-a-ad habit. It’s the simplest one to fix!
*Premium members of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates have access to sample client contracts, guarantor contracts, and subcontractor contracts.
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