It’s inspiring to see VAs thinking of ways to attract their first or extra paying client, but some can become so focused on getting them that they’ll start making decisions that can affect the longevity of their business, like offering discounts!

Here’s why I believe, from observing and assisting other VAs to build and grow their VA businesses, discounts are not going to help your growth, in fact it could set you back to square one.

Should we discount our hourly rate for retainers?

I get asked this a lot, and my response is always… what is your aim?

It’s to get your first or extra clients, isn’t it? Plus, lots of people say that if you have clients on retainers you know what your income will be every month.

But this all leads to desperation to get clients booking you for multiple hours every week when you should be focusing on longevity – it’s all covered here.

But to answer the question properly; let’s say your hourly rate is £30 you’re sending a potential client an email to offer your services and you go in with:

‘My hourly rate is £30, but if you take five hours a month I’ll knock off 20%’


Why not…

  1. You’re already showing the potential client there’s room to haggle and that you don’t even think you’re worth £30 an hour.
  2. Who wants five hours a month straight off without getting to know you? Not many clients, that’s for sure.
  3. How are you going to get back a whole lost hour in income?
  4. Will the client want to stay with you when you realise the above and want to increase to £30 an hour, or were they just interested in this discount?
  5. What if an existing client wants more hours? They’ll want that discounted hourly rate that goes down with every extra chunk of five hours, won’t they?
  6. It doesn’t lead to longevity – you’ll attract clients who can’t afford your hourly rate.

What about special offers for new clients?

What about your existing clients? Why can’t they have a special offer too? No! That doesn’t mean go and give everyone some money off, because otherwise you’ll be working day and night to recoup the lost income.

If you start doing new deals for new client’s people will see us as disposable and just shop round for a deal rather than the service. I’ve phoned Sky TV and threatened to leave knowing I’ll get some money off, and I know most of my friends have too. We don’t want our clients to start doing that.

What would you think if you were looking for an accountant and one had a ‘special offer’? I know not everyone will agree with me here, but I’d think it’s unprofessional.

You’re selling your time and expertise, not a product you had made for 50p.

DFS have a sale!

How often do DFS have a sale? Every week it seems from their adverts.

That means, if I was ever going to buy a new settee from them, I would never pay full price, I’d just wait until their next sale

It’s a step backwards

No, it’s a massive step backwards.

People are seeing your social media posts and marketing even if they’re not commenting or getting in touch straight away. Relationships take time to build.

If you start coming in with offers you’ll start attracting those who think we’re worth less, those business owners who aren’t making enough money to pay what we’re worth – they’re not your ideal client and they’re usually the ones who expect the world for little investment.

Your hourly rate is non-negotiable, regardless of who or what the client is, or the occasion. If you reduce your rate you earn less, that’s the outcome.

If you believe in you, others will too

You need to believe in your hourly rate, if you are seen to be reducing it here there and everywhere it looks a little desperate and people will question your full rate.

Stick to your hourly rate, if you’re not getting clients it’s highly unlikely it’s your hourly rate that’s the problem, it’s likely to be something else like your marketing, website being inefficient, too many Ts and Cs for the client to sign, or perhaps you’re not focusing your attention in the right place?

Don’t forget…

Running a business does not happen overnight

You will get paying clients, you can make this a viable business with a regular income but it will not happen overnight, or in a week!

Ignore everyone online who declares they’re making six figures and were smashing it before they even woke up. I’m not saying they’re not, but even if they are, their life and desires are not going to be the same as yours, so ignore, admire, block, whatever you want to do, then focus on your own goals.

There are also some other things to consider:

You’re a serious business owner – your time is money, people are paying you to make their lives easier, you are worth it.

Other VAs are earning £25 plus without running any discounts, and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t too.

It’s not a quick buck – not many VAs actually sell their discounted services and when I do Power Hours with VAs whose main problem is getting more clients; offering any discounted services including packages, retainers and hourly rates are the first things I advise they get rid of.

If you’re struggling, I’m here.