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By Vee Smith

New virtual assistants often think that to get their first client they need to offer a low get in the door price. Some even think they will get work by offering their services for free. But is this a wise strategy? Let's take a look at what effects offering a free or below-cost service has on a virtual assistant business. From the virtual assistant's perspective, they think offering a free of low-cost service will get them their foot in the door. They can prove how good they are by producing some good work and they hope that the client will use them again and/or refer them to their contacts.

But this isn't the way a prospect looks at it. Yes, price is a consideration, but it's not the primary focus.

The client values his own business and takes care that everything is done professionally so he presents a professional image to his clients. Therefore, he wants his virtual assistant to value his business as much if not more than he does. If a virtual assistant does work for free or below cost, then it gives the subliminal message that they not worth much and aren't likely to care much about themselves, their own VA business so would (wrongly or rightly) concur that they won't value their business either.

If you set your price too low, then the expectation is also set that the service can't be very good. People naturally perceive cheap prices equates to cheap/low quality and similarly, expensive prices you expect good quality. For example M&S and Primark both sell clothes at different ends of the price scale. You expect Primark clothes to fall apart after one wash, but if it was bought from M&S, you would be taking it back for a refund if that happened.

Setting a low price initially makes it very difficult to then raise the price afterwards. You risk loosing that client. The client likes your low prices and doesn't want to pay more, so you end up in a cycle of having to find new clients every time you try and raise your prices. Clients who have gotten used to your low prices, don't value you, so they don't care about loyalty and will happily shop elsewhere to find the next low-cost VA who they can treat will equal.

Conversely, if you start with a high price and then over-deliver, clients value you and want to keep you and will naturally rave about you and recommend you. It's far better to have one or two good clients who are paying a good to high rate for your services who value and rave about you, than to have ten low-cost clients who don't expect much from you and would happily drop you as it's cheap enough. It is true that like attracts like, so value yourself and your business by charging your true rate and you will attract clients who value you. There will always be clients willing to exploit those working for low rates, as there will be clients who are prepared to pay good rates for good quality work. Who would you rather attract?

Vee Smith is the founder of My Super VA, a virtual assistance business based in the UK specialising in providing virtual assistance services for technophobic trainers and coaches. She also runs a Virtual Assistant Mentoring service PA2VA.org for PA's starting a virtual assistant business. For more tips, download her free report "5 Mistakes Unsuccessful VA's Make" from www.pa2va.org.