How to negotiate or discuss your rates with clients: A guide

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As an independent support worker on Mable, you have the opportunity to set and update your rates. This also means you can re-negotiate your rate with an existing client, provided you’re currently in an active agreement with them. 

We understand these conversations can be tricky. However, they are a great opportunity to help your clients understand the value of the support you provide and your role as an independent support worker.

Before you have the conversation

Before you dive into the discussion around pricing with your client, it’s helpful for you to:

  • Talk to your clients to ensure you understand their needs and goals. If you’re already providing support, discuss if the support aligns with their goals, whether any changes are needed, or if their support needs have changed
  • For potential clients, get an understanding of how many hours of support they need now or may need in the future
  • Take into account any budget limitations they may have
  • Take stock of your costs as a small business in delivering services to your client, i.e. travel costs and purchasing items (such as cleaning supplies)
  • Be clear about what you can offer (for example, you may have gained relevant experience, skills or qualifications since you started working with them; if you offer specialised services; if you can provide one-off support or ongoing support).

Set expectations upfront

For connecting with potential clients, it’s highly recommended that you set expectations at the outset to avoid concerns and disappointments on both sides later. It’s a good idea to indicate in your agreement that you may look at increasing your rates periodically, for example, annually. Doing this creates transparency for your client and allows both sides to be prepared.

Know your worth

As a support worker on Mable, you can book a session with our onboarding team to get insight into setting your rates. Through this session, we can help you understand the comparative value of your support services. Simply contact our onboarding team and get the help you need today.

Having the conversation

One of the biggest benefits of working as an independent support worker through Mable is the opportunity to develop long-term, valuable relationships with your clients. This benefit is mutual! Bear this in mind before you have this conversation. 

If you have been providing support through Mable for some time, it might be a good idea to start seeking feedback from your clients about your support services. For example, are they happy with the level of support you’re providing? Doing this will help set the scene in a positive context and help them understand you are justified in updating your rates. 

Some support workers put a clause in their agreements to indicate their rates rise periodically, for instance, every 12 months. This clause clarifies pricing matters right at the outset, even before you start providing support, so the expectations are clear at both ends. Remember, it’s up to your client whether they agree to these clauses, and it’s up to you and the client to discuss and reach a mutual agreement.

Depending on the nature of your relationship with your client, you may want to explore other options, such as offering to find a substitute support worker in case you’re unable to fulfil your shift; or offering a bit more flexibility in your cancellation policy. Remember, this is optional.

Showcase your work and experience

  • Share that you’ve completed a certification or upskilled in any way relevant to your client’s support needs
  • Reiterate your skill set and qualifications to emphasise the value of your support
  • Perhaps acknowledge that their support needs have changed
  • Demonstrate that you have supported someone with similar support needs to indicate that you are the right person for this job
  • If relevant, share that the person in question requires complex support that requires specialist qualifications or skills that you have.

Explain your role as an independent support worker on Mable

Use this conversation as an opportunity to explain to your client that as a small business owner on Mable: 

  • You’re self-employed through your small business —  not an employee — so hourly rates don’t reflect the ‘take home’ rate for you. Your rates include an amount to cover expenses, when you are sick, go on holidays, and superannuation, and they reflect when you work on weekends or public holidays 
  • Updating your rates aligns with your financial goals (superannuation, tax, etc.) to keep your business sustainable and successful so that you can focus on what’s important to you and your client: supporting them to achieve their goals
  • By receiving support through the platform, your client can access benefits and safeguards
  • It’s important to you to build a long-term support relationship with each of your clients.

Be prepared for questions

While clients will acknowledge that their support workers have the skills, qualifications and experience that make them great support workers, it’s natural for them to ask questions or perhaps to express concerns during these conversations. 

In the negotiations, ensure that you are respectful, reasonable and professional. The conversation may be stressful, so it’s important to be empathetic.

Recognise that not everyone has the capacity for negotiating or may not have had experience with conversations like these. You can ask if they would like a family member or advocate present to support them. As their support worker, you can help them understand your point of view while also understanding their perspective.

Often, there is pressure on clients’ budgets, which is why it’s important that your prices should always be fair and reasonable. The ultimate goal for both parties in the negotiations is to have a calm, respectful discussion and to reach a shared understanding and outcome that recognises your value and the mutual value of a long-term and successful relationship. 

Remember that:

  • Because you’re engaging via Mable, once your rate is agreed upon, the client pays the agreed rate plus 7.95% and you will receive the agreed rate less 10%.
  • For example, if $45 per hour is the agreed rate, with Mable’s 7.95% client platform fee the client pays $48.58 per hour ($45 x 1.0795 = $3.58 fee). With Mable’s 10% worker platform fee ($45 x .1 = $4.50 fee) the worker receives $40.50 an hour.
  • While you can propose what you charge for your support services, the client can agree or disagree with the terms.

Update your agreement

Once you and your client have agreed on your rates, make sure you update your agreement on Mable to reflect these changes and get it approved by the client before you start providing support.

Getting your agreement in place before beginning support is important to protect both you and your client for every support session logged and invoiced via Mable.

Remember that your client may have financial or other limitations you’re unaware of. The key is an open discussion and negotiation to reach a realistic hourly range that you and your client can agree on.

Above all, remember to be kind and respectful and expect the same in return from clients. We’re here to help you in your support journey in every way possible. We also recommend joining the Mable Independent Workers Group on Facebook to connect with a wonderful community of support workers.

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