FAQ Rates and Prices

Do you have a basic pricing structure for your clients?

  • Before you start your business you need to plan your pricing/rates structure, this must be in place before that first client contacts you. Ring around and get an idea from other more established VAs or look to VA websites, some VAs will state their rates. You need to research this. Look to the VA associations as they often have this type of information and it might be available to you. This should be part of your business plan. Look to recruitment companies and the services you offer and look at the people with these services and look at the salaries they are getting offered, this is very helpful in finding your hourly rate.

Do you charge an hourly rate or do you price each service different?

Look at what you were earning as an hourly rate in the corporate world, look to recruitment websites, and look at the services you will be offering. Some services you can charge an hourly rate others you can’t, it’s dependent on the service and what is actually involved.

  • Take VA administration tasks, take an office administrator and check out what they earn, research this online, calculate their salaries down to an hourly rate and see if that rate is suitable for you, if not, adjust it accordingly to suit you. We are doing similar tasks in administration. You can offer a client with VA services a retainer package, offer them a few hours a day or week and offer a discount. A retainer can work well with jobs like this.
  • Some jobs are hard to research like data entry as most jobs out there are scams but we do occasionally get in real data entry, with this you take an entry see how long it takes you, what is involved with the task, what are the requirements and price accordingly maybe per entry or per an amount of entries like 50 to 100. You can approach the client and ask for an example so that you can better work out a price for them. You can even get your hourly rate down to an entry.
  • Transcription can be charged on an audio hourly rate or an hourly rate..
  • Typing is usually charged at a per page rate. Some VAs charge on double or single space others don’t, its personal preference. Typing is also dependent on content. You can take your hourly rate and break it down to how long it takes to type a page depending on content, and use this charge as your per page rate. Work it out on an average A4 single space or double spaced plain copy typing. Work out what you type per minutes and price accordingly looking at your A4 page and then you will be able to estimate a per page charge. Typing rates are also very dependent on location, Cape Town and Durban rates are far cheaper than rates up in Gauteng, even rates in Pretoria are lower than Johannesburg and its suburbs. We can’t change this; it’s not for the lack of trying. Rather ask a higher rate as then you can negotiate it down, doing it this way is much easier, then negotiation on a medium to low rate as then it could end up being not worth doing. Clients will and often try to negotiate you down, if you know what you are worth and know what service you will provide stick to your views, if the client wants you to do the work they will agree to your pricing. When a client wants a quality job done they want go for the cheapest price. Never underestimate what you are worth, and don’t let a client dictate your price, the odd few clients will have a price and ask you to do it at that price, you can speak up and say no that is not worth it to me and then explain to the client why and what is involved, they can and do change their minds when they see you know what you are talking about.
  • With services like event organisation, you need to see exactly what is involved and give a cost estimate, get as many details as possible and then start researching the people, accommodation, food, expenses, travel etc that are involved. An hourly rate can be used successfully here or you look at the costs of the whole package and take a percentage of the final cost to the client for the work that involves your company. Event organisation will depend on each function/event that you organise as they each will have their own requirements, so each will need to be priced per event.
  • Telephone services, providing service to a company by taking their company calls or making their calls to clients, this can be done by using a retainer package and giving the client a block of your time or you can cost it down which really is not the way to go as you will barely make anything and charge per call. This involves doing your research on call costs via the different telephone companies, Telkom, MSN, Vodacom etc. The best with this is to take a rough estimate and add on your time and give this price to the clients for calls national and local, cell and landline, give a set price for all.
  • Typing of CV’s. Charge a set price per individual CV to a client and a set price for bulk CV’s from a recruitment company.
  • Proof reading services do your research and check out companies that offer this services via the internet. There is no set price for this I’ve got prices which range from R5 per page right up to R40 and I’ve prices for RXX.XX for every 100 words checked. There is no industry standard. Charge what you are comfortable charging.
  • Presentation slides, flow diagrams, spreadsheets, graphs etc, look at how easy or difficult, the content, what is involved, this is different to copy typing as you are creating and might be using other software to do this. Have a basis set price for easy and then add for the difficulty level with this, I’ve loads of experience at doing these and am quite happy to help/assist you prepare a quote on it.
  • Internet Research, check out research companies, internet cafe’s etc, see what is being charged for this and price accordingly. I price this on my hourly rate, as I find it usually takes me a few hours, but I’ve broken it down into 15 minute segments like the internet cafe’s do.
  • Looking after a client’s diary, making appointments (Client services), and here I would block charge and give a retainer package, I wouldn’t individualise tasks as then you really will be lowering your price.
  • Typing of assignments for students, look at student background, race, location, the assignments are normally long, lots of editing by student, lecturer often changes font, size requirements half with through assignment, don’t under-price yourself and give this service away for free as you think the student can’t afford it, often students can, otherwise, they would simply do it themselves, you are freeing them up so they can carry on with their lives. And it’s not always simply copy typing, watch out for this often there is graphics involved and flow diagrams. Please don’t charge prices like R5 to R10 for this, as it really is not worth your while to do, don’t fall into this price bracket, surely your services are worth more and you are sitting for hours doing this, the student is not. Typing of books for authors is also very much like this, there is lots of editing involved; you are the one sitting with the typing for hours on end. I’ve typed up books that have taken months to type, and believe me for R10 per page it’s not worth it for your time and effort. This is something I did when I first started out, now the price is much more as I’ve learnt the hard way. Authors receive nice pay cheques for books these days. Everyone has a fancy for typing for authors but you must make it worth your while to do.

If there is a service that I’ve not covered that interests you, contact me and lets chat and see how we can come up with a price for you, two heads are better than one if you are struggling. Ali

Do you panic if a client rings you and wants a price from you without you seeing the work, as they don’t always send the work through for you to view?

  • Have a basic price listing as then it’s easier to price more complicated jobs, look at what is involved, the time it will take you, how complicated, look at all the factors first before pricing, can you meet that deadline, if not, ask for more time, you can do this, always look at the bigger picture before pricing a job/task. Look at the work you have currently, look at how you would schedule the work in, ask as many questions as you can. You can give a price estimate and let the client know the price might change slightly here or there when you actually receive the work and look at it, Clients will accept this. Always question the client before pricing as much as you can. If you are unsure you can always ask on Tavasa for assistance, we have lots of experience in doing this.
  • I work from a basic price list all the time, I check what is involved with the job, how long it will take me, can I fit it in, what is actually involved with doing that that job, if I’ve got typing I look at what the content is, does it have in graphics, tables as these are time taking and I will adjust my pricing to cater for doing this, you can’t just copy a table you must create it then put in the info this is time taking and the more complicated the table the longer it takes. With Graphics you might need to scan them or insert them from online, this costs you extra to do in time and money so make sure you compensate yourself for this. Very rare do I get a document that is just plain copy typing, I get in horrible documents for typing, so therefore I don’t skimp on my pricing, I know what is involved and the time it will take me, so if you need help and assistance on this please shout, I’ve the experience and don’t mind helping.
  • As a VA you are running a business and providing a service, so that puts you on the same level as that client who needs to use your services. Don’t let a client treat you like a secretary, you must come across as confident in what you are doing, know what you are talking about, and know your job inside out. A stuttering, I’m not sure VA will be treated as secretaries as that is what you will come across to the clients as.
It is very nerve wracking dealing with the first client but after that you will find with each new client your confidence will grow. You can tell the potential client that they are your first and that you are nervous and they will understand, as they have been there themselves.

  • You are on the same level as clients, don’t be frightened of them as if you show this especially with women clients they will treat you down, that is for sure. Women clients you will find, like to appear in control and you need to also appear in control of what you are doing to be seen by them as peers as equals.
Do you have a list of questions to ask prospective clients about work before pricing to give you an idea of what to estimate?

  • When a client refuses to send you work, and then often they are looking for cheap pricing, if they want a quotation from you, ask all the relevant questions you can think of for that kind of service. It would help you if you make up a list of questions for each service you are offering to ask potential clients for the events that they want send in the job to you. If they want it cheap then maybe that is not the job for you, don’t underestimate your worth to clients. A cheap job is not worth it in time and money and is a sheer waste of you time. Don’t just take the job for the love of getting the work that is not the way to run a successful business.

Have you researched pricing on the internet for overseas clients?

  • With overseas pricing, do your research, check out what the prices are via the internet, check out overseas VAs, Transcriptionist’s websites, some display prices, some don’t, then prepare yourself a list of pricing for your services that you offer so that they are equivalent to your overseas counterparts. Do not offer your service at your Rand price, that is not the way to do this, otherwise the client will think they are getting a very cheap service and they will be and then we will be thought of as no different from Indian, Chinese and cheap overseas labour. We should be compatible with our overseas competition.
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