Acupuncturists: What a Coconut Can Teach You About Charging & Getting Paid What You're Worth

by Chen Yen | Nov. 6, 2012

I was opening a young coconut with a corkscrew today, and my wrist got so sore!  Usually I can corkscrew a hole through a coconut quickly to insert my straw, but this one sure gave me exercise.  By the time I was finished, the coconut had several holes in it.  It required an enormous amount of effort and I felt as if I had a total body workout.

In that moment, I was thinking to myself that I wished I got the coconut from Whole Foods instead. You see, Whole Foods sells fresh young coconuts for $2.99 and has a hole already dug in it, plus they provide you with a straw you can pull out of a container when you decide to buy the coconut. I buy my young coconuts from an Asian grocery store that sells them for $1.85 without the straw. Whole Foods' young coconuts (the same brand) are a 60% markup from the Asian grocery store! Sixty percent. And I see people buy it day in and day out.

As a holistic health practitioner, this is what you can learn from Whole Foods: take something that is the same thing other places sell, add value to it, and charge more for it. People buy the coconut with a hole in it for a % markup and they gladly pay it, so they don't need to have sore wrists like me. One fear holistic health practitioners share with me about charging more is that they are afraid people will stop using their services. An acupuncturist I was talking to last week said he lowered his fees because people said they were too much. He's afraid of increasing them now because he's worried his patients will leave.

The problem is, when you raise your prices, do you also add more value (or perceived value)? Yes, prices may be adjusted for inflation with reason. But if you offer the same exact thing at a significantly higher price, it's inevitable that some people will not come back. The question is…what can you do to offer a higher perceived value?

One way is to explain what you do to potential clients in a way that highlights more value. This can be done by focusing on sharing the benefits of what a potential client would experience by working with you, rather than focusing on the process they would experience. For example, instead of just telling a potential client that during a reflexology session they would experience a foot massage, say something like "you'll feel more relaxed from the stress you've been feeling all week, toxins will be eliminated, you may experience better sleep and and balance of your digestives [or whatever other problem your client may be experiencing]. Another way to charge more is to actually add more value. What can you do to add more value without it taking much more of your time?

This is something I work on with my private clients and which makes a huge difference in making more income in their practice. We work on re-designing the way they offer their current services. Then we package it and market the services in a way that is more attractive, justifies a higher value, and charge more for it. It allows them to charge a lot more without having to work harder. And their patients/clients don't mind it, because they appreciate more value (perceived and/or actual). Now, during the in-between period, you may lose some of your current patients/clients. At the same time, you may start attracting patients/clients you want to work with and who can afford your services.

What would it be like for you if you could start charging more and only work with the patients/clients you most enjoy working with?

Would you make more consistent income? Do you think you'll enjoy your practice more, and your clients would appreciate you more because you're not so burned out? Reflect on what you can do to start charging more for your naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncturist, health/spiritual coach, or massage therapy practice.

And if you have any tips on how to open up a young coconut without breaking your wrist or exerting all your energy, do share by contacting me! I'm addicted to them and drink them every day & hellip;

About Chen Yen

Chen Yen is a "Wake Up to More Clients" Mentor for Holistic Health Practitioners. She helps holistic practitioners grow a waiting list of patients/clients, so they can work 3 days/wk and not have to worry about inconsistent business. Get tips on the simple & easy way to attract patients/clients: For naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, health coaches, massage therpaists, spiritual coaches/healers.


About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY!” Succession Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs. She is Chief Strategist of Value Growth Institute dedicated to helping private business owners increase the value of their firms. She is the award-winning author of Show Me The Money and faculty member of American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a top small business resource by the New York Times “You’re the Boss” blog.


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