If you’re making a living in the training profession, one of your challenges is to figure out how to charge for your services. While it might seem a little overwhelming, there are just a handful of strategies that you can choose from. Here are the most typical ways:
BY THE HOUR
You determine an hourly rate and then charge the client for the time invested not only delivering, but preparing, your training program. The longer it takes you to prepare for a seminar, the more you charge. If the client throws in extra work or wants changes mid-stream that add to your preparation time, then you would, of course, make more money. But there seems to me to be a different perceived value for someone who charges “by the hour” than for someone who has a set rate. There is a perception that you could be dragging things out to benefit your pocketbook.
BY THE PERSON
The second way of charging is to charge per person. This is the most common way of charging when you conduct “open” or “public” seminars, where people sign up individually to attend your program at your facility or in a hotel or conference room. In these cases, the trainers are counting on-and compensated by-quantity. So, you obviously make more money the more people who sign up. Of course, the marketing costs of this type of charge system are usually quite high, so you might not net as much proportionately as for a per-session charge for a corporate seminar. Charging per person for a corporate workshop is not very practical, as your final fee isn’t known until the day of the program when you see how many actually show up. On the other hand, if you charged by the session, you get the same amount whether 50 show up or five.
BY THE SESSION
This form of charging, by the workshop, is the most common for most trainers who do business with companies. You create a set fee for a session. This is an effective form of charging because the both you and the client know and agree up front what the fee will be — and it’s not impacted by the number of attendees. If only half the number show up who were anticipated, your fee isn’t impacted. Usually you would consider “quantity discounts” for multiple programs. There’s an understanding that there are some “fixed costs” in a workshop, usually in the preparation, so a program that’s half the normal length will not necessarily be half the fee. And a program twice as long will not necessarily cost twice as much. And multiple programs also are usually charged at discounted per session fees.
MATERIALS AND EXPENSES
In addition to the training fee, it’s expected that you would also charge for expenses you incur as a result of delivering this training, usually travel related such as airfare and hotel if it’s out of town or parking fees if it’s a local job. If there are things you routinely purchase for your workshops, such as flip chart markers or candy or name tents, there is an understanding that those items are already included in the cost of your fee. You would not pass on those costs that are part and parcel of your training.
However, learning materials are considered a bona fide extra charge. If you prepare materials for the participants, such as handouts or course workbooks, or if you include your published book or audio CD for each attendee, you may choose to add a per-person materials fee. You can decide if you want to pass these costs on as expenses to be reimbursed (in which case, you include the invoice from the printer who made up your notebooks) or if you want to mark them up to make a little profit.
Whatever way you choose for charging for your services, materials and expenses, remember to always have it agreed to in writing beforehand. Whether it’s a formal, legal contract or simply a letter of agreement that both parties sign off on, it can save you a lot of heartache later if you have your terms in writing.