What Your Fee Says About You

Want to know what your fee says about you? Think about this:

When was the last time you went to a fancy restaurant?

Fine table linen. Impeccable wine list. Great service.

Yet from the moment you entered until the last dessert plate was cleared, one thing was in the back of your mind.

The bill.

Even when you make enough to cover just about every check, there is a curiosity factor involved in the dinner check.

How much was it for a mixed drink?

What was the price of today’s special?

Which bottle of wine should I order so I don’t look “cheap?”

In a casual setting, a romantic setting or a business setting – the dinner check is top of mind.


Well, it’s partially conditioning. Much of what we see and hear each day has some sort of dollar value associated with it. Television shows (The Apprentice, Shark Tank, How’d You Get So Rich, etc.). Advertising slogans. Education. Even healthcare.

It’s partially cultural. You see your friends and family members’ spending patterns and you feel compelled to exhibit the same behavior.

It is also part of our upbringing. Did your parents have an abundance mentality or did they have a scarcity mentality?

It is inescapable. We all think about money but we dare not bring it up in polite conversation.

Give that some thought.

When was the last time you had an honest conversation with a friend about your income?

That’s why it is so difficult for most professionals to discuss their fees with their clients. That’s also why so many people have difficulty raising their fees.

Money is present in our minds, yet it is considered taboo to discuss it.

This means we start off with all kinds of psychological baggage when it comes to discussing our fee.

After all, we are asking the client to spend his money, right?

Here are three things to think about when it comes to discussing money with your clients:

Your Fee is a Reflection of Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the sum of your feelings about yourself. If you feel confident in your ability, if you feel proud of your accomplishments, if you feel great about the work you do, it is reflected in the fee you charge your client.

Look closely at that paragraph. I didn’t say:

“If you are a good person, you can charge more and people will pay it.”

The focus is on how you FEEL about yourself and the value you create for others.

People who are comfortable in their own skin, command higher fees.

Action Item:

Based upon this notion, here’s what you can do, right now, to improve your self-esteem.

Spend the next ten days writing down everything you do right. Even the small things like packing a great lunch for your kid before school, driving safely to work, or hitting a perfectly straight drive off the 12th tee during a round of golf.

Then, at the end of the day, review all of these good things. Accept the fact that 98-99% of what you do is correct, good, proper and rewarding.

That means you are 98-99% excellent.

Your opinion of yourself will improve within the first few days of this exercise but by day 10, you’ll be amazed at how you feel about yourself and the value you bring to the world.

You Invest in People and They Invest In You

You invest your time in people. When you decide to meet with someone, you are investing in him or her.

The purpose of an investment is to provide a return.

When people invest time in you, repeatedly, they value you.

When clients pay you, they are investing in your talent, skills, knowledge and experience. They receive the following as a return on their investment:

An Outcome: The client’s situation will improve as a result of you being involved. Even if you do not get the complete, desired result, things are better because you were involved.

Piece of Mind: Clients will feel better because they are working with you. You help them sleep at night.

Speed: You make things happen (or keep things from happening) at a pace the client could not have achieved on his/her own.

Experience: You take a complex world and cut through the clutter. That has high value for your clients.

When a client invests in you, he receives all of these things (and much more). You probably take that for granted.

Action Item:

Before your next five client meetings think about these things: The improvement in the client’s situation, the piece of mind the client will receive, the speed of the potential resolution, and the experience you bring to the client’s matter.   Rank yourself on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being “outstanding”) for each item of value you.

A perfect score is 20 (four areas ranked on a five point scale). Raise your “standard” fee by a percentage equal to your score.

In other words, if you would normally charge “$1,000 for something, and you scored a “10,” charge 10% more – $1,100. If you scored a 15, charge $1,150, etc.

This is meant not only boost your confidence; it is also done to demonstrate how easy it is to increase your fees.

Ask for Testimonials, Read Them and Share Them

We are hesitant to ask for testimonials. It’s human nature.

You must do this.

When a client heaps praise upon you for the work you’ve done, ask him/her to jot those thoughts down.

Share your testimonials with clients, office staff and prospective clients but more importantly, read them…over and over.

Nothing helps you feel good about your ability like the praise of another person.

Spend two minutes each day reading a different testimonial letter or watching a testimonial video (this implies you need at least 30 of them).

Start asking for testimonials. Ask for one each day.

You’ll be amazed at how this helps you boost your confidence.

By now you should have a clear picture of the correct attitude toward fee setting for lawyers.

Your competition does not determine how much you charge.

Your client does not determine how much you charge.

You determine your fee.

It’s all in your head.

Here are three additional resources you will find helpful in growing your business:

You Are Selling to the Wrong Person

You need to understand who the target is for your product and your service. Only offer your stuff to the right people. This article will help.

Only Listen to People Who Pay You

Who cares what everyone else thinks? Not me. You shouldn’t either.

Eliminate the Subconscious Influence of Fear

Don’t be scared of making money. I show you what I mean in this article.