My dear colleague Jesse Tomlinson tweeted a very interesting question to me yesterday: is it a good idea to give more than one price option for services? 

I promised to elaborate, but 140 characters is decidedly too short. Let’s look at few real-life examples:

This first example will sound familiar: the client forgets to send a relatively short file for translation and remembers it at 4PM on the day they need it. Oh no! Now, by 4PM, I’ve generally met my translation goals of the day and turned to admin work, networking (invoicing + Twitter, anyone?) or other things. I have quoted two price options to clients facing this challenge on several occasions:

  • A rush rate to get the document done ASAP, if possible that evening.
  • A standard rate to get the document done on a normal timeline, taking into consideration my workload.

Some clients choose the rush option because their budget allows it and the translation is very urgent. I end up adequately compensated for an evening spent at work after putting in long day. Everybody wins! Other clients choose to wait and avoid the rush fees: great! I have booked a job at my standard rates. Whether they end up choosing the rush or the standard turnaround time, clients truly appreciate the simple fact of having options. It helps defuse a stressful situation on their side.

Another client contacted me for a 90-minute consecutive interpreting assignment. The logistics needed to be figured out quickly, so we Google-mapped the address of the assignment while on the phone together. It was 4 blocks away from my address! In this context, charging for a half-day might have been seen as greedy. I happily adjusted my fees to fit a 90-minute assignment and enjoyed the short walk down my street.

A third client contacted me for a 45-minute French data entry assignment that was 1.5 hours away (one-way) from my address. They were a non-profit organization with tight budgets. Three hours of public transit for one hour of compensated time did not look good for my bottom line.  Since they were a charity whose mission I wanted to support, I offered to knock 1 hour off of the half-day price (which is a 25% discount). On the train, I read five long-form articles and resources related to translation that had been in my reading list for months. It wasn’t my most profitable day of the month, but I still considered it a win-win: some money came in, I supported a hard-working charity organization and I got some great business insights along the way.

Over to you: in what scenarios have you offered several pricing options or modified your existing pricing structures to fit a specific situation?