The Price Is Right?

Last week, my Dad and I were working, and we were asked to clean some extra plastic on a customer’s conservatory roof. I can’t remember the name of the fancy shapes on the roof, but they were curving and twisting pieces of plastic, put on for (supposedly) aesthetic effect, and they were covered in green and dirt.

As we approached the house, we were speaking about pricing. We were initially chatting about how much to charge for language lessons. (There may be a blog update about this soon – so keep your eyes peeled!). We agreed on what we thought was a reasonable price for the extra piece of cleaning. £17. And this would round the morning nicely.

We finished the house in good time. I asked my Dad whether to write a receipt for the house or whether they’d already paid. With a knowing look, he said “we’d already been paid”, and there was a story to tell in the van once we were out of the customer’s back garden!

It turns out that, as my Dad was cleaning the conservatory roof, the customer leaned out of the window and shouted: “I’ve just paid you!”

“Oh. Right. Well, your husband has asked us to clean some extra today…”

Then came the punchline:

“Yes, don’t worry. I thought it would be about 8 quid, so I’ve added that on.”

Right. When did customers start pricing their own houses?

Perhaps, I’d missed something. Perhaps, the elderly couple used to have their own window and gutter cleaning business, but I doubt it somehow.

I saw this as rude and told my Dad so. He just laughed and let it go.

At the end of the day, we’re the professionals, and it’s those that do the work who have the right to set the price.

This is not just about window cleaning, but all the work we do. Sadly, it’s often only the self-employed and freelancers who have the authority to set their own prices.

When we assume something costs a certain amount of money based on our subjective experiences, we forget to acknowledge the unseen work that has gone into it.

Maybe she thought £8 is what someone stacking shelves in a supermarket earns in an hour. But we can’t draw comparisons from work we’ve not done and know nothing about.

Choose your clients. Do your best work and the work you deserve to be paid for. Price accordingly. That’s what I hope to do, but I know it’s not always this easy.

What do you think?

How do you charge for the work you do?