Hi


#1

Hi everyone!

I started my own secretarial business, A.M. Hendry Secretarial Services (http://www.amhendrysecretarial.co.uk) in February. I work with a firm of chartered surveyors a couple of days a week, and the rest of the week is devoted to my business and writing.

From what I’ve heard, it can take a long, long time to get a business like this up and running - good job I’m stubborn!


#2

Best of luck with your new venture. Isn’t life exciting!!


#3

Hi Ann and welcome.

I’ve had a look at your site and am shocked at your prices, which start from £9 per hour! Once you take off approx 20% for tax and NI you will be left with £7.20 per hour. Obviously if you are a sole trader this cost won’t happen until the end of the year and the amount will depend on how profitable the business is but still. Then when you take off the cost of recruiting the client, the electricity costs for carrying out the work. The time involved negociating and invoicing and chasing payments etc you will be on well below the minimum wage.

It’s none of my business of course but it just sounds so incredibly low.

I wish you well in your new venture and am sure you will be a success :slight_smile:


#4

Hi Ann

Welcome to the forum. You will find everyone helpful and friendly here.

Another comment besides Sara’s re undercharging for your services, skills and experience, is that I would also change the rate at which you charge your mileage. The going rate set by HMRC is 40p per mile. This is what I charge my clients, what my clients reimburce their staff and I am sure that is the rate that most other VAs charge or claim for via their self-assessment.

Regarding your website - your fonts are slightly inconsistent. Some of the content is in Georgia and some in Times New Roman. Also you don’t have any contact details on your website other than on the photography page!

As you can see we are ever helpful!! :slight_smile:
Dawn


#5

Thanks for all your advice. I’m doing the website all myself so it’s a bit of a learning curve, but I’m not very happy with the template I was provided with to be honest - it’s very ‘buggy’ and things seem to change or go missing when I make other changes - like the ‘Contact Me’ page disappearing! Well spotted Dawn - I’d missed that.

As for undercharging, I set my prices so they were comparable to other people providing office support in my area. The Scottish Borders is very high in unemployment but the cost of living isn’t as high as many other places, so I guess that’s why everyone’s charging such low rates. I had thought they were a bit low myself though - thanks for confirming that. I may review my pricing over the weekend.

It’s also handy to know what the recommended cost per mile is - I’d set it at what a couple of companies I worked for recently paid their staff. I wasn’t far off though, and luckily I have a very economical car!

Thanks again for the advice - knowledge is power and all that!


#6

There! Reinstated the ‘Contact Me’ page on my website and hopefully that’s all the text standardised - again. You would not believe how often I’ve had to fix things with this website. Every time I hit ‘save’ it seems to do something weird! Now I see why IT departments are kept so busy…


#7

Websites are funny things! A law unto themselves!

Satndard mileage is indeed 40p so I’m with Dawn on that one.

I can understand what you are saying about what other VAs in your area charge but you need to remember that you are actually competing with VAs from across the country. Most VAs have clients from across the UK and beyond. When a potential client sees your services at £9 and other VAs at £20 one of two things can happen. They can either hire you based on price or they will wonder why you are so cheap. People often say “you get what you pay for” and price is often not the deciding factor when looking for a professional service. I’m not saying you aren’t professional btw :slight_smile:

Good luck though and welcome to SVA!


#8

Thanks Sara!

As I said, I set my prices to be comparable to others in the area (who I know are getting regular work), but you’re right, I need to think about the bigger picture. I’ve removed the ‘Rates’ page while I think about a more sensible pricing structure.

Crikey, I’ve only been on the forum a day and it’s already proved invaluable…


#9

Thing is, if you set your rates that low there’s no scope for offering discounts for retainers, charity clients, repeat customers, special offers, etc.

I do understand about the “local rates” issue and not wanting to price yourself out of the reach of local clients. Perhaps you could offer special rates for local businesses or use a promotion as part of your marketing campaign.

The other thing you will see from previous posts is quite how much we all stress over putting up our prices. It does cause plenty of sleepless nights!! If you’re starting that low you are only going to create headaches for yourself further down the line.


#10

Actually we had a few VAs who discovered they got more clients by RAISING their prices, as the perception of quality was better when they cost more. This was in one of the SVA Chats last year about pricing and we’re doing another one next month on pricing so make sure you sign up at: www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/subscribe for June’s SVA topic.

The audio from last year’s will be uploaded too so you can have a listen.

C.


#11

Yet more good points to think about! I totally understand why people would see price as equating to quality, or lack of it, and the idea about discounted rates for local businesses and charities would work. Hmm…I can see I’m going to be busy tonight thinking about this!


#12

Hi Anne Marie
Welcome to the fold, and good luck with your new venture.

I can see where you’re coming from about pricing, because I live in deepest Mid Wales where they all want as much as possible for nothing, but agree with the others that you are not just looking at your area. I solved that one by not mentioning money at all on my website. I have local prices for local people (!) and prices for clients outside my area.

It is also true what Caroline said about “paying for quality”. Despite my sarcasm about Mid Wales, I have two customers who are paying the “outside the area” rates because they want the best!

Loved your blog by the way, and the photos are stunning.


#13

Ha ha, I love that!

I might leave my rates off my website in future too - it definitely makes things more flexible, especially when I inevitably have to increase my rates again later on.

Thanks for the encouragement, Carole!